Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch

With the unorthodox console launching in less than two weeks’ time, many console gaming outlets in Singapore have opened up pre-ordering for the Nintendo Switch, the Japanese company’s new attempt to get back into the next-generation console market after the not-so-stellar performance of the Wii U. I was initially extremely excited about the revolutionary design of the Switch, but the worrying details of the whole launch campaign has gotten me to take a step back to re-examine the Switch’s viability to shake the market up.

Console Design

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The controllers are pure beauty. Photo credit: Nintendo

The very reason that got the entire gaming community raving, the Switch definitely broke new ground when it comes to its modular, extensible and partner-inclusive design, in the form of its portability and the adorable Joy-Con controllers. The ability to break up (pun intended) for partner play any time is very enticing as portable console gaming has always been an individual activity when not in a deliberate gaming meetup context. It’s like sharing a tasty pie with your friend when you’ve only got one.

What I am hoping for is for the game developers to execute the “switch” strategy well – that is to transition from a single player using both Joy-Cons to play the game to a two-player setting; each using one. In games like Super Bomberman R, having a second player join immediately would definitely spice up the atmosphere, but it all boils down to how smooth the game handles the player addition. And hopefully, there will be games that actually support hot player addition, as the Nintendo Switch definitely seems designed for that purpose.

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Erm, can you already see how awkward that feels? Photo credit: Engadget

Which brings me to my next concern – the ergonomics and the capability of the Joy-Con controllers. Due to the way the Joy-Cons are designed to support both single player mode using two controllers and split player mode with each player holding one, the Joy-Cons end up being asymmetrical when separated – the joystick on the right side Joy-Con is a little further inwards as compared to the left side Joy-Con. Furthermore, the ergonomics and comfort of using the controllers in dual player mode is questionable due to its small size, and the limited amount of controls and buttons on the separated Joy-Con raises concern on the type of games that can be designed for play in this mode.

Launch Lineup

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Photo credit: GearNuke

Seriously, the launch lineup is very disappointing. 10 games is not something to even joke about, and it doesn’t seem like any of the titles that are more enticing to the general audience would be coming anytime soon. Heck, even Mario is still busy plumbing his pipes till summer.

Oh, and did I mention that quite a few of them are titles that were available on the previous generation consoles (hello, Skyrim and World of Goo)? I seriously hope the innovative console won’t be limited by our raised expectations towards its potential, like the Wii did.

Price

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It’s gonna cost you quite a bit to play 3D Zelda on the go. Photo credit: CNET

Normally it wouldn’t have been a problem for the Switch to bear a high price tag as a next generation console; however, the aforementioned issues does not help to justify the Switch’s US$299 pricing strategy. For that, you get a console, and nothing else. Not even the 1-2 Switch, which seems like a set of mini-games that should be bundled in the console anyway. Here’s hoping that Nintendo will release some special editions of the console, or at least one that’s bundled with its flagship titles. Who wouldn’t want a Switch with Link printed on it?

(Update: Geek Culture has updated us about the exorbitant cost of the Nintendo Switch in Singapore; albeit bundled with two games, the cost is still much higher than the current next-gen consoles.)


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Super Mario Odyssey is definitely one of the titles I’m most looking forward to. Photo credit: CraveOnline

Here’s hoping that the demand for the Switch exceeds enough expectations for game developers to develop more titles and make the console one of the more unique tech products of the year. But maybe before that, we’ll see some much needed accessories for the red-blue device, such as a portable battery pack.

(Shopee has a great deal for the grey Switch + Zelda here!)

(Featured photo credit: Nintendo)