While I was watching Nintendo’s preview trailer of their newest console, now officially known as Switch, I was underwhelmed. The preview essentially confirmed the frequently rumored hybrid home/handheld concept, so the trailer didn’t offer a lot of surprises. But the more I thought about Switch, the more I started to like it. The simple innovative idea of making a console that was powerful enough to provide an experience that is close to what you can get with today’s top of the line video game hardware but with portability solves a lot of problems and issues that my gamer friends and I have experienced.
Before I continue, a disclaimer: there’s still a lot that we need to know about the Switch before we can say whether it’ll be a great console or not. We don’t know how powerful it is exactly, especially compared to the PlayStation 4 and X-Box One. We don’t know how sturdy the hardware is going to be, which is a valid concern especially with all the detaching and reattaching of parts that are involved. We have no idea if the Switch will have sufficient battery life to sustain an on-the-go gaming experience. All I’ll be talking about is how the basic concept behind the Switch – a console that “switches” between a unit hooked up to a TV to a portable gaming device – solves various gamer problems.
I’ve already written about my different issues with home consoles here when I wrote about why I loved handheld gaming so much, so I’ll just give the Cliff Notes version – playing attached to a TV leads to several issues or inconveniences, such as not being able to play games when someone is using the TV or getting kicked out when someone needs to use it. Or being limited to playing in a specific area of the house; moving to a different room would mean taking your console and setting it up elsewhere (that had a TV). Or just the inconvenience of having to set your gaming console up for play, then having to clean it up later.
A handheld gaming device solved all that for me. If I wanted to play when I got home for work, I didn’t have to deal with any set up – I just turned my 3DS on and played. And when I was done, I just closed it up and set it aside. I didn’t need a TV, so I didn’t get in anyone’s way (and no one got in my way) and I played wherever I wanted to. But I lost the ability to play on a bigger screen with better media equipment.
The Nintendo Switch addresses all those inconveniences without losing the advantages of a home console device. Someone wants to use the TV? Fine, I’ll just take my Switch and continue my game elsewhere. The TV is free? Great, let me plug my Switch in its dock and enjoy a big screen experience. I’m too tired to play in front of the TV but I still want to play? Let me take my Switch to bed and I’ll play there instead.
That’s from the perspective of someone with a TV. I currently don’t own a TV. Since making the 3DS my main gaming console, I seldom used my old TV so when I moved to a different home, I left my old TV and didn’t bother purchasing a replacement. Not having a TV played a big factor in me deciding not to get a Wii U, of course, even if I wanted to play some of the games that came out on that system. And the same goes for a PlayStation 4 – no matter what titles come out on that console, I’m probably not going to get one because I don’t want to get a TV just because I want to play video games. I won’t have that same problem with the Switch. Sure, playing on a TV would probably be a better experience, but it’s not a requirement. I can play the same games as some of my future TV-owning, Switch-playing friends.
That covers the issues with home consoles, so let’s talk about issues with handheld devices. One problem that I have with my New Nintendo 3DS XL is how heavy it is. It’s really not that heavy, but if you’ve been playing for more than an hour while lying down on your back, for example, you’ll start to feel your wrists getting sore. Or sometimes, I end up playing with the 3DS too close to my face because that’s the comfortable position for my arms. I can play the 3DS at a more comfortable viewing distance, but then my arms would get tired.
The Switch addresses this problem of mine by having detachable Joy-Cons. I can just prop the Switch beside the bed, then lay on my side with the Joy-Cons in either hand. I don’t have to play it as I would a handheld device, which is an awesome option to have.
Finally, I’d like to talk about one of the most annoying issues that I have with handhelds – multiplayer gaming. If I wanted to play games with another person, they would have to own their own device for us to play. And I thought I got around this issue by having two 3DS units (the 2DS and the New Nintendo 3DS XL), but I realized that I needed to have two copies of the games that I wanted to play if I wanted the full two player experience (some games had watered down Download Play modes).
I guess Nintendo thought of this because they designed the Joy-Cons of the Switch to function either as one controller or two mini-controllers. Combine this with the ability to prop up the Switch and not play it as a handheld device and you’ve truly got yourself a portable home console. Now granted, the Joy-Cons are quite smallish and probably will be too small to be utilized as the main controllers, but having this option for two player gaming is better than not having it at all.
Again, we still don’t know a lot about the Nintendo Switch. But if it’s powerful enough to offer an experience that’s close to what the PlayStation 4 can provide (sans VR), if it’s durable enough, has good battery life, and affordable enough, then the Nintendo Switch might be the console to have. The ability to “switch” between home, portable, and handheld functionalities will make the Nintendo Switch the most convenient and accessible gaming console of the current generation.
What do you think about the Nintendo Switch? Let us know by leaving a comment or two below!