So gaming giant Nintendo recently announced their new console: the Nintendo Switch. Appearing to be both a home-console and portable device, it’s certainly a novel idea. In the trailer released (featured below), it seems simple enough to transition between the two states: a simple slot-in to the main station below your TV will allow players to return Mario to their home set-up. However, as somebody who used to love Nintendo, I’m still wary of buying in to the Nintendo Switch hype. Here’s why.
First of all, it seems like Nintendo are sacrificing pure power in favour of originality in design. Rumours and tweets seem to confirm that the console will have 4GB of RAM to keep it chugging, and while this is hailed as double the power of the recent Wii U, it’s not nearly good enough. For comparison, Sony and Microsoft’s consoles both boast 8GB of RAM, which is double the power of Nintendo’s upcoming console. And they came out in 2013. So a console releasing four years after its competitors is already supposedly planned to be half as powerful – not exactly promising.
But it shouldn’t really matter if the Switch isn’t powerful, just as long as it has the software to justify a purchase…right? Well, unfortunately, Nintendo has a strong history of excluding third-party developers, and producing consoles which are notoriously difficult to develop for. It’s pretty neat to see Skyrim featured in the gameplay reveal, but that’s a title that came out almost five years ago by this point. When Sony announced the Playstation 4, they showcased stunning titles like The Last Guardian, and yet Nintendo have chosen to show off a game that’s fun, albeit slightly dated by this point. Again, I’m not trying to claim that visual fidelity is the most important factor when it comes to gaming, but showing Skyrim just rubbed me wrong. It was almost as if Nintendo were trying to prove that they could run ‘modern’ games now, but chose such a peculiar title to do so.
And what’s up with the return to cartridges? It works for handheld consoles like the 3DS, because it keeps them compact and cartridges can usually hold enough data to run the simpler titles you’d find in that context. Place this in the context of a home-console, however, and it seems a little concerning; it raises the question of whether the Switch will appeal to a broader audience, or just hardcore Nintendo fans that buy the consoles just for Mario and Zelda.
Here we come to the main draw of the Switch: it’ll let you play Nintendo’s revolutionary (though slightly stale) series wherever you are. It’s inarguable that Nintendo produces high quality titles that provide the best examples of the platformer and adventure genres, but if that’s all the Switch has to offer, then I can’t see it drawing in the crowds. Personally, I don’t see why Nintendo can’t just bring all of their titles over to the more powerful consoles available on the market; or, alternatively, they could’ve just doubled-down on the mobile division of their company which would place their brands in the hands of the biggest possible audience available. No, it’s not a requirement to put your product in the hands of everybody, but alienating a potential market could be the final nail in Nintendo’s coffin – when it comes to home-console production, at least.
I’m not the only one considering these things, either. I honestly don’t want Nintendo to fail with their latest outing, but I just wasn’t as thrilled as I was probably meant to be when the Switch was recently unveiled. Maybe it’s because I’m more than content playing on my anonymous, black box, or maybe it’s just because I’ve enjoyed third-party titles just as much – if not more – than some of the first-party support over the past few years. Only time will tell, but I’d hold off on losing your mind over the Switch just yet.