Nintendo revealed the design, controller, and a few games for their new home-portable console hybrid, the Nintendo Switch, earlier today.
The sides of the portable device are removable and can be used as two distinct controllers, called Joy Cons, that can be used for multiplayer in addition to normal play. When both sides are placed into a controller shell to play games at home, two lights in the center glow, seemingly to indicate they are connected, but could also be a charge indicator for when using them separated from the main device. The controller shell itself is a grip accessory for the JoyCons.
The main body also features a headphone jack. It is unknown if the screen is also a touch pad (the trailer never show any interaction via touch) but if so this could indicate the console is backwards compatible. The rumors from Emily Rogers, which appear to be accurate so far, do state it is a touch screen. The controller also features tapered-off trigger buttons akin to the Xbox One’s triggers. For ease of use in multiplayer, the Nintendo Switch also comes with a kickstand in the back.
The Nintendo Switch (previously only known as the Nintendo “NX”) is powered by a custom Nvidia Tegra processor, according to Nvidia’s Official Blog. It features a fully custom software and a revamped physics engine.
“The development encompassed 500 man-years of effort across every facet of creating a new gaming platform: algorithms, computer architecture, system design, system software, APIs, game engines and peripherals.” Nvidia said, “They all had to be rethought and redesigned for Nintendo to deliver the best experience for gamers, whether they’re in the living room or on the move.” Nvidia used similar technology in their Nvidia Shield, which eventually experienced a drought in support and was discontinued.
How performance will be affected in the “non-docked” mode will remain to be seen, but glimpses in the trailer show some hampering of the frame-per-second performance. That being mentioned, the Nintendo Switch is no slouch on the go, running Skyrim while allowing for two separate controller inputs. In a later part of the trailer, the console seems to be paired with another Nintendo Switch, running a four-man multiplayer match of Basketball. Rather than connecting an extra two JoyCons to one tablet body, a separate Nintendo Switch seems to sync with the first, allowing for four players across two systems.
The reveal trailer also confirmed that the Nintendo Switch will use cartridges. This seems to indicate the console could potentially be backwards compatible with 3DS titles. The price of cartridges has come down in recent years, making this a more viable option. With the faster load times of cartridges, the Nintendo Switch will have something to use in competition with the potentially more powerful Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
The home-portable console hybrid may also play a new version of Splatoon (or possibly be backwards compatible with the Wii U as well.) Near the end of the video, Nintendo shows a group of Esports athletes setting up their strategies to defeat the other team in a game of Splatoon on the Nintendo Switch. The players all used the Pro Controller variant for the console, docking the main body in the hub.
In addition, the trailer shows two men playing what looks to be either a new Mario Kart title or a port of Mario Kart 8. King Boo appears a new racer, and there are also two weapon slots (which was previously seen in Mario Kart Double Dash.) The course shown in the trailer comes from Mario Kart 8, but neither King Boo nor the double weapon slot are present in that game.
Another concern facing the Nintendo Switch is Nintendo’s mixed history of 3rd party support. Sometimes it’s plentiful, sometimes not so much. The Wii U, in particular, saw almost nonexistent 3rd party support after its first two years, while Nintendo’s handhelds have almost always had extensive 3rd party support. Nintendo seems ready to combat this issue with a full roster of partners for the new console. Bethesda, Platinum, Konami, Capcom, Atlus and many more are listed. Though not shown below, Image & Form Games have also announced they are supporting the Nintendo Switch and are the first European developers.
The Nintendo Switch is slated for release March 2017, with more information like price, launch titles and more to come.
Did the Nintendo Switch meet your expectations? What gaming opportunities do you see in the future for Nintendo? What challenges will we see this new device face against Microsoft and Sony, who both hold a three-year head start? Let us know what you think in the comments!