Ah Nintendo. How your tales of a moustached plumber, often unique outlook on games and downright fun ideas have entertained me. In the latter part of last year, the internet at large was treated to a short teaser of Nintendo’s next hardware. Hence, the console heretofore known as NX was finally revealed as the Nintendo Switch.
It looked absolutely incredible too. Boasting the ability to serve as both a home console and a portable, the proposition was a tempting one indeed. Only a few days ago now, the Switch was detailed further with a release slated for the third of March. It’s not all good news I’m afraid.
So that you’re familiar with the concept, I’ll briefly cover what makes the switch unique. Apart from the aforementioned portability factor, the console ships with the ability for two person multiplayer out of the box. The two little ‘Joycons’ as they’re known, are each capable of independently functioning as a controller. They also have motion detection capabilities reminiscent of the Wiimote and some kind of infrared sensor. They can also read and write data to those Amiibo toy thingys (The ones the kids won’t leave you alone about).
A six-inch 720p capacitive touch screen displays your gameplay in portable mode. Completing the package is a dock, that looks rather like a tiny new age toaster, though I wouldn’t put bread in it. When you insert the console the display switches to your TV for big-screen gaming from the couch. In December, Eurogamer reported clock speeds and further evidence that the Switch was based on Nvidia’s Tegra X1 SOC, the same chip used in their *Shield TV and *Tablet products.
I love the concept. My wife and I both love Nintendo games but passed on the Wii U because of the price and performance disparity with it’s competitors. An unfortunate lack of third party support also plagued the console
Where are the games?
Fair enough, there were quite a few Nintendo gems released on the Wii U, but enough to justify the price? That’s completely subjective. I know of plenty of people who did take the plunge and have been happy with their purchases. I definitely wish I’d been able to play *Xenoblade Chronicles X. So how is the Switch faring in the games department?
Abysmally. I don’t have any other way to say it. At launch, there will be five games available for the console. Five prime, high-quality unforgettable games, surely? Nope. 1 2 Switch, which looks like a throwaway party title, likely to entertain for sure, but for a few minutes at a time. Retailing for the eye-watering sum of £40. Skylanders, a game that’s been out on other platforms since Autumn last year. Super Bomberman R, Just Dance 2017 and the *The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild complete the lineup. While Zelda is the undisputed star of the show here, it’s RRP is a frankly ludicrous £59.99. The game is also being released on the Wii U at a more reasonable £40. With that in mind, one has to ask if the Nintendo faithful will go for the version on the console they already own?
What’s more, the release schedule for the rest of the year looks equally slim. Skyrim, a game released over five years ago on other platforms is not arriving until October. The only confirmed game for April is a re-release of Mario Kart 8, by all accounts an incredible game. But at £50, nearly three years old and with little in terms of additional content, the value proposition is in question again!
The form factor and portability mean that sensible estimates of hardware capabilities were pretty much spot on. The Switch doesn’t have to be a powerhouse to be successful simply because it’s portability is such a compelling factor. It certainly was for many people I’ve spoken with. However, Nintendo confirmed that at the low end, battery life will be a mere two and a half hours. I expect any game that really pushes the hardware will result in battery life around this figure, then. Is it enough? That depends on your own usage scenarios. But it probably means the inconvenience of having to carry a charger everywhere. The performance profile of the Switch also means that reports are pointing towards graphics for Skyrim like the original Xbox 360 release, as opposed to the recent re-master.
Switch will be sold with an internal storage capacity of 32GB. In 2017, I don’t see how that can be justified. Mitigation exists in Nintendo’s decision to go with cartridge based games and expandability via an SD card slot, which has been confirmed to support SDHC cards up to 2TB. In the age of downloadable content and day one patches though, will it be enough? A 2TB SDHC card, I should add is not exactly cheap.
Cost of entry
The RRP for the device has been set at £280 in the UK. With rumblings in some online locations that we should all blame Brexit, I’d like to posit my argument for why it should have been cheaper despite exchange rates. It boils down to the installed user base. Cheaper devices are likely to sell better, especially as a second console, which the switch is likely to be for many including myself. Nintendo has stated that they will not be selling the Switch at a loss.
Considering Nintendo’s vast cash reserves, a small loss on each unit could have converted into better sales. That means more software flying off of the shelves and a higher likelihood that the big third party publishers will provide continuing support. The Wii was a great example of this, low cost of entry, massive market share, hence a huge third party library. With the risk of a high retail price limiting the number of units in the wild, fears are justified of Nintendo inflicting a vicious circle of events upon itself.
Nintendo Switch Verdict – Wait and see
I want to love the switch. I got up at 4am the other day to watch the reveal, giggling at the guy showing off Splatoon 2, smiling along with Miyamoto’s infectious enthusiasm. As more news emerged over the course of that morning I found my desire tempered. I can’t help but be disappointed at some of Nintendo’s choices. I would have rather them push the release back to Autumn. The line up could have included Mario Odyssey, Zelda, Skyrim, Mario Kart, Splatoon, and Arms (The new boxing based IP). Perhaps 1 2 Switch could have been bundled with the console as Wii Sports and Nintendo Land were in the past. Giving other developers a chance to get their own games ready for the public eye could have meant a knock out E3 show for Nintendo. Perhaps then my feelings would be somewhat different.
As it is, unless you absolutely must have the latest and greatest gadgets on day one, I recommend a wait and see approach. But if like me that signature Nintendo magic has been missing from your life from some time, you can pre-order your Switch now.
Will you be ordering a Nintendo Switch?