By Melvin Taylor, Staff Writer
The video game company Nintendo launched their newest gaming console, the Nintendo Switch, last Friday. The Switch, a handheld and console hybrid, is one of the most interesting gaming console concepts the industry has ever seen.
With the Switch, what you see is what you get: the 6.2 inch tablet controller constitutes the entire system. Unlike other consoles, it does not have a main unit that connects to the TV. The tablet controller is the main unit that can be taken anywhere and is not locked to the TV.
The Switch comes with two detachable controllers, known as Joy-Cons, which are reminiscent of small Wii remotes. These small controllers offer motion gameplay and a new feature known as HD Rumble. HD Rumble is a feature that offers haptic feedback during gameplay. Nintendo game designer Yoshiaki Koizumi explains that “it feels like something shaking in a glass.” During a presentation of the Switch, Koizumi demonstrated that players would be able to feel ice as it dropped into a virtual cup.
Users can enhance gameplay while playing the Switch on a TV by placing the console into a dock, after which gameplay will instantly move from the Switch to the TV while also offering a graphics upgrade. While the Switch screen displays at 720p resolution in handheld mode, a game like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” will run at 900p while docked. It is not quite up to the standard of 1080p, but if the videos that have been posted so far are worth anything, then the game still looks great.
Many gamers like myself have always enjoyed handhelds more than home consoles and have fond memories of playing devices like the Game Boy Advance on long car rides. The freedom of being able to take the Switch anywhere while keeping a console experience is a likely selling point for such gamers. In trailers for the Switch, Nintendo has shown people playing it in the park, on an airplane, and even in the bathroom.
Selling the Switch as a tablet—and not in the same vein as the Nintendo 3DS—may seem odd at first. Phones and tablets do not lend themselves well to the same gaming experiences as dedicated consoles. But as times change, so do gamers. Instead of buying a child an expensive gaming console, parents can just hand their child a smartphone for games. It seems that Nintendo anticipated this prospect and sought to develop a system that was more accessible than their previous console, the Nintendo Wii U. The Wii U is similar to the Switch, as both have tablet controllers. The difference is that the Wii U is limited to at-home use.
The Switch is all about comfort and can be played using several different configurations. The Joy-Cons, for example, can be used while attached to or detached from the system. Alternatively, they can be connected via a grip to form a new controller. Finally, the Switch Pro Controller will be a classic controller that can be purchased separately from the system. I have seen mixed reactions to the Joy-Cons but look forward to trying them and the pro controller.
The lineup of games launching with the system is not great. The Switch is launching with 4 new games and 7 ports. The new games include “1-2-Switch,” “Snipperclips,” “Super Bomberman R,” and “The Legend of Zelda.” Some of the ports include “Just Dance,” “Shovel Knight,” “Skylanders,” “World of Goo,” and more.
As one of Nintendo’s biggest series, the standout title is easily “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” It has been closely promoted alongside the Switch. This will be The Legend of Zelda’s first open-world game. Other popular Nintendo franchises such as Mario, Mario Kart, and Splatoon will launch on the system later this year.
Nintendo announced a paid online service for the system which generated many unhappy responses. Competitors Sony and Microsoft already offer paid online services. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime responded to the criticism with “People have taken shots at us for that. The reality is, the way that online experiences have progressed, it’s an expensive proposition. The amount of servers we need to support Smash Brothers or Mario Kart—these big multiplayer games—is not a small investment.” Nintendo only received criticism for this because their online gameplay has been free up until this point, and they are not offering exciting benefits for this program.
The Nintendo Switch launched on March 3, 2017 for $299.99. It comes in a standard gray model and a neon red and blue model. The system comes with 32GB of storage that can be expanded via SD card. While the Switch is behind other consoles graphically and has a not-so-great launch lineup, I am still excited for the system and what Nintendo has in store for its future. If a few more popular series come to the Switch, I’ll gladly pick one up. The Switch may be lacking as a console, but as a handheld, it is switching up the game.