Nintendo’s much anticipated unveiling of their next flagship console, Nintendo Switch, made a mostly positive impression for a company sorely needing some love. Nintendo Wii U was a far cry from the runaway success the original Wii saw prior. Streaming live last night from Japan, Nintendo emphasized a new focus on third-party support and online connectivity which are areas they’re frequently criticized on. Games hinted at in a previous announcement trailer were shown again, revealing more aspects of gameplay. We particularly were given a more extensive preview of Mario’s next adventure in ‘Super Mario Odyssey’. Nintendo saved its most anticipated game preview for last, showing off more of the story behind ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’.
Many of the games brought some excitement, but their joy-con controllers stole the show for me. Of course I’m bias in Nintendo’s favor, but it truly felt like they were finally listening and reacting to concerns many fans had about their questionable console decisions. The Switch seems to address their existence as a maker of family friendly devices and of being capable of innovative features that can capture the hearts of hardcore gamers.
So what’s on the inside? This is what we know for sure so far:
- $299.99 console price with a March 3, 2017 release date
- Graphics are run by a custom Nvidia Tegra processor (no further details confirmed)
- 6.2 inch screen (mobile component) 1280 x 720 resolution multitouch display
- 1080p full HD resolution when Switch is docked and connected to TV via HDMI
- 32gb of built-in storage expandable via microSD cards
- USB-C connection for charging the mobile portion of the system
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi connection capability (USB LAN adaptor required for ethernet)
Nintendo didn’t really explain too much beyond what’s already been rumored or leaked regarding the guts of Switch. Graphically, no one was seriously thinking Nintendo would make a play to compete in that department. After an initial side-eye from me after they left out alot of the inner machinery details, the joy-con controller reveal calmed my nerves. Watching the first video of people playing games on Switch months ago, I knew there was a huge emphasis on portability. Not only can you undock the system itself and play in different locales, the controller can function as both a singular and multiplayer experience. It’s jam-packed with sensors to measure distance, read how many fingers your holding up in front of it, monitor movement the way the original Wii controllers did and has sophisticated rumble technology translatable to the gaming experience.
Say what you want about Nintendo, but don’t ever disrespect its legacy. There is no video game maker who can boast as many genre defining titles as Nintendo themselves can. Looking back at their large library of console machines, any other company would’ve sank with the Gamecube or the Wii U. Even as Nintendo seemed to ignore the technological trends in past times and the desires of their fans, the first party games kept them afloat through it all.
“We have these younger people in the company who are taking the lead on Switch development and it’s really been them that have put this forward and designed this system. They’re the ones that have really shepherded it through the process.” – Shigeru Miyamoto, from an interview at Glixel
Nintendo must have done some soul-searching following Wii U’s disappointing debut and agonizing existence. It showed how out of touch Nintendo was with the gaming community. Seeing them take a proactive approach, as evidenced in Mr. Miyamoto’s interview, they stand to reap the benefits of going through refining their identity. ‘Arms’, a new Nintendo property with franchise possibilities, directly connects the player with all the functions available with the joy-con controller. Button smashing is complimented with actual movement, demonstrated in detail during their colorful live showcase. The game itself looked a bit one-dimensional at first glance, but shows the potential for in-depth customization for the fighting game genre as a whole.
‘Super Mario Odyssey’ gives us Mario in the real world and another distorted world where King Koopa is at it again. Princess Peach, forever determined to be the bane of modern feminist, is once again the damsel in distress needing Mario and his hat of all things to save the day. Odyssey shows off some new features not seen in Mario games previously, where his iconic hat becomes a part of the gameplay as a weapon or platform to jump off of.
Videos of ‘Xenoblade Chronicles 2’ and ‘Elderscroll: Skyrim’ were also showcased, bolstering Nintendo’s claim of stronger third-party support for Switch than previous consoles. Despite rumors of a delay, ‘Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ will be debuting with the Nintendo Switch on March 3, 2017. The latest entry of the Zelda series looks like it’ll bring a darker more adult storyline than what I first suspected. The world in the game is colorful, rich in detail and appears fun to romp around in, but it seems Gannon may have had his way with Hyrule for quite a while.
It’s off to a good start for Nintendo. I was hoping Retro Studios would show up with another entry in the ‘Metroid Prime’ universe, but we can’t have everything at once I suppose. Honestly, Breath of the Wild will probably be enough for me right now. Nintendo’s online component is free until the fall. I’ve read there’s been issues with them allowing ports of paid virtual console games to move from console to console. That may become another issue they’ll have to figure out as companies continue to monetize their older game properties. In the meantime, I’m still looking forward to hearing more about Switch’s innards and will be supporting them come March 3. Check out what you missed at the live event here.