Our First Introduction to the Nintendo Switch
It’s Not a Portable Console, It’s a Console That’s Portable
The veil has dropped, folks. Today, Nintendo released an introductory video to the gaming system formerly known as the NX – a home console/handheld hybrid called the Nintendo Switch.
What the Hell is It?
It’s a new platform that’s essentially a tablet with modular controllers. The tablet can be docked within a base that attaches to your TV so that you can enjoy an old fashioned home console experience.
Your two “Joy-Con” controllers – the two pieces up there featuring one joystick and four buttons each – can be attached to the “Joy-Con Grip” for more traditional play, used decoupled (sort of like the Wii’s Nunchuks), or shared independently for some quick (and rather basic) multiplayer. If the Joy-Con setup isn’t working out, or if you’re simply embarrassed having to call the damn things “Joy-Cons,” Nintendo’s making a new Pro Controller option available. Oh, joy.
But you’re on the go, and your Splatoon addiction can no longer be confined in the cage that is your home. Here’s where it gets interesting: undock the Switch tablet and take your console game on the move. The Joy-Cons can mount to each side of the tablet for optimal handheld play. The system even has a kickstand on the back so that you can kick back and play with the Joy-Cons wirelessly.
What About the Games?
The Switch’s announce trailer revealed that we’re going back to cartridges, but not the plastic monstrosities of yesteryear. They’re more akin to the tiny cart the 3DS uses (yes, it’ll be so very easy to lose just about every part and parcel this machine has but, hey, add-on sales is where it’s at).
The previously confirmed Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was shown off (at home and out), in addition to either ports or updates of Splatoon and Mario Kart. More titillating was a brief glimpse of a new Mario title (!) and gameplay of Skyrim: Remastered (!!). Nintendo launching the console with a new Mario; smart. Nintendo mending relationships with third-parties and attracting them to the Switch; downright brilliant.
On that point, here’s a list of third-party partners planning or developing games for Nintendo’s hybrid heaven:
But How Powerful is It?
I’m not a tech guy, so I’ll post the facts straight from the Yoshi’s mouth:
“Nintendo Switch is powered by the performance of the custom Tegra processor. The high-efficiency scalable processor includes an NVIDIA GPU based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards.
The Nintendo Switch’s gaming experience is also supported by fully custom software, including a revamped physics engine, new libraries, advanced game tools and libraries. NVIDIA additionally created new gaming APIs to fully harness this performance. The newest API, NVN, was built specifically to bring lightweight, fast gaming to the masses.
Gameplay is further enhanced by hardware-accelerated video playback and custom software for audio effects and rendering.”
Given that I didn’t see the word “teraflops” bandied about, the Switch may not be able to compete in terms of sheer horsepower with the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or their souped up remodels coming down the line. But that’s true to Nintendo’s form. Quality over quantity. Slow and steady wins the race. Gaming chops over teraflops… Okay, this fell apart quickly. Moving on.
Neat! When’s It Come Out and How Much?
Oh, silly reader. Not announcing release dates or price points is what keeps this industry afloat! The Nintendo Switch is set for launch sometime in March 2017; a specific price point is still up in the air. However, an upcoming Nintendo Direct is said to be clearing up all this rank mystique as well as locking down an official lineup of launch titles.
The Nintendo Switch hinges on a gimmick, absolutely. But it’s a really cool gimmick. Console games on the go? It’s the promise of the Vita fulfilled (with a slightly less stupid name). Emerging from the flaming wreckage that was the Wii U, I feel this is such a positive leap in the right direction. I’m not seeing half-baked motion controls or childish variety games. I was shown legitimate IP on a device making a concerted effort to keep up with my tastes beyond the living room. It’s sleek, it’s modern, it’s awesome. Pure and simple.
There’s still so much that can damage my excitement, though. How much play will the battery support when it’s undocked? How’s the resolution on the tablet’s screen? Is there an obvious benefit, especially in regards to frame-rate, when docked as opposed to undocked? How much game can stuff into those little carts? Will I ever get over how dumb “Joy-Con” sounds? I’m genuinely interested in finding out these answers. And it’s been a while since Nintendo has garnered “genuine interest” from me.