Switching it Up
It finally happened. Nintendo revealed their upcoming system, Nintendo Switch. The trailer was under four minutes long, but it was enough to get me hyped up for it. Here are five reasons why I’m excited for the Nintendo Switch.
1. Hybrid System
I love handhelds. The Nintendo 3DS is one of my favorite gaming systems as was the Nintendo DS before it. I appreciate the ability to play games wherever I want, especially while I’m commuting or traveling. Even at home, I actually prefer the 3DS or Wii U’s off-TV play because I can play in any room.
Thus, I was thrilled to hear that the Nintendo Switch would be a hybrid system, allowing for both home console and handheld capabilities. While playing on the TV, the “Joy-Grip” controller looks like a standard huge controller with two removable sides, lovingly called the “Joy-Con.” When the Joy-Con sides come off and attach to the Switch’s tablet-like screen, it suddenly functions like a handheld that continues the game where you left off. This mirrors the Wii U’s off-TV play, effectively making the new controller a logical progression of the Wii U’s GamePad. Since the system appears to use game cards similarly to the 3DS, we’ll be able to take games on-the-go, which is great news for handheld gamers. If the system can replicate the awesome experiences I’ve had with the 3DS, then I’m already on board.
We may also finally be looking at a unified system. Instead of having to buy two separate systems, we may only have to buy one, and all of the new titles will ideally be streamlined into it. We could be looking at a built-in cross-buy, which would fix the existing issue of having to buy the same game on both systems. This move benefits Nintendo as well. The Wii U didn’t do as well this generation, while the 3DS sold like hotcakes. Its handhelds have performed traditionally well, so it would be wise for Nintendo to play to its strengths. In the best-case scenario, the Nintendo Switch could have the sales and lasting power of the 3DS and the larger-scale game experiences of the Wii U.
Of course, in the worst-case scenario, we could get neither. It will depend on several factors. First, if the cost is on the upper end, then it might actually lose sales from those who are used to the cheaper handhelds. After all, the 3DS struggled when originally launched (also in March) with its $249.99 price point. The Switch will need a price that will sell its new hybrid vision while still remaining profitable. Also, we’d need more information on the handheld. For instance, what is the battery life, and how will the video quality be? Is it online-enabled? It’s hard to tell much without physically having the controller. At the very least, if the DS line ends here, I’d miss the dual-screen and clamshell features. It’s still up in the air how exactly Nintendo will handle the handheld situation.
Of course, if the handheld line continues with Nintendo Switch, we could be looking at the next version of Pokémon on a console/handheld. In fact, just having Pokémon on the Switch would do wonders, since it’s a big system-seller already. It’d also be great to see big recent handheld games such as Monster Hunter and Yo-kai Watch on the system. I’d love for many handheld franchises to be on a console while still maintaining portable functionality. Likewise, I’d be ecstatic to take all of the big console games wherever I want.
3. Sleek Design
I usually don’t care how a system looks when I play it. After all, I played with the Nintendo 64 controller, the original DS, and the GameCube (Disclaimer: I love all three). That said, I love how the Nintendo Switch looks. The transformation into a tablet surrounded by two slide-on Joy-Cons works so much better than I could have imagined. The end result resembles a flatter, cleaner, sleeker GamePad.
The Joy-Con controllers are surprisingly versatile. Not only can you connect them to the tablet, but you can also detach and use them like miniature Wii remotes. It’s unclear whether they have motion control, but you can play with one on each hand or even sideways like an NES controller (à la the Wii remote). With a kickstand and headphone jack, the Switch is already looking more user-friendly than some phones. Finally, I found the traditional pro controller’s design to be one of the best since the GameCube’s. The right control stick is finally on the bottom right, and it just looks comfortable to hold.
I also think the name Switch effectively describes its function with a single word. It might not be the hippest console name, but it’s at least a better name than Wii U. I do think there is a missed opportunity though. They really should have gone with Swiitch. Joking…
4. 3D Mario
There were a few games teased during the reveal trailer, including possible updates or new games for Splatoon and Mario Kart. However, the one game that caught my attention most was the 3D Mario game. It only appeared for about five seconds, but I rewatched those five seconds over and over. I loved Super Mario 3D World, but I’ve always wanted to see another hub-world adventure more akin to Mario’s first 3D outings. What little we saw looks like it may be a return to form. It resembles Super Mario Sunshine combined with a Mexican-inspired world. The footage looks unlike anything we’ve seen in a Mario game, and it’s that freshness that has me craving more. I’m still excited for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but this potentially new 3D Mario is an easy second place.
5. Third-Party Support
Third-party support is crucial. The Wii U lacked it, which led to long game droughts. Exclusive Wii U owners also missed out on many games. While we don’t know exactly what will be on the system, we do know that the Nintendo Switch will have an extensive list of partners. Its usual partners Capcom, Platinum Games, and Sega are back. Some third parties are back like Electronic Arts, Activision, and Konami. It’s great to see Square Enix, who will hopefully bring Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts in addition to Dragon Quest. Support from DeNA (creators of Miitomo and upcoming mobile Nintendo games), SpikeChunsoft (Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Zero Escape), and Level-5’s (Professor Layton, Yo-kai Watch) suggests that we’ll be seeing portable, and perhaps mobile, franchises on the Switch.
Some other interesting partners (and their notable series) are Bethesda (which we saw in the trailer with Skyrim), FromSoftware (Dark Souls series), Telltale Games (The Walking Dead adventure series), Tokyo RPG Factory (I Am Setsuna), and Take-Two Interactive (Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption). It would be amazing for the Nintendo Switch to finally become a melting pot of excellent game series that reach a variety of gamers. Wii U also started with a fair share of partners, but fizzled out with third-party support early on its life. If played right, we could finally see Nintendo standing tall with the big third-party properties.
There is plenty to be excited about with the Nintendo Switch. At the same time, there is a lot we don’t know regarding the Joy-Con, the games, the release schedule, battery life, and cost, among other things. Regardless, I remain optimistic that Nintendo will learn from previous missteps and move forward with this sleek new hybrid system. I also hope that Nintendo can give the system broad appeal with a diverse line-up of games. Either way, for the above reasons, I am excited to make the switch to Nintendo Switch in March!