Breaking Down the Info from the Hybrid Console’s Big Presser
When Nintendo finally revealed the Switch back in late October, I was left more excited about the company’s future in hardware than I have been in years. Granted, that initial trailer was the idealized vision of the console: it was direct in its messaging while shrewdly omitting any hype-strangling details like battery life, resolution, and, most importantly, price. What we were left with was the exciting prospect of console quality games (like the newest Zelda opus) on a handheld hybrid that features modular controllers; a machine that cobbles together what Nintendo is best at – forward thinking portability and first-party games so good they stand head and shoulders with the best this industry has to give.
On Thursday, Nintendo began filling in the blanks, setting about to answer (at least some) of the questions fans have had circling in their heads since the system’s unveiling. You can watch the entire conference here but, coming from someone that sat through a livestream of the proceeding – awaiting something, anything, that signaled Nintendo’s return to form – I’d recommend just reading up on the cliff notes.
Though the affair was poised in the same fashion as one of Sony’s knockout E3 conferences, Nintendo couldn’t land the same blows. I began the show with more enthusiasm than Nintendo let me leave with. After the abject failure of the Wii U (a console that only managed to push slightly north of 13 million units – the worst sales in Nintendo’s hardware history barring the Virtual Boy) the Switch needed to be touted as a reckoning. It was Nintendo’s chance to convince the fence-sitters to choose their side of the picket. We didn’t get that Thursday night.
Nintendo has always floundered in the stage show department, though. You’re asking the same company that thought this shit was a good idea to try and wow us in an hour and a half. Nintendo’s like that shy kid at the back of the class: he tests well and always turns in his homework, but the second you ask him to walk up to the board and present, he becomes a mumbling, incoherent mess. Of course they shit the bed. This is Nintendo we’re talking about. Credit to that first Switch video, though. I fell for it, too! I wrongly assumed Nintendo was trying to demonstrate they’ve turned a new leaf (no pun intended, Animal Crossing fans). At the presentation, however, it seems Nintendo isn’t just making its same old mistakes but brand new ones.
But I think it’s important to remember that a poor showcase isn’t enough reason to condemn the hardware itself. The tech, despite Nintendo’s aloof messaging, still looks cool. So let’s try to unpack what we learned at the showcase (and the info we gleaned in the days following) without having to suffer through awkward squid doctors and a translator whose probably looking for a new job right about now:
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.
Nintendo Shuts Down Fan Remake of Metroid II (Happy 30th Anniversary!)
Coinciding Samus Aran’s 30th birthday, a fan made remake of Metroid II was released for download hereabouts under the name AM2R: Return of Samus. Project AM2R lovingly remastered the 1991 Game Boy classic with graphics closer to the SNES’ Super Metroid while infusing it with the snappy gameplay of latter-day sequel Metroid: Zero Mission. Featuring redrawn sprites, updated enemy AI, brand new areas to explore, and a better interface than the colorless Game Boy could house, AM2R is a better remake than some of the tepid “remasterings” publishers shit out into stores these days.
Naturally, Nintendo responded to this fan celebration of their renown, yet dormant, franchise the only sensible way they could: they slapped the remake’s web host with a DMCA takedown notice.
Now, Nintendo absolutely has every right to protect their brand in any way they see fit. I’m not contesting that. (As Game Informer points out, the company is, in fact, still selling the original Metroid II on 3DS to this very day.)
But fans have grown impatient with the series. The outstanding Metroid Prime games have been quiet since 2007, and despite big league developers like Double Fine and Insomniac releasing their own brilliant renditions of the “Metroidvania” genre very recently – Headlander and Song of the Deep respectively – Nintendo, bewilderingly, has not. Just look at the upcoming Metroid Prime Federation Force – a title that shares no visual semblance with the series at large and focuses on gunplay instead of exploration.
Nintendo, we’re hungry for a game like AM2R and this shutdown will only continue to starve us out. If you won’t let us satiate ourselves on fan projects then it’s about time you fed us yourselves.
(Note: a torrent link is provided on the site as well. The DMCA is filed against the web host but anyone that downloads the torrent can serve as the host. Get it while you can. Pretty doubtful it’ll stay up indefinitely).
Goodbye, Mr. Iwata
Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s President since 2002 and the fourth person to hold the position in the company’s history, has passed away at the age of 55.
The video game world has been robbed of a visionary and a truly warm personality. You’ve left gaming a better place because of your influence.
Despite decades of advancements made in the medical field, and despite a tightening grasp on the technological space, scientists in the mid 1990′s never learned the cause of Game Boy’s protruding from teenagers’ skulls.
“It’s not a pleasant way to go,” one expert battling the affliction said. “I’ve had kids tell me that their days became nothing but chip-tune music and explosions of pain.
“It was… It was just fucked. One day – happy, healthy teenager. Their worst problem was figurin’ out how to keep their dumb mohawks sticking up or what flannel best matched with what other flannel. Then… then all of a sudden there was a Game Boy growing out of their scalp, and that was it. It was like looking at a tiny, plastic tombstone.
“My boy. My sweet Billy…His color was teal.”