The Nintendo Switch was finally revealed this morning and, while Nintendo certainly did a great job of showing off the hardware, there weren't a lot of actual details provided for the upcoming console/portable hybrid. That has, of course, left us with a lot of questions.
Based on what we've seen from the Nintendo Switch reveal trailer, we know that Nintendo's new machine is due out in March of next year. It looks like we're getting a new Mario game, and we also saw some older titles being played on the device during the three-minute trailer. We also now have a good idea of how the system physically works, from playing on the couch to enjoying solo or multiplayer gaming on the go.
Still, much like Nintendo's mustachioed mascot, there are some blocks with question marks floating over our head. The good news is that, with a launch window that's only five months away, we probably won't have to wait much longer to get the answers to these and other questions.
What's The Launch Lineup?
As stated above, we saw the Nintendo Switch playing quite a few games in today's reveal trailer. Some of those could have just been placeholder clips, though, purely meant to give you an idea of what the console is capable of. While we saw The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on display alongside what looks like the remastered version of Skyrim, Nintendo has not said whether or not either of those games will actually be ready when the console hits the market.
So that's got us wondering, what will we actually be playing when the Switch launches next year? They got us hyped for the hardware, but a sizzle reel of some anticipated launch games would have also been a good move at this time. Again, we're only five months out from launch, so we figure they've got to have a rough idea of what will be ready to roll on day one.
Will it Be Backwards Compatible?
Again, there's no guarantee that what was shown during Nintendo's Switch reveal is actually playable on the device, so we don't want to count any gaming eggs before they hatch. It looks like both Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon are being played, for instance, but maybe those are new entries in the series or, again, just placeholder games.
But their appearance begs the questions of whether or not the Switch will be backward compatible. It certainly seems like an obvious call for Nintendo, as their Wii U console is only a couple of years old at this point. However, since games will be playable on cartridges, not discs, backwards compatibility may not be an option. We're not saying they should re-release all of those games but, since they are also available in digital format, it would make a heck of a lot of sense to make them readily available on the new hardware. Or, even better, maybe an early budget lineup of Wii U re-releases. The console has a handful of titles we would consider viable options to keep going for a few more years. Make those available for a discounted price early on and that will only bolster whatever launch lineup Nintendo has planned.
How Much Will It Cost?
Perhaps we should have started with this one, as it's likely to be one of the major deciding factors for folks debating whether or not they want to add a Switch to their console lineup. We're not expecting the Switch to sell as cheaply as a launch Wii but, based on what we've seen, we're guessing the physical hardware is similar to what is available on the WiiU. We're not talking tech here, but mainly "how much are those particular sets of components going to cost?" We wouldn't be surprised to see something in the neighborhood of $350 like with the launch WiiU, but maybe Nintendo will surprise us. Whether or not that will be a good or bad surprise remains to be seen. I mean, it does look like the Switch does some pretty cool stuff, but they also probably need to be super competitive with what's coming from Microsoft and Sony these days.
What Else Can It Do?
We've seen that the Switch can play games on the TV or on the go and that those controllers can be used in some pretty cool ways. But that's pretty much all we know right now. Will there be game streaming? Will there be an online marketplace? What size hard drive will come standard? Are there touch or motion control options? Will we be able to browse the internet or download additional apps like Hulu, Facebook, Twitter, etc? Modern machines typically do a lot more than just place games, so we'd love to hear what else the Nintendo Switch has in its arsenal.
What Happens to the 3DS?
Nintendo has stated in the past that the Switch is not intended to compete with the 3DS, but we've certainly got to wonder if that remains the plan. Looking at the thing in action, it's clearly capable of handling far more sophisticated games than the 3DS and, with only one screen, it might be hard to replicate the 3DS experience on the new machine. Still, there's always the chance that a 3DS digital marketplace will be in the cards.
But even without the ability to play 3DS games, there's no denying that half of the Switch's potential comes from the fact that it can be played on the go. Sure, it's quite a bit more bulky than the current handheld machine, but they're still pushing it as a portable option. Our guess is that, for the time being, Nintendo plans on keeping the 3DS and Switch audience in two different baskets. If the Switch takes off, though, we could easily see the 3DS fading into the background faster than anticipated with all of Nintendo's plans then shifting exclusively to the Switch for home and portable gaming options.