Last Month, Nintendo’s latest console was given a lengthy live-stream which delved deep into the hardware, and software of this console-handheld hybrid; but what exactly should the average gamer take away from this? Here is the lowdown on everything Nintendo has revealed to us.
The first question on everybody’s mind is going to be launch date, and cost. Mark your calendars, Nintendo came right out of the gate saying that the console will launch worldwide on March 3rd and retail for $299.99, which means us lucky Canadians will have to pay the pretty penny of $400 for the machine. This may be competitive with other consoles, but it still seems a bit on the expensive side.
Other features of the console were also discussed during this presentation. Firstly, Nintendo has stated that their new console will have paid online services. While it is that way for PS4 and XboxOne, this announcement is sure to anger many gamers. Nintendo didn’t really discuss exactly how online would work beyond that during the presentation, so we’ll ultimately have to wait and see how well it performs.
One thing that won’t anger gamers however, is that the Switch will not be region locked, so players will be able to import new games from other countries and play them on their system without a problem. Furthermore, Nintendo listed the battery life of the console to be between 2.5 to 6.5 hours. This is a wide range, so it’s probably safe to assume it will be on the shorter end of that spectrum when playing intensive games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. This battery lifespan is somewhat comparable to a 3DS system, but it would certainly be nice if the time a charge lasts was longer.
Fortunately, the Console charges using USB Type-C, meaning we won’t have to rely on Nintendo’s own proprietary chargers anymore. The system will also support local wireless multiplayer, like Nintendo’s previous handhelds have. Being able to connect with up to 7 other Switch consoles on the go is certainly a welcome feature for a portable console.
The Switch will come in two variants. There will be one with grey joycon controllers, or an alternate option with one red joycon and one blue joycon. Those of us with OCD will want to avoid the second option. These packages are otherwise exactly alike. Inside, you will get:
- The Switch Console, which is the tablet-like device
- The Switch Dock, which allows you to play on your TV
- The two aforementioned Joycon controllers, more on those later
- Wrist Straps for the Joycons
- The Joycon Grip, connecting the Joycons into a more standard controller configuration
- An HDMI Cable, and an AC Adapter for the console
At this point in the article, you’re likely asking: “Where’s the pack-in game!?”. Well, unfortunately, this console will not be launching with a Pack-In title; instead, the games will be sold separately. This may not seem optimal for some consumers, considering how expensive the console already is. So, what can gamers expect to play on the Switch at launch?
Well, another point of contention for the Switch is the launch window seems to be a little sparse. At launch, we’re only getting a couple of first-party titles for the platform: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, and 1 2 Switch. The latter of which seems as though it would be a perfect pack in game, seeing as how it’s essentially another mini-game compilation, this time around making use of the new Joycon controllers. What are these new Joycon controllers anyway? Well, they do indeed have many bells and whistles.
These controllers might seem a little on the small side, but they pack a lot of technology under the hood, and for anyone wondering why they are so expensive to purchase separately, at $100 for two more of them, this tech is why.
The control stick on the right joycon will posses an NFC reader for compatibility with Amiibo, confirming that Nintendo still has plans to support their toys-to-life market.
Below the directional buttons on the left Joycon, is a share button, which can be used to capture in-game screenshots, and eventually video as well after an update.
Each joycon is also outfitted with accelerometers and an IR motion sensor on the Right Joycon, which can detect different hand gestures, as well as determine the distance at which your hand lay.
The presentation also spent a fair amount of time discussing the new “HD Rumble feature”, which apparently is capable of letting you feel the weight of varying amounts of ice cubes in a glass We may think of them as updated, miniature Wii Remotes, in a certain kind of way. The game 1 2 Switch utilizes all of these new features, but it remains to be seen if they will be used effectively in full-fledged games in the future, or if these features will just be shoehorned into future titles. Nintendo has over-used motion control in the past, so hopefully they can figure out intelligent and innovative ways of integrating these technologies into new games, without having them feel intrusive, because all of these bells and whistles seem to be a large factor in the system’s overall cost.
Finally, one noteworthy detail about these new Joycons is that they each have the capacity to function as a unique controller, separate from the other. So, on the plus side, at least you can play with a friend without having to necessarily buy another controller. Although, for gaming purists, there will also be a Switch Pro Controller available for $90. Again, somewhat expensive for a controller.
There were a lot of games revealed for the Switch during this presentation, however, many of them will only arrive sometime after launch. Here are the most noteworthy of the bunch.
The aforementioned 1 2 Switch releases on March 3rd and is a party game directed towards the more casual audience of gamers that has players using the many features of the Joycon in mini-games that don’t require you to look at the screen at all. This is a title that could be fun with a group of people, but really has to be played first in order to be properly understood. And as it is retailing separately for $65, it seems rather unlikely that very many people will want to pick it up.
Next, Nintendo unveiled a new IP called ARMS. This is an over-the-top boxing game where the characters have spring-loaded fists an punch each other from a distance. Players can each use two Joycons in order to punch with real gestures. Not much of this game was shown off, but what little we did see looked more like a tech demo than an actual fully realized game. Nevertheless, this concept for a fighting game is intriguing. ARMS will arrive in Spring and retail for $80.
The following game shown is a sequel to the 2015 Wii U third person shooter title, Splatoon 2. This game will build on the original with new maps, weapons, etc. and seems to contain a lot of new content. Fans of Nintendo’s relatively new series will likely be excited for this game. Splatoon 2 will release in the Summer, but does not yet have a confirmed price.
The game which many people are anticipating after Nintendo officially revealed it, is Super Mario Odyssey. This is a sandbox type 3D Mario game, which is very reminiscent of the older 3D Mario titles like 64 and Sunshine. There were a lot of colorful, vibrant worlds shown off, including a vast city, a lushly forested jungle, a sandy desert area, and a strange place made up of massive neon vegetables. Mario has a new sentient hat this time around, which allows even more movement options for the character than we’ve seen in the past. Overall, this game looks gorgeously detailed, and really would be deserving of an article all to its own once we see a little more of it. The only gripe? We have to wait until the tentative “Holiday 2017” for this game.
There where also many JRPG titles announced, but very little was shown for any of them. Among these, was a sequel to the 2010 action/role playing Wii game, Xenoblade 2. This series has a dedicated fan following, so the announcement of a sequel definitely garnered some interest. Although, the game doesn’t seem to be that far along in its development, not even have a release window yet, so we likely won’t be seeing any more of it for awhile.
Following that, they announced Fire Emblem Warriors. This is the latest collaboration between Nintendo and Koei Tecmo and will use characters from Fire Emblem series in a Dynasty Warriors fashion, much like Hyrule Warriors did for Zelda characters on the Wii U. This probably isn’t a game that will interest everybody, but it should certainly sell well in the marketplace, given the spike in interest the Fire Emblem series has yielded in recent years. This game also has yet to receive a confirmed price and release date.
In terms of third-party games, SEGA was there at the presentation and we also know that they plan to develop games for Nintendo’s newest console; both Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017 have already been confirmed as future titles for the Switch.
Bethesda was present to officially announce that Skyrim will be coming to the Switch, Suda51 was there to say that they’d be making a new game for the Switch using the character Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes, and EA Sports was there to let everyone know that Fifa would be coming to the Switch as well.
Finally, the last game that drew this long presentation to a close was, of course, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. This is the game that, if you are a fan of the Zelda franchise, is the reason to purchase the new console at launch. The trailer they showed was jam packed with a bunch of things we’ve never seen before, but overall, showed off the game’s focus on an emotional narrative. We also now know that the game will have full voice acting, a first for the franchise. This is an absolutely stunning game, we’ve known about it for a very long time, and millions of people are probably waiting anxiously to play it. It’s amazing to realize how close it is to launching. The game comes out March 3rd, at $80.
All in all, this presentation was good, not amazing, just good. Their messaging was clear, though there were a lot of unanswered questions, as well as concerns. The real pressing concern for consumers is the price; lets suppose you wish to purchase the console, an extra pro controller, and Breath of The Wild on launch day… That will run approximately $655.50, taxes included, out of your wallet, and into Nintendo’s pocket.
This is obviously a lot of cash, so the rational recommendation would probably be to wait for a price drop and/or a bundle. Only really buy it on launch day if you want to play the new Zelda game on the Switch. There’s a lot of interesting technology behind the Switch, the software has promise, and the idea of taking console gaming on the go is quite fascinating, but only time will tell if Nintendo makes the execution of this new hardware successful.
Written By: BeNjamyn Upshaw-Ruffner