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Nintendo’s Switch Has Potential, But Reveal Raises Some Serious Concerns

Nintendo’s Switch offers some exciting possibilities, but limited horsepower and potential hardware pitfalls could hamstring the console-handheld hybrid

Switch

After an excruciatingly long wait, we finally know a bit more about what Nintendo’s new system, formerly known as the NX, is all about. Dubbed the Nintendo Switch, the latest console from the longtime console juggernaut is surprisingly close to what analysts had been anticipating in the months leading up to this morning’s reveal trailer. It’s a console-handheld hybrid that features a tablet that docks within the console itself, allowing players to seamlessly switch between the TV-bound experience to freewheeling handheld gaming by simply sliding a pair of controller nubs onto the edges of the tablet and taking it on the go.

It’s a neat premise, and the tablet-based concept seems like a natural evolution of the Wii U’s ill-fated Gamepad tech.

Calling it a handheld almost seems like a misnomer, though. As the sizzle reel also showcased the tablet’s kickstand capabilities and wireless controllers being used in conjunction by a handful of players  to start an impromptu Splatoon LAN party. Pretty cool, right? It’s not hard to imagine legions of gamers busting out their NXs from their backpacks and starting on-the-go Smash Bros. tournies or going a few laps in Mario Kart just as easily as doing so in their living rooms.

Nintendo has always, for better or for worse, embraced unconventional tech to move the industry forward, and it looks like the Switch could be a winning gamble. And I say that as someone who woke up this morning fully ready to dismiss whatever oddball gimmick Nintendo had in store for players this console generation. Not to be a Negative Nancy, but after the Wii and Wii U, I, like many other consumers, was fresh out of good will.

While most of what Nintendo showcased in the three-minute trailer was intriguing, there are some serious concerns that reared their head during this brief showcase of Nintendo’s newest tech. Firstly, as many expected, the console itself looks to be a far cry from a graphical powerhouse. No, I know that visuals aren’t everything, but the games that Nintendo chose to showcase the latest hardware – including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8, Skyrim, and Splatoon, don’t look any better than what we’ve seen on the Wii U. In fact, there’s no guarantee that what we’re seeing is even representative of what these games will finally look like when the console releases early next year. Considering the launch is just six months away, that’s pretty worrisome, as a huge disparity in visual fidelity – especially with powerhouse machines like the Scorpio and PlayStation 4 Pro on the horizon – could cause many developers to gloss over the console in much the same way they abandoned support for the Wii and Wii U in favor of Sony and Microsoft’s more capable consoles.

Another area of concern was the controller nubs that attach to the tablet itself. They look incredibly small, and it’s hard to imagine those with bigger hands not struggling with them, especially in games that require a great deal of precision like fighting games and shooters. As someone with some pretty small hands (not Trump small, but small nontheless), I myself am a bit worried my mitts will be have some trouble coming to grips (pun intended) with Nintendo’s controller alternative when the console rolls out in early 2017. Thankfully, the Switch’s full-size controllers look to be more than up to the  task, nearly mirroring those of the Xbox One and Wii U Pro controllers.

The Switch’s mobile capabilities are certainly interesting, but Nintendo will have to learn from their past mistakes to make this integral part of the console’s appeal work the way it should. After all, the Wii U’s Gamepad suffered from a pretty pitiful battery life, and it’s unclear just how much playtime a single charge will give those who take the Switch into the wild. Here’s hoping Nintendo has been taking notes, and ensures the tablet includes a battery that can handle extended gaming on the go, as this part of the package seems like it could well be the console’s biggest selling point. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is Nintendo we’re talking about here. That said, we’re just going to have to trust them until the console finally makes its retail debut.

As someone who’s admittedly a longtime naysayer when it comes to the Big N, I have to admit that the Switch has me hopeful that Nintendo can right their ship and make the console a success. The console is sleek, innovative, and could really change the multiplayer gaming landscape with its unique approach to incorporating both living room play and mobile gaming into one package. However, if the system is underpowered and unable to appeal to third parties, we could very likely see a repeat of the Wii U’s disastrous existence. Make no mistake, the Switch will not be a success without the unyielding support of third parties.

There are some amazing possibilities present in the Switch, but Nintendo is going to need to prove their hardware is up to the task to ensure the platform outlasts its honeymoon period. If Nintendo can prove the console has the muscle to power the kinds of games third parties want to make while delivering a console that is comfortable to use and can handle the tasks that make it such an appealing platform, the beleaguered hardware manufacturer could very well find success in the next console generation.

Only time will tell, but I’m sure excited to see where the Switch takes us when it releases in next March.

So, what are your thoughts on the Nintendo Switch? Do you think it has what it takes to compete with Microsoft and Sony? Furthermore, do you feel Nintendo needs to do so to make the Switch a success? Be sure to sound off in the comments section and let us know!

Frank has been the caffeine-fueled evil overlord of HeyPoorPlayer since 2008. He speaks loudly and carries a big stick to keep the staff of the HPP madhouse in check. A collector of all things that blip and beep, he has an extensive collection of retro consoles and arcade machines crammed into his house. Before founding the site, Frank was a staff writer for the blogs Gaming Judgement and NuclearGeek.
  • heavenshitman1

    Running an Nvidia Tegra, yes raw horsepower will be moderate (I think the footage they showed literally was WiiU games dubbed in as gameplay examples, not demos of system software). But how wonderfully the games can be showed off when they’re not confined to the living room.
    As for battery, I think 4 hours is fair for full mobile mid-high range gaming. Its enough to bashat any title when out and about with friends.
    At the endof the day, no alternate gaming device will fare any better in the same field

    • Bilal Prince-Ali

      very true bro… but i guess thats why other companies havent taken this approach..?

      • heavenshitman1

        Probably, Nintendo is simply a bold company.
        Honestly I think the battery will do better than WiiU. With quicker load times off cartridge and the fact the handheld unit wont be wi-fi streaming the video permanently from a local console

        • One, the Wii U gamepad was using a 1500mah batter, not super impressive, but for what purpose, there are no internals that the battery needs to juice, simply a screen, inputs and streaming to the device (some sound as well sometimes) . No graphics card to speak of, no disc/card reading, no cpu/gpu onboard, so the Switch better have something over 3500mah to even have a chance.

  • PachterStation

    It’s obvious that the Switch is a revamped Wii U. Gaming on the move, it’s too big. Laughed at the video of the guy playing it on a plane. Somehow, more so in Japan, I can’t see many people carting that around, more so using the Joy-Cons, although using them at home is more ideal. Gamers who prefer to sit at home in front of a TV, the handled would spend most of its time docked like a ship. The Xbox One style controller is welcomed, probably selling seperate for around £50. Will it be expensive? Probably. You’d be expecting around £400 with a game easy. Due to the tech, you’re probably not going to see many future big games that you’re going to get on the Xbox One and PS4 (and the PC…). Nintendo will give some Wii U games another go, more so Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon. Was hoping for Mario Kart 9, but that was wishful thinking. No console is perfect, but Nintendo’s past with the Wii and Wii U, high launch price and same old games from Nintendo, not forgetting there’s a strong chance that thirdparty support usually drops off with Nintendo consoles, I’m 60/40 about the Switch. 13 million Nintendo fans bought the Wii U and there’s a strong chance that this revamped console could follow suit.

    • Paul Barnes

      Same old games from nintendo,what about Sony the ps4 with all the old ps3 and ps2 port’s,crappy indies and samey remaster’s.Also how can the tablet controller of the switch be too big lol I take my tablet everywhere it’s not a problem.

      • Daniel Gonzalez

        You also forget that Sony has new IPs that go along with those remasters. Something that Nintendo rarely does. Splatoon was there only real new IP in years. Try again. ;P

  • IamTylerDurden1

    It’s like carrying a tablet in ur pocket. Vita lets u play every PS4 game on the go as well through remote play.

    • Gene

      Don’t ya need to buy a Vita and a Ps4 though? Yeah, you’re not very bright.

      • Blake Kinnaman

        You’re not very bright either if you resort to insults like that Mr Knowitall, you must have a low self esteem if you get a kick out of being a total douchebag like that

        • Daniel Gonzalez

          As you can tell, Gene and Barney here are just here to damage control. They’re not meant to be taken seriously. 😛

    • Paul Barnes

      Remote play was garbage it lag’s so bad.

      • Daniel Gonzalez

        I use mine and have very little issues at all. Perhaps if you had better internet speeds, it wouldn’t feel so laggy. ;P

  • HAppY_KrAToS

    Seeing the thickness of the console, and guessing the battery will use 20-30% of the overall volume,
    We can already say there won’t be any supercomputer inside de switch.
    Knowing how nintendo still live in 1990’s, and because they will be willing to make the most cash as possible since day 1, for sure they will be using cheapass 2011-2014 hardware and components.
    The console will be a wiiu, with a faster gpu and cpu. That’s all.
    It’s crazy, sony a d microsoft create consoles that hopefully will please the entire planet. Nintendo, with their ‘social’ features, all they care about is having 30-40 million japanese gamers buying their consoles. Not a single second they think about outside Japan.

    Sorry, but by 2017, specially when most people, including kids, already got used to high definition graphics, and can clearly notice a difference between a cheap ass game with cheap visuals, and a 1080p or 4k game, with most people playing AT LEAST at 1080p, or even higher, on ipads, computers, etc, gamers will be asking for ultra quality graphics, even 4k, on systems like the ps4 pro or scorpion.
    No way they will want games with 4 colors, like most wii u titles.

    Of course, when people will be playing the portable version, graphics don’t need to be 4 or 8k. On a 5-5.5 inches screen, any character, car, object, etc, will only be a few dozens pixels big, and one won’t see a big difference on simple flat-color games like nintendo often do, but, a textured game, like an fps, gamers will still be able to notice if textures are compressed, etc.

    But once the console will be displaying on the tv, gamers will see the console weaknesses. Despite upscalling graphics to 1080p, the low res textures, low polygons, cheap effects, + all the compression and aliasing, will easily be noticeable.

    I’m so disappointed. I was hoping nintendo would finally come up with a true nextgen console, with 4-8tflops of power, with up2date fast components, where we could play a mario with a pixar/disney quality… but instead, it will be a portable wiii u.

    Without me.

    • heavenshitman1

      Sony and M’soft make systems appealing to everyone???
      Their combined last gen sales of about 170 million units still puts them in ‘niche’ territory as far as electronics go.
      Wii had an even wider performance gap, and won in sales.
      And Switch isnt a WiiU with faster CPU and GPU. The GPU at least is modern mainstream architecture for easy porting, and running off cartridges, loads will be faster, and we’ll see about the RAM.
      But in short, think you got no idea what you’re talking about

      • Johnny Cage

        You freaking fool. The Wii may have sold consoles but it didn’t sell games very well, don’t believe me, look it up. The Wii U sold piss poorly lol. This thing is weaker than a current Xbox One lol. Just look at the size of it, you think it can stack of to the Scorpio? Which is 7 times or more power powerful than the current Xbox? You Nintendo fans make me laugh! This system is a weak joke, just like your arms.

        • heavenshitman1

          No, most of the software on Wii didn’t sell. Because most the software on Wii was shovelware from lazy devs. But Twighlight princess doing several million and Mario Kart doing 36 odd million, they were the kind of software number Sony n M’soft only dreamed of at the time (actually I think Mario Kart still ranks as one of the highest selling franchises of all time). This is why Nintendo is still in business.
          Talking bout Switch, its concept is (potentially) mass market appealing. The literal billions of non-tech heads aren’t (necessarily) gonna care about squinting at that nano-scopic resolution.
          Switch can let you show off your gaming and rave anywhere anyhow, Scorpio and PSPro will have a lotta ppl stuck alone in their living rooms most the time

        • Paul Barnes

          Do you want to know what a bigger joke is the game’s library of the ps4 it’s total garbage. What’s the point of the ps4 having powerful hardware when it’s game’s library totally sucks. I’d rather have a less powerful console with better game’s than a more powerful one with old port’s,crappy indies and samey remaster’s.

        • Paul Barnes

          Sorry but having the most powerful hardware doesn’t always make a console worthwhile.The ps4 has powerful hardware but it’s game’s library is awful worse than the ps3 what was Sony even thinking.

      • Paul Barnes

        Exactly and in my opinion the ps4 wasn’t that great due to it’s underwhelming game’s library.I’m saying this as a Sony fan I wasn’t impressed with the Ps4’s game’s library i don’t care how powerful it is.People bragging about the Ps4’s power isn’t going to convince me to use my ps4 anytime soon sorry.

        • Daniel Gonzalez

          Hate to break it to you, but no one cares if you don’t use your PS4 anytime soon. If you aren’t using it, why do you even have it? That tells me you’re either here to troll or just bad with your money. There’s a reason you have very little upvotes. It’s a telling that you are pretty much alone in your opinions. ;P

          • Paul Barnes

            Ps4 is garbage and it’s dumbass Sony fanboy’s like you that are to blame for it for the crappy game’s it get’s.If it wasn’t for stupid Sony fanboy’s like you that defend Sony the ps4 would actually get some great game’s for a change.You don’t demand better from Sony so we’ll not get great games that true Sony fan’s deserve.

          • Daniel Gonzalez

            If you had to add in ad hominems into an argument, you’ve already lost. It was a nice try, though. Actually….not really. You barely tried.

    • Johnny Cage

      spoken for truth! Just judging the size of it, it’s going to be a weak console. The Scorpio is supposed to be 7 or more times more powerful that the current Xbox and the Switch’s leaked specs are weaker than the current Xbox by a good margin.

      • Paul Barnes

        Just having a more powerful console won’t automatically make it great,a good example ps4,powerful hardware garbage game’s library.So why would I want a powerful paperweight, I buy a console to play games on not brag about how powerful it is and end up with a boner lol.

        • Daniel Gonzalez

          No, you damage control while pretending that hardware isn’t everything. Having more power in a console doesn’t always mean better visuals it also gives more gameplay possibilities that can’t be done on a lower tier piece of hardware. Also, calling another competition garbage shows your fanboyism, and just destroyed what credibility you had left. Being a Nintenboner doesn’t give you any gain here. ;P

    • Paul Barnes

      Graphics whore alert lol.

      • Daniel Gonzalez

        Spoken like a corporate slave. ;P

  • SilverClock

    I have been waiting for the return of couch co-op for so long. Many games nowadays are only doing online multiplayer, either because of technical limitations or because they want to make more money selling another copy. Historically for me I have had more fun playing games via couch co-op than any other way. My main concerns are the battery life and the amount of memory it comes with. I am doubtful that I will be satisfied with either one. I am also worried about whether it will have third party support. As the author stated, I am out of good will after being disappointed by the Wii and Wii U.
    I like the idea, I just hope it has the games.

    • Paul Barnes

      I wasn’t disappointed with the Wii U I was more dissapointed with the ps4.As ps4 has an underwhelming game’s library compared to Sony’s previous consoles.Ps1,ps2 and ps3 they had a far superior game’s library they were great.I just don’t think sony are as great as they once we’re as Sony has been mediocre this console generation.They focus on hardware but their software is piss poor now just like on the ps vita.

  • Xen

    On your point about graphical fidelity… You see, there are many reasons why 3rd party developers avoid the Wii U, but I highly doubt it’s because of its lack in visual fidelity.

    I think the main reasons for shying away from the Wii U was because of who its audience is, how there is a lack of hardware sales, and also because it’s probably a hard kit to develop for.
    There are more constraints on the Wii U in addition to the GPU. If the Switch can nail the other areas of its hardware, making it easier to develop for (which might be the case if we consider what 3rd parties have said about this new console, an example being cd Projekt Red’s high regard for the Switch console), then I believe its lack of graphical fidelity won’t, and shouldn’t, matter.

  • InspectorGadget80

    They are too many negative things bout the SWITCH. I think its awesome you can take it with you plus it doesn’t use CD’S OR DVD’s. too many blog sites that bytch and complains saying that there is no 3rd party dev will support. you don’t even know what it can do yet so stop acting like you’re a big shot and think u know everything guess what you don’t. i’m buying this DAY ONE, ZELDA MARIO AND GO KART

  • NOSQEY .

    Looks like nintendo are taking themselves out of the console business,two people playing split screen on a 5-6 inch screen wtf. Is that the new concept a new way of playing,instead of a teaser trailer they should have given a reveal with an explanation of what it is and it’s capabilities. Looks to me like an nvidia shield with a docking station. Same old arrogant nintendo!

    • Paul Barnes

      If you don’t like nintendo then don’t buy there hardware problem solved,then you’ll have nothing to moan about.

      • NOSQEY .

        nintendo don’t have a clue about gamers,over priced underpowered.

      • Daniel Gonzalez

        their*

        Nah, because then you won’t have nothing to moan about. That would kill your existence for being here. ;P

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