Nintendo has always been at the forefront of gaming technology, as has been personally responsible for leading the charge in a few shifts in gaming technology.
Back in the 80’s and 90’s, the Game Boy beat out competitors from Sega and Atari in the handheld market, and paved the way for the DS, which released in 2004. On the console market, the Nintendo Wii, which released in 2006, kickstarted a market for exercise-based games. This soon expanded to Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
The PlayStation Move, which closely mimicked what the Wii had already been doing with the “Wiimotes”, didn’t turn out as popular. The Move controllers are being repurposed in the current generation of PlayStation as Virtual Reality controllers. Microsoft’s XBOX Kinect was more popular than the Move, and featured controller-less play.
When the Wii U was released in 2012, it was easily toppled by Microsoft and Sony not even a year later. Both consoles were superior in graphics, and Nintendo’s refusal to allow most third party developers to produce games for its system brought the popularity down.
It seems as if Nintendo is back in the forefront of the gaming industry, as the rumored “NX” has been announced as the Nintendo Switch, and it is a huge contender to the PlayStation 4 and XBOX One.
The controller features a design similar to the Wii U. It has a screen surrounded by buttons and 2 analog sticks. The selling point of the Switch, however, lies in its design.
There is a device that comes with the Switch that is reminiscent of an oversized debit card reader. It is blocky in shape and has a slit that goes through the device and is meant for the controller to be inserted into.
Once inserted, the image that was on the screen of the Switch is now projected onto your TV. The panels with the analog sticks and buttons can be removed and act as their own standalone controllers, similar in design to the Wii remote and “nunchuck” attachment. Additionally, the panels can be attached to a what looks like a blank XBOX or Playstation controller to get the feel of one.
The console easily converts into a handheld the size of a tablet by removing the screen from the dock. Once removed, the image on the TV goes out and transfers to the screen on the Switch. Simply reattach the analog stick and button panels and the Switch is ready to take with you anywhere.
Although it becomes a handheld, it still has the full power of the console inside of it. Inside of it is a NVIDIA GeForce graphics card, which is unordinary in the gaming industry, as both Sony and Microsoft use AMD technology. It has been announced that because of the graphics card, the Switch will support games built with Unreal Engine 4.
Speaking of games, Nintendo is expanding support for third party games on the system. We will finally see Nintendo supporting games from Bethesda, Ubisoft, Activision, TellTale, and Konami, among others. In fact, the premiere trailer for the Switch featured the remastered version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The actor was able to play the game on their TV, convert it to a handheld, and play Skyrim on the go.
The internet has already exploited the modular features of the controller. Several designs have come out of possible third party modifications that can attach to the controller in lieu of the standard analog and button panels to enhance certain games. Among these include a makeshift gun trigger for shooters, a reel for fishing games, and retro controller mods. Certain concepts show game-specific mods being bundled with the game.
Although these are concepts, these might not be too far off from reality, as we have seen third party modifications for the Wii and the DS families.
Price wise, the Switch is rumored to cost around $299. Considering the PlayStation 4 Pro and Microsoft’s Project Scorpio will cost about $399, the Switch might outsell its competitors.
Although many gamers are looking forward to specifics, such as exact price, specs, supported games, and launch titles, Nintendo has announced that it will be keeping its mouth shut tight about more details until sometime deep into 2017.