Nintendo Switches it up

So after months and months of anticipation and rampant speculation, Nintendo finally delivered details of what was codenamed the NX. And once again, they’ve not only pushed the envelope but completely torn it up.

The Switch’s main selling point is that it functions as both a handheld and a home console. This is illustrated perfectly in the introductory video showing a man playing Zelda while his dog is bothering him for a walk. The man goes over to his Switch and slots his joypad in to convert it into a handheld unit that instantly continues the game he had been playing. Well I say handheld, but there’s at least one other way to game on the go. Up to two players can play outdoors by detaching the sides (the poorly-named “Joy-Con” controllers) and using the screen’s built-in prop. This also allows for up to eight people to play locally wirelessly. According to a Nintendo spokesperson, the screen is the main unit and the dock is just used for TV output and charging. I’m pretty sure the dock will able to play Wii/U discs though.

The console uses 3DS-style mini cartridges, implying backwards compatability using a TV as one of the screens. I am assuming the handheld screen is a touchscreen but there was no stylus shown in the video. The design is remarkably simple and not too clumsy given the complex mechanics involved, but I have no doubt there will be an updated version somewhere along the line. Once again, Nintendo has foregone graphic superpowers to push the primary function. There does seem to be some improvement over the Wii U though, particularly in colour. And what’s more, the very name is a work of art. Short, simple to remember, and gets the idea across. Rolls off the tongue too. “Hey, you wanna play some Switch?” sounds natural even mere hours after the reveal.

Nintendo have released a number of publishing partners for the console. Some of the names aren’t surprising, including Sega, Capcom and Bandai Namco. Others though are well out of left field- EA, Bethesda and Activision amongst them. Other names of interest include Ubisoft, Konami and Codemasters (yes, they’re still around). In recent years, Nintendo consoles have suffered from a lack of decent third-party support, especially as regards more “hardcore” titles. Such a strong lineup promising a diverse range of games is a big step forwards though, and could very well make it a massive seller.

So my first impressions? Despite the two-in-one function being rumoured for a long time, Nintendo still managed to surprise in that regard. I certainly wasn’t expecting being able to remove the sides of the Switch for home-style gaming wherever you are. And the best part? More is to be revealed. Tablet functionality has also long been rumoured, will we be getting that too?

I’m saving up already.


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