Nintendo has finally let us peek into their plans for their upcoming home/portable console hybrid the Switch. There is plenty to be excited for, but still a lot of questions that need to be answered.
Nintendo is finally lifting their region restrictions. This comes after years of locked down systems, forcing the hardcore to either import a console, or look into system modifications for region specific content. Best case scenario is that Nintendo does not prevent different region user accounts from downloading marketplace DLC as well as allowing discs, but at the very least we can hope they imitate PS4s rubric.
While it’s yet to be seen why the Switch has a touch screen, it is refreshing to see Nintendo finally choose something that won’t make their system feel chintzy. Capacitive touch screens are what your modern cell phone uses, made of glass unlike the plastic resistive screens that are used on the DS and Wii U. It remains to be a somewhat mystery what the touch screen will be used for, and hopefully the inclusion of a touch screen doesn’t end up being a negative.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild being released on the Switch is probably the reason the game was delayed in the first place, but it is great to see that it will be out day and date with the system. Look: It’s a Zelda game that is doing things differently, with voice acting, less hand-holding and some awesome new mechanics. Plenty of reasons to be excited for this game, no matter what platform you play it on.
New Mario Game
Mario Odyssey looks to be the most interesting, bizarre, wonderfully weird thing Nintendo has done with the mustached plumber in years. A dimension travelling story, with a trip to “New Donk City,” with realistically proportioned humans looks terrifying in exactly the right way. While it would have been killer to have a Mario game to launch with the system, Fall 2017 isn’t long to wait to experience what could be the most Japanese Mario game since Super Mario Bros. 2
Check Your Expectations:
Weak Launch Lineup
Where are the games? Nintendo has been working on the Switch with a lot of secrecy, and it looks like this has impacted the launch titles. The “killer app” exclusive Mario Odyssey won’t be released until much later in the year. Zelda looks incredible but a very similar experience is sure to be had while playing the Wii U version. 1-2 Switch looks like an interesting, albeit weak, showcase of the Switch’s gimmicks, but a tough sale for a minigame collection that isn’t even a pack-in. While some indie games, and some third-party support is coming at launch, there is little to no software reason to encourage an early adoption of the system. Unless you are a hardcore enthusiast, you’ll do better if you wait. Maybe year two of the Switch will have a better library.
The JoyCon just looks too small. While they might make for a good gaming session, they are clearly more ergonomic when used in tandem for one person. Having to claw grip hands around such a tiny rectangle, and sacrifice traditional button placement and controls makes me weary. I will likely try it once, and then never separate the two JoyCon again. Nintendo has a real controller for players, but at $70 it’s unrealistic for most to be grabbing a full set for multiplayer game nights.
There has been some weird rumors in the form of Reggie posting on Reddit, that makes the Switch’s online system sound like a weird relic of the past when PS2 and the Xbox were first experimenting with online multiplayer. Reggie has been quoted saying:
Instead of having some sort of bulky gamer headset, you’ll be able to do it right off your smartphone, put in your earbuds that you use for your standard mobile device. We think that’s a pretty sweet solution. That’s part of the overall opportunity that we see in a subscription service.
Nintendo has been terrible with their online platform on every device thus far. Friend codes are terrible. The inability to use your account on more than one system is archaic. I want to be hopeful and think that Nintendo has watched the way Microsoft and Sony have been competing in the online space, but Xbox Live has been around since 2002 and Nintendo has yet to make something even close to comparing.
It’s 2017, games are bigger than they have ever been, and Nintendo is only giving users 32GB of onboard storage. The 500GB and 1TB options for PS4 and XB1 fill up so quick, and with Zelda being confirmed to clock in at just under 13.5 GB, over half of the available storage will consumed with just one game. Nintendo’s justification for this seems to be including an option for MicroSD cards (up to 2TB), which will only get cheaper as time goes on but right now it just doesn’t make sense as the main form of storage. A 128GB card can be picked up for around $40 but 256GB costs $200 and larger sizes aren’t even available to consumers yet. Maybe Nintendo will give us the option to use a USB 3 hard drive when docked, and then just sideload games for portable use. Or maybe they expect the dedicated to carry around multiple MicroSD cards. Ultimately we won’t have to worry, because they’re aren’t enough interesting games yet announced.
Poorer Performance While On-The-Go
Another thing that remains to be seen and tested, but the Switch has been confirmed to run at lower specs while ‘undocked.’ It makes sense from a technical perspective, running the CPU at lower clock speeds means less power consumption yielding a longer battery life, but it also could potentially ruin the gaming experience for more complicated games. I am hopeful that running undocked but on power doesn’t reduce performance, or Nintendo gives users a bit of control when it comes to the power-saving modes.