Nintendo finally gave us a real peek at their new console, formerly referred to as “NX.” Its official name is Switch and looks like this:
Nintendo has previously said that this unit is no meant to be a direct replacement for the 3DS and Wii U product lines. Instead the Switch looks like it is meant to fill roles currently taken by both. As shown it has a dock that lets you hook it up to your TV in the traditional living room console fashion. But it can be removed from the dock, which reveals a small high definition display.
The controllers are… um… they seem to have many roles in the Switch universe… and a silly name… Joy-Con controllers. From the press release:
Gaming springs into action by removing detachable Joy-Con controllers from either side of Nintendo Switch. One player can use a Joy-Con controller in each hand; two players can each take one; or multiple Joy-Con can be employed by numerous people for a variety of gameplay options. They can easily click back into place or be slipped into a Joy-Con Grip accessory, mirroring a more traditional controller. Or, if preferred, the gamer can select an optional Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to use instead of the Joy-Con controllers.
Given how small the controllers look… something that matters when you have giant mitts like mine… I am happy that other controllers will be available.
Another item that sticks out from the press release is the idea of Switch users being able to bring their units together to form up a local mulitplayer network.
Furthermore, it is possible for numerous people to bring their Nintendo Switch systems together to enjoy local multiplayer face-to-face competition.
The return of the LAN party?
Of course, Nintendo has many fanciful visions of people using the Switch, carrying it from place to place, and never being without it… ever… in the video that accompanied today’s announcement.
Friends calling you to come to their roof top party? Now you can bring your video game obsession with you!
Of course, for me, the big question is, “What does this mean for Pokemon?!?!?!”
Console play isn’t really much of a thing at our house. We got many hours on the Wii back when my daughter was in grade school, but now it just sits and collects dust, while the PlayStation 3 has been primarily a Blu-Ray playing and video streaming device over its five year life in our living room. So I never gave a thought to buying an XBox One, PlayStation 4, or Wii U.
The only console I do play is the Nintendo 3DS, and that is pretty much just for Pokemon. So if the Switch is going to get the main line Pokemon RPG games at some point, then I might have to look into the system. In the video they show the Switch taking a cartridge, ever the delivery vehicle for Pokemon games.
Of course, that may never happen. Despite Nintendo’s statement about the NX, now Switch, not being a direct replacement for either 3DS or Wii U, it sure feels more like a Wii U replacement than anything else. It is a living room device for use on the TV, even when mobile the screen looks a bit big to be pocketable, and the video shows people playing Splatoon, one of the few hits on the Wii U.
Meanwhile, as the Wii U has languished, the 3DS line remains a good seller, seeing a significant boost in sales over the summer has Pokemon Go seemed to stir interest in the “real” Pokemon games, the core RPG titles available on the 3DS. And, of course, the next installment in the core Pokemon RPG series is due out next month on the 3DS platform. No need to hurry any transition for that line.
The flip side of that is Nintendo’s long standing tradition of supporting games from the previous console generation. Without an optical drive, that isn’t going to happen for Wii U titles. Of course, that might be the whole point of saying it is not a direct replacement. It is a replacement for the Wii U, but it isn’t going to play any of your Wii U games. Given how PlayStation and XBox backward compatibility has been handled… and the slow sales of the Wii U… this might not hurt Nintendo all that much. Still, you can see how this might be a… heh… switch for them. Ahem… anyway… no more motion controllers and no touch screen. And no mention of VR.
And that is about all we know. The press release has a list of developers who have signed up to support the Switch, but as we have seen in the past, studios saying they are going to support a platform fully and getting them to actually do it are two different things entirely. You can watch the Zero Punctuation episode from a couple weeks back about the Capcom 5 to see how Nintendo has been screwed on that front before. Other than that, we have the video, the press release, and the promised date of March 2017.
Meanwhile, the video game sites are jumping all over this and picking apart every nuance of what has been show (like the fact that Splatoon players have pants on the Switch version) so I expect the Wikipedia entry on the unit to get a lot of edits and updates over the next few days.
So the Switch is coming in a few months, so people can start building up a supply of headline puns playing on the unit’s name.