This week was awesome, right? Wolverine 3 AKA Logan looks magnificent; we; got a tease of the long awaited Red Dead Redemption 2, and oh yes: Nintendo unveiled their NeXt console: Nintendo Switch! Treated with a logo and a 3-minute teaser of the console’s potential, up front there’s a lot to like about Switch.
Firstly, it doesn’t look like a goddamned toy and looks more like an actual piece of tech. On top of that, it’s blurring the lines of console and handheld, and if Switch can deliver Skyrim on the go like it shows in this teaser video, then you can bet a lot of people are going to be happy!
But that’s the question, or questions honestly: can Nintendo Switch deliver? After not just being burned but set ablaze at the stake by Wii U, Nintendo has a lot to prove with this upcoming hardware. We at GameZone are still skeptical, but we’ve compiled five questions that we want to be answered before passing judgment, and if we like what we hear, we believe Switch could prove to be Nintendo’s first win in years. And while Nintendo has already responded to some outlets with their questions, a lot of this remains a mystery.
Honorable mention: Specs
This one is a no-brainer, but we need to talk specs before we get into the more specific, more interesting questions. Just what exactly is powering Nintendo Switch? We have confirmation that it is indeed some kind of custom Nvidia Tegra chip, and that Nvidia spent a considerable amount of resources developing it for Switch. But exactly what potential has been unlocked in that hardware?
Will Switch be comparable to the Nvidia Shield when in portable form? And does the dock used to connect Switch to the TV provide any boost in resources? The Switch will most likely not be on the same power level of PS4 and Xbox One, and certainly nowhere near the levels of PS4 Pro and whatever the hell Project Scorpio turns out to be.
What is the systems' battery life?
This one is going to be a biggie. In fact, it might be the one factor to make or break the system. Just how long am I going to enjoy traversing Hyrule on the go before my Nintendo Switch dies? Obviously, this won't be a problem for the console when docked and connected to a TV, but portability is a major selling point, and if I'm only getting around 2 hours of playtime before I have to charge up again I'm sorry but no sale.
For Nintendo to nail this, I'd say they'd have to land somewhere in the 3-5 hour range, and if they can somehow go beyond that they'll have performed a minor miracle. Couple this with fast charging times when docked, and Switch will be in good shape.
How will it connect online?
It's a foregone conclusion that when docked Nintendo Switch will have online connectivity via Wi-Fi, and hopefully for the upper echelon of nerds out there, via Ethernet. But again, what about when I hang out with my buddies at the park as I'm want to do?
The teaser video shows local co-op via the Joy-Con controllers and even multiple Switches in the same area most likely connecting via Bluetooth. But will I be able to jump into an online game of Mario Kart with players around the world while on a train without Wi-Fi?
A simple solution to this would be to offer data connectivity via LTE, but that'll cost the user. An elegant solution would be to provide a similar service to Xbox Live or PlayStation Network and bundle in a data plan, which leads to our next question.
Will Nintendo revamp its online services?
It's no secret that Nintendo's online services leave a lot to be desired, and that's putting it mildly. Between friend codes and Nintendo Network ID's, it couldn't be more of a hassle to try and play with others (particularly with friends) online.
The whole system is in massive need of an overhaul, and now with Switch it seems like the perfect time. But will Nintendo make that move? Will they add features like trophies or achievements? These are staples of Sony and Microsoft's console offerings, but something completely foreign to Nintendo gamers.
If the company were to offer a more robust set of online systems, maybe one's players have to pay for (hopefully including an online data plan) then Nintendo could make a real claim they have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the other guys.
What level of backwards compatibility can we expect?
This is a complicated question, because what does backwards compatibility look like on a Nintendo console? Especially when it seems the company is killing two birds with one stone by making Switch both a home system and a portable. Will I be able to play Wii U and 3DS/DS games on the system? Maybe the dock has a disk drive built in allowing for the former. If I want to play Pokémon Sun and Moon, it'll be a real pain if I have to make sure I have my 3DS with me on top of my Switch. Will my virtual console titles move across? History tells us, no, but one can hope Nintendo is looking to do everything they can to make this platform ubiquitous. Also, to tack onto that train of thought, what's the storage capacity of the system? Can my entire library be digital or wilI still be required to buy my games on these proprietary Game Cards if I want options when on the go? With most gamers embracing a digital future this information will be vital to Switch's success.
How much will it cost?
At the end of the day, this may be the only fact that matters: will I be paying a premium for having two devices in one? Or will Nintendo be aiming for that $250 Wii price point? The latter seems unlikely, but the former would be a death sentence for Switch. The most popular theory is that the cost will range somewhere in the middle, around the $300 mark, but there is little substantive proof that this will indeed be the case.
Don’t get me or the team or at GameZone wrong: we are fiendishly excited for Nintendo Switch. Some of us are less concerned with these questions than others. Nonetheless, these will be answered over time, and we are convinced that whatever Nintendo has to say about these remarks will drastically alter how the console performs commercially and critically.