Crosstix beat me to the punch and already posted a great article on the upcoming Nintendo Switch. Eloquent and well thought out, but he is wrong. About everything. It’s a good thing you have come to get the best take, the one and only TB take. Together we can help make Nintendo great again no matter. All joking aside, Nintendo’s new console does present some great opportunities. While details like release and pricing still wait, I am more concerned about a few functionality questions that linger.
The first thing I have to start off with is the name. Nintendo, why do you give us awesome code names and horrible console names? Wii? How many genitalia jokes did we have to endure with this? Puns and memes ran wild with wee Wii jokes. Want to play with my Wii? Ugh! This is especially painful considering we could have had the Revolution. Granted that is a long name for a console and could have negative connotation in some countries. Wii U was an attempt to stay with a brand and add on, a la the PS3, 4, etc. Then we have the NX. It symbolized next and the future of gaming. It was simply cool. What do they do with it? Switch it up? We are back to the puns. To be honest I am waiting for someone to threaten getting out the switch. Nothing quite like the connotation of abuse for a console. “I am going to get my Switch and beat you’re a$$!” If I can think of memes with this, so will others. What if they come out with a slimmed down version? Will Nintendo call it the Lite Switch? Wow, that would be a turn on. Enough with the name, lets examine the actual console trailer and the possibilities.
The Switch has a few key pieces: docking station, tablet, and controller(s). Rather than a revolution, it feels like an evolution of the Wii U. Unlike the Wii U however, the tablet here must be the primary processor for the console. Design wise, this will tax the battery. To make Switch successful, long battery life will be essential. Processing power will be substantial enough to handle the Unreal 4 Engine. Porting games from other systems should again be possible, but will lack the graphics and VR possibilities of Scorpio and Pro.
The console has a nice sleek look. The dark black box brings back memories of the PS2. The docking station seems quick and easy to use, seamlessly transitioning from dock to mobile. The screen sticks out, as Crosstix noted, but my guess is that is a design choice to make it easier to grab and go.
Controllers for the Switch are interesting and varied. The Pro style controller looks like an Xbox or PS4 controller. The combined handles controller looks bulky, extending past most people’s wrists. Re-watching the trailer, I noticed that the combined controller has a solid backing to hold the thin sides in a more ergonomic way. This makes sense, but leaves me wondering what will be bundled with the console? Likely the combined controller, but this almost feels like a waste. On the mobile side the two tiny split controllers leave me perplexed. The buttons are tiny and limited to a joystick and four buttons. This does not seem adequate for two players to play most games on the go. Finally, the tablet version should function and feel natural for those who have played Wii U. The only concern here is that if the tablet controllers need an ergonomic aid when playing at home, will the tablet controller feel awkward or downright painful? I am confident in Nintendo figuring this out, as they have mastered the handheld market.
The trailer for Switch also highlights networking play on the go. This is done through an Esports session and a basketball challenge. It appears that multiple Switches (or is that Switchi?) can connect wirelessly. Will Wi-Fi be needed? This is likely similar to the connectivity of DS and 3DS. Are multiple games necessary or can one act like a host for the others? The likely answer is multiple copies to process the game. These are interesting questions, but we do have some hint that it is possible to connect and play on multiple screens.
I did notice a small dot shape on the tablet. Could this be a camera? Cameras have become pretty standard for tablets. Doing so would also allow for augmented reality. Only time will tell on this piece.
The Big Question
Which brings me to my biggest question; can the Switch be used like the Wii U pad? Can it play as a second screen while the TV is going or does it have to be docked? I hear the shouts now, “the Wii U was horrible! Do not do that!” Wii U was a commercial failure, but not because of the concept. The most regrettable thing about the Wii U was battery life and the lack of using multiple tablets on one screen. Each person having a hidden screen could have been used so much better, yet for all of their two screen connectivity focus over the years, Nintendo has never got it right. The second screen could hide your cards for Yu-gi-oh or a Pokemon Card Game. It could hide play choices for Madden. It could be utilized for splitting up in co-op like Zelda Four Swords. Or, it could be used for games like Hearthstone (rumored for the Switch). Nintendo has missed the mark with all these possibilities. Instead, games had to work on just the Wii U Controller. Switch controllers being the processor and networked (Wi-Fi or not) presents an easy technical leap to finally achieve the hidden choice/hand that many board games and card games rely upon.
Imagine this used in a party/tournament setting. 10 players get on to an FPS. The game is projected on the big screen so onlookers can see the action. Each player has their own screen and runs around killing one another. It brings the Youtube and casting experience home and quick to achieve. Record and stream the observer Switch and you instant advertisement and entertainment. Nintendo, I beg you, do not go half way this time. Take the simple logical leap to make more possible.
I for one am hesitant about the Switch. I have seen Nintendo, one too many times, show something and we all dream of what it could mean. Yet in the end Nintendo can’t deliver. I hope this time they can take the logical steps and fulfill the potential. Battery life will be essential. To truly differentiate, using multiple screens for a home console (with enough processing power) will open new possibilities. If Nintendo can capitalize on these, I believe the Switch will be a success. If not it will be one more in a long line of almosts.