You may have seen it pass through your facebook trending news section or caught the first look video on youtube. Or, if you’re a regular visitor to this site, you may have seen us mention it once or twice.
For over a year, Nintendo kept us on the edge of our seats with unflappable silence in the face of a high school locker room’s worth of rumours. Then we were allowed a peek behind the curtain and I felt like that kid who got the Nintendo 64 for Christmas. Audible screams of sheer excitement may have occurred.
However as much as we were shown, there was lots of information yet to be shared. Hours after watching the video, and scouring the following press statements and interviews, I channeled my inner Hermes Conrad shouting, “That just raises further questions!” Here are some of the things that I need to know. Right. Now. There’s a special Nintendo Switch Presentation planned for January 13th* with Hands-On Experience events planned for January, that should feature significantly less White Denim.
You know something everyone loves? A bargain. Few things make a person sweat with lust more than a buy one get one free sale. Who doesn’t love seeing a store with ‘50% off’ signs as far as the eye can see? And enter Nintendo, offering a 2-for-1 special: a portable gaming device and a home console, all-in-one. It’s got the hallmarks of a damn good deal. The only thing that could ruin this now is if there was an absurdly high price tag. But they wouldn’t do that…right?
A good launch price can really get the ball rolling on a new console in a great way. We understand these are multi-functional, technologically cutting-edge machines and/or borderline magic, but if priced just $50 too high, it could end up feeling like one of those bars that have a happy hour but the drinks are twice as expensive. Don’t be that multi-national corporation.
General speculation would have you believe that the combining of portable and home console tech is a recipe for doubling the price. General speculation would also have you believe other idyllic notions like the Switch dock doubling as a USB storage device and it definitely launching in March. However, a large element in the production behind Nintendo’s consoles has always been choosing the cheapest but most durable materials to keep costs down, and passing those savings onto the consumer through markedly lower pricing. Nintendo consoles often launch a clear $100 less than the competition. Even their most expensive console to date, the Nintendo Wii U, retailed in two forms: the $300 8Gb Basic Edition, and the $350 32Gb Premium Edition. Both notably less than the PlayStation 4 at $400, and Xbox One at $500. So if the Switch can launch at the $300 mark, and the games and accessories are priced around $50, this could be the start of a Nintendo renaissance.
But on a completely unrelated note, I hear you can get a decent iPad for $200.
Okay, I need to get this out of the way; how dinky are those Joy-Cons? I’m no Charles Xavier, but I’m 75% sure everyone has thought this. Playing with a Joy-Con controller looks like waiting to receive a communion wafer while trying to find the end of the sticky tape. I don’t know if playing with a controller little bigger than 2 packs of gum will ever feel natural but I'm relieved that they’re at least offering more traditional controller options with the Joy-Con grip and the Switch Pro Controller. Although I’m only 35% sure the former will come packaged with the console and 114.65% sure the latter won’t be. I can only hope Joy-Cons can also be purchased separately and won’t be impossible to replace like the Wii U Gamepad.
And that’s not my only concern with the Joy-Cons. Far from it. If the Joy-Con L & R can work as either 2 independent controllers or as a pair, how easy will it be to unsync & resync them to each other? Does this mean all Switch games need to have control schemes for 2 analog sticks and 8 face buttons as well as 1 analog stick and 4 buttons? Can you mix and match Joy-Cons i.e. play a game with 2 Joy-Con Ls? The first look video felt desperate to convince anyone watching that the Joy-Cons had almost as many configurations as a Wiimote & Nunchuk. I think I’d sooner believe it doubles as a close shave razor. Or that the console will be out when they say it will.
Also, what kind of battery life are we looking at? For both the main Switch console, and the Joy-Cons once separated. Referring back to the video we see a trio of young men, all of them presumably love go-karting so much, they’ve decided to play Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Switch while on their way to actual Go-Karting. They also appear to have resprayed the Mystery Machine bronze and removed the license plates, but I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about there. Throughout the video it’s implied travelling and playing will be a comfortable, fun experience on Switch on everything from car trips to flights. However, you’d be lucky to get 5 hours out of the Wii U Gamepad, that is unless you shelled out for the bigger battery. So unless the Switch comes with a cigarette lighter car adapter, it doesn’t look hopeful.
But if anything. I don’t mind the name “Joy-Con”. It’s no more or less stupid than “DualShock 4” anyhow.
Here’s some things that were shown in the video. A part-time model, part-time heart surgeon (probably), relaxes in his spacious, downtown apartment after a triple bypass that lasted through the night. This gentleman settles into his favourite pastime, watching segments of previously released Zelda footage, before deciding to take his dog for a walk at the crack of dawn. We also saw a rooftop of socially erudite young adults, and their strange friend Karen interrupt proceedings by bringing what someone would have referred to as, “a Nintendo”; as well as a group of midnight basketball players, stop playing basketball to sit around 2 tiny screens to play basketball. No-one said advertising was easy.
Now here are some things that weren’t in the video. First, a release date I can believe. But more notably, people pointing at a TV or Switch screen with a Joy-Con and a little Mario glove tracking their movements. On the Switch screen, there wasn’t a stylus tapped nor a finger swiped. We didn’t see anyone insert a disc, only plugging in a 3DS-like gamecard (a bespoke media form was probably the only pre-reveal rumour I did believe in, amongst a few others). Unless it was tucked into where the Joy-Con clips onto the main unit, there aren’t many places you can hide a disc slot on the Switch. Seeing as the main input methods for Wii U & Wii weren't shown once, are we seeing the end of backwards compatibility?
Realistically, considering they’ve been releasing Wii & DS games on the eShop for just over a year now and are still doing so, it would be a bit silly to invalidate those games by removing their main inputs. Pokémon Ranger becomes a lot more difficult when you can’t capture Pokémon. It’s more likely they’ve learned a lesson from the Wii U’s introductory video where consumers were confused if the Gamepad was a new console in itself or an accessory to the Wii. Now the focus is communicating Switch as a brand new console, without diluting the idea with features from previous consoles. It doesn’t mean the Switch doesn’t have a touch screen, they may just not want to talk about it yet.
And speaking about the Gamepad, doesn’t the Switch’s thin, more stereotypical tablet-like appearance makes the Gamepad look like the original ‘fat’ DS by comparison? Even the initial Gamepad design feels like looking back at an old photo of yourself as an athletic, spry whipper-snap compared to the pot-belled cookie retainer you’ve allowed yourself to become.
Here are some things we know are in the pipeline. We know there’s a Zelda NX. We know there’s a Just Dance. We know about Project Sonic 2017. And anything on that list above. We know Game Freak have expressed interest in Switch. We’ve seen Ubisoft do the same. We’ve seen that graphic of the agreed third party partners. We can reasonably expect a main Super Mario title, a Mario Kart and a Splatoon 2 somewhere down the line. Not to mention a new Smash, or Smash 4 port if those earlier murmurs are to be believed.
But you know what we don’t know? Anything for certain. Have a look at that list again. At time of writing, there are no confirmed dates. We
know think the Switch is coming out March 2017, and that Breath of the Wild is also slated for March 2017, but they could be 3 weeks apart for all we know. Despite Skyrim featuring in the video so prominently to the joy of fans everywhere, Bethesda ever so politically told the public to not take that as an indication that the remastered edition is coming to Switch. An idea Nintendo’s own PR echoed when commenting that the focus of the video was to show the concept of the console, function of the dock and Joy-Cons, and little else. So really, there’s every chance this console’s most prominent launch titles could be a Street Fighter V port, Switch Monkey Ball and Nintenbadgers.
And on a side note, what does the dock actually do? The official statement said “to provide an output to the TV, as well as charging and providing power to the system”. So they’ve gotten a chunky DVD case to do the job of a HDMI port and a power cable? Breathtaking.
Why won’t they tell me it’s been delayed already
I’m 95% sure it’s getting delayed. 50% sure till next Christmas. Just get it over with already.
*Nintendo Switch Presentation planned for January 13th 2017 (Japan Standard Time). JST is 9 hours ahead of UTC and 17 hours ahead of PST. Presentation may take place on January 12th depending on time zone.