Now that we are comfortably away from ground zero of the Nintendo Switch announcement and the hyperbole, both positive and negative, has subsided, it’s time to take stock in what we have here. The previously titled Nintendo Nx is now out in the open as the Nintendo Switch and with that comes many questions. Most have been answered, but others frustratingly linger without a response. I wanted to put an article together that brings together everything we know so far and, my general feelings a few key categories before the console releases on March 3rd.
The Nintendo Switch comes out to store shelves to the tune of $299. The final price is what was expected by most analysts, and is $50 dollars cheaper than the WiiU release price. Nintendo has also revealed what will be officially inside the Switch box with a purchase. The contents are standard fare, consisting of the one Joy-Con controller, which consists of a right and left Joy-Con, two Joy-Con wrist straps, a non charger Joy-Con dock, the Switch system dock, AC adapter, and an HDMI cable. Notably absent is a pack in game for the system.
The Switch itself carries a 6.2 inch screen capable of of displaying 720p resolution. A considerable upgrade from the WiiU gamepad, which was only able to display 480p on its gamepad. The system will have 32GB of storage out of the box, but has the ability to be upgraded with SD cards. It will use cartridges (remember those!) to run its games. The games will be run directly from the cartridge and not from the system’s hard drive, which is a contrast to the other consoles from this generation. The battery life is one of the biggest hot button topics, and they have announced the switch can handle 6 hours at maximum or 3.5 for more graphic intensive games.
No Nintendo console is complete with a myriad of accessories. Nintendo official has unveiled what they will be offering on launch day and what you can expect to pay. The pro controller, a popular accessory for the WiiU, will retail for 69.99. The left and right Joy-Cons will be sold seperately at 49.99 and the Joy-Con dock that DOES include a charger runs at 29.99.
Another break from Nintendo’s previous tradition is that the console is region free. Now gamers can purchase games from any region, most notably Japanese only releases and, they can be played on your Switch.
Heat Check: Luke Warm
I want to be extremely excited and hot and bothered about the system, but I just cant go all in. The power specs are concerning to me. I know it isn’t supposed to rival the next generation, or current generation, but I feel like there is going to be some strong technical showcases in the next few years that won’t even sniff a Nintendo console. The portability is going to really take the market by storm in my opinion. I don’t think the switch will be taken out of many houses, but the ability to take the Switch into different rooms or post up on a kitchen table is going to do wonders. I’m already dreaming of taking Animal Crossing with me into every room I go. The Joy-Cons look fun to use and a natural progression of the Wii remote. Even though it was shown off in the weirdest way possible, the haptic feedback on the Joy-Cons is going to used in some creative ways. The price is…ok…and in the right price range to not feel too guilty.
In something I hope gets changed in the first 6 months because right now it is really holding the system back, is the pricing on these accessories. They are outrageous. For another controller and dock combo, you are looking at over $100 dollars. Another headscratchers and cheapskate move, the Joy-Con dock that comes with the system does NOT charge the Joy-Cons. Naturally, you can purchase one seperately that does. There are too many little issues with the hardware that adds up to not let me truly buy in. People are knocking the battery life, and they have a very valid case to. A hair under 3 hours when playing a full fledged game isn’t the greatest. For me though, I don’t think I will ever be far away from an outlet when I play this thing and the battery doesn’t register as a concern.
March 3rd will have the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, 1-2 Switch, Super Bomberman R, Just Dance 2017, and Skylanders Imaginators. 2017 will feature a steady drip feed of games, with a port of Mario Kart 8 and surprise sequel Splatoon 2 slated to ship in the spring/summer months. In the fall, the heavy hitter, Super Mario Odyssey, will come out. There isn’t much to worry about in Super Mario Odyssey missing the release as the producer has said it is ‘considerably finished.’
Sports games, not featuring Mario, will also be a thing again for a Nintendo console with NBA 2k and Fifa both set to appear on the console for 2017. The market looks bright for 2017 and beyond with Nintendo boasting over 80 games in development.
While the launch lineup isn’t as full as Nintendo releases in the past, Reggie Fils-Amie defends the lineup as ‘a steady pacing of content.’ As is tradition, there is a growing narrative about a challenge with third party publishers and the console. Resident Evil 7 shows little chance of being on the Switch. The developers of Titanfall 2 and Borderlands 3 have expressed similar opinions when asked if their games can, or will, appear.
Heat Check: HOT
I’m on the opposite side of popular opinion here, but this lineup is amazing. In 2017, Ninentdo is going to release AAA versions of Legend of Zelda and Super Mario, AND a sequel to the best new IP from Nintendo from the WiiU generation. If my Switch becomes a first party machine, I have absolutely no problem with that. Modern gamers have more than 1 system, and the trend is going to continue with the Switch. Play the new Battlefield on your Xb1 or Ps4, and leave the Switch to be your Mario+ gimmicks machine. With the Joy-Cons and portability, there will be enough unique experiences, and Nintendo properties, to make it a complementary lineup to your PC/Xb1/PS4. If the Mario Kart 8 port is any indication, then we can expect to see more WiiU games come over so that gamers can experience the awesome games that came out on the lost Nintendo generation.
The most mysterious part of the announcement. What we do know is that there will be paid online…just not at first. Nintendo will begin to charge for the service in the fall, but test out features during the spring and summer months. Nintendo is banking on gamers to have smartphones, because voice chat is going to be through a new app. This new app will be handling lobbies, friends list, and a few other features one would expect for an online experience. In a surprise announcement, Nintendo is going to be offering a free game every month (with a catch of course). While the Wii became a ‘Netflix machine’ for many families, the Switch will be not be able to be anything like that for the first few months since the system will not support apps at first.
Heat Check: COLD
I wanted to go for the online features, because this is the first time Nintendo has really tried to bring its online capabilities up to speed with other services. There is still a long way to go though. We barely know anything, but what we do know either comes with a catch or just bad. The focus on a smart phone app is the complete opposite direction to go. I want to go onto my system and chat with friends to AVOID my phone, not be tethered to it even more. If I have to use my phone to talk to my friends, then I am going to use a different and more reliable app anyways. They have hinted that you can do more from the Switch itself, such as matchmaking and lobbies, but they haven’t shown anything to do with the online interface. Nintendo has been willing to go in depth on the hardware and software and mysterious about the online, which does not strike confidence in me that they have a firm grasp on what they are doing. They haven’t shown anything about the virtual console at this point either. A mainstay of the last two Nintendo consoles, and something very special to many gamers. With under 2 months until release, it is crazy how little we know about a massive aspect of the system.
A new addition to this generation is the free games they are going to be offering. I, like most of the internet, isn’t happy that they aren’t giving out a full digital license with the free game instead opting into a month long rental. It probably isn’t the worst thing in the world and might make me actually play the games instead of throwing them into a dark corner of my console to never be touched for months, years, or ever. Nintendo is also putting some TLC into the games they are going to offer for free, like adding online multiplayer, so there might be some saving graces to their system.
Another guarantee, but still shrouded in mystery, is how much the service will cost. As an owner of a PS4 and Xbox1, the thought of paying for another service is not something I am looking forward to. On the plus side, they are offering the service for free for a few months to iron out the creases before charging a fee. With basically no track record for an online service, I’m happy with their approach to rolling out the online and am willing to deal with a few headaches during the spring and summer while they get it straight. The lack of an apps are a bummer, but once again as a modern gamer I have more than enough ways in this day and age to watch netflix.
Like every other modern console release, there are highs, lows, and tons of mystery. The Nintendo Switch seems to be trending in the right direction and the pre orders are showing. The console is sold out everywhere and word of mouth, especially from those who have had the opportunity to try the Switch, has been more positive than negative. I know I am already more excited about what the Switch can become and is than I have ever been for the WiiU. Just let Super Mario Odyssey be good, please PLEASE please let it be good.