Nintendo Switch – What We Know, And What We Don’t Know

Nintendo NX is dead – long live the Nintendo Switch!

So Nintendo has finally unveiled their next console, the Nintendo Switch, after months of speculation and various leaks (most of which turned out to be spot on). With a straightforward reveal trailer, we now know the basic concept of the Switch, but there are still some niggling questions. Answers won’t be coming until the new year, so until then, here is a rundown of what we know about the Switch, and what we don’t know.

What We Know

The Switch’s Main Function – As the name suggests, Nintendo’s new console is designed so the player can seamlessly ‘switch’ from a home system to a dedicated handheld. The power of the Switch lies in a tablet device which can be stored in a docking station to stream to an HDTV. The controller used in the Switch’s docked state looks fairly standard – similar in design to most conventional controllers, albeit with a more squared-off form. The genius lies in the ability to remove the main parts of the controller, known separately as ‘Joy-Cons’, and slot them either side of the tablet device. The device can then be removed from its docking station and taken on the go as a handheld console.

joy-con
The Controller used in the Switch’s docked state. The grey parts housing the buttons are known as ‘Joy-Cons’.

No Extra Controller’s Needed For Two Player Gaming – The reveal trailer for the Switch focused largely on the ability to play local multiplayer without the need to purchase additional peripherals. Thanks to the Switch’s function of removable ‘Joy-Con’ controllers, two player games are easily set up. Each player simply takes one of the controllers, which is then held sideways similarly to the Wii Remote, to play games independently (it’s safe to assume the controllers can also be held vertically for some games). Again, this can be done either when the tablet is docked, or on the go. The tablet even comes with a handy kickstand for added convenience.

mario-kart-switch_1
Two chums playing Mario Kart locally, using the Joy-Cons independently to one another.

New Nintendo Title’s Incoming, And Some Old Ones – One of the trailer’s stand out moments was a snippet of footage from Nintendo’s new Mario title, as yet untitled. The game seems to be a call back to more open platform adventures such as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. As good as 3D World was on the Wii U, fans have been clamouring for more freedom in a modern Mario game. We also saw snippets of Mario Kart and Splatoon. It’s not yet known if these are full sequels to the Wii U titles, or merely updated ports. New features were showcased in both, but they seem, at least graphically, to be the same games.

mario-switch
The new Mario title for Switch showcases beautiful graphics.

Nintendo Switch Has Decent Third-Party Support – Shortly after revealing the Switch, Nintendo posted a picture to their Twitter feed showcasing an impressive array of third-party publishers and developers on board to support the new console. Many people cite one of the main reasons for the Wii U’s failure was a distinct lack of support from outside developers. As of now, this seems to have been resolved for the most part. Some of the more alluring names on the list include From Software, creators of Dark Souls, and Bethesda, famous for the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series. Bethesda’s own Skyrim was even shown in the reveal trailer, but it has yet to be officially confirmed. More on that later, though.

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The impressive list of third-party support for Nintendo Switch.

There Is A Switch ‘Pro’ Controller – Those of us who remain apprehensive of change can rest easy in the knowledge that Nintendo has evolved the Pro Controller from the Wii U and is releasing a similar product for the Switch. Showcased in the trailer as an alternative to the Joy-Cons, the ‘Pro’ Controller is reminiscent in design to the Xbox One controller, with the right analogue stick sitting below the face buttons. The controller also seems to be slightly translucent, showing off some of the fancy innards that many old-school Nintendo fans love.

switch-pro
The ‘Pro’ Controller is a nice alternative for lengthy game sessions.

Discs Are Out, Cartridges Are In – The Nintendo Switch, like the Nintendo 3DS, takes small cartridges for its games. This is perhaps unsurprising since the tablet itself houses the console’s power and can be used on the go as a handheld. Cartridges hold considerable amounts of storage these days, and are frankly much more reliable than discs, which is sure to please many gamers.

Single Screen Experience – Since the initial reveal, Nintendo has officially stated that the Switch will be a single screen console. This means that you can’t use the tablet in conjunction with a TV display. This makes sense since the tablet is used to stream the games, but those hoping to see the map in Breath of the Wild on a separate screen, like the Wii U version, may be disappointed.

What We Don’t Know

The Price – No matter what features a console can boast, its launch price will either make or break its success. When the 3DS launched, it’s high price caused the console to stumble at the first gate, forcing Nintendo to introduce a drastic price cut. Consumers who already bought the console were rightly furious, and Nintendo compensated them with free backwards-compatible GBA games. Right now we don’t know what the Switch will cost, but judging from early opinions, anything over £300 will be a major sticking point for most people. The sweet spot seems to be around £250, which is what Sony and Microsoft are currently sitting on with the PS4 and Xbox One.

Battery Life – Most tablets these days can boast a battery life of around 9 – 10 hours. However, this is cut drastically short when gaming is introduced. The Switch, showcasing graphics at least on par with the Wii U will need an extremely competent battery life, or many people will simply resort to playing the console in its docked state, or not at all. Hopefully the dock will act as a charging station when used, which will be very convenient.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is very pretty. But that won’t mean much if you can only play it for a few hours.

Storage – Utilising cartridges means that much of a game’s data will be stored independently to that of the console itself, including save data. However, in a world where digital gaming is currently enjoying somewhat of a renaissance, the Switch will need a large amount of storage. Whether this is built in to the device, or expandable via SD cards remains to be seen, but it certainly needs to be a lot more than the Wii U’s rather pitiful 32GB storage.

Touchscreen, Or No Touchscreen – Nintendo has yet to officially confirm whether or not the Switch’s screen is touch sensitive. We saw nothing in the trailer to suggest that it is, but given Nintendo’s focus on touchscreen gaming for the past decade or so, I would be very surprised if it isn’t. I wouldn’t be particularly bothered either way – a touchscreen would make basic OS navigation more streamlined, but as long as the Switch has capabilities to feature browsers and streaming services, it would be more than competent without one.

3ds
The 3DS’s touch screen was a major selling point on launch, and remains useful for many games today.

Launch Line Up – Despite showing off multiple games in the reveal trailer, Nintendo has been rather coy about what we can expect to play when the Switch launches next March. We know that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be a launch title, alongside the Wii U version, but other than that, we’re very much in the dark. It’s safe to assume that the new Mario title shown in the trailer will be available at launch, but I do worry that Nintendo would be playing all its cards too early, if that is the case. A stellar launch line up will pretty much guarantee early success, but that won’t mean much if Nintendo don’t consistently support the system in the following months.

Skyrim And NBA Not Actually Confirmed – even though both Skyrim and NBA 2K17 were shown off in the reveal trailer, neither of these games have been officially confirmed for the Nintendo Switch. This has led some people to throw around accusations of misleading marketing. I for one see the launch trailer as more of a proof of concept for the system itself. The games will come later, we just need to be patient.

skyrim-switch
We may be playing Skyrim on the Switch quite soon… Or we may not.

March the..? – When Nintendo announced the Switch, then called NX, would be coming out March 2017, fans were ecstatic. Then as the months went by with no news, this launch period seemed less and less plausible. Thankfully, Nintendo once reiterated in the reveal trailer that Switch will be released in March 2017. We just don’t know the exact date yet. This isn’t exactly a problem, since there’s still much more to learn about the console in the interim.

So there you have it! A rundown of what of what has been confirmed for the Switch (or at least some of which we can confidently guess from the reveal), and some questions about the device that will hopefully be answered in the new year. Shout out if I’ve missed anything, and let me know what you think about the Nintendo Switch.

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