If you are looking for a solid barometer for the success of Nintendo Switch, consider this simple three-word question: "What about Switch?" Take a look at the responses to any newly announced game that dares to forgo support for the Kyoto giant's home/handheld hybrid console and you'll find this question at least once.
The power and attraction of Nintendo's Switch – 'a home console you can take with you' – was immediately apparent. Seeing legions of fans champion Nintendo's latest hardware has empirically proven that the company executed its initial pitch with aplomb.
In fact, the Switch has been such a success story that buyers have latched onto a fascinating market trend: the 'double dip'.
'Double-dipping' is far from a new concept, but up until the Switch's arrival it was largely reserved for those who own both a console and a PC.
In this scenario, most second purchases are inspired by technical differences, mod availability, a player's friend list, or just a ridiculously good Steam sale.
Switch has stumbled upon a new angle for double-dippers with its promise of full-fledged console games on a handheld – one that has already encouraged Nintendo to repackage the greatest Mario Kart game ever to both former Wii U owners and Switch newcomers in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
On the third-party front, Bethesda already has a meaty Nazi-, dragon- and demon-riddled Switch schedule that could entice a second purchase, but it's the indie studios – or 'Nindies' to borrow a current Nintendo-ism – that have struck while the iron is hot.
Since the console's launch in March we've been treated to re-releases of Axiom Verge, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Cave Story, Shovel Knight, Oxenfree, The Binding of Isaac, World of Goo and Thimbleweed Park, to name a small, critically adored selection.
With vehicular football phenomenon Rocket League also on the horizon the trend is far from over, but for this writer there was only one Switch port that truly mattered: Stardew Valley.
I adore Stardew Valley, so much so that when it launched on Steam last year I spent literally hundreds of hours tending crops, fishing for treasures and chatting-up the townsfolk in Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone's pastoral, pixelated world.
There are very few games I'd be happy to sink such an obscene amount of time into in the first place, let alone consider doubling that figure on a different platform. But the chance to play Stardew Valley again, untethered from a desktop? Pass me my Iridium-plated axe and watering can, please...
And so it began. Those familiar purple birds flying by, those glorious grassy mountains in the distance, the pan-up to the title screen and but a single thought in my head: "This is Stardew Valley, and I can play it wherever I want."
As a PC game first and foremost, I suspected a few controller niggles would migrate over from the PS4 and Xbox One ports, but the button layout does a respectable job for the most part. Unless, that is, you try and tap on the Switch's touchscreen. The omission of touch support hit me as early as the character creation screen, where my redundant taps were ignored as I tried to change the colour of my avatar's trousers.
After wading through the brilliant introduction and some delightfully twee banter between hard-working carpenter Robin and bumbling mayor Lewis, I immediately set to work on the seemingly endless horde of trees that had impolitely invaded my fresh plot.
Yet despite whacking the tree with a firm axe swing, the Switch failed to give off even the slightest hint of rumble. While there's an option in the settings to turn rumble on and off, further test swings yielded the same result. The lack of rumble only occurs when the Switch is in portable mode however. Pop it back in the dock and the Joy-Con or Pro Controllers are more than willing to do a little shake in your mitts.
Audio crackling, unselectable crafting items, Groundhog Day-style resets that force you to replay days over again and several other bugs have already been highlighted by fans, and publisher Chucklefish has confirmed that a patch is on the way. But these are minor annoyances compared to the one gripe that may be unfixable: the save and load times.
Saving your game occurs whenever you finish a day and in my experience (saving to the hard drive, not an SD card) this lasts from anywhere between 20-30 seconds. Such a lengthy delay also impacts Stardew's initial start-up.
Before I continue, it would also be remiss of me to portray Stardew Valley on Switch as an experience that isn't worth your time, even in its current, mildly buggy state. If you can't play Stardew Valley on a desktop, then this is certainly the best way to experience its delights. After all, it is Stardew Valley in your hands. Yet it's the squandered potential that really stings, and it's that disappointment that has me questioning the permanence of the 'double dip' bubble.
In its current state, Stardew Valley on Switch is an unspectacular port of a spectacular game – one that could have easily outdone other console versions by fully utilising the Switch beyond its portability.
A far more grievous example of this, from the big-budget sphere, is the Switch version of Fifa 18, for which EA ditched online play against friends – a fundamental reason people buy Fifa in their millions – for reasons no one can adequately explain. The decision has marred an otherwise impressive recreation of the beautiful virtual game, but is it enough for a double dip crowd?
Yet while Fifa 18 has found relative success on Switch, which is to be expected from a juggernaut franchise, other multi-platform titles eyeing a simultaneous launch on other hardware may not.
Re-buying a game you already love so you can play it on the train, bus or toilet is a relatively easy sell, but asking players to choose a Switch version when pitted directly against PS4, Xbox and PC versions is a big ask if it's found lacking in content or polish.
Playing a console game on a portable machine, even if it is a hybrid one also built for play on a TV, will almost always require some level of technical compromise, but that doesn't excuse games that don't counter that compromise with creativity and by making the most of Switch's unique design.
Whether it's a first or second dip, any game coming to Switch is already buoyed by the hardware's inspired conceit, but "on Switch" should only be a starting point– Nintendo's brilliant machine and wonderful, creative indie games like Stardew Valley deserve no less.