On Thursday (10/20), Nintendo released the below 3 minute trailer for the newly minted Nintendo Switch.
What we know so far:
- It serves as both a home console and handheld (as rumors had previously stated), and the systems can communicate with one another, apparently
- It will have detachable controllers that can function together as one controller as independently for (at least) a few multiplayer games
- A pro controller will be available
- Amiibos will work with the system
- A Mario and Splatoon title will be available at some point
- It launches in March
- It uses cartridges
- Um….it’s made by Nintendo
What we don’t know:
- Games other than Mario and Splatoon that will be available in the launch window
- Battery life
- Third party support
- Essentially, anything not listed in my first list
Guys, I’m a Nintendo fan, and I like what I’ve seen so far, but we really do know so little that it’s hard to even form a true opinion on the Switch. I genuinely like the idea behind it. It’s just so…Nintendo. By which I mean it’s unique and odd and bizarre and wonderful and exciting. Since the end of the Gamecube era, it seems that Nintendo has decided that they’re just going to do what they feel like doing, and maybe some of us will come along for the ride. It worked with the Wii, not so much for the WiiU, but Nintendo just doesn’t play it safe anymore, so now we have the Switch. And darned if it doesn’t seem kind of cool. Keep in mind though, this is coming for a self-professed, but somewhat grounded, Nintendo fanboy. My bias may be showing.
As I’ve written before (in a post I’m going to contradict a bit now), Nintendo excels in the handheld market, and this system appears to be their effort to merge that market with the home console market. The question this creates is, will Nintendo begin replacing both the WiiU and 3DS with the Switch? I’m certain that we’ll hear how this isn’t replacing the 3DS, and while that still may be true (after all, the 3DS is still very popular), we heard the same thing about the GBA when the 3DS launched. How did that work out?
The point here being, if Nintendo does attempt to market this as a handheld, they will be their own most prominent competitor with the 3DS. That would be a tough balancing act to keep up. It’s also hard to imagine them actually stopping support of the 3DS given its success.
If I had to make a guess here, I would say that they’ll market this as their next home console, which just happens to be portable. Focusing solely on the Switch at the expense of the 3DS would be put all of Nintendo’s eggs into one system, and that would be a dangerous gamble. What if the Switch stumbled as the WiiU has? They would have no backup system in another market segment to sustain such a misstep. Not that Nintendo would cease to exist or anything like that, but it would be a major blow.
The popularity of the 3DS also means that Nintendo can allow it be kept afloat with third party support, letting their in-house developers concentrate on beefing up the Switch during the launch window, and the first year thereafter, avoiding the game drought that the WiiU experienced soon after launch, and worked towards its ultimate demise. This is a pretty big deal, and a situation Nintendo hasn’t been in since the launch of the original GameBoy (over 25 years ago). The WiiU may have stumbled, but no one questions Nintendo’s game development abilities, first or second party. They simply make, far more often than not, fantastic games. Focusing those abilities like a laser on one system would be a boon, should that actually happen.
Still, this is all speculation at this point. Nintendo has already stated that no more info will be released this year. We’ll probably get a full Nintendo Direct in January. To wait much longer almost seems like madness. Actually, waiting that long almost seems like madness, but Nintendo is quirky like that, a quality I think many of us both love and hate about them. At the moment, I’m excited, but ultimately, games will make or break this system, and on that front, like it or not, we’re still in a wait and see limbo. I’m just going to hope for the best. A video game market with a vibrant Nintendo pushing the envelope is a win for all of us.
Brandon Nicholson is a blogger for TMRzoo.com and the founder of Just Another Video Game Blog and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3 and PS4, Microsoft XBOX One and XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Brandon provides his readers with reviews, previews, release dates and up to date gaming industry news, trailers and rumors.