Two weeks ago it looked like the official announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2 was going to be the video game story of that week, but then on October 20th Nintendo stole the thunder with the reveal of their next console, the Nintendo Switch. I assume that as this point just about everyone has seen the reveal trailer for the Switch, but just in case anyone hasn’t, I’ve embedded it below. Disappointingly, the Switch trailer did not utilize the music of a certain Will Smith song by the same name.
New console reveals are always big news in the world of video games, and the Switch has generated a tremendous amount of buzz, both from the general gaming community, and the hardcore Nintendo fans, who are frothing at the mouth. For me, the Switch is more a product that I’m curious about than I’m genuinely excited for. I’ve never had much of a heritage with Nintendo consoles or their first-party lineup of games, and I suspect that’s a large part of the reason I’m not hyped for the Switch. The only Nintendo console I’ve ever owned was the Nintendo Wii, which gave me two or three fairly good years but afterwards faded into an obscurity that it never recovered from. Whereas PlayStation and Xbox have long held strong positions in my mind with regards to gaming, Nintendo hardware currently holds a second-tier status, and Nintendo is going to have to do a fair amount to convince me to make the switch (pun fully intended).
As for the Switch’s hardware, it looks to be an evolution of Ninentedo’s last console, the Wii U. Everything now appears to be in the gaming tablet, with games either played on the tablet’s screen when you’re on the go, or on your TV when the tablet is put into the docking station. The controllers on either side of the tablet screen can be detached and put into a more traditional looking controller, or held independently in your hands. Some sort of pro controller is also shown in the trailer, for those that prefer a form factor closer to that of an Xbox controller. Cartridges, a medium Nintendo abandoned after the Nintendo 64 era in favor of optical discs, are making a comeback on the Switch, and the console itself will not have any sort of DVD or Blu-ray drive. As for technical specifications it seems we don’t know much other than that the Switch is using a custom version of Nvidia’s Tegra processor. I think it’s safe to assume the Switch will be more powerful than the Wii U, but exactly how it compares to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One remains to be seen. More official information is scheduled to be revealed in January of next year, and the Switch will then be launched two months later in March.
All of those details are well and good, but there’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered before I’d ever consider buying a Switch, such at the tablet’s battery life and especially what games we can expect within the next year or two on the Switch. In the reveal trailer we saw Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the remastered version of Skyrim, Mario Kart 8, a basketball game (probably some version of one of the recent NBA 2K games) a Mario game that I don’t recognize, and Splatoon. This is a decent variety of games covering multiple genres, but three of them (Skyrim, Mario Kart, and Splatoon) are just special editions of already existing games. As good as those games may be, I hope Nintendo isn’t repeating the pattern of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and relying heavily on remastered editions of older games during the early years of the Switch’s lifecycle. The other big question surrounding the Switch’s games is whether or not it will get long-term third-party support. The presence of Skyrim and the basketball game in the trailer, as well as a list of third-party developers and publishers who are planning on supporting the console, is a promising start, but after the dismal third-party offerings of the Wii U’s lifecycle, I think we should all hold off on trusting Nintendo until we see the games for ourselves. The last big thing I’m wondering about the Switch is whether it spells the end of Nintendo creating new portable devices along the lines of the 3DS. As someone who’s not involved in portable gaming this question doesn’t really affect me, but with the Switch’s portable functionality being such a major part of the reveal trailer, I could see Nintendo slowly phasing out its other portable devices and pushing as its sole gaming platform in the future.
For now, that’s all I have to say on the Switch, and I doubt I’ll do any more writing pieces on it until after more official information is revealed by Nintendo at their Switch showcase event this coming January. At that point we will hopefully have a full picture of what to expect from their new console and be able to make an informed opinion on it. As someone who is not a Nintendo fanboy and has not played many Nintendo games in his life, I’m watching the Switch from a distance with both interest and caution. For the moment Nintendo has caught my attention, but we’ll see whether or not they sell me on their new console.