The veil over what was once the NX is lifted! Nintendo has finally revealed its next big thing, and it’s something the likes of which we've never seen before (opens in new tab).
Enter the Nintendo Switch (opens in new tab): a hybrid of home console and handheld that consists of a high-definition display that can function as a standalone screen, a portable gaming system, or be slotted into a dock and played on your TV.
Nintendo is a gaming giant built on innovation, so we’ve been curious as to what it had hidden in its sleeve all this time – and it didn’t disappoint. Here are five reasons the Nintendo Switch is the console you've been waiting for:
It's a no-frills game console
As the Xbox One S (opens in new tab) and PS4 Pro (opens in new tab) veer closer into becoming PCs without all the conveniences of one (opens in new tab), the Switch reminds us why we like consoles in the first place.
The way it jumps between playing on a TV to your hands looks absolutely seamless. Anyone who’s dreamed of playing top-quality games without being confined to a couch or desk could have their prayers answered with the Switch.
It’s also Nintendo we’re talking about. Sure, the company took a bit of a misstep (opens in new tab) reiterating its 3DS handheld (opens in new tab) a bunch, but we don’t think the company will pull a Sony or Microsoft and shift focus away from games to be more like PCs (or Rokus.)
The company's video reveal shows it like it is: this isn’t some gimmicky Wii for your kids, or some kind of all-in-one ‘media experience,’ or a fancy centerpiece for your living room. This is a console dedicated to playing games.
Besides a glimpse of that new Zelda game (opens in new tab), the thing that most likely caught your eye was the Switch controller - or rather, controllers.
Adorably dubbed the Joy-Con controller, the actual ‘meat’ of the peripheral is made up of two handheld devices that, when put together, make up a conventional gamepad. However, that’s only the beginning.
Slide the Joy-Cons onto the Switch tablet, and you’ve got yourself a portable system. If that’s not your jam, then just slide out the kickstand, set the Switch down, and play with a Joy-Con in each hand.
Don’t like the Joy-Cons at all? Nintendo is also offering the Pro Controller, in all its conventional controller glory - though we have to imagine those will be sold separately.
Finally, you could give one of the Joy-Cons to your buddy next to you on the couch, and that's where the Switch really gets interesting.
It's the party player's dream come true
Something we didn’t see coming was that each half of the Joy-Con controller setup appears to work in certain games as a separate controller.
Honestly? This alone is a major sell for Nintendo’s next console. Why? Well, in theory, a single Nintendo Switch could support two players right out of the box.
This means having to buy fewer controllers just to get a multiplayer player game underway, not to mention it makes the Switch a hit where Nintendo machines truly shine: parties.
You can rarely get far at any geeky gathering or big convention without finding a room entirely dedicated to Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, or both.
However, that also requires requires finding a TV, a console, a mess of expensive controllers and adapters, and an outlet with ample free sockets.
The Switch, in comparison, seems it can get a four-player game going in an instant with just two screens and two controllers, no bulky power adapters or extension cords needed. Trust us when we say that not having to fumble with cords just to get some games going is a social grace in itself.
Nintendo's got friends in high places
Your system can be the most innovative thing on the market, but that means diddly-squat if no one makes games for it. Don't believe me? Just ask the PlayStation Vita. (opens in new tab)
Alongside the Switch, Nintendo announced that over 40 publishers, developers and software partners (opens in new tab) plan to support the system. This includes companies like Capcom, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Unity, Autodesk, Epic Games, Havok, and even the creators of the Dark Souls series, From Software.
Why does this matter? It means the Nintendo Switch is committing itself to putting games first - and apparently, by the boatload.
Additionally, the Switch’s guts come courtesy of Nvidia (opens in new tab), which is putting in a Tegra processor and a GPU built on the same architecture as its PC-standard GeForce series.
To recap, not only do a lot of people have an interest in making Nintendo Switch software, it may also wind up being an easy console to optimize and develop for.
Nintendo’s last home console, the Wii U (opens in new tab), never really made the splash the company had hoped for, and this was partly because third-party developers quickly withdrew from making games for the system.
Thankfully, it appears Nintendo won’t make that same mistake (opens in new tab) this time around. Speaking of...
It's everything the Wii U wasn't
While it had potential, the Wii U ultimately came off as a slump system (opens in new tab) for Nintendo. It wasn’t just lack of third-party support or weaker hardware that put it behind the Xbox One and PS4, however. It was also its design.
Essentially a massive tablet synced to the console, the Wii U Gamepad showed the same promise we see realized in the Switch. However, the oversized controller couldn’t leave the range of the original console, meaning it was never truly portable.
The Switch realizes the full potential of the Wii U by taking console-quality games on the go, but without being tethered to an entertainment center.
It also uses its gimmick in a way that won’t scare off developers - instead of working around a second screen that will likely go ignored, game makers need only concentrate on a top quality gaming experience.
Nintendo’s bread-and-butter has always been innovation. The Switch shows that not only is the company not out of ideas, but that it can also learn from its mistakes.
Much like what the NES did for home consoles, or what the Game Boy did to portable gaming, we could be seeing the return of the Big N. March 2017 - the Switch's release timeframe - can't get here soon enough.