Nintendo Switch Finally Reveals If It Will Be Backward Compatible

Nintendo Switch
(Image credit: Nintendo)

A lot of gamers have been completely wrapped up in discussing the Nintendo Switch. The new console is an innovative piece of tech, but a lot of gamers are wondering whether or not the console will be backwards compatible with Nintendo 3DS and Wii U titles. Well, Nintendo finally answered.

Gamespot picked up the news from an interview that Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu had with Nintendo, where they fired off a series of questions about the upcoming device, ranging from price and specs to backwards compatibility. According to Nintendo, the Nintendo Switch will not be backwards compatible when it comes to physical media.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

This seemed pretty obvious given that the NS uses cartridges instead of discs. The Wii U relies on proprietary discs, and that instantaneously knocked it out of contention for physical backwards compatibility. The 3DS uses cartridges, but it's not the same as the NS so it's also knocked out of contention for backwards compatibility.

Many gamers suspected as much going in, because all of the rumors pointed to the Nintendo Switch using a new proprietary cartridge. Most people were expecting that the cartridges would be offshoots from either USB sticks or portable SSD cards.

The only possible caveat for backwards compatibility for the Nintendo Switch would be digital backwards compatibility. This would mean that gamers could use their Nintendo Network IDs to log into the Switch and download their games from their profile -- whether they be Virtual Console titles, Wii U games, or Nintendo 3DS titles -- onto the hard drive of the Nintendo Switch and play the games digitally.

The limitations on physical backwards compatibility isn't too surprising, but Nintendo could win some brownie points with digital backwards compatibility, similar to the way the Xbox One handles some games from the Xbox 360's library that aren't available physically.

But even if they did offer some games digitally, how would they be played? The Nintendo 3DS uses a dual-screen and the Nintendo Switch only has one. This would severely limit what kind of games could be played on the system, if any would be playable at all. The exact same thing would also apply for the Nintendo Wii U... how could any game be backwards compatible on the Switch if it relies on the Wii U's GamePad?

For as much as we know, the Nintendo Switch screen does not support gyro or motion controls, so this would also knock a lot of Wii titles out of eligibility for being played on the NS as well.

Based on the architecture, the only backwards compatible games that would likely be made available through digital distribution would be anything made before the GameCube. This would also include the Nintendo 64, the SNES and the NES.

Given the stark change in under-the-hood tech, and a new GPU based on Nvidia's mobile Tegra line, it's hard to imagine that Nintendo would put backwards compatibility high up on the list of priorities. Of course, this is only a minor setback compared to the competition, given that only Microsoft has put backwards compatibility front and center on the Xbox One. Sony has opted for the far more expensive PlayStation Now option, which benefits PC gamers more than it does PlayStation owners.

Nintendo plans on rolling out more info for the NS leading up to its release in March of 2017.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.