The unveiling of the new Nintendo Switch trailer in late October last year had the gaming community speculating about a console that is most likely going to improve on where its predecessor, the Wii U, fell short – a sleeker, truly portable design, better HD graphics, and a wider library of games down the line.
In principle, the new console offers the unique flexibility of allowing users to “switch” seamlessly from playing on the TV through a connected dock, to taking games on the go via the handheld mode, for that full hybrid experience. In case you haven’t seen the amazing trailer yet, here it is:
While I don’t consider myself a part of any video gaming subculture (I haven’t even been able to link my Super Mario Run account to my Nintendo Network ID and password because of a strange error on incompatible regional settings) the promise of a powerful home console that you can also pack up and take with you anywhere is exciting to consider. My experience with home consoles has been limited to a brief rendezvous with a PS2, which was cut short when I realized that I couldn’t muster the massive focus that was required to finish a full-blown Final Fantasy game while sitting up on my sofa or bed. Therefore, I had long ago accepted that I was destined for the portables, and had been owner to a few of them throughout the years: a GBA, PSP, Nintendo 3DS, and very recently the new 3DS XL.
But the truth is that I’ve always wanted to set up a nice video game system at home for the occasional visitors, or for when my teen-aged nephew comes to stay for the summer. I enjoy full HD gameplay on a 52-inch TV as much as the next person, and yet I still don’t want to be tied down to my couch just to finish games, and this is really how the Nintendo Switch fits my preferences and lifestyle, and why I am eagerly looking forward to its mid-March 2017 release.
While that is no more than a couple of months away, Nintendo has also recently announced the date of the full product presentation, which is on Friday, January 13, 12 noon Manila time. Inauspicious numerology aside, the demonstration is supposed to be one hour long, and will answer many of the questions that have come up since the October sneak peek.
The novelty of owning such a unique product alone might be enough to entice me to spend my hard-earned money on the console, but this presentation will be key in making up my mind about whether to pre-order, line up outside Datablitz on day 1 of local release, or wait a few months for consumer feedback before finalizing my purchase decision.
At this time, I only know a few things about the Nintendo Switch, mostly from the trailer itself and from briefly skimming related articles:
- The handheld tablet will have detachable multiplayer controls. 1 device = 2 players, 2 devices = 4 players, and so on. The trailer featured four jocks playing NBA 2K16 to demonstrate this capability, but whether it was just for show, or the title will actually be among the first game offerings, is apparently not a done deal.
- The console will use game cartridges instead of optical discs. I actually prefer this, only because in my limited experience with handheld consoles, it is a lot easier for unscrupulous game hackers to make custom firmware and cracked ISOs for devices running on optical drives, and you don’t even need to purchase a flash card. That is what ruined PSP for me – I learned fairly easily how to download modified games and it just became a game-killing hobby. There will be a micro-SD card slot though, which is usually the root of all evil, but hopefully, the new Nintendo can stay mod-free for a little while after its release.
- The graphics will be not be super-amazing, but could still hold its own. The console will supposedly have a customized NVIDIA Tegra processor with hardware –accelerated video playback and audio effects to rival even some of Sony and Microsoft’s last-gen technology. This means superbly smooth gameplay with absolutely no discernible lag whether you’re playing it as a TV console or handheld device. However, bloggers have cautioned excited fans to manage their expectations: this will not be a PS4 or X Box One by a long shot yet.
Listed below are aspects of the Nintendo Switch about which I would like to learn more during the presentation:
- Price point – Rumor mills seem pretty consistent that the console will have mid-range pricing – USD225-250 is the current entry-level consensus. This came as a surprise to me, especially since you would essentially be buying two consoles for the price of one, and at the current exchange rate, that’s about how much I paid for my new 3DS XL when it first came out locally in 2015. To be honest, I’d be more relieved if it costs between $50 to $100 higher. At least I won’t suspect that corners were cut on quality just to fit the more popular price range, but it is what it is, and we’ll just have to see how much power Nintendo can pack into every dollar.
- Battery life – I have a nagging feeling that this is where the developers might have cut some corners. In this increasingly mobile world, it would be truly disappointing if the Switch ends up having no more than a 4-hour battery life span on full AC game mode, but for the rumored price, I’m sure users can make some concessions, as I know I would. Still I’m hoping that they will announce a solid 5-6-hour life span off the wall on Friday, if it isn’t too much to ask please.
- Controls – The Switch looked fantastic on the trailer, especially on tablet mode. The design is very much like what, in my mind, the next generation of handheld consoles should aspire to look like. The home dock looks sleek and very futuristic. What worries me are the built-in controls, especially on the single Joy-Con mode. The single joystick looks like a miniature Wii remote control, and I question how comfortable it would be to use, not to mention how durable it is. The TV mode looks a little bit less awkward, and there is always that option to use the standard pro-controller for the more classic feel, but how the new Nintendo will really distinguish itself is with those tiny detachable remote controls. Furthermore, nothing in the trailer indicates that that these are motion-control enabled, but I’m hoping that they are – just imagine the possibilities! But then again, I might be asking for the world, for the price of a small continent.
- Games – Of course, at the end of the day, even the fanciest console is only as good as its library of games, but I don’t think Nintendo will scrimp on this one. Game authority Eurogamer has already previously listed some “confirmed” titles, and there’s enough there right now to keep me happy for a little while, but I do hope that they add to that short list very soon. Meanwhile, while I’m excited what I can play on day 1 of purchase, it is not a big decision factor for me.
There is no question that there is much anticipation over the January 13 Nintendo Switch presentation, from hardcore fans of the brand, to casual gamers like myself, and rightfully so. At this point, it seems clear that the future of game consoles is arriving in just a few months, and whether the outlook is exciting or underwhelming all rests on what we will find out this coming Friday.