Thursday, October 20, 2016

Nintendo Switch Reveal Impressions

After waiting for 19 months, Nintendo has finally revealed the NX as the Nintendo Switch. Today's announcement mainly served as an introduction to the system for now as the only official info from Nintendo includes a 3.5 minute video and some press releases. With the info we know right now so far, I am definitely interested in the Nintendo Switch.

First off, Nintendo has confirmed that the Nintendo Switch is indeed a console/handheld hybrid. This means that the Switch will serve as the successor to both the 3DS and the Wii U. Also, given the design of the console, it appears that the Switch will not be backwards compatible with either predecessor. Nintendo combining their two gaming divisions does make a lot of sense. The 3DS and Wii U had a lot of similar titles and making a hybrid device allows Nintendo to develop games for one platform and potentially produce a more diverse libraries as the company won't feel the need to make two versions of games like Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, and more. Basically it appears Nintendo is trying to make game development for themselves and 3rd parties easier than before, which is good!

I like the idea of taking the controller and being able to slide it on and off of the portable unit. As someone who plays both console and handheld games, the idea of only having to buy one device sounds very convenient to me because unless this thing costs $600, it'll be a pretty good value. Obviously the ability to carry console games around may not appeal as much to others but for me, I can easily see a situation where I would bring the portable device to show to friends or possibly engage in a pseudo lan console multiplayer game. For me, the concept has value but that does bring me to my first question I want answered:

How well do the games run in the portable mode?

This is probably the most important question to ask because if all the games run like crap in portable mode, the entire concept of the device is ruined. The good news is that Nintendo is partnering with Nvidia, who made the Nvidia Shield, a device similar in concept as the NS but PC gaming. Hopefully Nvidia's processors and experience will help Nintendo create a device that can play these console games portably with a smooth frame rate.
By the way, did you notice when it came to gameplay, there were no gimmicks shown in the teaser? There was no motion control, no gyroscope, no touchscreen (though I suspect it's still there), and no second screen gaming. Everything shown was presented as traditional gaming that can be played with a traditional game controller. The only real gimmick seems to be the module gaming options, which has existed in the mobile gaming market for a while now. It's like they took a regular console, added the most popular feature of the Wii U (off TV play) and added the good features of mobile gaming to potentially create a device that can cater to the best of both worlds. Which leads me to my second question:

How long does the battery last for both the controllers and the portable device itself?

 Battery lives for gaming devices have not been generous lately and when consider that this is going to be the most powerful handheld device Nintendo has ever made, there is some concern in that department. Given current trends, I'll settle for 5 hours off a full charge but I would prefer at least 10 hours.

Also, the video confirmed that the Switch will use physical games still (as we all predicted) and that it will be using cartridges. Makes sense given it's portable module but between that and the lack of a second screen, it seems the device will not be backwards compatible with the 3DS or Wii U. Speaking of games, that leads me to my third question:

What games are coming to the system?

Obviously I did not expect to see a list of all the games in a 3.5 minute console teaser, but the video did show 6 games: 3 I know what they are and 3 I'm not 100% sure on. Those games are:

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
NBA 2K17
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (Which may or may not be actually coming to the NS???)
Some kind of new Mario game
Mario Kart 8, but with a new character (King Boo) and the ability to hold two items.
Splatoon but with new weapons, hairstyles and a new map.

Now, it's possible that some of these games are just conceptual in presentation but what is more comforting to see is the list of companies supporting the Switch early on. The actual list includes way more companies than the Wii U ever did and the fact that Unreal 4 and Unity have been confirmed at least makes it look like 3rd parties will have an easier time getting their games on the Switch. Hopefully they stick around this time.

And honestly, that's all I have to say right now. This was only a console teaser and it's clear that Nintendo has a lot more to show between now and March. Did they show enough to get me to pre order it right now? No. Of course not. I still need to know a concrete list of games, a price, and plenty more. But for now, the Nintendo Switch shows a lot of promise by presenting a device that could make my gaming life a lot easier.

Also, it's safe to say that the reveal of the Nintendo Switch was way better than the reveal of the Wii U. At least people know what the Switch is.

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