Friday, 21 October 2016

Technical Blog Post #3 - Nintendo Switch

Nintendo has revealed their new game machine as the Nintendo Switch, a portable device akin to the Wii U controller. It doubles up as a home console that can connect to a tv/monitor and the controllers on either side of the screen are detachable to be used individually, as two separate controllers or put them together to make a typical controller looking something similar to a basic Xbox 360 controller.

You can see the teaser they posted on YouTube here:

The Nintendo consoles of recent haven’t been too inspiring and their sales have echoed that. The Wii U sold about a tenth of what the original Wii sold. The Switch could be Nintendo’s ‘last shot’ says one analyst.

While console sales have been a rocky road for Nintendo, handheld portability is one of their stronger suits and we have enjoyed success with their handheld devices ranging back to the classic Gameboy. From the trailer we can see that it’s using small cartridges, similar if not the same to the ones used in the 3DS.

Specific device hardware have yet to announced but should be a significant step up compared to its predecessors, again it’ll be unlikely if it can outperform the standard Xbox One or PS4 let alone Scorpio, PS4 Pro or a medium grade PC.

From the varied reactions we can see that the main sticking point is the games (rightly so). While the Wii U contained some best sellers like Zombi U, Splatoon and Nintendoland they didn’t offer enough of an incentive for users to make the switch to the platform long term. With the trailer we can see with the Nintendo exclusives; Zelda Breath of the Wild which already has shown some impressive looking trailers, a new currently unannounced 3D Mario game. The re-mastered version of Skyrim something unheard of with Nintendo but shown in an impressively high graphical fidelity, whether it was pre-rendered footage or native content has yet to be confirmed so it could just be a big hoax.
The trailer wrapped up with a public esports tournament, something proportionally very rare with exception to smash tournaments, typically nothing in scale to what the trailer shows. I find it unlikely that the Switch would ever properly establish itself as a truly competitive platform. Time will tell if this is a baseless claim or they plan on supporting a competitive scene and games that wish to encourage that style of gameplay, typically the opposite of what Nintendo usually target, casual group based play.

Nintendo says it will reveal more information in the months up to the March launch. It generated a huge amount of anticipation and it will be interesting if this is a breath of fresh air for Nintendo consoles or the death of it.

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