Nintendo officially debuted their much-anticipated new console earlier this month, when they gave the Nintendo Switch Presentation in Tokyo on January 13th. Although much of the information had been leaked beforehand, we did receive an official look at the console, as well as some key details, namely the launch date, price point, specs, accessories, and launch titles.
There isn’t much longer to wait for the Nintendo Switch, as it launches worldwide on March 3rd, yet the pricing is what concerns me the most – especially when one considers Nintendo’s competition in the market. I was hopeful that the console would be priced somewhere between €200 and €250, considering that the New Nintendo 3ds XL was in this price range. However, Nintendo revealed that the Switch is priced at 299.99 US Dollars, which translates to around 280 Euro, while the Switch is listed at 330.00 Euro in both Smyths and GameStop Ireland. I don’t know why there is such a gap between the price in these two regions, although if you were to order the Switch from abroad there would be significant shipping charges, so it would work out around the same.
The reason that the price of the Switch concerns me is the specs of the console itself. To avoid getting caught up in all the technical jargon I will just say this: it has been stated that specs sent to developers reveal that the GPU will run at 307.2MHz when undocked, but 768MHz when docked. This means there is potential for games to run in 720p on the tablet when portable, but 1080p on a TV. 720p on the handheld device is fine, as it would be very difficult to distinguish between 720p and 1080p when viewing such a small screen (6.2 inches, to be precise). The detachable screen is similar to the Wii-U’s gamepad, although it has two detachable “Joy-Cons” on either side which are basically the controllers. These Joy-Cons are fitted on the tablet-like screen when the device is undocked, and are used as a traditional controller when the device is docked.
The Joy-Cons warranted some in-depth analysis during the presentation, although I’ll try and synopsize the information. The controllers act almost like the original Wii’s controller, in the sense that they allow for motion control, but they can also be used independently to accommodate multiplayer, or as Yoshiaki Koizumi, the General Producer of the Switch, called it: “Sharing the Joy.” The less said about that, the better. The Joy-Cons also have a HD rumble feature which allow the controller “to convey to you the feeling of ice cubes shaking in a cup.” See that, kids? That shit’s the future.
What is worrisome, though, is the battery life for the portable device when undocked. The switch is stated as having a battery life between 2.5 and 6.5 hours (which seems quite the variation), but mileage will vary depending on the game. In a press release sent out following the Nintendo Switch event, Nintendo stated that launch title “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” can be played for roughly three hours on a single charge. Results may vary, however, as less taxing games will obviously allow for longer play time. The Switch charges while docked but it will also work with your phone or laptop charger, provided you use USB Type-C. Personally, I had hoped the device would have had a bit more juice, considering it is a larger device than the New Nintendo 3ds XL and thus could possibly have been fitted with larger batteries, though I do realise games played on the Switch will eat up more battery than 3ds games.
Nintendo have always been savvy businessmen, as most of their games hold their value throughout their shelf life; 3DS games never seem to drop below €30 or €40, and they also make considerable profit on their accessories. The New Nintendo 3DS XL didn’t even come with a charger, and it seems as though Nintendo have grand designs for accessories for the Switch too, with extras such as the Pro Controller priced at €80. There will undoubtedly be all manner of straps and dongles available to accompany the Switch which will entice Nintendo fans worldwide.
The main event for the Switch is, in my opinion, the launch line-up of games. I won’t pretend that I know very much about Zelda games – in fact my association with Nintendo games primarily begins and ends with Pokémon. However, what I have seen of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has me excited as it looks like a “more PG” version of the Witcher 3, and despite my apprehensions about the specs, the game looks fantastic. This is the power that Nintendo holds, as they do not publish games on other platforms; they force the consumer to buy their new consoles to play their games. I’m assuming the console launches with a game, as the Wii did with Wii Sports, yet the real allure of the Nintendo Switch lies in this new Zelda adventure.
Nintendo always seem to be lagging behind the likes of Sony and Microsoft who are venturing into the world of 4k gaming, yet Nintendo are special, and they continue to deliver. Maybe they hit the odd stumbling block, as was the case with the Wii-U, but only time will tell whether their decision to “Switch” things up is a good one.