10.24.2016

Nintendo Makes a Switch

Name Revealed, Features Teased for New Console


The dust has settled from Nintendo’s unveiling of the Nintendo Switch. Rumors are still going around, but Nintendo has released a few more details since its reveal trailer last week. We discussed what we thought it would take for the NX to be a success back in February, and collected some of the rumors going around last month.

Nintendo’s next console will support Unreal Engine 4, which powers games like Street Fighter V and Gears of war 4. This should give the Switch enough power to play AAA games, which were often missing from the Wii U lineup. Right now, third parties are keeping silent about upcoming releases, but the announcement trailer did include footage of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. A special edition of Skyrim featuring remastered graphics releases this Thursday, and will likely be a launch title.

NVIDIA’s tegra chips are going to be the brains of the new console. Tegra chips are great for tablets and other mobile electronics, offering fair power and battery efficiency. This does mean that the Switch will lose to the PS4 and Xbox One in raw power, but this is still a step up for Nintendo. The Tegra X1 outperformed the PS3 and Xbox 360, running Doom 3: BFG edition at 1080p and 60 fps without frame drops. Better yet, NVIDIA is likely preparing the next model, the X2, for the console’s launch.

“The Tegra X1 outperformed the PS3 and Xbox 360, running Doom 3: BFG edition at 1080p and 60 fps without frame drops.”

The console has two parts: the handheld portion and the dock. While the handheld holds the processing power of the console, the dock connects to the TV directly and charges the device. Nintendo hasn’t said anything about the battery life of the console… Fans will also be relieved to know that Amiibos will be supported on the new console. 

The Switch’s functionality was demonstrated in the trailer, and so far the Switch’s “gimmick” is that two controllers (named Joy-Cons) attach to the sides of the portable device. Players can play the console like a tablet, with controls on both sides, or detach the Joy-Cons for local multiplayer. There is also a stand on the back of the console, so that it can be used as a screen on any flat surface. Consoles can even be linked for friendship destroying four-player games like Mario Kart.

“Players can play the console like a tablet, with controls on both sides, or detach the Joy-Cons for local multiplayer.”

It seems that Nintendo has dropped the motion sensing technology started with the Wii. There is also a strong possibility that the handheld’s screen does not have touchpad functionality like in the Wii U. Nintendo looks to be focusing on core gamers with this console, and removing proprietary features might ease multi-platform development.

The Switch will use cartridges to hold its games. Back in the PlayStation era, cartridges had limited storage capacity. This prompted a move to optical discs, which included not only games but music CDs and DVD movies. Flash storage has come a long way since then, and can now store more for less cost. A side effect is that the Switch will not have physical backwards compatibility. Nintendo has been silent on whether the Wii U’s or other consoles’ games would be available as downloads.

It is possible that Nintendo is moving toward a single platform future. Nintendo’s e-shop currently holds gaming classics dating from the NES to the Wii U, as well as some of their handhelds. By giving players access to this library, as well as Wii and Wii U classics, Nintendo might be able to bolster their launch lineup and keep their communities alive. The relative success of Splatoon and Super Smash Bros. Wii U shouldn’t be forgotten in Nintendo’s move to bigger and better things.

“The relative success of Splatoon and Super Smash Bros. Wii U shouldn’t be forgotten in Nintendo’s move to bigger and better things.”

The Switch has hit the net, but it was still a tough week for Nintendo. After announcing their announcement for the new console, Nintendo’s stock rose five percent. Once the trailer released and investors knew what the NX was, Nintendo’s stock declined seven percent. 

Nintendo is planning to release the Switch in March. With the Wii U’s commercial failure, this could be do or die for the once great gaming giant.

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