By Neil Merrett
As it stands, the era that started with the NES console, leading to the Gameboy, DS and Wii is over, and in its place is something Nintendo hopes will amalgamate the legacies of all of them…
With so little information available for so long about Nintendo’s new console, the gaming world could only speculate about the enigmatic, legitimately ‘techy’ sounding working name given for the new machine – the ‘NX’. The title had cemented itself in the minds of eager geeks.
Now that name has gone, like teardrops in the rain, and in its place – for better or worse – was this…..
Ladies and Gentleman, we now have the very real prospect of the Nintendo Switch.
A home console that has detachable controllers, reportedly known as “joy cons”, and a built in screen that can be removed from the console unit and reconfigured into a handheld to be played on the go.
The Switch controllers are called Joy-Con controllers. Oh, Nintendo.
— Keza MacDonald (@kezamacdonald) October 20, 2016
At this very initial stage, without the all important details of costs, specs and how the technology may work for the not always beautiful, shiny happy people who exist outside of inspirational modern advertisements, the launch teaser seemed to hint at what one extremely passionate Nintendo fanboy was vaguely hoping for.
Something, for instance, in the vain of the Wii U console, which was commercially unsuccessful, but at times beautiful to play.
“Something beastly powerful, with a load of Nintendo property games like Zelda, Mario.”
Something a “bit weird, left field, but fun, fun, fun.”
No pressure then. But at least two people in the world were happy with it.
But how did the wider world and consumer base react? No one knows quite how powerful the system will ultimately be, but we do know it will allow people to carry over games of four player Mario Kart into the back of a van. Others were more pragmatic about the possibilities.
Nintendo Switch looks like a revolution in toilet gaming.
— John Bain (@Totalbiscuit) October 20, 2016
From the perspective of The Guardian, the Switch – or perhaps Nswitch as it could become in hokey street parlance – was seen as being the tool to help Nintendo consolidate its powerful presence in the mobile gaming sector. Something that has only really been threatened over the last three decades in the rise of the Smartphone.
“In the home console market Nintendo has had its weak but prestigious Wii U. The Wii U was similarly ambitious, offering owners a controller with a touch-screen built into the middle of it as default,” wrote Alex Hern.
“But unlike the Switch, which makes an immediate case for why its versatile hardware offers a benefit, the Wii U struggled to convince many potential customers that the cumbersome controller was actually a positive.”
Business Insider meanwhile saw Nintendo’s early sales pitch, albeit for a product it expects to be out by March, as an “easy sell”.
“You can play your games on a nice, big TV, or on the go using a tablet-like handheld device,” said Alex Perry for the publication.
But as with almost any successful console, games sink or swim on the titles they have, something often cited as a critical weakness of the Wii U owing to limited third party developer support compared to the market leading PS4 and Xbox One consoles.
Based on the trailer alone, Business Insider noted that alongside the highly anticipated Legend of Zelda title, ‘Breath of the Wild’, we can seemingly expect a new sun drenched Super Mario title and riffs on the popular formulas of Splatoon and Mario Kart.
Also noted was a port of the hugely popular open world title ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’, a smash hit non Nintendo –made title during the previous generation of consoles, but with the potential of now being available anywhere on the go.
Perhaps tellingly, Nintendo was keen to show it had listened to numerous concerns about a lack of titles for its previous consoles not developed in-house or based on existing company properties. It therefore revealed a diverse array of ambitious, as well as high profile developers supporting the system.
We’re excited to have support for Nintendo Switch from so many great partners! pic.twitter.com/fONefIZrLy
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) October 20, 2016
Price was nonetheless seen as a glaring emission among its potential customer base.
@NintendoAmerica WHAT ABOUT THE PRICE THO
— Kanozaurus Rex (@Do_you_Knoz) October 20, 2016
If Nintendo prices the Switch above $300 at launch… They’ve already failed. This is CRITICAL for their success and ability to compete!
— MaineMania (@MaineMania) October 20, 2016
The devil is of course in these sort of details and whether the console can likely emulate the great success of the original Wii console launched a decade ago.
But with just around five months until launch, it is fair to say Nintendo – and more importantly the Switch – has got our attention. In the meantime, as two great philosophers once said, it is game on…