Nintendo switches up the home console market

by Sebastian Moronta Blanco, Staff Writer

Since the company’s inception, Nintendo has consistently set out to innovate and revitalize mobile and home gaming, giving players a unique experience that they often can’t find on a Microsoft or Sony machine.

The Japanese company has reaffirmed that trend with the most recent announcement of their newest gaming experience: the Nintendo Switch.

On October 20, Nintendo released an announcement trailer for their newest console, which featured players using the new machine in a variety of locations and capacities.

It was about three minutes long and apart from scenes of players using the console, did little to offer specific information on the console’s features or performance.

The Switch is a hybrid mobile and home console that allows players to play their games on the go using the switch gamepad and Joy-Con controllers (more on that further on) and at home using the gamepad’s dock.

The blend of home and mobile gaming allows players to be able to play their games wherever and whenever they choose, enjoying their console in their living rooms and taking it with them when they leave.

The gamepad features a screen with two detachable “Joy-Con” controllers that can be used as both single and separate controllers, allowing for multiple players to use the Switch with ease.

Nintendo will be offering a separate connector accessory that connects two detached controllers to form a more traditional controller layout and feel.

Little is known about the gamepad itself and its specifications, but hardware manufacturer Nvidia has confirmed that the Switch features a custom Nvidia Tegra processor.

Nvidia revealed in a blog post that, “The high-efficiency scalable processor includes an NVIDIA GPU based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards.”

A Nintendo spokesperson revealed in an IGN interview that the main console is the gamepad itself, not the home docking station. The dock serves to connect the gamepad to your TV and charge it during home use.

Nintendo will be offering Switch compatibility with the Nintendo Pro controller, which is an entirely separate accessory that resembles traditional gaming controllers for use with the Switch at home.

One of the most popular features of the Wii U was the ability to use the controller and TV screen separately, giving players a two-screen experience. Nintendo has explained that the console has been developed as a single screen experience, disappointing hopefuls that the feature would return.

In the past, Nintendo consoles have only offered titles produced by Nintendo or its affiliates, which is why it came as a surprise when the trailer for the Switch featured users playing the Bethesda favorite Skyrim and 2K Games’s long-running NBA franchise.

This suggests the console will allow third-party developers to release their games for the traditionally exclusive brand.

Contrary to what the video suggests, however, both Bethesda and 2K Games have declined to confirm that their titles will be available on the Switch.

The gamepad uses physical gamecards, and Nintendo has confirmed that Wii U games will not be compatible with the Switch, although they have not released any information as to whether the games will be available in digital format via the online store.

Nintendo has also announced, following the initial debut of the Switch, that no further information regarding specifications, pricing, or possible launch titles will be given until next year, leaving fans with many unanswered questions.

Some of the biggest questions concerning the Switch have to do with how it will fit in with Nintendo’s history and catalog of gaming experiences.

Over the years Nintendo has repeatedly made the most of its hardware’s unique features, so the integration of an extremely powerful graphics processor leaves fans wondering if Nintendo will stray away from mainly casual and children’s titles and finally make an attempt to appeal to more mature gamers.

This could be through the development of more mature games by the company itself or through the integration of third-party titles as evidenced by the announcement video.

Another concern the Switch raises is battery life. The console will lose a lot of its utility if the battery life is below expectations, as it defeats the purpose of a hybrid mobile and home console if the mobile portion doesn’t last very long.

Moreover, fans wonder how many total configurations the switch will have, storage capacity, backwards compatibility, whether the console will make use of motion controls, if the graphics will be consistent throughout the transition from mobile to home gaming, and more.

Early response to the switch is mostly positive, amidst these concerns. The console it set for a March release with more information coming after the new year.

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