How to Prepare for the Nintendo Switch
By Packy Smith (@nerfedllamas)
On October 20th 2016, Nintendo released a teaser trailer for their newest game console the Switch. Previously codenamed the “NX”, the Switch was unveiled as a high concept hybrid home gaming console, capable of playing modern AAA-style video games both on an HDTV and also as a portable. On January 12th 2017, Nintendo broadcast an hour long live stage presentation that fully explained the concept, branding, and the initial batch of games that would be available for the Switch. A cavalcade of information has been made available since then, with new game announcements and more 3rd party game developers announcing their support for the system seemingly happening daily. The information can seem like an overload at times, but fear not, as I have all the information you absolutely need to have in this handy post!
On the surface, the Switch is a simple and elegant looking device that blurs the line between a console and a portable unit. An amalgamation of other Nintendo consoles and controller types, the Switch borrows heavily from Nintendo’s past with a system more geared for the future than their most recent home console offerings of the last decade. The core unit of the new console is a tablet that sports a 6.2 inch capacitive touch screen that displays images at 1280 X 720 resolution. The tablet can be played independently as a portable unit, or inserted into a supplied dock to play on your TV. Game play between both the TV and portable are seamless and offer the same experience, which means that you can take the new Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with you on the go as well as playing at home. Fully playable AAA games at home or effectively everywhere, is an enticing proposition for the dedicated gamer.
Not much is known about the technical specifications of the Switch, we do know that it runs on a custom Tegra processor made by Nvidia, which means that it can push some seriously better graphical power over the likes of its predecessor, Nintendo’s Wii U. Whereas the Switch will not compete with the more muscular likes of Sony’s PS4 Pro or Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox Scorpio as far as pure power is concerned, it will certainly be a capable and versatile device that will be able to run games like Bethesda’s Skyrim Remastered Edition, which is currently scheduled to be released this Fall on Nintendo’s new device.
Attaching to the tablet are 2 Wiimote-like controllers called Joy Cons that offer a variety of tech, including: NFC reader/writer, HD rumble, and an IR motion camera. The HD rumble in particular is interesting as it can adequately simulate something as specific as the sensation of jostling multiple independent ice cubes around in a cup, which has amazing potential for gaming applications. The Joy Cons can be attached to the tablet to make a complete portable unit, or they can remain detached for table style portable play (using the Switch’s handy built in kickstand), or even for when the tablet is docked for TV play. A truly revolutionary feature of the Joy Cons is that they offer 2 player capability for the Switch without the need for the purchase of additional controllers. Just hand the second Joy Con over to your friend, and you both can play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Bomberman R, or whatever your favorite multiplayer game might be. If a standard gaming controller is more your speed, you can connect the Joy Cons to a supplied grip that makes it feel like a traditional controller. There will also be a Pro Controller available separately that looks and feels similar to an Xbox controller.
The Switch offers a lot of ways to play and a strong selection of games to play at launch and throughout the rest of the year. On the first party side, the open world RPG Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks incredible, and has an explorable game map that is larger than Skyrim’s. Arms is a fun and frenetic fighting game featuring a crazy cast of spring armed characters that looks to offer a ton of customization and versatility. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a port of the Wii U game that will include all previous DLC and add in a new battle mode, characters, and battle maps. Splatoon 2 is a fully featured sequel to the original paint themed shooter from 2015 and will feature a new single player campaign, characters, maps, weapons, and customization items/gear. Snipperclips is a cute multiplayer puzzle game that has you and a friend cutting your avatars into crazy shapes in order to fulfill the requirements of each new crazy challenge. Super Mario Odyssey promises to be a return to the open world exploration style of Super Mario 64, featuring a diverse series of maps and new platforming elements. Other games slated for a potential 2017 published by Nintendo include Xenoblade Chronicles X, Fire Emblem Warriors, and an untitled Pokémon game.
Third party developers are beginning to ramp up support for the Switch as the launch approaches, with over 80 games currently slated to release in 2017 and early 2018. Sega is bringing classic 2D platformer Sonic Mania, their new 3D action game Project Sonic 2017, puzzler mash-up Puyo Puyo Tetris, and a new Shin Megami Tensei RPG via their subsidiary Atlus. Square Enix will publish the hotly anticipated Dragon Quest XI, warriors-style brawler Dragon Quest Heroes 1 & 2, retro RPG I Am Setsuna, and new IP Project Octopath Traveler. Electronic Arts will release a fully feature FIFA game on the Switch and will make new announcements for holiday releases on the system at their EA Play event during E3 in June. Bandai Namco has anime action game Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, rhythm game Taiko Drum Master, and a new “Tales of” RPG that has not been given a final name. Ubisoft is bringing their extreme sports game Steep, classic platformer Raymen Legends, and perennial party favorite Just Dance 2017. A large variety of software from hit franchises such as Lego, Minecraft, Skylanders, Bomberman, Street Fighter, NBA 2K, a ton of indie titles, and a whole lot more are on the way this year.
The Nintendo Switch will be available for purchase on March 3rd 2017 at a suggested retail price of $299.99. The highly anticipated RPG Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be available at launch, as well as 9 other games including Square Enix’s I Am Setsuna, Ubisoft’s Just Dance 2017, Konami’s retro revival Super Bomberman R, and a party style multiplayer game by Nintendo titled 1-2 Switch.