Nintendo Switch: What you should expect

Alex Villafania, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2016 10:07 AM

After having a false start with the Nintendo Wii U, which has only sold a dismal 13 million since it was launched in 2012, gaming giant Nintendo is hoping to return from the setback with its new hardware, the Nintendo Switch.

The new gaming console, which was originally known in development stage as the Nintendo NX, was officially announced on October 20 via a first look video. The Nintendo Switch is also the company’s first 9th generation console (both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are 8th generation consoles, along with the Nintendo Wii U). Apart from the video reveal, little else is known about the new console, which is planned to be launched in March 2017.

While waiting for it to be commercially available, here are a few things to ponder about Nintendo’s upcoming “dream console.”

It’s the first mobile home console: Strictly speaking, the Nintendo Switch can claim to be the first one to allow gamers to actually take their home gaming wherever they go. That’s already what the company is claiming for their new flagship hardware. As the video reveal showed, the Switch can be taken out of its TV-attached dock and it would look like a tablet PC. But two parts of the wireless controller called Joy-Con can be removed and attached to the sides of the main unit. These detachable parts would have their separate analog sticks and four action buttons (more on this later). In this form, the main unit becomes somewhat like the PlaySta – er, Nintendo Wii U though slightly smaller. Users can then play their favorite games, as if they are at home, wherever they go.

It’s not 4K enabled… yet: While Nintendo’s rivals Sony and Microsoft are already turning out 4K-enabled updates of their PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, respectively, the Nintendo Switch seems to have foregone this feature altogether. In a blog post by hardware manufacturer NVidia [EMBED LINK:] the Switch would use a “custom Tegra processor”. While NVidia has given little about what processor they’ve provided for Nintendo, they already have one chip, the Tegra X1, which is capable of 4K output. For now though, the Nintendo Switch could play video natively at 1080p when docked at 720p when mobile, according to an [EMBED LINK:] article by Ars Technica. It would also be counterintuitive for Nintendo not to support 4K, especially with 4K TVs becoming cheaper and there is increasing demand for high-resolution content. There is one problem why 4K wouldn’t be possible and that is…

It uses a game card: There is no doubt that memory cards today, especially those used for photo and video production, are able to read and write 4K content easily. However, the amount of power required – and thus heat generated -- on a removable card should be a point of concern. The Nintendo Switch is using a game card, which is a departure from the optical discs used in previous Nintendo consoles. Unless Nintendo has found a way to minimize heat produced by a physical removable memory card for 4K gaming, it would have to stick with 1080p.

It will not replace the Nintendo DS series… yet: Nintendo is enjoying a huge lead on its Nintendo DS series in the mobile handheld gaming market. The Nintendo 3DS has a commanding lead of nearly 60 million units versus the Sony PlayStation Vita, which only managed to sell 13 million units. That does not include the 12 year old Nintendo DS, which sold a whopping 154 million. The Nintendo Switch seems to be cutting into the mobile market, which its own handheld brethren is sweetly nestled in. With handheld titles like Pokemon and Mario having seen success on the Nintendo DS series, it shouldn’t be too hard for Nintendo to retain both platforms; it’s would be counterproductive to rely on just one console.

More than one player, even when mobile: Multiplayer is one of the absolutes for home consoles. Today’s generation of consoles can allow for up to four players, each with a separate controller. Handheld devices would be wanting when it comes to single device multiplayer. The Nintendo Switch, however, makes mobile multiplayer seem easy, albeit a tad stranger. Remember the two removable parts of the Joy-Con? These can be detached and be used as SEPARATE CONTROLLERS. Yes, the Joy-Con is actually two fully functioning controllers. Not the easiest to control at first glance, but at least it gives that feeling of home console gaming while literally on the go.

It has a kickstand!: If you intend to play the Nintendo Switch away from home, there is a 100% chance that you’d need to keep it upright. Instead of requiring a separate stand to keep it upright, the Switch has a kickstand neatly tucked behind it. Needless to say, the kickstand would make one’s gaming experience all the more convenient and fun.