Features

Nintendo Switch reveal - 6 good, 6 bad

One extreme to another

Nintendo Switch reveal - 6 good, 6 bad
|

Whether you stayed up to an unsociable hour or simply caught up with the news this morning, Nintendo's full unveiling of its new Switch console was full of talking points.

So what do we think of the Nintendo Switch now? As is often the case with these announcements, it's a fairly even split between positive and negative points. We're still really excited by the new hybrid console, but there's plenty of reason for concern at the same time.

Here, then is a rundown of the key good and bad points surrounding the recent Nintendo Switch event.

The Good Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild release date

For some fans, the Nintendo Switch may as well be entitled the Nintendo Portable Zelda Machine. You might think that's a bit of exaggeration, but few videogame series attract as much hardcore devotion.

That's why rumours of a possible delayed release for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had people worried. It was a relief, then, hear Nintendo's confirmation that its next big game would be ready for the Switch launch on March 3.

No region locking

Nintendo has taken the decision to drop region locking, which will make the Switch the only modern system that will allow you to play Japanese and US games on your UK console (as well as other variations).

Is the latest version of your favourite obscure JRPG series only coming out in its native country? No problem - just import it, and it'll play just fine. This really shouldn't be a thing in 2017. But it is, so it's a big deal.

Control sophistication

We knew that the Switch would have some flexible control options, but Nintendo really went to great lengths to explain just how varied and powerful they would be. The individual Joy-cons will have two shoulder buttons whether held vertically or horizontally, four face buttons, an analogue stick, and some advanced rumble motors.

They will also have advanced motion sensors for enhanced Wii-like action, while the right controller will also include an IR sensor that will be able to detect the distance and shape of objects in front of it.

We also received confirmation that the Switch display would indeed be touch-sensitive, opening it up to a whole range of iOS and Android-like games. Indeed, this will be the first Nintendo touchscreen device that uses a capacitive touchscreen, rather than the resistive technology of the 3DS and Wii U. This means itll be responsive to your fingers, and won't require a stylus.

USB Type-C charger

One persistent bugbear of console design is the tendency for all manufacturers - Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft - to use proprietary ports. That is, essentially connection standards that only work with that particular system.

It's some relief, then, to see that Nintendo has adopted the USB Type-C standard for charging the Switch system. That's the same universal standard that you'll find on the latest MacBooks, as well as the new Google Pixel phone.

The advantages of this will be the cheapness of buying replacement and additional chargers, and the greater likelihood of there being one around even if you forget to pack your own.

Nintendo's continued tutorial mastery

No one takes creative risks with their hardware inputs like Nintendo. Think of the N64's unusual analogue controller, or the Wii's motion-sensitive Wiimote.

Of course, Nintendo usually succeeds in selling these unusual input methods to the masses because it always creates excellent tutorial software. On the N64 that tutorial software was called Mario 64, while on the Wii it was called Wii Sports. Both made you think you were playing brilliant games, but were actually teaching you how to use the host console.

It's early days, but in 1–2 Switch and ARMS, Nintendo appears to have done it again. Both look set to drive home that controller sophistication we mentioned above, as well as the Switch's portable-social angle.

Nintendo's other software

Yes, Zelda is obviously the headline event with the Switch launch. But Nintendo also set some of our early fears to rest with the two other games it featured heavily.

After the initial Switch teaser video, some worried that Nintendo was just going to churn out a bunch of enhanced Wii U ports. Was that Splatoon again? Is that an original Mario game, or an enhanced older game?

We needn't have worried. Super Mario Odyssey offers the first sprawling open-world hub in the series since Super Mario Sunshine, and only the third after Mario 64. Meanwhile, Splatoon 2 is an outright sequel to the Wii U surprise hit.

The Bad The price

Yes, us Brits were always going to suffer more than most at the price of the Switch thanks to Brexit and the plunging value of the pound. But £280? Seriously?

That's way more than the price of a new PS4 or Xbox One. It's also way more than both the Wii U (£250) and 3DS (£220) cost at launch.

Even away from Blighty, the price of 29,980 yen in Japan and $299 in the US is more than most people were expecting. Make no mistake, this alone could scupper the Switch's chances of success in its first year.

Oh, and £75 for a spare controller? You can Switch right off, Nintendo.

Battery life

The whole reason we on PG are covering the Switch is because it is, at core, a portable system. As such, the matter of battery life is of prime importance.

It's not good news. Nintendo claims that the Switch will last between 2.5 and 6 hours on a single charge, depending on the game.

Let's be realistic about what that means. If you want to play Zelda, Mario, or any major first or third party game son the go, your Switch won't last longer than a short haul flight or train journey.

Low storage

32GB is not an acceptable base amount of storage in a modern console. Yes, this was the 'premium' capacity when the Wii U launched in 2012. But it arguably wasn't enough then.

More to the point, both the PS4 Slim and the Xbox One S start at 500GB of storage.

You might point out that this is a portable device, and so should be judged differently. We would point out that modern smartphones - much smaller devices - can go up to 256GB, and that even without spending top dollar you can manage to get a 64GB option.

Third party showing

Oh, Nintendo. When will you crack this third party problem? Not any time soon, if the Switch event was anything to go by.

While it was no surprise to learn that Nintendo's own games look great, it was equally unsurprising to see how lacklustre the third party showing was.

Indeed, there was precious little actual footage or even information of note. A handful of third party companies showed up to awkwardly talk about how great and inspirational Nintendo was and how excited they were by the Switch - and that was essentially it, aside from a few snippets of artwork or rendered cutscenes.

Of course, it's quite possible that there's simply nothing of substance that's ready to show off here. Nintendo has clearly rushed the Switch through to production on the back of the disappointing Wii U. But that in itself is worrying - particularly for early adopters.

Half-baked online service

At long last, Nintendo appears to have learned that Sony and Microsoft kind of know what they're doing on the online service front, and is following suit.

Except, Nintendo's vision of a subscription-based online service sounds like a pale facsimile of its rivals'. For example, you’ll get a free game each month - but only one, it'll be a NES or SNES game, and you'll only be able to play it for a month.

There'll be voice chat, but it will sit outside of the core Switch service via a phone app. Er, thanks, Nintendo.

Super Mario Odyssey release date

Yes, Super Mario Odyssey looks great. But it wasn’t even ready for a live gameplay demonstration, and it won’t be launching until the 'Holiday' period.

If you’re not from the US, that means the end of the year.

That’s right, Nintendo's flagship series, which was formerly used to help sell its systems on launch day, may not have its first Switch entry until getting on for a year after release.