Nintendo has made a handful of smart decisions this year, not the least of which is finally announcing their new console-hybrid, the Nintendo Switch (previously the Nintendo NX). The Nintendo Switch made its debut a couple of weeks ago during a special Nintendo Direct. I was on a flight back to Vancouver when it was announced. The excited tweets from colleagues and friends definitely made me take a closer look at a console that I likely would have written off.
Truth be told, I haven’t purchased any hardware from Nintendo since my 3DS.
I skipped the Wii U entirely. But this console-hybrid concept, where the console is a tablet that locks into a television with two additional remotes, made me do a double-take. I’ll admit: I nerded out about the design a little when I first saw the trailer. There’s an elegance to its execution that can’t be denied. In my mind, this is what the Wii U should have been all along. Nintendo could have skipped the bizarre kinda rebrand with the Wii U and gone straight for the good stuff.
The Switch’s reveal reminds us of Nintendo’s continued dedication to innovation. There may have been the collective scoff at the Wii U, but the Wii revolutionized how new gamers interacted with digital interactive entertainment by making it friendly and physical. Nintendo’s R&D department clearly did their research. They’ve recognized that their sweet spot is in their handheld gaming consoles, currently the 3DS. Matching that strong handheld footprint to the archetypal modern gamer — young and constantly on the move — is likely what led to the Switch’s inception.
I did notice a distinct lack of the archetypal family in the Nintendo Switch’s reveal.
When the Wii was announced, the emphasis was placed on gaining ground with newbies, so the family was front and center in its marketing. The Switch appears to be a return to the core gamers, with a nod to eSports rounding things out. Honestly? Smart, smart, smart. This is Nintendo’s last hardware hurrah, so they’ve got to re-capture imaginations (and hearts).
The console’s portability is, for me, the biggest selling feature. When I travel to my hometown for more than a couple of days, I bring my PS4 to share some of the new games that I’m playing. But I can’t play it in the car. Unless I invest in a GAEMS portable set-up, my PS4 isn’t all that mobile. The Switch, on the other hand? Hell, I can hook that sucker onto the back of my seat and let my kids play Mario, instead of mindlessly watching movies for four hours.
I’d hesitate to say that the Nintendo Switch is a family console. I don’t know how many Joy-Cons (the itty Wii-like controllers) the Switch supports. Depending on the price point that Nintendo settles on (which we won’t be privy to until January, at the earliest), it may be feasible to invest in two Switches to kit out a family of four.
Nintendo’s renewed dedication to an older audience is a welcome sentiment. We’ve been waiting for senpai to notice us for the last two console releases. There’s a new Legend of Zelda and a handful of potential AAA vendor partners on the horizon… and damn, it sure is nice to be seen again.