Opinion: Nintendo knew it had to Switch it up
(Image Credit: Nintendo)
Nintendo has previewed its long-awaited codename 'NX' console and sticking to company tradition it takes a refreshing approach to gaming – it now even has a name, the Nintendo Switch.
While the competition sticks to pushing as powerful consoles as possible, Nintendo is sticking to making gaming fun and versatile. After the PS Vita fizzled out, the 3DS became the sole survivor in the dedicated handheld console space and Nintendo is building on its strength to deliver a hybrid console which can "Switch" between a home console, a handheld, and micro console for on the move.
Switch 1 – The home console
Not forgetting people enjoy playing games at home on the big screen – and even more so when sharing the experience on the couch – Nintendo is enabling the Switch to be docked for standard gaming on your home TV.
The company appears to have learned a couple of lessons from its past couple of iterations of their Wii console. Unlike the original Wii, it appears like the Switch will have enough power to push the expected minimum of 1080p content. Unlike the Wii U, instead of a gimmicky "tablet" input which felt like the console didn't quite know what it wanted to be, the Switch caters for gamers of all types no matter where they want to play.
In the promo video we get to see two controller types. The first controller should provide comfort to fans of traditional games with a controller like you would find on your Xbox, PlayStation, or pre-Wii home console from Nintendo itself (granted such a controller was available for the Wii, but it was treated like the accessory it was sold as.)
The second controller appears like a mini version of the Wiimote and "nunchuck" with two motion-sensitive devices for use in either hand. Unlike the Wiimote and nunchuck, these are both wireless and the lack of a strap for your arm seems to suggest the motion actions won't put your TV in as much danger as the original Wii controller.
Switch 2 – The handheld
Docking the aforementioned smaller controllers on the sides of the main Switch unit's display when docked will allow you to pick it up and take it on your travels. In use, this functions like the Wii U tablet with a decent-sized display in the middle and controls on either side.
With the use of cartridges – a touch which is going to bring a dose of nostalgia to players of older consoles – the Switch appears to be able to function without compromise while on-the-move unlike the Wii U's tablet and can be used whether you're at the park, on public transport, or anywhere else it's safe to start gaming.
Switch 3 – The micro-console
The most impressive form of the Switch is when it's used as a micro-console. A kickstand on the back of the main unit allows it to be propped up and the controllers detached for a gaming experience on-the-move almost like you're at home. The clip of a man doing just this while on a plane to continue playing Skyrim will have been a highlight for many gamers, and it's sure to shift units.
With two controllers on the side of the Switch which can be detached, this can lead to some unique gaming experiences with friends while on the go from a device which can be put in your bag. You can either play competitively or work together.
We're yet to see final specs, but the initial showing from Nintendo appears impressive and the preview video has sent social media into meltdown (along with Nintendo's servers it would appear.)
There's a lot more questions which need answers yet, one of which a Nintendo fan highlighted to me earlier about whether a voice chat service will be available. This has become a staple of social experiences on rival platforms for years, and while Nintendo rightly promotes multiplayer gaming together in-person, sometimes you have no choice when your gaming partner is across the world.
A solid launch line-up and continued support are required, a downfall of the Wii U. This also means Nintendo must attract support from big third-party developers who all but abandoned the last couple of consoles from the house of Mario. This could be the last chance for Nintendo to retake its crown, and I'm quietly hopeful.
What are your thoughts on the Nintendo Switch's initial showing? Let us know in the comments.