Republished on August 6th, 2022, with broken link fixes as part of the site relaunch!
[Revised March 21st: Nintendo has launched folders as “Groups” in version 14 of the Switch’s system software]
Outside of Nintendo Land (see what I did there?), I own an Xbox 360, as well as three PlayStation consoles: the PS3, PS4, and PS5. Each come preinstalled with an operating system, as any machine is. Your laptop may have come with Windows, or macOS, or even Linux. Point is: each reversion of the PlayStation comes with vastly different capabilities. Some things get dropped in new revisions, sure, but mostly: they’ve built upon and streamlined what they had previously.
When Nintendo released its Switch console, it took a different approach. Instead of building upon what its prior two home consoles – the Wii and Wii U – had done, it ripped everything out and went back to basics. Nintendo decided to focus everything specifically on getting into software as quickly as possible without extra fluff. That’s a noble goal, especially since the Wii U was infamous for being terribly slow… probably not helped by the fact that it ran on the PowerPC architecture (which even Apple moved away from in the early 2000s) using a chip with a very low clock speed.
Let’s just say it didn’t age well and was very slow.
In 2018, Nintendo stated at a conference that the Home Menu uses less than 200KB of resources, making load times faster, and that one of its goals was to make it lightweight and easy-to-use.
The fact of the matter is, we are now 12 major revisions (at least, if you’re looking at version number alone) into Switch software updates and we still, for the most part, have the exact same interface and system software. In 2020, Nintendo pushed an update adding an icon to the bottom menu on the home screen for their ‘Nintendo Switch Online’ service, but that’s the only change even really worth writing home about.
My hope is that some features from years long past (and even some new ones!) will make their way to Switch before the next generation of Nintendo console hardware makes its way to us. I’ve gone ahead and made a wishlist based on what fans (and myself) have been asking to be added for ages.
Nintendo, please let me make my Home menu less of a mess, I beg you!
A feature given to us on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U were folders, a way to sort games into separate categories. For example, you were able to have a folder for Virtual Console (RIP) titles, streaming services, etc. without it affecting what was on your Home menu.
Sadly, this feature was not present upon the Switch’s launch and still has not been added as of version 13. Folders have been added, sort of, in version 14 released on March 21st, 2022!
2. Miiverse/Improved Social Features
I mean, seriously, why is the app still this bad?
This one’s probably subjective, but I loved Miiverse. It was a unique answer to Sony and Microsoft’s equivalent systems. It actually had a community, and in 2017, Nintendo pulled it down entirely. No more giving other posts a “Yeah!” or discovering amazing artists. I’m of the belief that the Nintendo Switch Online app for smartphones still needs some work, even after it’s version 2.0 overhaul. (In other words: it has a long way to go.)
Additionally, Miiverse had the unique ability to link into certain titles. Some examples include:
- On the Wii U Home Menu itself, posts and player Miis from across the world would appear in Wara-Wara Plaza (basically the collection of Miis appearing on whichever screen doesn’t have the software launcher on it.)
- In Splatoon, artwork drawn by players and posted on Miiverse would display during Turf Wars or Ranked Battles on the map itself. (In Splatoon 2, this feature was preserved through a dedicated “box” in Inkopolis Square, and not through Miiverse.)
- In Super Mario Maker, levels and comments were posted through Miiverse.
- In Super Mario 3D World, stamps could be collected and used to post artwork to Miiverse. Additionally, some posts would appear on the Course Select screen and upon completing a course.
There’s a ton more here too, and Nintendo graciously listed them out on their support site here.
3. New Home Menu design
I don’t think the Home menu on Switch has aged well. A makeover is well overdue.
Since the introduction of the Switch, we’ve been left with the same exact layout for the Home Menu. It’s a simple interface that lets you get right into the game, why would you want a better layout? Because, in my opinion, it’s too boring. The Home menus on Nintendo’s prior consoles at least had some ambient music on most of them… why does the Switch not have that? It made Nintendo’s consoles unique in some way and I miss it.
(Also, can we have the ability to lock people out from using our User accounts to play games and mess up our save files against our wishes? We used to have the ability to lock our accounts with a password on Wii U, can we have that back? Thanks.)
I’m not the only one who believe it’s time for a makeover this, either. There are amazing and brilliantly talented folks on Reddit who have imagined up many concepts that I wished were real. Here are just a few that are a pure joy to look at.
I mean, just think of the possibilities to improve upon the Switch’s current menu. We’ve been stuck with the same two themes, Basic Light and Basic Dark, since launch. I think it’d be awesome to either get more themes or a whole new design altogether, especially now that the Switch is half a decade old!
4. Revamped Switch eShop
Not really a software feature, but the Switch eShop could use some TLC too!
I’ve talked with many folks over the years about the Switch eShop, and we’ve all collectively agreed, it could use some work. The simple, tabbed interface had very few menus when it first launched, but over the years – as the Switch has grown as a platform – it has gained several more tabs and feels like a mess now. Also of note, it feels slow to navigate at times and can fail to load several times, regardless of the speed of the internet connection.
Like the last item, many agree with this, and have taken it upon themselves to make some mockups of what it could be:
5. Virtual Console
I feel like most of you knew this part was coming.
I wrote a whole Soapbox article on a similar topic, but I really want Virtual Console back. Being able to go back and play older titles is something I do frequently. Either because I haven’t experienced them, or I have and want to show someone how amazing this game is who may or may not have experienced it themselves. It’s also a great way to preserve history and prevent bit rot (which yes, is a serious problem with storage of any kind.)
So, those are five things I wish the Switch had and hope it’ll get before the next generation of Nintendo consoles begins. This feature was certainly long, as I wanted to lay out as much detail as I could without sounding rambly. I hope I did just that.