As many could tell yesterday, the hype and excitement for Nintendo's newest console codenamed "NX", actual name "Switch" was real. And you could tell because their website was down for a good part of the day. And the 10 million plus views on the reveal trailer say alot as well. As someone who's been a Nintendo fan since 1989, when I received my first NES and played it until my television had irradiated a percentage of my body, I was equally as hyped. And it did not disappoint and in fact exceeded all of my expectations.
And that's because I was actually expecting a successor to the Wii U. A Wii NX, if you will. Something with more RAM, more storage, better processor, and not much else. Maybe it's because that's the route that many other console developers are going, not going to name names. But you know who they are. But Nintendo has indeed always been a bit different. And they always seem to try to introduce new gameplay mechanics into the mix without focusing much on the GHz or Petaflops. From the 3D screen in the 3DS to the motion controller in the original Wii, to the many different things that I'm about to say about the Switch. Things that their competitors normally aren't focusing on, they take ownership of. And so far it's worked out very well for them, except for the latest Wii U, but we don't have to talk about that.
Everyone ignores portability
No one is ever going to argue that Nintendo is the king of handhelds. I've bought every single GameBoy from the original to the Micro, to the newest 3DS XL, and I've played each and every one more than their full sized brethren. And for good reason. It's simple and quick and many of the games are designed to be played in short bursts. Kind of like mobile phone apps, but without causing a fire hazard with your battery.
like mobile phones, without the fire hazard
I can load up a game in my 3DS in about 10 seconds. Where as the XBOX One would probably require somewhere in the range of 2 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on pending updates. And then I'd have to sit through a 20 minute CGI introduction to the next chapter of my game. 45 minutes in, I would realize that my gameplay time has run out.
Because mobile games are less resource intensive, developers can spend more time worrying about gameplay then worrying about realism. And that's the thing that I think we're missing currently. We've replaced "fun" with "large, complex and pretty". Just thinking about loading up Wario World 4 sends a chill down my spine. Or nearly breaking down in A Link To The Past at the ending.
Trillion pixels per hair follicle
Nintendo is not the king however of pushing the envelope on hardware in terms of power and resources. And that's a good thing. If you're in the market of building business level laptops and PC's then have it. Push the limits. But if you're making video games, the only thing that should matter is creating a solid developer tool for publishers to jump in and do their magic on. That's it.
I couldn't imagine being the developer in charge of "hair motion" in any of the new Final Fantasy games. It looks amazing sure, but so did the sprites in Final Fantasy 6. And I'd rather be playing that than most games coming out now.
Cartridges have worked for over 3 decades
And Nintendo knows it. Which is probably why they keep their hardware requirements at a nice balance. Nowadays it isn't farfetched to see a game with 60GB of data, with another 50GB of downloadable content thrown in throughout the week. Back in the day it wasn't odd to see me toss 20 cartridges into my backpack and have my entire library with me at any point. In my college years, my pocket was jingling with traces of Pokemon and Castlevania. And while I waited for that next class, I had my poison to choose from.
So having Nintendo bring that same portability to a home console is definitely something that, again, hasn't been tackled by other hardware makers.
Where could it go wrong
There's alot that Nintendo threw at us with the Switch reveal, and while all of the features in the trailer work amazingly well "in the trailer", one has to wonder how it will work in a real world scenario where
Battery life: This is a worry, however it is not my worry. I'm assuming that the Switch charges while plugged in to it's docking station and if it's more than 2 hours, then I think I'll be fine. Personally for me, gaming is my down time, not my running around the city time. The comfort of playing on a large screen, and then picking up on my journey later in bed for a bit is all that is required.
Load times: In the reveal trailer we saw quite a few 'non-mobile' friendly titles, such as Skyrim and the Zelda game. Neither of these are particularly small games in both terms of size and resource usage. So definitely, while I'm expecting large load times, I'm hoping that Nintendo has a workaround for when in mobile mode.
The Controller: This one is the most concerning for me as a controller can make or break a console. The PS4 still has one of the best controller "experiences" that I've encountered, while the 3DS isn't the friendliest on the hands. And the Switch has more configurations for controllers than I have consoles currently, so there's definitely some room for error.
I'm buying it
The Switch is what I would build if I had a billion dollars and near endless resources and loved video games. Nintendo seems to have covered the entire gamut of player preference and built something that pretty much any type of gamer can get into. I love the portability. I love the cartridges. But more importantly, Nintendo knows how to make games. And the only way to experience that is through their own platform. So for that reason alone, I will be picking up the Nintendo Switch in March of 2017. Pending employment.