Previously kept under the prototypal alias of “the NX” for months following its accidental public leak, the Switch is Nintendo’s newest home entertainment system, coming to stores in March 2017. The beloved Japanese consumer electronics and software company showcased its new device last week by releasing a three-minute introductory teaser video on its official website and YouTube.
The video begins with a man playing “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” from his couch, using a traditional wireless controller. The camera then focuses on the console itself, a sleek, vertically-standing, black box consisting of what looks to be a touch-screen tablet, slotted into the top of the system’s dock like bread in a toaster. Nintendo calls this the “Switch Dock.”
Once the man’s dog begins to bark at him to go for a walk, he gets up and walks over to the Switch. Instead of turning off the game, he slides the sides off his controller and simply clicks them into place on either end of the Switch tablet, which resumes his gameplay on the smaller screen and turns it into a mobile game pad. This idea of cross-compatible home and mobile play is a very similar concept to its predecessor, the Wii U, except for the unique removable controller pieces which Nintendo calls “Joy-Cons.”
The trailer then goes on to show the various settings in which the Switch can be used, starting with an airport, where a man and woman play with their gamepads while waiting for a flight. Next, a man who is already on a plane is shown using the tablet’s retractable back-stand to play adventure game “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” on the seat tray in front of him. He uses the Joy-Cons remotely in each hand to interact with the game without bothering the sleeping passenger next to him.
In another setting, Nintendo shows two band members on the road playing “Mario Kart” from the back of their van while the tablet is slid into a dock that protrudes conveniently from the front passenger seat’s headrest.
Other settings show off the different ways of using the Switch. The first shows four players, each with one Joy-Con, playing “NBA 2K17” against each other on two Switch tablets that are placed back to back. The Switch is then shown being used at events such as a rooftop picnic in the city and a stadium for some sort of major league gaming tournament.
After overwhelming success from the original Wii in 2006, Nintendo has sold more than 101.63 million units worldwide while the lackluster arrival of the Wii U in 2012 only managed to sell a meager 13.2 million.
Rival gaming consoles from both Microsoft and Sony have exceeded well beyond Nintendo in both sales and hardware capability over the past few years — the Wii U was Nintendo’s first console to support high definition gameplay, a late adaptation compared to other game systems — but perhaps the Switch will be just what Nintendo needs to catch up with the competition.
The Switch represents Nintendo’s extensive history with entertainment that promotes mobility, accessibility and convenience. Even the newest console’s name, “Switch,” indicates an exciting motion of compartmental transformation and modification.
Just look back at the 2005 Nintendo GameCube console — built with a plastic handle, it could be carried safely to and from a friend’s house. The Nintendo Gameboy devices were manufactured as portable game systems that could fit in your pocket, able to be played anywhere and anytime.
Even the Nintendo Wii broke away from traditional norm by allowing players to utilize motion controls, and in some cases their whole bodies, for a more immersive gaming experience. It should come as no surprise to consumers that Nintendo would attempt to culminate all of these popular advancements into one multi-faceted device for the modern market.
Nintendo brings people together regardless of who is better or worse at playing a certain game. The fact that they constantly take such groundbreaking risks with their hardware is proof enough that Nintendo cares about player experience above all else.
As far as I’m concerned, Nintendo is far from out of the race when it comes to the console gaming industry, and it’ll only be a matter of time before we’re all back to mashing buttons and shouting at each other in “Super Smash Bros.” at the celebratory end of a finals week.