Goodbye, Nintendo NX, we hardly knew you. Hello, Nintendo Switch…
We… pretty much hardly know you, too.
The veil of secrecy is lifted. Nintendo‘s new console is called the Switch and is, at least in concept, a very cool idea. We had leaks, sure, but it’s always nice to see the actual thing working (in a PR video, at least). The concept of a portable console experience has been talked about for a long time. The Playstation Vita was pretty much an attempt at making a portable device with the power of a home console (and it is a pretty cool device at that). But Nintendo wants to break that barrier. No longer a portable with console aspirations… but rather a console that is straight up portable.
It’s hard to explain how it works unless you have seen the leaks, or the introduction video above. But the Switch is basically a small tablet with the power of a console, that uses two small controllers as input. These controllers can be used on their own (or docked in a controller-like shell as seen in the GIF), but they can be inserted into the Switch and it suddenly becomes like a Vita.
And now you can game with your console… on the go.
Rest in peace, Playstation Vita (just kidding, I still love you).
The video presents a machine that, if working as advertised, could be a very cool device. The controllers (called “Joy-Cons“) can work on their own, without the need for the dock seen in the top gif) and can even work separately as independent inputs to play multiplayer games:
But we know almost nothing beyond what’s presented. The dock is apparently just a cool looking “microUSB to HDMI” adapter. Every gameplay shown is defined by Nintendo as “representative” – a target, if you will; at this point in time, however, Nintendo would be foolish to not at least be on pair with other consoles graphically. A peek at the “representative” gameplay of the new Mario game:
It would even seem multiple Switches can play together in co-op or competitive games via Wifi… or maybe Ad-hoc? At least these guys seem to be playing against each other…
There’s a more traditional controller option (called the “Pro”) which will likely be sold separately.
Perhaps the coolest tidbit:
Back to cartridges! It had been rumored for quite a while but also confirmed is that the Switch will use carts instead of discs, like the Vita or 3DS. Loading speeds are bound to be very fast, and as today’s cards can hold insane amounts of data it shouldn’t be much of a problem for developers. Speaking of which, there’s a *lot* of third party developers that are working on Switch right now. Big names like Bethesda (we saw Skyrim in the video), Square Enix, Capcom, EA, Bandai Namco, Ubisoft, Take Two and *gulp* From Software.
Let’s not forget, however, that as cool as our Skyrims, Bravely Defaults and Sonics are… what Nintendo consoles always have in spades are Nintendo first-party exclusives, and those are usually always worth a look. Mario and Zelda are definitely coming. Dare I hope for a new Metroid?
All this is nice and cool. A great concept, innovative stuff, etc. But there are important questions up in the air…
This is essentially a portable console… what about battery life and (why not?) heat (I don’t want exploding Switchs being banned from air travel!)? It’s powered by a custom Nvidia Tegra processor and “an NVIDIA GPU based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards” (source) so that’s gonna require a lot of power! Will it match current consoles graphical power-wise? And that’s for the console… what about the controllers? Will they use AAA batteries? On another topic, what about the OS? The console’s online capabilities? PRICE? All we know is it’s launching in March 2017.
And finally, my #1 question: is the Switch the successor to the Wii U AND the 3DS? It’s a portable console as well! Not to confuse with a new console having backwards compatibility with both consoles, but rather the next step… a single console that will become the focus of Nintendo, leaving behind the console and portable mentality to fuse it all in a “one device” future? It’s not secret the Wii U is not what many expected, and it’s a console I gladly ignored. The 3DS, however, it’s a machine that has a lot of great games. Big names! Basically it has the library I wish the Vita had.
If the Switch has a libraby comprised of the best the Wii U can offer and the best the 3DS can offer as well, becoming the de facto Nintendo console… it could very well become a true must buy.
Only time will tell, though. For now, we have to wait for more info, but what we have been shown is interesting. I remain cautiously optimistic.