Is the Nintendo Switch a Good Idea?
Nintendo has finally announced the NX along with its official name, the Nintendo Switch, and it has been met with some understandable scepticism. Nintendo does not have the best track record when it comes to consoles, having relied heavily on gimmicks over the past few iterations. While it could be argued that the Switch also centres around a gimmick, I believe that this time it could actually be a good idea.
When Nintendo began to lose their edge in the industry, they sought to rectify this not with higher specs, but with clever and innovative ideas. The codename for the Nintendo Wii was the ‘Revolution’, so you can tell what high hopes Nintendo had for their new console. The motion controls that were integrated into the Wii was Nintendo’s attempt at changing the way we interacted with games and the same is true of the Wii U’s touch screen.
However, their new methods of control did little to innovate and more often than not created a disconnect between the player and the game by hindering control. Thankfully the Switch does not have these same issues, it instead opts to keep the controller nice and simple while adding a new feature to the console itself.
The ability to pick up a screen and take your home console games with you on the go could very well be the revolutionary new idea that Nintendo has been searching for. In an age of technology competing to be the most powerful, Nintendo has always stuck to their belief that specs do not affect the quality of the games. For the most part, this statement has proven true, but for many years an improvement in a console’s power was always a sight to behold. A game’s ability to look beautiful, run smoothly and render more complex environments can sometimes make a game more enjoyable.
However, we have reached a point where games look so nice and run so smoothly that improvement is barely noticeable and adds little to newer games. The next PlayStation and Xbox will definitely be more powerful than the Switch, there’s no doubting that. However, the ability to play Switch games on the go coupled with how little difference the higher specs will make, it may just give Nintendo an edge over Sony and Microsoft.
Nintendo are not just competing with other consoles, however, this is the future and PC gaming is now a huge market in its own right. PC gamers enjoy many benefits that consoles do not provide, such as control over their hardware, cheaper games and portability through gaming laptops. While the Switch does little to change the minds of those set in their ways, many people sitting on the fence between PCs and consoles may be swayed by the portability of the Switch. Without having to invest in two expensive computers to have the level of freedom that the Switch provides, Nintendo is also making their console a much cheaper alternative to PC gaming.
However, the Switch is not a guaranteed success. While I do not personally think the lower power will make a difference in the next generation, many consumers could be swayed by higher numbers and better graphics. Nintendo also has the stigma of being for children, which may continue to hurt them if they aren’t able to shake it off. The lack of children in the Switch reveal video suggests that Nintendo is ready to be seen as more adult; whether they will achieve this, however, remains to be seen.
If the Switch truly is the end of Nintendo’s handheld line, it needs to be able to compete with mobile gaming, it’s here where I do not think the Switch will prosper. People spend a lot of time playing mobile games on their phones when they’re waiting for a bus, travelling by train or at work and want something fun to do.
The 3DS was small but bulky and only just about fit in a pocket, the Switch is considerably larger and requires a bag to be taken out. Phones are always able to fit in a pocket and, due to their multipurpose nature, it is rare for someone to leave the house without one. The Switch is more like a tablet making it considerably less portable. There is also the concern of battery life; while we have not been given an official statement by Nintendo on how long the battery will last, it is hard to imagine it going for much longer than three or four hours. This is not only less than a phone but also fails to compare to almost any other handheld battery.
The Switch was announced to an audience of worried Nintendo fans and an uninterested public. However, it has managed to change that, at least to some extent. It calmed many fans’ nerves and intrigued everyone else. As with any new idea, there is a chance it will be unsuccessful or simply ignored by the public, and the Switch is certainly not without its negatives. However, I’ve chosen to remain cautiously optimistic and wait to see what comes of this inventive new concept; after all, at least I don’t have to risk launching my controller across the room just to make my character jump.