I woke up this morning excited that I was going to get to see a sneak peak trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2 (reaction to that is right here), and that I would get to talk about that...and then my entire timeline was lit up by Nintendo Switch chatter, and links to the announcement video. After the terrible (terrible) Wii U, and as a lapsed Nintendo fan (read: someone who will probably never abandon PlayStation and PC at this point, but would love to see a strong, viable Nintendo again with more than three games I would want to play), I was looking forward to seeing what the company would come up with with, what would best be described as cautious optimism.
Nintendo has been teasing their upcoming console (code-named the NX) for what feels like forever, and that what we were going to get was a sort of hybrid between mobile and home console gaming...which to me sounded like PlayStation TV (which was...so...great...) but instead they introduced us to the Switch:
What Nintendo has seemingly delivered however, is exactly what they had talked about: this is a combination of a handheld & home console that will be able to play the same quality games across the board--and there's a definite step up in graphical quality from the Wii U era as well, which is quite evident when looking at the Skyrim sections the guy on the airplane was playing. I'm quite pleased that at no point in that announce trailer did anyone waggle anything (the eventual bane of the Wii), nor was anything emphasizing a touch screen, but a modular controller set for the handheld side, plus what looked to be a "pro" or "elite" controller at home. These are a few things I had worried about considering the direction Nintendo hardware had gone, but I suppose that the company having taken it on the chin with the Wii U (thankfully) drove them in a different direction.
Another portion of the trailer that was fun was the combination of seeing new Zelda, what looked like a new 3D Mario game (always a Nintendo staple), and a bit of Mario Kart (which appeared to be 8 which would leave me to believe it would get ported onto the Switch). It's always easy for old school Nintendo fans to get excited about the old staples of their gaming catalog...but that has never particularly been Nintendo's problem...
Now while that is all said, it is in the lack of details that I find myself dwelling on a few concerns I have about the Nintendo Switch as a whole:
First of all, while the snappy, modular nature of the console looks like it works great in the company promo, I for one have a great deal of worry about wear, particularly on connections where the pieces lock into place. All technology breaks down, but adding in more moving parts rarely creates more stable pieces; I worry about the lifespan of the console under regular wear when it comes to being out in the world, and then returning to a home 'dock'--particularly with the Joy-Con (ugh) controllers snapping on and off the way they do. That just seems to be a problem waiting to happen, a trouble spot for flaws, AND might not be something we hear about until well after the Switch has been in the wild for a while. I have very high-end headphones which have interchangeable wires, and the connections gave a tendency to wear with slight stress...how unfortunate it would be if the Switch needed replacement parts as often as those cables do (under way less stress than I can easily imagine a Switch handheld would be under).
That's to say nothing about the endless fear of losing a modular piece on what is presumably a 300$ console...and we know nothing about the memory system...
Second: I hate to say it, but I think that 3 hours in probably a "good" region for the amount of battery power that the first wave of Switches will have--4 would be wonderful, but considering the output, the screen size, and everything else that is in that console, it would be hard for me to see it getting more than that (and that's without considering processor heat--how big is a fan on the handheld side of it? Technology is better than it was, but I haven't seen anything to make me believe that it's battery power is going to blow your mind.
Especially when Nintendo themselves are saying that it is primarily intended to be a "home console": that may need to be read as "don't hold your breath on handheld battery life".
Which leads me to believe that while the Switch will be a graphical, and power improvement over the Wii U, I cannot see it competing with the PS4 or XB1, and I saw nothing out of that video that would lead me to believe otherwise. Again, yay that it was running Skyrim, but so did my PS3, so that's not necessarily something I'm jumping for joy over. While I am not a graphics hound (I'm primarily PS4 after all), Nintendo could still end up having the problem it has had for years: third party support tails off as the other consoles & PC dash past them, and they become a niche machine with a few great games, and nothing else.
I know that there is a list of companies who have lined up to show that they will be supporting the Switch, ranging from Activision to Ubisoft, however that does not really mean anything--if the sales were great on the Wii U, there would've been more third party support there too (as there was money to be made), so seeing companies line up to say they will work with Nintendo on games for the Switch is all well and good, but it should be expected before the launch of consoles...because they all want to make money too, and no one knows whether or not Switch will be successful.
At the end of the day, details on the Nintendo Switch are scarce (I recommend heading over to Polygon, who have a really handy list of all the questions about Switch, and what few answers we have), though with the console set to release in March 2017, it's safe to assume that we will know more soon.
Initial impressions? Still cautiously optimistic, but perhaps more optimistic about anything Nintendo than I have been for quite a while, but I really do feel we need more details before anyone gets too crazy on it, especially when it comes to price & memory.
We will see.
Hit me up on Twitter to chat Switch, the election or anything else that's on your mind...like how the "Nintendo Switch" is kind of an awful name...