The new Nintendo Switch is the most ambitious console produced by the Japanese company to date. Brimful with innovation, it is noteworthy in that it is hybrid – hand-held and desktop in a single product.
Nintendo has launched its new console amid high expectations, following a video shown months ago in which its master lines were already displayed, building up the hype among journalists and players. Both groups were keen to see new products and changes following the commercial failure of the Wii U, the successor of the Wii, one of its most successful consoles, together with the little attention the company paid to it. With Nintendo Switch, the aims and priorities are once again focused on innovation in the way of playing, and the company brings together in a single console the two worlds which have brought it so much success, desktop and hand-held.
If anything becomes clear after viewing the presentation it is this. Nintendo Switch is a desktop console, but also a hand-held one due to the fact that it can be extracted from its dock connected to the TV. At that moment, thanks to its integrated battery, which the company claims will provide between two and six hours of life, it will compete with the Nintendo 3DS, its current hand-held console, which it far exceeds in terms of power. In this sense, it is not hand-held when used, as it includes a removable leg to stand it in a horizontal position, in the style of the classical digital frames.
And this is where another of the best features of Nintendo Switch comes into play. Unlike its predecessors, which followed the classical model with independent controls, the Switch’s controls, called Joycons, are attached to the console but can be opened out. Thus, for example, when it is supported on the leg, it is possible to play at a distance from the screen with a Joycon in each hand. But this feature is not the best one on offer, given that, thanks to the layout of buttons and the adaptation of the games, a multi-player game is possible with a Joycon for each player, although the other part is apparently missing. This is a way, through innovation, of providing the option of several people playing at the same time in any situation, without having to make an additional outlay or use inconvenient controls.
It is played away from the TV in the same way. The Joycons are separated from the sides and are either held in each hand or added to a support giving them the ergonomics of a classical control, which Nintendo will also offer in deference to its lifelong followers. The innovation does not end there, as the multi-player mode permits the wireless interconnection of several consoles to allow up to eight players to play simultaneously. All these features show that Nintendo, from its perspective, is seeking not only to reconquer the video game market but also to recover its family and social nature in the living room, a status it has not enjoyed since the Wii, which marked a before and an after in this respect.
On the other hand, without underestimating the above, there are very well-founded criticisms of several aspects of the Nintendo Switch. For example, its launch catalogue. All the time spent waiting has not meant that, together with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, which aspires to be one of the best games of the generation, we have seen titles like those of third parties. Although the above can be forgiven as it is the launch, the problem is that the lack of a catalogue has been one of the problems of the Nintendo consoles since GameCube, and so a little more was expected this time. At least the company has already announced that this summer will see the launch of Splatoon, one of the few successes of the Wii U, and, at the end of the year, a new Super Mario will arrive in realistic scenarios like New York. As well as Nintendo, Electronic Sports has announced that FIFA will come out and Bethesda has done the same regarding Skyrim.
The price in Spain will be 329.95 Euros, another aspect which has somewhat disappointed the public, who expected something closer to 250 Euros following the rumours. It is not a ridiculous price, but it is higher than that of its competitors, who are more powerful and have more mature catalogues, so Nintendo will have to work hard to enter into as many living rooms as it would like. In consoles, innovation is not everything.