Nintendo Switch Presentation Impressions
For the past few years, Nintendo has been playing around with releasing details about their new console. Now that the Switch has been named and a few details were dropped late in 2016, it was expected that the January 13th Nintendo presentation would fill in a great number of blanks that the eager gaming community had. Even with this reveal, though, it seems that questions will remain until we reach the actual launch of the console.
As the presentation went along, the first question of the actual date and price (which I think had been leaked already) was answered. Set for March 3rd, 2017, the Nintendo Switch with be available simultaneously around the world at a price of $299.99 (with 32G of storage). For a change, their software WON’T be region locked. This is great meaning that any game bought in Japan or in the US or in the EU will work on ANY Nintendo Switch console. Assuming this console gets a lot of 3rd party JRPG support, this could be a big deal for die hard RPG fans. To quickly douse your ‘eye hearts’ though, Nintendo plans on having a separate online service for the Switch that will be free to early adopters until the fall.
Yup. You heard me. UNTIL. The online service will apparently be a paid service as are the ones accompanying the PS4 and the Xbox One today. Aside from it being offered, there were no additional details on what this service provides. Also, there was no explanation as to the reduced functionality if the service is not acquired either. I’m certain all will wonder if a ‘free games’ offering will be a part of the service as is done with the other consoles, but, of course, nothing was mentioned. Nintendo will certainly get a lot of questions from their fans considering the 3DS Nintendo Network online functionality is free. The Comments section of the presentation was peppered with fans surprised and disappointed that this mobile hybrid console will require yet another paid online subscription. Die-hards won’t have a problem paying I’m sure, but be certain they will expect some kind of perks or additional value aside from just being able to play games online.
The next portion of the presentation focused in on providing more detail into the ‘why’ for this console. They explained the evolution of various Nintendo consoles of the past and how each one brought a bit of innovation into gaming culture. As the features were raised (analog stick of the N64, touchscreen of the DS, ‘X-Y-left and right bumper’ buttons on the SNES controller, motion controls for Wii), Nintendo was quick to explain that all of these features were molded into what is the Switch today. Basically the Switch is a mobile Wii U that allows for Wii-styled games on the go with online capability. As seen on various vids, the screen portion of the Switch can be removed from the Docking Station and the left and right Joy-Cons (this is Nintendo’s name for them) can then be used to control the games whether attached or detached from the screen.
In truth, the functionality of these controllers is impressive. With built in rumbling, IR camera, NFC write and read, and motion sensing. The capabilities are very interesting when you think about it. Upon watching a game demo called “1, 2, Switch”, I instantly had memories of Wii Sports and how simple yet infinitely fun the games were. While I’m not certain if this comes with the Switch or even if it is a launch day release, the various motions exhibited by the over-excited actors playing the game did leave me with an optimistic outlook on what ‘COULD’ be for the Switch.
One of the biggest ‘could be’ reasons may be the battery life of the ‘mobile’ mode of the Switch while using its 720p touchscreen. It was said that the system can go between 2 and 6 and a half hours depending on the game. This is pretty close to the reported life of the 3DS. Given the ability for the Switch to support games developed with the Unreal 4 engine, we’ll see whether or not this is a chronic issue for hardcore users.
Another reason most certainly be the 3rd party support. Unfortunately, this is where the presentation kind of faltered. Bethesda confirmed Skyrim. Square Enix confirmed a few different Dragon Quest games (which is exciting for Japan). EA confirmed a unique version of FIFA (which is exciting for everyone outside of the US). They flashed a screen that had a number of companies on it and stated that 50 companies are working on about 80 different games. Sounds great. But…if most of them are JRPGs and Pokémon clones, there may be a problem. Honestly, I can only play Skyrim but so many times. Just as a reference, EA’s Bioware had no intentions of porting Mass Effect Andromeda to the Switch. If that is a growing trend for the latest games going to the other consoles, the Switch may find itself only doing marginally better than the Wii U.
With that said, Nintendo seems as if their software development team is having a blast. Showing Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, and an interesting boxing style fighter called ARMS, Nintendo undoubtedly is excited about the system’s capabilities. Possibly the saving grace for the launch of the console, though was the announcement of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as a launch title. Playing a new and gorgeous looking Zelda game both at home (in the dock) and on the move (in ‘mobile’ mode) will sell quite a bit of Switch consoles. If they manage to get a release date for a new Pokémon, Final Fantasy, and Monster Hunter game, I’m certain that they will sell quite a bit more in the console’s rookie year.
Just as with the Wii U, the Switch will live or die by its 3rd party support. This console will not live long if the greatest game in its lineup is Zelda. Games, games, games are the name of the…well…game.
All of that said, the Nintendo Switch conference was pretty decent. An indie developer that presented in the presentation said that developing for the system is easy and hopefully that means that the indie community will make up for whatever AAA games that the system may miss out on. While we know that the Switch is not as powerful as the PS4 and the Xbox One, its portability and controller versatility may win over quite a few fans.