Switch Me On Nintendo
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Nintendo’s latest console, Nintendo Switch, coming to your nearest store March 2017. After numerous speculations of the console’s form, they finally unveiled it as a hybrid console. Yes, Nintendo Switch is a home console that can be transformed, or switched in this case, into a handheld. It’s a bold move from Nintendo, considering that producing both handheld and home console has been a trademark of Nintendo for decades. The shift of the strategy, however, is a needed one as Nintendo’s currently struggling to support their handheld and home console; both Wii U and 3DS are lacking with AAA games that can match exclusive games offered by their competitors. Developing games for both consoles also divide Nintendo’s resource and time. By unifying the ecosystem, they can improve their efficiency and provide more games for players to enjoy.
The trailer doesn’t take long to showcase its main function. Accompanied by new and old games alike, it gives people some ideas about its capability as a home console and a handheld. Do you want to play Skyrim but have to buy groceries? Just detach the console from its dock, put the controller into it, and you’re ready to go. The console lets you pick up the game where you left off. It sounds good for people who commute or often travel to other places. They can take their game with them to work, play it on the bus or at lunch break, and then continue it at home by playing on television; playing whenever you want and wherever you are. It’s game changing.
The functionality of switching from a home console into a handheld is possible due to Joy-Con’s flexibility. Joy-Con is a controller specially designed for Nintendo Switch which consists of two halves: the left part consists of a d-pad and an analog and the right part has an analog and the standard set of A/B/X/Y buttons. What makes Joy-Con stands out from other controllers, however, is its varied functionalities and versatility. It can be detached from an accessory that holds them together into the two halves. You can integrate the halves into the console, transforming the console into a handheld. You also can use the halves separately à la the Wii Remote. Joy-Con’s biggest surprise, however, is its ability to be used by two players. Yes, each player can use one of the halves to play a local co-op game with another player in one console.
Nintendo Switch’s feature that makes it possible for two people to play local co-op game by using one console is the one that really excites me. While it’s true that not all games may support the future due to controller’s shape and other limitations, the possibility to play with other players whenever you want and wherever you are is intriguing. When playing a game on today’s consoles becomes an individual activity thanks to online multiplayer, Nintendo Switch encourages people to play a game with their friends. It’s a great marketing to appeal non-gamers. Let’s say that I bring the console when I hang out with my friends. Rather than playing it alone and making them watch me play, I can let them join me by giving one of the halves of the controller to them. I don’t need to bring additional controllers and I can do it right at where we are. If they like the experience, it’s likely that they’d buy it, especially since the console lets people hook up multiple consoles to play a multiplayer game together.
The emphasize of playing a game together in the trailer is understandable. It’s hard for Nintendo to compete head to head with other home consoles for a room in gamers’ house; both PS4 and Xbox One already have a strong player base. Consequently, Nintendo resorts to the same markets that make the Wii gains a massive success: casual gamers and non-gamers. By highlighting the ease of setting up a local co-op game, they want to deliver a message that everyone can enjoy playing it together. It’s, however, rather odd that in the trailer they only include people in their 20s. Older adults, and particularly children, don’t appear in the video. If they want to take the market seriously, it’d be natural that the reveal includes them. But I guess the decision not to include them in the trailer is taken to maintain consistency and prevents bloated contents.
While Nintendo Switch’s capabilities sound great, there are still some issues that must be addressed by Nintendo. Although they reveal that the console is powered by Nvidia’s custom Tegra processor, the specification of the console is still not clear. Battery life is also vital as Nintendo Switch’s main selling point is its capability to be used as a handheld. In addition, it seems that each half of the Joy-Con has its own battery which means that there are three batteries in Nintendo Switch. That’s a lot of batteries for a console. But hopefully, there will be some battery pack that can increase its battery life even further.
Although the idea of playing a local co-op game using only one console sounds great, the size of the controller is kinda worrying. Obviously, when the Joy-Con is separated into two halves that can be used by two people, it doesn’t have a grip for your palm and could be cramp-inducing. I hope I’m wrong, but it’s just the way the actors hold the controller doesn’t give much reassurance about its comfort.
Then Nintendo still needs to explain how the account and region system work in this new console. They confirm that Nintendo Switch won’t play Wii U discs and 3DS cartridges, so it’s safe to assume that it can’t play the digital version of the games too. But it’s unclear whether the Virtual Console titles bought on the Wii U, the 3DS, or the Wii can be transferred to Nintendo Switch. It could be a kick in a gut for people who invest their time and money in Nintendo’s ecosystem if Nintendo decides that they can’t carry over their games to the new console. Let’s hope that Nintendo’s not being “Nintendo” in this matter.
Games, of course, are the one that makes or break the console. One of the reasons why the Wii U becomes a failure is due to the lack of games and third-party support. Fortunately, Nintendo has announced Nintendo Switch’s partners and the number of publishers and developers that support the console is pretty impressive. I expect a strong line-up from Nintendo with new Zelda as one of its launch release, but we currently have no idea what third-party games that are coming to the console. Even Skyrim and NBA 2K17 that make an appearance in the trailer aren’t still confirmed for the console. It’s likely, however, that Nintendo Switch’s partners only port their existing games which is fine with me. Imagine playing Dark Soul or Skyrim on the handheld. That kind of thought is the reason why I’m sold to Nintendo Switch’s concept.
Nintendo Switch could be a big thing for Nintendo. The trailer gives a really good impression regarding the console’s capability as both a home console and a handheld. However, there are still many questions that are left unanswered. We know what the console can do, but that’s it. There’s no information regarding the specification of the console, the games, and the supports that it gets, so it’s kinda silly that I’m hyped with this product. They’ve still got time to polish the console and its announcement. Hopefully, this wouldn’t be the next Wii U.
May heaven give you luck, Nintendo.