We go through a lot of gadgets around here from year to year, but when it’s time to look back, a few of them always rise to the top — the things we keep on using long after the review’s been written, and the things we miss having once we’ve got to send them back!
This year was an interesting one in tech — virtual reality and wearable technology have been relentlessly hyped as the next big things, but wrist gadgets don’t seem to be taking off, while it still feels like VR is not developed enough (or way too expensive) to go mainstream just yet. With autonomous cars still a ways off, 2017 looked more like a transition year — we saw a lot that excited us, but what we see coming within the next few years could truly be life-changing.
Doesn’t mean we don’t have love for the gadgets of 2017! Here are our picks for the year that was.
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Much as we appreciated the power of the Xbox One X, Nintendo did something that no one else has done — they made it possible to take the Switch from your bed to the TV to the bus, all without skipping a beat. The hybrid console that can be played as a handheld or as a home console launched in March with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with a good flow of solid games throughout the year ending with the excellent Super Mario Odyssey.
What impresses us the most is how clear Nintendo’s vision for the console was. When you dig into Nintendo games like Breath of the Wild and Odyssey, you realize that not only did Nintendo make a great console, they knew exactly how to make the kind of games that explain why it’s great.
The post-Wii Nintendo has gotten by making games that can be enjoyed by everyone, from the student who can and will play games for six hours straight to the parent who can only fit in a few minutes here and there. With so many games on other consoles becoming hyper-competitive and requiring substantial time to get good enough to make the game enjoyable, the barriers to entry for those games have become a bit high for those of us who don’t aspire to be pro gamers. With their Switch games, Nintendo created gameplay experiences that can be fully enjoyed in small chunks of time — it only takes a few minutes to find a hidden moon in Odyssey or complete a shrine in Breath of the Wild. Because it’s portable, it means you can take out the Switch on a 20-minute bus ride home, play something, and actually feel like you progressed in-game.
Much as I’d like to game all day, I can’t, and that’s made playing a lot of other games, especially those with a heavy online multiplayer component, feel like a chore. Playing games on the Switch doesn’t, and that’s why I reach for it more often than not when I’ve got some free time.