Released on the console back in the Fall of 2018, InkyPen allows Nintendo Switch owners to peruse an exciting array of Western and Eastern comic books. The former group includes titles from publishers such as Archie, IDW and Valiant, but recently, they’ve also added a plethora of manga, courtesy of Kodansha, the second-largest manga publisher in the world.
Kodansha publishes such renown series’ as Attack on Titan, Akira, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime and several Japanese light novels. It’s certainly a boon for Switch users, and its $7.99 price makes the endless reading potential a steal. Despite how exciting the app might be, it’s certainly puzzling as to why its exclusively on the Switch. After all, the console has recently had its third birthday and is still without several stalwart apps and programs that are usually sure things on modern video game consoles. Here’s a look at what programs Switch owners are still begging for, and why InkyPen may have beaten them to the punch.
Since the Switch launched, many have bemoaned the lack of what should be guaranteed apps. These include Netflix and other streaming programs, as well as a dedicated web browser. These absences are especially egregious, given that they are not only present on other current gen platforms, but were also on the Switch’s predecessors, the Wii and the Wii U. Despite lacking what many would see as priority services for modern consoles and gadgets, the Switch does have exclusivity for InkyPen. Perhaps the performance of the Wii U made Netflix hesitant to work with Nintendo for the Switch, but the Switch’s performance so far should have assuaged those fears.
The platform was apparently envisioned from the getgo for the Switch, and so far plans for other consoles and devices are only tentative. InkyPen even bypassed a mobile format, even though this might have made the most sense as a place to read comics and manga. The benefits of a mobile format are notably arguable, given the growing success of Webtoon. A version of the service for Android and iOS would have been a good way to test the waters before branching out into video game consoles. With how long in the making the service had to have been, it also means that planning began when the Switch was still a relatively new console. Since its immediate predecessor was such a notorious flop, why make a comic book and manga reader for the still fledgling console?
The most obvious reason for why the Switch was the perfect home for InkyPen is its own dual format. Not only can it broadcast media onto a TV screen like a home console, but it can also be taken on the go. This essentially makes it the last and only handheld video game console on the market, as even Nintendo’s own venerable 3DS line is now dead in all but name. Likewise, its widescreen also makes it a good way to view reading material.
Another benefit is that the app launches on the Switch with a relative lack of competition. Without Netflix or Internet, Switch users will want something to occupy their time with the system when they’re not using it to game. On top of that, there’s simply nothing else like InkyPen for the Switch, as even Crunchyroll, who had an app for the Wii U, currently lacks such an app for the current system.
There’s also the high probability of crossover appeal between the manga available through the service and video games based on them. The Switch has become known as the home of niche Japanese titles, picking up the slack from the defunct Playstation Vita to give players the chance to experience weird, off-the-wall games from the East. Many of the licensed anime games on the platform are also available for the PS4, but some of the Switch’s first-party titles, such as Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, have a heavily anime-inspired aesthetic. Thus, a manga reader definitely feels more at home on the Switch, as opposed to the Microsoft Xbox One.
While this does help explain why the app’s creators chose the Switch over other current gaming consoles, it’s still certainly a sore point without any Netflix or web browser to accompany it. Hopefully, if fan demand and popularity for InkyPen sore, the anime for the Kodansha books could be added to the app as well. Until then, Switch users have seemingly endless reading material through InkyPen, and basically no watching material through anyone else.
Here's a look at what programs Switch owners are still begging for, and why InkyPen might have beaten them to the punch.