Nintendo has got its groove back.
After months of speculation, rumors, and reports, Nintendo has finally broken its silence on their upcoming console which has been known solely as the NX up until now. The company revealed the console with a rather interesting title, the Nintendo Switch.
At first glance it may sound like a silly name, a bit gimmicky if we’re being honest; but when it was shown in practice, it was quite impressive.
The name Switch comes from the hardware’s ability to go from home console to an on-the-go handheld device almost instantly. The main unit is actually a tablet that can be docked to create a home console experience, leaving players to control the action with Nintendo’s newest gamepad, the modular Joy-Con. However, if you need to hit the road, the Joy-Con’s input modules can be attached to the side of the tablet keeping the same experience with you as you leave the comforts of your home.
Previously, it was rumored that the console would play different experiences depending on whether or not you were docked or using handheld mode. Though based on today’s reveal at least, it appears that the Nintendo Switch is powerful enough to not have to deliver something… lesser.
If true, it’s that particular feature that shows Nintendo is no longer playing games. That they’ve managed to master something that the competition has been trying to deliver for some time now: remote gaming.
The Wii U, PS4, and even the Xbox One, have been trying to come up with ways that allow fans to enjoy their games however they want. Console gaming has notoriously been locked to the living room (or wherever you happen to game) and as technology has pushed for a more digital and more mobile existence, it became clear that there needed to be a solution.
Up until now, the options have been mixed and haven’t offered the best in terms of going where you want. You could play Wii U games on the gamepad, but you couldn’t stray too far from where you had it set up. Sure, you could take it to the bedroom or use it on your porcelain throne, but when it came to actual mobility, you were still confined to a small area.
Sony tried to tackle this as well, but it required purchasing a PS Vita and you had to be on the same network, which was just as limiting as the Wii U’s capabilities, sometimes even worse. Right now there are ways to use laptops and PCs for both PS4 and Xbox One, but those are bulky, and rather expensive, options. The Nintendo Switch is nothing like any of these, it is all inclusive and, if the trailer is anything to go by, it works extraordinarily well.
Nintendo made an effort of showing how far you can travel and how versatile the console actually is. Once separated from the dock you can see players taking a stroll, sitting with friends, heading to other locations, and one individual was even sat on an airplane. Through all of this, nothing changed. Skyrim seemed to run well, Link was able to vanquish some darkness, Mario did his jumping magic, and it was as if the Nintendo Switch didn’t miss a single beat. That alone is a feat worthy of respect, but Nintendo didn’t stop there, they realized that multiplayer is just as important when giving players options.
The Wii U had an interesting dynamic with its tablet, allowing you to not only have a second screen experience, but making multiplayer engagements intriguing as well. The player with the gamepad could see different things, offering new options, and a few games had multiple players tap on the screen at the same time. That’s great for party games, but it doesn’t offer the in depth experiences normally expected of a fully realized console.
I was curious to see how things would fare with the Nintendo Switch after seeing its tablet portability in the first few seconds. Friends would see it and definitely want to join in on the fun. Remember those little modules that turned the Nintendo Switch into a handheld? Yeah, you can remove them and share them with friends to play on the same tablet.
This provided a sort of revelation to me. It is not a console that turns into a handheld akin to a more powerful 3DS. It is a console that has the versatility to go anywhere and still provide the true home console experience including all of the multiplayer antics you’ve come to expect from sharing a couch with friends. If this concept is fully realized, Nintendo has found a way to flip the “home console” term on its head and broaden the horizons of your experiences.
While it’s true that this was just a preliminary reveal with no specs or in-depth details about the console shared just yet, this is still an exciting day for Nintendo fans. The Wii U was marred by an unclear message, something that the company clearly learned from this time around. There’s no confusion about what the Nintendo Switch is, and it’s quite apparent why anyone would want this. The company that has proven to be a solid innovator in the past has found might have found their groove again with what is easily their best, most forward looking idea in recent years.