Archive for October, 2016

Nintendo Switch

Posted: October 23, 2016 in Current Gaming
Tags: , , , ,

 

nintendo-switch

Boys and Girls, the Nintendo NX has been unveiled:

 

On Thursday (10/20), Nintendo released the above 3 minute trailer for the newly minted Nintendo Switch.

What we know so far:

  • It serves as both a home console and handheld (as rumors had previously stated), and the systems can communicate with one another, apparently
  • It will have detachable controllers that can function together as one controller as independently for (at least) a few multiplayer games
  • A pro controller will be available
  • Amiibos will work with the system
  • A Mario and Splatoon title will be available at some point
  • It launches in March
  • It uses cartridges
  • Um….it’s made by Nintendo

What we don’t know:

  • Games other than Mario and Splatoon that will be available in the launch window
  • Specs
  • Price
  • Battery life
  • Third party support
  • Essentially, anything not listed in my first list

Guys, I’m a Nintendo fan, and I like what I’ve seen so far, but we really do know so little that it’s hard to even form a true opinion on the Switch. I genuinely like the idea behind it. It’s just so…Nintendo. By which I mean it’s unique and odd and bizarre and wonderful and exciting. Since the end of the Gamecube era, it seems that Nintendo has decided that they’re just going to do what they feel like doing, and maybe some of us will come along for the ride. It worked with the Wii, not so much for the WiiU, but Nintendo just doesn’t play it safe anymore, so now we have the Switch. And darned if it doesn’t seem kind of cool. Keep in mind though, this is coming for a self-professed, but somewhat grounded, Nintendo fanboy. My bias may be showing.

As I’ve written before (in a post I’m going to contradict a bit now), Nintendo excels in the handheld market, and this system appears to be their effort to merge that market with the home console market. The question this creates is, will Nintendo begin replacing both the WiiU and 3DS with the Switch? I’m certain that we’ll hear how this isn’t replacing the 3DS, and while that still may be true (after all, the 3DS is still very popular), we heard the same thing about the GBA when the 3DS launched. How did that work out?

The point here being, if Nintendo does attempt to market this as a handheld, they will be their own most prominent competitor with the 3DS. That would be a tough balancing act to keep up. It’s also hard to imagine them actually stopping support of the 3DS given its success.

If I had to make a guess here, I would say that they’ll market this as their next home console, which just happens to be portable. Focusing solely on the Switch at the expense of the 3DS would be put all of Nintendo’s eggs into one system, and that would be a dangerous gamble. What if the Switch stumbled as the WiiU has? They would have no backup system in another market segment to sustain such a misstep. Not that Nintendo would cease to exist or anything like that, but it would be a major blow.

The popularity of the 3DS also means that Nintendo can allow it be kept afloat with third party support, letting their in-house developers concentrate on beefing up the Switch during the launch window, and the first year thereafter, avoiding the game drought that the WiiU experienced soon after launch, and worked towards its ultimate demise. This is a pretty big deal, and a situation Nintendo hasn’t been in since the launch of the original GameBoy (over 25 years ago). The WiiU may have stumbled, but no one questions Nintendo’s game development abilities, first or second party. They simply make, far more often than not, fantastic games. Focusing those abilities like a laser on one system would be a boon, should that actually happen.

switch-third-party

There is some reason for optimism regarding game development outside of Nintendo’s in-house developers

Still, this is all speculation at this point. Nintendo has already stated that no more info will be released this year. We’ll probably get a full Nintendo Direct in January. To wait much longer almost seems like madness. Actually, waiting that long almost seems like madness, but Nintendo is quirky like that, a quality I think many of us both love and hate about them. At the moment, I’m excited, but ultimately, games will make or break this system, and on that front, like it or not, we’re still in a wait and see limbo. I’m just going to hope for the best. A video game market with a vibrant Nintendo pushing the envelope is a win for all of us.

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nx-patent

I’ve been bearish on Nintendo for a while now, regarding their handling of the WiiU and their next console, codenamed NX. Even as a Nintendo fan, and someone that thinks the WiiU actually does have some great games on it, the realistic part of me is already finding fault with the rumors of what the NX exactly is. That said, in recent days, I’ve found myself wondering if maybe, just maybe, Nintendo has learned from the WiiU, and is on the verge of launching an incredibly popular system.

All rumors point to the NX being both a Console and a Handheld. My criticisms of the NX, or what we know if the NX, are as follows:

  • It is launching mid-generation, much like the WiiU, throwing out of the console cycle.
  • It is reported to be on par with the PS4, at best, meaning that, in terms of power, it could find itself behind almost from its launch as the PS4 and Xbox One are upgraded.
  • It has yet to be revealed, in spite of launching in March of 2017, so all hype is built only on rumors.
  • If my second point is true, will third parties ignore it instead of downgrading their games for it (which they stopped doing for the Wii, and essentially never did for the WiiU)?

There are other points, but you get the idea. I guess, once a company has experienced a stumble on the level that Nintendo has experience with the WiiU, you want to hope for the best while expecting the worst with their next venture. That’s the stance I’ve been taking with the NX. I hope it’s good, but wouldn’t be surprised if it’s met with tepid sales and lackluster fandom.

wiiu

The little console that…never really did.

But…but there is a market that Nintendo knows, and has never stumbled in. Nintendo knows the handheld market. Nintendo has been challenged multiple times (Game Gear, NeoGeo, PSP) and has always come out on top. Even with the WiiU floundering, the 3DS is still chugging along, practically embarrassing the Vita (which begs the question, why does Falcom insist on sticking the new Ys games on the Vita, forcing me to consider getting one in the very near future???).

Now, this brings me back to the NX. It is almost certainly going to be a console/handheld hybrid. There are simply too many rumors from reputable sources for this not to be true. What if Nintendo markets the NX the same way they’ve marketed the 3DS, DS, GBA, etc…? What it Nintendo treats the NX as a handheld with television features? Yes, it’s their next console, but it’s also their next handheld, and Nintendo knows handhelds. It occurred to me, if this is the path Nintendo is truly committing to, the NX could be amazing.

For one, it destroys the stigma of launching mid-generation. Handhelds aren’t held to the same standard as consoles in regards to when they’re launched. If it’s even close to the PS4, it’ll be viewed as extremely powerful if you take it on the go (and while I have my concerns, having a console at that level is hardly a bad thing). Also, if it’s a handheld even part of the time, why would third parties not port to it. That’s an entirely different market for them.

3ds-games

The 3DS has done okay for itself.

Finally, I think the most important development to come out of this is that for the first time since around 1990, Nintendo won’t be developing games for both a handheld and a console simultaneously. For the first time in 25 years, game development will be focused on one machine, and I don’t think the importance of that can be overstated. If you disagree, think of it this way. Years ago, I stated that if Nintendo wanted to shift a few million WiiU consoles, simply release a mainstream Pokemon title to the system. Pokemon sells. Period. A Pokemon game, by itself, would bring sales. I believed it them, I believe it now. Guess what. It’s happening with the NX. Granted, we don’t know what it will be yet, but rumors are that it is a remake of Pokemon Red/Blue. If true, that would be huge. And it’s possible now because Game Freak (after Sun/Moon) can shift their focus to Nintendo’s next handheld, which just happens to be their next console.

Okay, this is all speculation on my part. The 3DS definitely still has life in it, so if continues to sell well, it will remain supported, and that could muddy the waters. There’s also the chance that I’m reading Nintendo’s intentions all wrong here. I don’t have an inside line or anything, I’m just making assumptions based on the rumors we have to work with. But I’m an eternal optimist, and I love Nintendo, so I’m doing all I can to see this in the best possible light, and I truly believe there’s a path for Nintendo to have a massive success with the the NX.