Over the past few years, we've seen the lows and highs of print magazines in the Nintendo world. In 2012, the final print issue of Nintendo Power - one of the world's most popular Nintendo magazines - was sent into the world before shutting up shop, although the name lives on through Nintendo of America's new podcast. Then, in 2014, the UK's Official Nintendo Magazine followed suit after 114 issues, following a cull by Future Publishing which also saw the demise of Nintendo Gamer two years before. That, it seemed, was that: print was over, and digital media was here to take its place. However, as far back as 2013 with the introduction of Nintendo Force, there's been a growing resurgence in the creation of lovingly made fan-developed magazines, and for the past year, there's been a brand new kid on the block in the form of Switch Player.
Debuting its first issue in February 2017 and edited by Paul Murphy, the UK-based Switch Player focuses solely on Nintendo's latest little behemoth. Unsurprisingly, given the significant attention the Switch continues to receive and the sheer number of games released on a weekly basis, this is working out very well for the magazine: its sixteenth issue features more than 20 contributors, and more than half of its pages are dedicated to reviews of recent releases. The fact that the magazine now releases every four weeks works incredibly well for it here, as it's never going to be short of content, and the number of regular contributors just shows the dedication of the team behind the magazine and the interest in writing exciting new content for it.
Let's talk about the reviews, first and foremost, because it's difficult to emphasise enough how important it is to see a four-weekly magazine featuring a good chunk of Switch reviews when the system is easily getting around 20 new releases on a weekly basis. Even if you follow some of the web's busiest Nintendo websites, some games and reviews are likely to fall through the gaps, or there's so much content you just happen to miss articles when they're published; with a magazine, the intention to read it cover-to-cover means you're not going to miss any of the reviews inside it. Reading through some of the latest issues, even I've found out about a few interesting games I hadn't seen on Nintendo eShop, and many other readers are likely to do the same. The fact that each game review gets a whole page to itself is great as well; some older magazines, including ONM, would often stick three shorter reviews on a single page, even when the games deserved more.
In addition to its reviews, the magazine is home to a large number of really interesting and topical original articles. Issue 16 picks up on a recent debate in the United States surrounding violence in video games by dedicating an article to some of the Switch's most enjoyable and unique non-violent games, from Floor Kids to Stardew Valley and Snipperclips to Gorogoa. Interviews with a wide variety of people and companies are also a very welcome inclusion, with publishers, developers, individuals, websites, and even local gaming groups gracing its pages. It's clear that Switch Player focuses on every facet of the gaming world, something which doesn't get nearly as much attention as it should.
Looking back from the first issue to the most recent offering, the volume of improvement behind the magazine is incredibly clear to see, as is the dedication from the team in making it happen. Many of its reviews and pieces - such as the outstanding Nintendo Labo review in issue 16 - wouldn't have been out of place in the likes of Nintendo Power, which is a testament to the quality of what's on offer here. Issue 12 ends with an incredibly unique and very well done piece: a Worms W.M.D review with a twist, as six schoolchildren dubbed the Southgate Six each give their impressions of the game in a piece opened by their teacher. You just don't see unique pieces like that these days. Each issue of the magazine also features stunning cover art from the likes of Justin Paul, Sarah Jones, Steve Gregson, and even Wil Overton.
Overall, then, there's no doubt that print magazines still have a place in gaming; in fact, you could argue that they're more important than they have been in many years, and with magazines like Switch Player leading the charge, it's a very exciting time indeed. Such is the passion behind the project that each issue is free to read ad-supported on Issuu a short while after its release; if you want a copy on the day of release, it's available to back on Patreon, with a PDF copy costing $2 (£1.50) and a physical copy costing $6 (£4.50) in the UK or just $9 internationally, including shipping. If you're looking for a new way - or, perhaps, an old way? - of consuming some fantastic gaming content, Switch Player is absolutely worth your time and money. It's a joy to sit down with a gaming magazine once again.
Oh, and the print mag smells amazing. You don't get that from the internet, folks.