Another month and we finally have some more specifics related to the highly anticipated Nintendo Switch. Nintendo recently delivered a dedicated presentation to highlight the price, games, hardware, and direction of the console, which previously had really only been teased. The reaction to the reveal has its respective positive and negative camps, but here are some points to consider when setting a preorder for the release on March 3rd.
Despite my love of PC gaming, I am not on the pcmasterrace bandwagon. I own several iterations of multiple companies home consoles, and I generally am not that upset when the newest hardware won’t push 4k/60fps for every game.
Nintendo has always put out a less powerful machine in comparison to the other consoles on the market, and this normally gets reflected in a reduced price. The Switch will follow this lineage, although given its handheld crossover aspect, is not entirely unexpected.
The tablet will supposedly play in 720p while used as such, with the capability to amplify up to 1080 when “docked” in the station. For me, this is a perfectly fine compromise given the price. While 1080p (and the increasing presence of 4k) makes for crisp graphics and awesome presentation, I can deal with a little less in exchange for mobility and price.
The hardware I view with a weary eye is the JoyCon. I have yet to physically hold the device, but I’m suspicious when the traditional D-pad has been broken out into independent buttons. This may just be a function of the ability to have “equal” controllers when the JoyCons are broken down into the mini-controllers for multiplayer. However, I’d like to feel these controllers out before purchasing.
If there is one thing most people appear to be satisfied with, its the price of the console. The preorder unit starts at $300 USD, which is close to the rumored $250 point that had been floating around. However, that $300 does not include any bundle in game, and also does not include the now pay-to-play online Nintendo is creating (described later).
As previously mentioned, Nintendo has lessened power to traditionally lower price. It appears that is the case here as well. PS4 and Xbox One both started at $399 and have recently had sales take down their respective base models into the $300 range.
Price was not without concern however. Much was made of the cost of accessories. The JoyCons are priced at $50 each, with a bundle of two (they are each slightly different) priced at $80. The pro controller, which I advocated for in a previous article here, will run you $70. While PS4 and Xbox controller are also not great bargains, these prices do seem a bit excessive for what appear to be fairly straight-forward, and necessary, devices.
Alrighty, we’re finally to the good part – the games. Nintendo has the loyal following it does because of its consistently strong first party titles. Here’s a handy infographic (found here) showing what the release lineup will look like:
While there was some fear that the newest Zelda wouldn’t make it in time for launch, it appears it will be the must-have game at release. I am pretty hyped for the game, but I also wonder if it didn’t suffer a bit from straddling consoles. Twilight Princess was released on the GameCube and Wii, and the GameCube version in many ways was superior. We will just have to wait and see, but having a full Zelda on a portable system is always something to look forward to.
1-2 Switch appears to the be generic pack-in game, only its not being included as a pack-in. Paying up for looks like standard Nintendoland fare does not sound appealing. Then again, it might have appeal to the casual crowd that it is catered to. Would like to have seen it as a pack-in in either case.
We’ve got re-releases of Skyrim, Binding of Isaac, and Disgaea 5 which is nice. We’ve also got a second Splatoon and some new Fire Emblem titles. It appears Awakening’s success has really turned the franchise into a big IP for Nintendo.
The game everyone is eyeing outside Zelda is the newly announced Super Mario Odyssey, set to come out in the holiday window.
Critics immediately pointed out the similarities to the maligned Sonic Adventure title featuring “real world” setting. That, and the strangeness of Mario running around differently proportioned “people.” A lot remains to be seen with this one, but I hope the game follows Mario 64’s mini-sandbox level style over the more recent Galaxy, linear level style.
While some of the new games are exciting, Nintendo has yet to produce anything exciting about its online plans.
What we do know – online play will now require an entry price. This is consistent with Sony and Microsoft, after Sony joined the pay-to-play club for PSN with the PS4.
While the major players will now all require subscriptions, the trend has been to give players “free” games. PS+ had a strong rollout initially, and Xbox eventually followed suit. Recently, neither service has given out much that is truly exciting.
Nintendo will follow by giving out NES and SNES titles. Cool, I like both of those systems. However, a lot of those games are quite old and dated, not to mention there are some real clunkers. Nintendo has failed to really build a robust, consistent online library of its older titles. Its one of the key points (along with updated online services) I made here.
It’s also been revealed that online services will somehow integrate with a smartphone. Supposedly, this will just be voice chat and messaging, but why has this function been siphoned off onto a peripheral? At first glance, this does not appear to be a step in the right direction.
Nintendo has kicked out region lock, and will hopefully be kicking out the atrocious Nintendo ID-tied-to-device system. If they don’t actually move toward a unified, one-account system, then I’ll be baffled. This is just a must-have nowadays.
All in all, Nintendo didn’t quite hit it out of the park with their presentation, but there was a lot of good embedded with some of the qualms. The basic idea of a portable console blending both traditional with handheld still holds the highest appeal for me. Seeing some new Zelda and Mario is always nice, and I’ll also be following how the Fire Emblem titles shape up. Nintendo, just please, please make your online system modern. Please.