After months of nothing but teases and wild rumors, Nintendo’s finally revealed its new console: the Nintendo Switch. Though we’ve finally seen its design and gotten a taste of how Nintendo expects us to play, the trailer left us with more questions than answers.
What’s it cost? Nintendo didn’t even so much as hint at the console’s final price. Analysts have said that the Switch might cost as much as an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, meaning that it could be a lot more expensive than Nintendo’s usual offerings—though probably not the priciest piece of hardware on the market.
Are there special deals? Nintendo likes offering limited runs, exclusive colors, and special bundles. Since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is nearly guaranteed to be a launch title, it’s plausible that we might see a special Zelda-themed launch console, but this could raise the price even more for collectors.
In the box
How many controllers do we get? It seems pretty clear that the Switch will come with at least the two detachable controllers (officially called the Joy-Con L and Joy-Con R, according to Nintendo), since that’s a basic part of the system. The trailer, however, also showed off something akin to the Wii U Pro Controller, which, on the Wii U, is a separate purchase. Since it’s in the trailer, though, maybe it’s included as a basic feature. But if it’s not…
How will the controllers affect game design? It’s also possible to turn each Joy-Con controller sideways to play some games with just four buttons and a Circle Pad, but what if someone wants to play with the full controller? Nintendo is putting a lot of emphasis on letting users play with tons of different setups, but that won’t do any good if developers can’t design games that support all those different configurations.
Can we buy parts separately? If the Switch is more like a 3DS than a home console, families with multiple kids—or just multiple gamers—might want to buy a Switch each. In addition to racking up expenses fast, that means you’ll have to have multiple docks hooked up to the TV. Unless, that is, Nintendo’s got it set up so that you can buy multiple “tablets” separately and use the same dock for all of them. So far, Nintendo hasn’t said anything on how multi-gamer households should handle the Switch.
What’s the screen resolution? Both Sony and Microsoft are pushing hard for 4K as the future of gaming, but Nintendo’s still struggling to get into HD at all. The Wii U’s touch screen sported a 720 resolution screen, and it’s unclear if the Switch will stay the same or make it up to 1080.
Does the dock add power? Nintendo has clarified that the main console unit of the Switch lies in the tablet, not the dock. The dock provides an output to the TV. Whether it upscales things along the way or provides more processing power, however, remains to be seen.
Is it a touch screen? So far, nothing in the trailer has indicated that the Switch’s screen is a touch screen, but it’s not out of the question. There are tons of 3DS games that rely on the touch screen, not to mention Wii U titles like Splatoon, so steering away from what’s been a Nintendo staple since the original DS would be an odd choice and require some reworking of a lot of current Nintendo franchises.
On the go
How’s the battery life? It’s great to pick up your games and go… until you run out of battery two hours in. Can the Switch really handle playing games like Skyrim for the length of an entire airplane flight? And what if you go on a long trip away from home? Can you charge the tablet portion without the dock?
How much storage do you get? The Wii U offered, at maximum, a paltry 32 GB of storage, and nobody wants to carry around a ton of cartridges when they’re away from home. To access a full library of digital games while on the move, we’re going to need a lot more storage space than Nintendo gave us last generation. The 3DS “solved” this issue somewhat by being compatible with those standard SD cards you can buy for cheap and allowing for easy data transfer, but it would be nice to have a better option right out of the gate, especially for the less tech-savvy members of Nintendo’s audience.
Games, games, games
What’s with the mystery Mario game? The Switch’s trailer showed us about ten seconds of a never-before-seen Mario game, and we don’t have so much as a name for it yet. It’s possible that this could be our first glimpse of a launch title, a future must-buy for Switch owners.
Are the games we saw ports, upgrades, or sequels? In the same trailer, we caught a glimpse of the future of Splatoon and Mario Kart. For Splatoon, we’ve got Inklings wearing pants and sporting new hairstyles, while Mario Kart shows off King Boo as a driver and icons for readying multiple items at a time. Since the Switch uses cartridges, not discs, these clearly aren’t the same games as the Wii U versions—but are they just upgraded versions of Splatoon and Mario Kart 8, or our first look at some true sequels: Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 9?
How good is the third-party support? Over the last few generations, Nintendo’s third-party support has been… pretty awful. The Wii U came out a full year after The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but Nintendo never showed the slightest sign of wanting to bring Bethesda on board. Yet, there Skyrim is in the trailer. An NBA 2K game also makes an appearance, and Nintendo’s got a long list of big third-party developers like EA, Bethesda, and Activision that it wants to bring on board.
So, the Nintendo Switch can play games, but what else can it do? It would be a major step back to not have YouTube and Twitch integration, at the very least. Apart from video streaming, though, it’s the size of a tablet—and it would be interesting to see if it gets the kind of features that regular, non-gaming tablets have. Could it get an app store? A notes function? A camera (hey, the 3DS and Wii U both have one)? On the other hand, Nintendo’s typically cares about the actual games first and foremost, and the trailer seems to reflect that. The Nintendo Switch might be a device that’s truly dedicated just to gaming, without all the extra bells and whistles.