The Nintendo Switch

24 October 2016

Nintendo:

Nintendo provided the first glimpse of its new home gaming system and revealed that it is called Nintendo Switch. In addition to providing single and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system also enables gamers to play the same title wherever, whenever and with whomever they choose. The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable unprecedented new video game play styles.

In summary, it’s a six-inch tablet with two controllers, one for the left side and one for the right side. In this configuration, it looks (and operates) like a modern-day Game Boy Advance. There’s two analogue sticks and an array of other buttons. The tricksy part of this product is that the bits on the side are actually detachable.

They become two wireless controllers when separated, usable by one person using two hands or two people with one controller each. Nintendo calls them Joy-Con Controllers; I hope the branding team takes another pass at this name before the Switch ships. The ability to transition from a one-person handheld to a local multiplayer console instantly, the unit has a kickstand so it can sit on a desk or table, is unique.

You can also dock the Switch in the home to project the games onto a television, effectively turning it into a home console. In theory, no additional accessories are required because you can use the Joy-Con controllers on the go or at home.

I think the Switch represents a shift in Nintendo’s strategy, after the failure of the Wii U and the mediocre sales performance of Wii in its final years. Unlike those predecessors, this console doesn’t have an interaction gimmick like the motion controls of the Wiimote or second-screen experience attempted by the Wii U gamepad. The Joy-Con attachment mechanism is novel but the way you actually interact with the console is not revolutionary in any way: games are played by pressing buttons and swivelling joysticks.

The company is yet to discuss technical specifications but the advert intentionally features adults playing well-known games; Nintendo is appealing to the same core market as Xbox and PlayStation.

The display is a capacitive touch screen according to leak specs — the official video does not reference its existence in any way. Nintendo wants to discourage comparisons to tablets and phones and highlight the deep gameplay experiences of AAA titles. As a handheld, the Switch differentiates itself away from smartphones by offering physical input controls and the nifty option to setup local multiplayer with no additional accessories or devices required.

The iPhone may be getting Super Mario Run, a one-button side scrolling platformer, but it pales in comparison to the rich 3D open-world Mario adventure exclusively available for the Switch, teased in the video. You have to own a Nintendo console to play real Nintendo games.