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October 31, 2016

Nintendo Switch: Is this the NX console we’d hoped for?

by John_A

Nintendo has announced that it will hold a dedicated presentation event for its next games console on 13 January next year, ahead of a March release. But we already know what to expect.

That’s because the gaming giant already revealed the Nintendo Switch in a teaser trailer in mid October and, from what we’ve seen so far, we’re in for some exciting times.

The trailer shows a device that can adapt and change like a Transformer from a home console to a handheld gaming portable with add-ons and clips. It also shows a games console that can even be played by two-players when out and about.

But does it show a console that can mix it with the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One? And how about the PS4 Pro or next year’s Project Scorpio?

We don’t have all the specifications or information at our disposal yet, nor have we played with the console ourselves, but considering we’ve bought and coveted every Nintendo games console since the NES, we’d like to share our gut feelings.

  • Nintendo Switch: Release date, specs and everything you need to know
  • Nintendo NX is called… Nintendo Switch: New console revealed in stunning trailer
  • Nintendo Switch games: The games revealed so far and what we’d like to see

Nintendo Switch concept

The idea behind the Nintendo Switch is interesting if not unique. The Japanese gaming giant would have us believe it’s a totally original concept, but the idea of gaming on tablet-style device while travelling, to then hook it up to a television when at home is not new: the Nvidia Shield tablet (reviewed here) can effectively do the same.

The device that’s already available links with a very reasonable, low latency game controller and you can hook it up to a TV using a HDMI lead. Plus, thanks to its Tegra K1 processor, it is capable of console-like graphics.

We suspect and hope the Switch is considerably more powerful however, and the idea of clipping controls either side of the display will make for a more effective gaming device; kind-of like a Wii U GamePad with muscles.

The proper TV dock is a more elegant solution too – you don’t have to fiddle with cables. And we think the docking station will have its own tech inside, with many rumours suggesting that the Switch is capable of 4K video output for Netflix and the like.

Most importantly, the Switch looks like something we’d happily play with at home or outside. Whether we’d fancy gaming with friends using a tiny half of a Joy-Con controller is an altogether different kettle of fish, but it’s something we’ll only really find out when the console is available to test.


Nintendo Switch design

If there was anything disappointing about the console shown in the teaser trailer it’s that it looks like a dog. Literally. The Joy-Con controller, when connected to a home gaming device, looks strangely like a floppy-eared mutt. And the dark grey elements of the rest of the hardware make it look dull and uninspiring.

Yes, Nintendo consoles of yesteryear wore grey plastic exteriors like a badge of honour, but we’ve moved on since then. You wouldn’t settle for a shiny new Apple device in grey would you? What’s that, Space Grey you say?

Seriously though. While a normal home games console can afford to look practical rather than pretty, Nintendo wants you to carry the Switch around with you yet has seemingly taken a British autumn as its design inspiration. Cold and grey.

Hopefully – and likely – the games will be colourful enough to compensate.

Nintendo Switch touchscreen display

One part of the tech that has us a little baffled for now relates to its built-in screen. Although Nintendo is yet to confirm it, the current train of thought is that it has a touchscreen display (with a screen size of 6.2-inches being touted).

That’s great and makes sense given the DS family of handhelds and the Wii U GamePad have all been touch-enabled in the past, but what happens when the device is docked? If games rely on the touchscreen to operate, how will they work when the Switch is docked?

Some have suggested that at least one of the two Joy-Con controllers could double as pointer device in order to play touchscreen games on a TV, but having experience of that kind of solution on Android TVs before, it’s hardly ideal. We think developers will need to build different control methods into their games, only using touch as an extended feature rather than necessity.

Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers

The detachable Joy-Con controllers will undoubtedly improve gaming on the hoof, when clipped to the sides of the screen, but we’re less enamoured by the home gamepad solution proposed by Nintendo. They clip around a central pad for home control, but when constructed it just looks unweildy and chunky to hold comfortably.

Again, we’ll reserve judgement for when we fully go hands-on, but from the trailer, the Xbox One controller it is not.


Nintendo Switch games

Like all Nintendo consoles, the Wii U included, the Switch will undoubtedly have some of the best first-party games known to man.

Rumour suggested that an all-new Mario game will launch with the machine next year, and a platformer starring the rotund plumber is shown in the teaser. We thought it looked like Super Mario 3D World ourselves, maybe an enhanced version, but there wasn’t enough footage to know for sure.

A Mario Kart also features, but that definitely looks like the Wii U game already available.

One thing’s for sure, the list of supporting developers and publishers vastly outweighs the Wii U equivalent. Electronic Arts, for example, pulled out of supporting the Wii U early doors but is keen to stress it will be releasing Switch titles.

Hopefully, all of the third-party companies listed by Nintendo mean that the console will be on a par with the PS4 and Xbox One in number of games released. That in itself can make this machine more successful than the last.

Nintendo Switch price

Although we have some reservations, we’re optimistic that the Nintendo Switch will be a valid and valued competitor in the games market going forward. There are certainly enough Ninty fans out there to drive sales if the end product is attractive enough.

The one element that can have the biggest sway though is price. If Nintendo manages to price its new machine cleverly, it’ll have a good chance against its rivals.

Unfortunately, initial indications are that the Switch could be priced higher than many would hope. A senior executive at the company previously stated that Nintendo would not make a loss on the machine, pricing it realistically for the amount of tech you get. And if you watch the teaser trailer again, the absence of children is notable. Indeed, everyone in the video looks like they could afford a more lifestyle product.


Naturally, we’re taking a stab in the dark with much of the above. Our impressions are entirely based on a device we’ve only seen in a three-minute commercial after all. But we are enthusiastic to find out more.

And considering that we are also big fans of the Wii U, regardless of its failings, Nintendo doesn’t have much to do to convince us that the Switch will be something we shall happily accept into our living rooms.

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