The potential to fuse both the handheld and console markets could be the Nintendo Switch’s trump card
I have to admit, following the Nintendo Switch unveiling last year, I wasn’t entirely sold on The Big N’s console/handheld hybrid. In fact, I documented those concerns pretty extensively here. Now, less than a week since the release of Nintendo’s shiny new console, I’m pleased to say that much of that doubt has been washed away. The Switch is a sleek and versatile platform which, while it may not replace your PS4 or Xbox One anytime soon, offers an unparalleled degree of functionality that shows immense promise and serves as a true evolution of the Wii U’s design.
Of course, the elephant in the room when it comes to the Nintendo Switch is the system’s lack of raw horsepower. This comes as no surprise, especially when you consider the console is about the size of a Pop-Tart. Simply put, there’s not much room for cramming a top of the line GPU in such a svelte package. Despite the cramped interior, the Tegra-powered machine is able to output visuals that are a considerable step up from the Vita and 3DS, which is sure to please those purchasing the console with hopes of replacing their current stable of handhelds. And while it seems likely that the Switch can’t go toe-to-toe with the PS4 or Xbox One in terms of visual prowess, there’s no denying games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild look perfectly serviceable, if not outright gorgeous at times – albeit with occasional performance hiccups when played on the Switch.
Of course, it remains to be seen if third-party studios will embrace the platform despite this obvious shortage of muscle, especially when it’s likely to ensure that many annual cross-platform releases may far surpass the capabilities of Nintendo’s new console.
But graphics aren’t everything, and there’s one thing that could work to Nintendo’s favor to ensure this doesn’t result in an anemic lineup of software similar to that of the Wii U, and that’s the fact that the system will be home to both large, sprawling releases formerly reserved for consoles alone, such as the aforementioned The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as well as upcoming epics, like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, as well as a slew of titles from developers who primarily made titles for the 3DS. This wide spread of handheld and console-quality releases will almost assuredly mean that the Nintendo Switch will garner a library considerably more fleshed out than that of its predecessor.
For example, my wife and I are both huge fans of Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series, and have been for many years. Up until Atlus began embracing the Nintendo DS, she and I enjoyed playing through every release together as a team. Needless to day, when these titles began to release exclusively on the small screen, we no longer were able to enjoy these games together. The Switch solves this, however, as it’s already been confirmed that the Switch will indeed be seeing the next Shin Megami Tensei title, allowing fans of the series to experience the game both in handheld form, or on the big screen from the comfort of their couch. For someone like me, this is huge news, and I’m sure many other fans of the series are similarly pleased to be able to play what would almost certainly have been a handheld-only experience on their TV once more if they so choose.
Let’s be clear: I don’t think the Switch will dethrone the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One when it comes to the kings of the living room, but it doesn’t need to. The Nintendo Switch is a formidable system full of possibilities, and its ability to deliver a console-quality experience on the go is something that should excite gamers of almost any stripe. This, combined with the potential to be home to both big-budget experiences as well as the robust lineup of software support Nintendo has enjoyed with the 3DS family of handhelds could really make Nintendo’s gamble finally pay off. One thing’s for sure, I’m excited to see where the Switch takes us in the coming years.
So, what are you thinking of your Switch so far? Do you think the console could finally prove to be a major success for Nintendo following the ill-fated Wii U? As always, we love to hear what you think. Be sure to sound off in the comments section.