Finally, Nintendo has revealed their new gaming console and March 2017 couldn’t come soon enough for Nintendo fans and hardcore gamers. The new gaming console codenamed the Nintendo NX is now officially known as the Nintendo Switch. Most of the reveal is shown through a three and a half minute commercial featuring a cute system logo.
As predicted, the system will be a hybrid home and portable gaming console as immediately shown in the commercial. No more will your gaming be interrupted by your dog asking for a walk in order to do the business, or for a variety of other mundane reasons that require you to get off the couch including doing your own business.
The system console body resembles a tablet display around 8 to 9 inches. It rests on a special dock when used with a TV set. The dock is about the size of the Nintendo Wii, giving the systems a home console appearance. Its special wireless controller known as the Joy-Con can be taken apart and its two sides can be slid on the two sides of the tablet display thus enabling the system to be used as a portable. The commercial also shows that the hefty-looking Switch display body doesn’t need to be carried around for portable fun. The display can be put on a table with the aid of a kickstand while the two parts of the controller can be used on each hand (if you didn’t bring the central part of the Joy-Con that holds both pieces together). That’s one way to use it, or the player can simply tilt one part 90 degrees.
The Joy-Con’s appearance is where the logo is based. It’s a rounded square shaped controller that when connected to the Joy-Con Grip accessory, has analogue joysticks on the upper left part and the lower right. Four buttons reside on the lower left and the upper right. The Joy-Con appears to be reversible (not specified though it might be an intriguing prospect if it can be used by lefties). The real function of the design is for the Joy-Con to be split and put on either side of the tablet display or be used for some two-player action. The left part tilts to the left, and the right part tilts to the right giving both players an analogue joystick and four buttons to work with. If the Joy-Con seems uncomfortable to use, like the Wii U, there’s an optional more comfortable Nintendo Switch Pro controller which resembles a Playstation controller. Like modern consoles today, the controllers are wireless.
As mentioned, the system can be enjoyed by two players thanks to the controller design and the display, despite being small supports split screen for games like Mario Kart. Speaking of multi-player, two Nintendo Switch owners can pair their devices and play head to head more comfortably using their own displays for games like NBA 2K. The system also supports multi-player LAN-party style for games like Splatoon as shown in the commercial.
Surprisingly, the commercial didn’t show kids using the system which mainly suggests that while most of Nintendo’s games are for the whole family, Nintendo is targeting the teenage to young adult crowd. As or the games, the commercial shows that the Nintendo Switch will use game cartridges which is logical given the medium’s high capacity and faster load times. The games shown in the commercial include the featured launch title, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a new Super Mario platforming game, a new version of Mario Kart, NBA 2K17, and a ported or new version of Splatoon. Players can expect to look forward to several third party titles since Nintendo partnered with some 3rd part developers like Activision, makers of Call of Duty and Take-Two Interactive, makers of Grand Theft Auto.
Despite having a tablet display, it’s unclear in the commercial or several other write-ups whether the display has touch functionality like in the Wii U but unlike the Wii U which requires a 30-foot distance from the main console for portable gaming, the Nintendo Switch is completely portable. Also, unlike our theoretical Nintablet device that uses Android, the operating system is unspecified and most likely be Nintendo’s own platform. The Nintendo Switch will ship on March 2017 though pricing is unspecified but rumored to be less than $300.
Now here are 5 questions that Nintendo has really specified about the Nintendo Switch that are important:
How long is the battery life?
Honestly, if I could just pick one question that is key to the success or failure of the Nintendo Switch, it would be this one. While it’s great that Nintendo has made a mobile-focused console, without the battery life to support it, the entire concept could be rendered useless. I recall some less than fond memories of the SEGA Nomad which would play actual Genesis games but was a failure because of hilariously bad battery usage.
There are a few factors that make me concerned about the potential battery life of the Switch, namely that this is a handheld that has to be powerful enough to run home console games on the go, which is no small feat. Also, it itself is a charger for the controllers that attach to its sides. And lastly, every Wii U owner knows the pain of how absolutely terrible the Gamepad’s battery life was, and if the Switch screen is similar, that may be a significant problem.
One saving grace could be the fact that the Switch screen might not be bogged down with components like cameras, a gyroscope or even touchscreen capabilities, which could help with battery life. Nintendo hasn’t confirmed that the Switch screen is just that, just a screen, but it seems probable at this point. Still, battery life is the single biggest question about the system that needs to be answered as soon as possible, as the entire concept rests on the answer.
Exactly how much will the Nintendo Switch cost plus accessories?
It’s reasonable to believe that a new Nintendo system will not cost much more than $300-$350 at launch. Nintendo has always been a lower cost alternative to its rival systems (though the Wii U’s price has not kept up with PS4 and XB1 price drops as of late), so to debut a new system at say, $400 would be a pretty significant departure.
While I don’t imagine this will happen, I’m not sure I can rule it out either. This is a piece of hardware that now effectively operates as a home console and a designated handheld, when previously those have always been two separate devices with two separate prices.
The fate of the 3DS is still unknown, but it seems possible that the Switch may end up replacing the unit in the next few years, and then Nintendo will only be selling one device to fans, not two. Would the price be set high to compensate for that, or will Nintendo make sure to keep it down in order to maintain the status quo? Also, it’s unclear what accessories the console may or may not come with, like the heavily advertised and seemingly necessarily Pro controller, for instance.
Just how far does that third party support go?
“Nintendo can throw up a giant image full of all these brand logos that are supporting the Switch, but It’s impossible to know what those mean. Is Ubisoft delivering only Just Dance, or alsoAssassin’s Creed: Empire a year from now? Does Activision’s appearance mean Call of Duty andDestiny are heading to Switch, or is it probably going to be Skylanders? Everyone was making a big fuss about Skyrim Special Edition essentially headlining the Switch debut, but that will be a five month-old game when the Switch launches, and I’m much more curious if the system will get say, Elder Scrolls VI when that’s released.
What I’m predicting here is what happened with the Wii U. We see early Switch versions of Xbox One and PS4 games, some probably months after their initial release, but that eventually trails off because of the power limitations of the console and the fact that it’s often a tough sell to port games to Nintendo products, regardless of that. Remember when Ubisoft made two separateAssassin’s Creed games in one year, one for 360/PS3 and one for Xbox One/PS4, and neither of them came to the Wii U? Often the problem is more than just horsepower. And if this is some brilliant new era of third party cooperation, why did the biggest third party game of next year, Red Dead Redemption 2, just get announced without even a whisper that it might come to the Switch?”
The end result could be promising. The idea is that if the Switch is at least as powerful as the base-level PS4 and Xbox One, that many third party games could be developed alongside those versions for the Switch, avoiding many of the Wii U’s problems. But again, we have heard this song and dance before, and Nintendo always seems to come up short within a year or two, as series and publishers flee their hardware for one reason or another.
How comfortable is the new controller?
While I was excited to see a pretty clear emphasis put on a new version of the Pro controller, some of the other configurations of the Switch looked….less than appealing.
There’s a controller that forms when the two pieces of the Switch controller are slotted together, which many have said looks like a cross-eyed cartoon dog, but I’m more curious about how that would actually be to hold in your hand, as it doesn’t look terrible grip-friendly.
I have faith playing the Switch on the go when the controllers are hooked into the side will work at least as well as it did with the Wii U gamepad, which was indeed a lot more comfortable than it looked, but probably less so than a DS/3DS has been.
But when the controllers are taken off the screen and used as what appears to be a pair of Wiimotes, or worse yet, each one is used individually for multiplayer games, that looks incredibly painful for any adult human. The screen is tiny, and the controllers look like they’re made for ants at that point. If these configurations are more obnoxious than useful, some of the key selling points of the system will be damaged.
Is the mobility thing really that useful?
On the surface, I understand how the Switch appeals to a certain segment of the population, depending on your living situation. It’s great for commuters on buses, trains or airplanes, that’s pretty clear. It’s great for families with kids who can be occupied by the system, and even play multiplayer. But…who else?
I’m sorry but I can’t buy some of the situations that Nintendo presented in the original trailer, like bringing the Switch to a rooftop dinner party, or busting out a pair of them after a basketball game so you can play…more basketball on the device. Also, I didn’t really understand the use of aSplatoon eSports league, as you would almost always just be using an actual TV or monitor in a professional setting, not a tiny six-inch screen as you sit on the floor somewhere.
This is pretty much dependent on how much traveling you do. If you’re lucky to always be driven, there’s a use or if you fly a lot. This seems like many may wind up just using it to play games when the television is being used by someone else, but then that is exactly what you could do on the Wii U.