Nintendo Switch is both a home gaming console and a portable handheld device

The time is ripe for a home console and handheld hybrid, and Nintendo is releasing the device just around the time when technology makes it possible.

Nintendo just announced the Switch console for March 2017, and it may just be the hottest thing next summer. There best aspect about the console is that it blurs the line between handheld devices and home gaming consoles. The time is ripe for such a device, and Nintendo is releasing the device just around the time when technology makes it possible to have uncompromising handheld gaming experiences.

The console is modular, and is made up of a number of parts. There is the Nintendo Switch Dock, which connects to the television. The Nintendo Switch is a screen, the heart of the device. On undocking the Switch transforms into a portable handheld device. It does not seem to be touch enabled, which is great in terms of reducing cost and distractions.

At the back is an integrated stand to place the switch on horizontal surfaces. There are Joy-Con controllers, which can be attached to either side of the Switch. Two Joy-Con controllers can be attached to either side of the switch, or two players can take one each and play two player games.

 Nintendo Switch is both a home gaming console and a portable handheld device

The Joy-Con controller

The Joy-Con controllers can be attached to the Joy-Con Grip accessory, which looks similar to a traditional controller when set up. Even without the Joy-Con Grip accessory, which ships with the Switch, users can hold a Joy-Con controller in each hand to play a game. Multiple Joy-Con controllers can be used by parties in various configurations. A Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is available separately, for those who prefer a dedicated traditional controller.

Image: Splatoon/Nintendo.

Image: Splatoon/Nintendo.

Nintendo featured the paint based third person multiplayer shooter Splatoon as an e-sport. There have been attempts to make Splatoon an e-sport with organised tournaments, but it has never achieved the same popularity as CS: GO or DOTA2. The foray into e-sports is an ambitious attempt by Nintendo at taking their consoles to the next level.

Reggie Fils-Aime, President and COO, Nintendo of America, said, "Nintendo Switch allows gamers the freedom to play however they like. It gives game developers new abilities to bring their creative visions to life by opening up the concept of gaming without boundaries."

Image: Skyrim/ Bethesda Softworks.

Image: Skyrim/ Bethesda Game Studios.

One of the highlights of the announcement was the considerable screen time given to one epic game that has not yet made it to handheld gaming systems, from one publisher who has never before released a title on Nintendo. Skyrim by Bethesda Softworks was featured prominently in the first look video by Nintendo, and it is just great that this studio is bringing at least one of its titles to the Switch console. Other publishers partnering with Nintendo for Switch titles include Activision, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Code Masters, Electronic Arts, Epic, Havok, Sega, Square Enix, Telltale Games and Ubisoft.

Nintendo getting its mojo back

It has been four years since the previous console launch, and the announcement could not have come at a better time. Nintendo was the talk of the town at the Tokyo Game Show despite being absent. Pokémon GO spiked the Nintendo shares, and made Nintendo properties accessible to a massive worldwide audience.

At the iPhone 7 launch, Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of seminal franchises including The Legend of Zelda and Donkey Kong, announced that Super Mario Run was coming to the iPhone. The revelation caused another surge in Nintendo shares. It was later revealed that the title would be making its way to Android smartphones as well. Interest in Nintendo is peaking.

The console uses gaming cartridges.

The console uses gaming cartridges.

No gimmicks, just pure gaming

The introductory video does not show the console trying to be a multimedia hub for home entertainment, embedded with an intelligent digital assistant. There is no focus on virtual reality gaming. There is just the pure joy of traditional console gaming, and it feels great.

The console even uses gaming cartridges. The Nintendo Switch simply capitalises the market for a plug and play gaming device. The sharp focus on the essentials of what makes a console fun, may just make the Switch the biggest blockbuster of next summer.


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