Switching it up!
Last week Nintendo debuted the Switch to the world. Formerly known only as ‘NX’, the Switch is Nintendo’s latest foray into the console market, due to release March 2017.
Despite the Wii U launching only a short time before the PS4 and Xbox One hit the shelves, both of which are still going strong, its struggle to find a foothold in the industry meant that the only smart option for Nintendo was to retire the hardware and bring out a successor a little early.
It’s not overly strange, then, that Nintendo have looked toward their ever-popular DS family of systems for inspiration, and have made a hybrid home/portable console experience. The premiere trailer of the Switch shows plenty of folks undocking the console (a fairly large looking tablet) and carrying it with them to play on the go – whilst travelling, at parties or even just walking the dog. This portability is an exciting idea that was, ironically, trialled with the Wii U. Both systems have a tablet-style approach, hoping, no doubt, to bridge the gap between app-based gamers and the mainstream gaming industry.
The Wii U was bundled with a tablet-controller that meant your gaming didn’t always have to take place on the big screen, and whilst Nintendo never championed the idea of actually taking the console out and about, anywhere with a wall-socket could effectively allow savvy fans console-quality-gaming on the go. With the Switch, Nintendo seem to have embraced this idea wholeheartedly, focusing on the portability of the system exclusively during their three minute announcement.
It of course brings up some concerns regarding battery life and durability, all of which will be detailed by Nintendo between now and its March release. The company have stated that there will be a big, detail-filled announcement in January, with the price of the system and its launch lineup of games also set to be revealed.
Besides this new focus on schlepping your console around with you everywhere you go, Nintendo has really broken the mould with its snapping, clicking and sliding approach to peripherals. The tablet itself is bookended by two halves of the controller. In its portable state, this means that the piece does look – and presumably feel – a lot like the original Wii U tablet, allowing for a generously large on-the-go gaming experience without having to resort to awkward touch screen controls. But once you’re home you can easily slide the pieces from the tablet and click them together for a more comfortable, traditional controller. The console itself slides into a dock which then runs the game through your television set.
There are loads of ‘what ifs’ at the moment, possibilities that won’t realistically be addressed for a while yet, but it doesn’t stop us all from postulating. There are directions that Nintendo could run with this customizable experience for some really exciting possibilities, such as the idea of game-specific controller halves that could perfect a lot of experiences that struggle to adapt to a traditional control setup (Kid Icarus Uprising, I’m looking at you.) The detachable nature of the halves (that can be used completely separately) also lend themselves to gamers with disabilities, and the potential for further development on these ideas is hopefully an avenue Nintendo explore.
Finally the controller halves (officially titled Joy-Cons, by the way) can be divvied up between mates for a quick local session of Splatoon or Smash Bros., whilst the tablet comes with a kick-stand to accommodate for this sort of off-the-cuff gaming session whilst you’re out and about. Honestly I don’t see myself taking my brand new $XXX purchase out of the house anytime soon, especially just to get schooled by street toughs on Mario Kart, but it’s neat that the feature is there, despite the security concerns.
Overall I’m excited for the Switch – or at least cautiously optimistic. It may yet be another underdog in the newfound race to ever-higher resolutions and flashy features that the industry finds itself obsessed with at the moment.
But at the very least you can guarantee the Switch will be home to stellar first party titles, a bunch of familiar faces and another new twist on gaming that no one really saw coming.
Nintendo has just informed us that Nintendo’s Director Tatsumi Kimishima will announce more details, pricing and line-up on Nintendo’s Switch next year, January 13 2017 in Tokio. We’ll keep you updated.