Staying up past my old-lady bedtime is usually difficult… unless a marvelous presentation about the next big console is happening, then I suddenly become a kid in a candy store. Last night, live from Tokyo, the gaming gurus behind one of the oldest gaming companies in the world unleashed even more goodies about their ‘next big thing’, and I am ready to blow my rent money to get a hold of it. Nintendo spoke about their highly-anticpated Nintendo Switch, the follow-up console to the Nintendo WiiU, which as we all know didn’t perform to the greatest of standards. I’ve compiled a few of the points I caught from the laserlight lovefest of a presentation, in case it was past your personal old-lady bedtime:
- Launch date: 3/3/2017 in Japan, the US, Canada, Hong Kong and their other territories, as well as major European countries. BUT if you live elsewhere, this may not be such a problem because….
- Region locking is gone. DONE. Suck it, region locking, and your evil imaginary box.
- Retail price: Japan – 29,980Y, North America – $299.99, Europe – check local retailer.
- Online services: there will be online multiplayer gaming wherein you can invite friends to play, set play ‘dates’, chat with them and so on, all from your smart device. An upsetting feature is that the free online multiplayer will no longer be free, which is very detrimental to the brand. After having the WiiU be a bust, Nintendo needed to entice players to come back for more than Mario and Zelda, but taking the free online multiplayer system out of the picture will (in my humble opinion) hurt them in the long run. Users can try online services for free during a trial period, but everything will convert to a pay-by-the-month service in fall 2017. Currently there is no price tag on what this will cost, and so as long as Nintendo keeps this a low amount, gamers might not be so upset about it.
They split the presentation into different parts; once the big monetary announcements were made, they moved onto their new patented controller system, called Joy Con.
- There are 3 different modes:
- TV mode – like having a normal controller while you play watching the TV.
- Tabletop mode – there’s a stand on the back of the Switch console and you can detach the Joy Cons to play that way.
- Handheld – think WiiU controller but much sexier.
- Battery life is anywhere from 2.5 hrs to 6.5 hrs, depending on the game. You can also play while charging the system. This is a little disheartening, if we’re being realistic. You’re telling me that you are excited to give us a platform that we can take on the go, and it may only last 3 hours before we have to recharge? I realize the specs for the system are much higher and demand a lot more than a 3DS, the latest mobile Nintendo system, but the Switch battery life is absolutely disappointing. They also didn’t mention how long it would take to recharge the system, so we’ll have to keep an eye out for that.
- You can connect to WiFi and then have a localized party with up to 8 other Switch systems for some excellent multiplayer gaming. Cool feature, no doubt, but I’m unsure how effective this will really be, considering so much of the gaming world connects remotely.
- Joy Con controllers can read amiibos, with them showing off the gorgeous Zelda: Breath of the Wild Link amiibo. I just want the figurine!
- A screenshot button is on the left Joy Con, making it easy for people to share to social media.
- There will be two color variations of Joy Cons – neon blue and neon red, in case you don’t want the simple black controllers. They’ve also packed in their trusty wrist straps, because nobody wants to accidently toss a remote through your brand new 4K TV, am I right?
- The Joy Con cameras will be able to tell the difference between whether or not you threw rock, paper or scissors (a highly intuitive feature if you ask me) as well introduce their new HD Rumble system. They demonstrated the sensitivity of the Rumble system by explaining that you’d notice the subtle differences between the feeling of holding a glass, then dropping one, two and three ice cubes in it, as well as if you poured water on top. It sounds very visceral, let’s see if their demonstration is spot on for how we’d really feel things.
Moving on from the Joy Cons, they went into the part I think a lot of us were waiting for: game announcements. There’s a certain Hyrulian adventure I think we’re all excited to get lost in, but other titles needed both demonstrations and release date announcements.
- Game introduced: 1-2-Switch.
- Normally you’re looking at a screen to play a game, but for this you don’t have to look at a screen, it’s all reactionary while you stare down your opponent with cold, dead eyes. They showed people dueling like in the old west, which I think is super cool, slowing down the footage to demonstrate that it really is all reactionary… the fastest draw wins. There are other 1v1 games that are featured, and we will find out more of those soon. There wasn’t a release date associated with this display, so we can likely assume it’s a release title.
- Game introduced: Arms
- This game, in a nutshell, is Punch Out on crack. The graphics look really cool, and there’s certainly a workout in store for players. Wii Boxing was effective, but this will have players facing each other instead of a screen like they showed in 1-2-Switch. I give it a week before someone literally knocks someone else out because they got too far into the game, and we’ll find out coming Spring 2017.
- Game introduced: Splatoon 2
- More squids. More ink. More days calling in sick, because nobody has time to go to work when there are maps to cover in bright green ink. The game will hit stores in Summer 2017.
- Game introduced: (motherfucking) Super Mario Odyssey (!!!!!)
- I might have over exaggerated on the game title, but if you saw the preview that I did, I can guarantee you feel the same way. It’s gorgeous, set in landscapes that reflect the real world, making you feel like you’re playing a G-rated version of Grand Theft Auto. This is the first time since Super Mario Sunshine (which came out in 2002… forever years ago) that we have a sandbox to run around in, and I’m not losing my shit or anything. We also found out that the eyeball-adorned cap on Mario’s head is basically it’s own character, leading us in a slightly odd direction, but an intriguing one nonetheless. Release date is the “holiday season” 2017, so don’t expect your kids, spouse, parents, friends, or Twitter to shut up about this game for the next 10 months. Good luck and godspeed.
- Game introduced: Xenoblade Chronicles 2
- Space whale is spacey. Another beautiful game is headed our way, and will no doubt translate very well onto the handheld console screen.
- 3rd party partners were discussed and exhibited. We saw Dragon Quest Heroes 1 & 2, the next Shin Megami Tensei (in the Atlas series), SKYRIM (holy eff), as well as FIFA. Nintendo has finally realized that it’s the 21st century and is teaming up with more 3rd parties, something they should have done years ago.
- After all of this, there was one thing we learned that sent all of Twitter into a meltdown of tears and ecstatic screams – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a release title. That’s right, March 3rd, we’ll have a new Zelda, and not just that, but an OPEN WORLD Zelda. What a time to be alive.
The Nintendo Switch Presentation was fast, snappy (seriously though, if you took a shot every time someone snapped their fingers to “switch” to the next topic, you’d be dead 5 minutes in), and exciting. While there are a few concerns, such as battery life, online multiplayer no longer being free, and the cost of extra accessories, it seems that the Japanese gaming company is ready to actually step into the ring with Microsoft and Sony.
One of the biggest gripes over the years for Nintendo console releases has been the lack of a good, diverse gaming library. Yes, the company wants to stick to their family-friendly software, as it’s absolutely paid off in the past. But they’ve also got to realize that those families they gave countless hours of fun to in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s have grown up, and so have their tastes. People will always flock to Mario and Zelda games, they’re too iconic and nostalgia-satisfying to say no to, but relying on those two titles and their history will not be enough for Nintendo to keep up with Microsoft and Sony. While gamers do love structure to a game, obeying the linear storyline laid down in their paths, there is something so completely satisfying about being able to veer off of whatever path you’re ‘supposed’ to be on, exploring what else is out there. Giving us two new open world games in Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a smart move, and hopefully one that revitalizes the company. Nintendo is never really ever out of the fight for “King of the Gaming Mountain”, but ever since the release of the Xbox One and PS4, they’ve been stuck in 3rd place. They certainly showed us last night that they’ve gathered plenty of provisions, some badass equipment, and the biggest Blue Shell they could create, and are ready to make the climb back to the top of the Gaming Mountain. Only time will tell if they earn that digital crown back.