One of the biggest and most successful video game companies of all time has played its next hand. What was once called the NX has finally been revealed. The latest offering into the console gaming market from Nintendo is at least named, if not fully known.
Say hello to the Nintendo Switch.
On October 20th, twitter exploded as a three and a half minute video tried to quench the thirsts of millions of gamers, eagerly awaiting the next project from the old gaming powerhouse.
After the success of the Wii, there had always been a bit of an unpleasant taste in the mouth left by the confusing Wii U, and Nintendo had seen their home console market share and reputation plummet from once being the household name with the likes of the NES, SNES and N64 consoles, to just being the company that made great handhelds. From the Gameboy and it’s iterations to the DS and it’s, no one could ever deny that Nintendo has dominated portable gaming for almost as long as portable gaming has been a thing. They didn’t actually create the medium, but it sure as hell feels like they did.
So, after the disappointment of the Wii U, what could Nintendo do to turn their fortunes around? That was the question that they were trying to answer within those three and a half minutes. And the Nintendo Switch, and playing to their strengths, was the outcome. It’s a console-handheld hybrid. One machine, two uses. Nintendo are trying to take the world of indoor, home console gaming, outside. And inside.
It looks like a tablet, after all is said and done. It has some neat (some call, gimmicky) tricks with its controller, and it has a docking station to allow it to be played on your TV. But, the most intriguing (and maybe gimmicky) aspect of it is the way all of this ‘fits’ together. To explain, the tablet is the console. Onto its sides slide the two controllers. They remind me of the original Wii controllers, in that they are easily held in one hand, with an analogue stick and standard buttons on the right hand side, and another analogue stick with the directional buttons on the left. And they literally seem to slide and clip onto the edges of the tablet. When removed, they can be played loosely in either hand, slid and clipped onto a peripheral that holds them closer together in an attempt to create more of a traditional gamepad, or (like the Wii controller (think Mario Kart)) turned horizontally allowing a friend to do the same with the other one for some local multiplayer. There is also a more conventional non-gimmicky gamepad for it as well.
On top of all of this sliding and clipping though, the whole console itself is designed to slide and clip some more, this time into the horseshoe-shaped base unit that sits under your TV for some big screen gaming. And if those three and a half minutes are anything to go by, you can play on the TV, slide the Switch out of its base, and the game appears on the tablets screen ready to go portable.
Alright, colour me interested. But now for that not fully known bit. As nice as the video was, that was pretty much all it showed off. That, its name, and the launch window (which we already knew) of March 2017. What we don’t know far exceeds what we do. How much will it cost? What’s the battery life on it when it’s out of that base? Does it have access to the library of games already out for the Wii U and 3DS? Modern gaming is all about being online, so does this thing connect only to WiFi, or will it have the ability to connect to mobile internet when out and about? How much storage does it have? Is the consoles tablet screen touchscreen? How powerful is it, can it compare to the PS4 or Xbox One? We saw a few games being played in that video, whilst only one of them has been officially confirmed as yet (the new Zelda), including a new Mario and Mario Kart. Are these things? What games will launch with it?
These questions will be answered soon enough, and prior to that March 2017 release window, but right now, all we can do is guess. In the meantime, however, let’s all watch that video again. Hello, Switch.