By Andrew Tyrrell, Managing Editor
On Friday, March 3, Nintendo released the long-awaited successor to the Wii U, the Nintendo Switch.
To live up to Nintendo’s reputation for innovation, the Switch looks to compete with the PlayStation 4 and the XBox One for console supremacy.
But what exactly is the Switch? For those who aren’t up to date on Nintendo’s latest console, they’ve sought to combine the power of a standard console with the mobility of a handheld system.
Much like with the Wii U’s gamepad, Switch owners will be able to take their games with them on the go.
The Switch acts normally as a console with a controller, but users can detach what are called the Joy-Con from the rest of the controller and attach it to the Dock, which is essentially a tablet that is housed within the console-proper.
Though the Switch is an innovative new console, combining the processing and visual power of a console with the convenience of a handheld system, there are some drawbacks.
For example, when undocked, the resolution of the Switch drops to 720p. Though the system can hit what is a pretty standard 1080p resolution while docked, it still can’t compete with the graphics or processing power of the PS4 or XBox One.
But that has never been Nintendo’s style. The Switch improves on the technical aspects of its predecessors while staying true to the spirit of the company: innovation and fun.
Nintendo also has a whole range of exclusive titles that older gamers and newcomers alike love dearly.
For example, The Legend of Zelda. It just so happens that the Switch launched with a new Legend of Zelda game.
The Zelda series has been lauded over the years for its puzzles and whimsical nature, and for its ability to be serious when needed. The games have also had stellar storylines. But, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a whole new beast for Nintendo.
At the moment, the number of titles available for the Switch are quite limited, particularly in North America.
Normally this isn’t much incentive for people to spend a few hundred dollars on a console. Then again, most games that are released with consoles aren’t Breath of the Wild.
TIME has referred to the game as a “masterpiece.” They aren’t alone in this belief. The latest Zelda title has received universal acclaim, with the lowest scored review coming in at 9.5/10. Review aggregator Metacritic has the game at 98/100. It is arguably the best Nintendo title in years.
Legend of Zelda:Breath of the Wild combines everything that longtime fans of the series love about the game with the gaming world’s newfound love of open world gaming. And in the interest of appealing more to “hardcore” gamers, this latest installment has increased its difficulty so that players feel like they’re playing something closer to a Dark Souls level of difficulty instead of a sports video game.
While the Switch may still be inferior to the PlayStation and XBox in certain technical aspects, it looks certain to be able to compete given its more kid-friendly series of games, as well as the draw of the innovation.
Plenty of people may think the concept of the Switch is stupid right now, but this writer can guarantee that Sony and Microsoft will try to copy the Switch’s technology just as they did with the Wii remotes (see: PlayStation Move).
Unfortunately, if you want the new Nintendo Switch, you may find it really quite difficult to get your hands on one.
Though the system is relatively cheap at launch, with a retail price of $300 compared to $400-500 for the PS4 and XBox One when they were first released, the availability of theconsole is quite scarce.
Most retailers have already run out, and sites such as eBay can be unreliable and very expensive. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer as to how many more consoles will be shipped this year.
Nintendo may have plans to ship millions more this year, but that depends on what the market dictates; the firm SuperData predicts that Nintendo will sell only five million consoles this year, which is about an eighth of what Sony and Microsoft sold combined in the first year of their latest consoles.
Despite some early flaws with the screens on the Dock, the Switch still looks to be a very promising console, a true competitor to the more “serious” PlayStation and XBox, even if you can’t seem to find a retailer who actually has one for sale.