Nintendo, a company cemented in gaming history as one of the biggest and iconic names in the industry, has just announced their newest attempt at staying relevant in an ever advancing market, the Nintendo Switch. The switch is a hybrid home and handheld console that seems to have a strong focus on playing together, with other flesh and blood human beings, in the same room. The three minute release teaser shows off many aspects of the consoles design and seems to showcase an impressive amount of power… for a portable system, also with some other interesting aspects that I will now meticulously take apart and analyse. It should be noted however that a lot of detail is still to be released about the console in the coming months, which Nintendo has stated will likely not be discussed until after the New Year, but without further ado, let’s get this underway.
There hasn’t been many details released about the specs of the system, but it is a home console that you can also take on the go. The main console, a tablet, sits in a docking station that is only for charging and connecting to your TV, but can be removed at any point, at which the game will transfer to the tablet screen and can be played using the Joy-Con controllers, which slide onto the side of the tablet, or can be used wirelessly, but wewill talk about the controllers in more detail in just a moment. The Switch is also the first home console since the Nintendo 64 to use cartridges, similar to those used in the 3DS. Cartridges are certainly the way forward for smaller form factor gaming consoles, as a CD drive requires a lot of internal space, as well as disks having a lot slower transfer speeds, meaning the switch has more internal space for hardware, and will load games much faster than Sony and Microsoft rivals. The tablet however is rumoured to only have a capacitive multi touch 720p screen, which has caused quite a bit of unease and speculation into the true power of the system as many feel it needs to be at least equivalent to the power of the current generation of consoles to stand a chance in the market.
As mentioned earlier, they are calling the new controller that is packaged with the system, the ‘Joy-Con Controller’, which can be connected to the side of the console or to a dedicated wireless controller dock known as the ‘Joy-Con Grip’ to form what seems like a more normal looking controller, at least by Nintendo standards. They are two little remotes that seem to be inverse mirrors of each other, which can be used together with some games, or can be used separated by two players for some split screen action. This shows that Nintendo still value local co-op, which is certainly something lacking in an ever growing online world, at which can now be taken anywhere to boot, rather than needing to be attached to a TV as well. However for those that look for a more traditional controller, then they need not look any further than the Switch Pro Controller, which is much more similar to an Xbox one controller than anything else, and according to one of the players featured in the reveal trailer, is the most comfortable controller he has ever held, to which I won’t hold my breath but is certainly sounding promising at the least.
Third Party Development
For anyone who has followed Nintendo’s recent entries into the console market, especially the Wii U, you will know they haven’t had much luck in bringing all the devs to the yard, but this time around, they seem to have upped their milkshake game, releasing an image showing the vast amount of third party developers which are supporting the console, at least for the time being. Capcom has already voiced their concerns in porting their current console heavy hitters to the Switch, seeming to come on the heels of the news that the console may not be as powerful as some would like. The reveal trailer did show the system running Skyrim: Special Edition and an NBA 2k game as well, but neither publisher for the respective games have said if the games will actually be released on the Switch or not.
In Other News
The reveal trailer did show some other interesting aspects of the console, mainly that Nintendo seem to appreciate and look to accommodate the rise of eSport with the Switch, showing off professionals planning their strategies and playing in large stadiums, which is an exciting prospect seeing Nintendo take these aspects of gaming a lot more seriously.
Sadly there is little other information out there at the moment regarding the console, and we will have to wait until next year before further information is revealed, however, there are some aspects that do concern me quite a lot, especially since I want to see this console do well. The biggest concern is the power of the console, how powerful can a portable tablet be? We have seen companies try and enter into this field, such as Nvidia and Razer both having a crack, but with little to no success. Nintendo are getting help however, with an upgraded version of the Tegra chip from the Nvidia Shield being stated as the main GPU of the system, using the same architecture as the current 10 series of Nvidia’s flagship graphic cards, which is promising, but leads to the second big issue, battery life. Nintendo are usually known for their handheld systems having an impressive battery life, however, the Wii U gamepad, the main controller for the system, had an absolutely atrocious one of only around 2 to 3 hours, at best, and with a much more power hungry system being developed, it begs the question how good the battery could be? The system is shown to be very slender and is rumoured to only have a 6.2 inch screen, as such there isn’t much room for both impressive hardware and a battery good enough to support it. There will need to be some impressive, state of the art technology to really make this ambitious console perform as well as it will need to, to be a competitor in one of the most advanced markets in the world.