On October 20th, Nintendo released a trailer giving the world its first taste of their upcoming gaming console, the Switch (formerly known as Codename: NX). The trailer can be seen below if you haven’t seen it yet:
As expected, and as well they should, every news, tech and gaming site within a stone’s throw of the internet was all over this release. A lot of information has come out about the Switch since the trailer’s release, and now we have a general idea, if not the entire picture, of what Nintendo’s new console is looking to offer the masses.
One thing that is made perfectly clear from the trailer about the Switch is that it is meant for home gaming as well as portable gaming. Modularity is the name of the game with this console, as seemingly every part of the whole system, from the console itself to the controllers can be combined and separated based on whether you’re playing at home or on the go. The console consists of an upward facing docking station for connecting the system to a TV, and inside the dock is the system itself, a tablet where the game cartridge is stored. Yes, you read correctly, the Switch is switching (see what we did there) from optical media to cartridge based storage for their games, which, given the current state of SD cards and other solid state media, allows for significantly larger storage options than even dual layer Blu-ray discs and in a smaller form factor, not to mention the decrease in loading times that solid state media can offer, is a pretty smart idea.
The controller itself, known as the “Joy-Con”, consists of multiple parts, including two smaller controllers which unlatch from the main base and can be attached to the sides of the tablet, creating an instant portable gaming system. There is also the Pro Controller that will be available for the Switch, which is sold separately.
As for the innards of the console itself, Nintendo partnered up with NVIDIA to supply their hardware and software prowess to the Switch. The console is running on a custom Tegra processor, which is a processor found not only in smartphones, but also in NVIDIA’s Shield gaming devices. It may be safe to assume that Nintendo was looking for the sweet spot between console and portable gaming, and may have found it with this NVIDIA partnership.
Design-wise, the Switch is an innovative evolution of the ideas behind the Wii U. The portability aspect was explored with the Wii U’s touchscreen gamepad, which allowed for a unique wireless gaming experience and a new level of game control with the pad acting as either an advanced controller or a second screen with a view exclusive to only the player that possessed it. The major difference between the Wii U and the Switch is that whereas the Wii U gamepad needed the console to play games, the Switch can become the gamepad whenever you desire.
Even though the making of this console involved “500 man-years” of research and development to come to fruition, perhaps this is the crux of the why the reveal of the Nintendo Switch was underwhelming to investors. Unlike how the Wii was a complete revolution from its predecessor, the GameCube, The Switch is merely an evolution. That is however, a step up from the iteration that the Wii U was from the Wii. Investors are looking for a revolution in gaming, akin to what the Wii brought to the table. Motion controls have become integrated into various titles in creative ways. From Wiimote and nunchuck, to the Wii U’s gamepad with gyroscopic sensors and AR functionality. The Switch, from this initial introduction, gives little indication of innovative and standout control features Nintendo’s previous consoles offered, though the site Let’s Play Video Games is reporting the possibility of IR technology playing a major role in sensor and touch functionality for gameplay.
One thing that should impress investors, fans, and onlookers alike, however, is the list of initial partners Nintendo has signed on and have pledged support for the Switch. This is a solid third-party support list, and these are just the companies that Nintendo has officially announced. It is possible there may be more down the line. We will have to wait a while longer to fully see what Nintendo has up their sleeve with their ambitious new console, as the Switch is slated for a March 2017 release. Nintendo has definitely generated a fair share of interest with their trailer, and we will definitely know more as March approaches.