Is it time to Switch?
So the cat is out of the bag (finally), and Nintendo has dropped the bomb. Their Nintendo Switch will hit stores on March 3rd, 2016 for $299 (USD).
Header Image Credit: Nintendo
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Oh, wait… There’s more.
Nintendo certainly has presented an enticing package, showcasing some truly innovative ideas for a home/portable console, and proving that even when they seem like they’ve run out of ideas, they can still surprise. However, it’s not all sunshine and squids, as there are some rather puzzling things they’ve presented. Let’s jump in.
Switching Things Up
There were a few things that we already knew from the initial tease of the Switch; the most obvious of which is the portability of the console experience. Let’s let that sink in a bit. A portable console experience. One of the biggest beefs I have with handheld and mobile gaming is that the experiences that they provide are so trimmed down.
A shooter on my tablet plays like garbage because they need to make it entirely playable with a touch screen, and it has to work on such a wide range of architectures and specifications. An adventure game on a handheld suffers from the limitations of the hardware. I can’t tell you how bummed out I was that Lego City Undercover (don’t judge me) is such a cut-down experience on the 3DS compared to the WiiU. The Nintendo Switch doesn’t appear to have that same issue. The worst you’ll have to deal with is that instead of running at 1080p (docked), you’ll be playing at 720p when on the go.
You want to play The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild on the go? Well you’re in luck because it will play the roughly same in tablet form as it will when it’s docked. Better yet, while it isn’t nearly as powerful as the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, Nintendo has still managed to squeeze every ounce of power out of the system. It’s something that they’re remarkably good at.
Speaking more about the games, Nintendo has shown that they still have what it takes to come up with interesting titles for their new system. Breath Of The Wild is an obvious choice for gamers picking up the system, but there are a number of other titles hitting the Switch as well: Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Bomberman R, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Minecraft, and more.
Nintendo will also be joining the rest of the consoles by allowing the native ability to capture screenshots, and eventually videos as well. Just like the other consoles too, the Switch will not be region-locked!
More good news comes in the form of being able to purchase additional docks to place strategically throughout your house. If you start playing Breath Of The Wild in your living room and need to give up the TV, you’d be able to pick up the tablet portion and plunk it down into the dock in your room to carry on smashing some poor villager’s pottery.
First, the Switch will be releasing at $299 for the system alone here in the US, matching the price of the Xbox One and PS4. My worry is that despite the system having a suitable niche to fill and proving its worth, it might not sell well enough at this price point. The issue is that adoption rates need to be high enough to compel third-parties to continue releasing on the platform, and if sales are as stagnant as they were with the WiiU, we might see a repeat the events that unfolded with Nintendo’s soon-to-be obsolete console. A lower price might prove to be the best way to increase adoption rates, but given the package that Nintendo has on offer, I don’t think they could sell it much cheaper without taking a huge hit to profits.
Continuing in this vein of concern, the accessories for the Switch are pretty pricey. A single Joy-Con will run about $50, and the vastly more comfortable looking Pro controller is $70. With this in mind, to get the system, one game, and the controllers necessary to play with a friend (along with the Pro controller), you’ll be looking at a price tag of about $500. The least you could probably get away with spending is about $360 before taxes for the system and one game, which might be enough for some people.
But this is all assuming that you manage to find one. It’s up in the air whether or not you’ll actually be able to buy a Switch at launch since Nintendo’s name is generally synonymous with availability problems these days. The original Wii and New 3DS were extremely difficult to get a hold of close to launch, and the NES Classic is still almost impossible to find. The only reason the WiiU was purchasable at many locations was because the marketing for it was remarkably inadequate. As of right this moment, many retailers are already sold out on preorders, so hopefully larger allocations will be allowed by Nintendo.
Nintendo is also joining Sony and Microsoft by charging for their online service now, so anyone with multiple platforms (aside from PC) who wants to play each online will now have two to three separate membership subscriptions to deal with. Nintendo has the chance to make this new service worth it as long as the price isn’t too high, the service works well, and the bonuses they’re promising are substantial enough.
Of course, those bonuses might include downloadable games, which compounds another issue. The base system will have a pathetic 32GB of storage space. Now, I realize that storage is at a premium on a portable platform, but when many gamers are choosing to buy their games digitally, 32GB of storage just won’t cut it, making the purchase of additional storage almost necessary.
Also, with Nintendo allowing players to capture media straight from the device, they need to lighten the restrictions they’ve been placing on fair use. If they really want to have players make use of the capture function, they can’t be using copyright takedowns on every fan uploading videos of his or her exploits in Super Mario Odyssey or Splatoon 2.
But What Does This All Mean?
All things considered, even with the limitations I’ve noted, I’m still extremely interested in the Switch. It’s hard to not want to buy one, though you won’t catch me lining up on March 3rd. Instead I’ll be watching this one closely. I basically skipped the last two generations of Nintendo consoles, so I feel like I’ve been missing out. If my initial impressions of the Switch so far are any indication of things to come, I think Nintendo may have another hit system on their hands.
I’d buy a Switch on day one if they released a new Rogue Squadron game though. Or even made Rogue Squadron II playable on the Switch.
DO YOU HEAR ME NINTENDO? ROGUE SQUADRON. I WANT IT!