Today Nintendo released a three minute trailer revealing their new console! Previously titled NX, the codename has been dropped, and is now called the Nintendo Switch. The console is a handheld/ console hybrid, but unlike its predecessor, The Wii U, the Switch’s tablet screen can be brought anywhere, even away from the main console. The system will use cartridges, and will no longer support discs, and the system will be released in March of 2017.
This is how it works. The controller has two sides that include the buttons and sticks that can be removed, leaving behind a plastic shell. You can use these controllers with one in each hand to play, or you can slip them into the tablet device that’s in the port connected to your TV. Once you remove the tablet device you are free to bring the tablet and play the same games anywhere you go. For what I assume will only work for certain games, you can even hand one side of the two controller pieces to a friend to play multiplayer games either on the tablet, or on your TV screen. This works because the Dpad on the one side is four buttons, similar to what is found on playstation controllers, instead of what is normally Nintendo’s traditional connected dpad layout. There is also a “Pro” Switch controller that doesn’t come apart for those who wish to cling to being as traditional as possible.
As far as games, four games were shown running in the trailer. Zelda: Breath of the Wild, footage for an unreleased Mario game, Splatoon for Wii U, running on Switch, and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, running for the first time on a Nintendo system. It is unclear whether the Mario game is just concept footage, or the newest 3D Mario game, and it is also unclear whether Splatoon will be rereleased for Switch, or if it was just used as a concept as well. Though, given Splatoon’s success, it’s almost a no brainer that we will see it on NX in some form. There was also released a list of developers who are developing for the Switch which includes Epic Games, Grasshopper Manufacturer, and From Software. (Portable Dark Souls? Yes, please. Take my money!)
Following the announcements, rumors have been running that developers are receiving their switch dev kits, and the rumored specs have been released. They are as follows:
- Four ARM Cortex-A57 cores, max 2GHz
- NVidia second-generation Maxwell architecture
- 256 CUDA cores, max 1 GHz, 1024 FLOPS/cycle
- 4GB RAM (25.6 GB/s, VRAM shared)
- 32 GB storage (Max transfer 400 MB/s)
- USB 2.0 & 3.0
- 1280 x 720 6.2″ IPS LCD
- 1080p at 60 fps or 4k at 30 fps max video output
- Capacitance method, 10-point multi-touch
As far as my own personal opinion, this idea is a brilliant step for Nintendo. By removing their previous two system strategy, they remove all internal competition. Previously, Nintendo would have to decide between their handheld, or their console when creating a game. This issue is no more, which means Nintendo can make more games. Consumers need only buy one console, and they will receive all Nintendo games. Gamers who would only buy the handheld will now have the console too, and vice versa. Since those two factions of gamers will be purchasing the same console, the console will have a higher install base, which will attract better third party support. It’s a win-win scenario. This is, of course, all speculation, but this is how Nintendo has set themselves up, and it seems many third parties have already begun to bite. What would be the allure be for a third party to make their game on Nintendo’s console previously? Now the allure is that they can make their game portable. Microsoft has never had a portable system, and Vita hasn’t been quite strong enough, or successful enough for that matter, but Nintendo has a good chance here. Though, it really depends on how easy the system is to develop for as well.
Unveiling this concept in trailer form is also a smart play. One of Nintendo’s biggest misses for the Wii U was its unveiling. The Wii U was unveiled by only showing the controller, and confusion aroused over whether or not it was a new console. Not only does this trailer avoid that entirely, but the average consumer is more likely to watch a three minute trailer than an hour long conference unveiling. This means more people will know every detail, including that it has a traditional controller, a fact about the Wii U that some people, including people who own a Wii U, still aren’t aware of to this day.
This entire rollout has started strong, and Nintendo has poised itself to rise to success once again. But there’s still much we do not know, including battery life, confirmed specs, confirmed memory, launch lineup, OS capabilities, online infrastructure, and more. These things can make or break the system, so it’s up to Nintendo to keep this momentum going. Hopefully we learn more soon, but Nintendo has remained tight lipped on any further details. I for one hope that Nintendo can keep it up. A successful Nintendo is good for the industry, and I want to see a Nintendo that’s popular with their core fan base again. I want to see a Nintendo that’s for the gamers.