For years the narrative has been the same. “Nintendo is out of touch with its fanbase.” “Nintendo has lost me.” “They care too much about the casual gamer.” “They have no 3rd party support.” The list goes on and on. But this morning, Nintendo proved that it knows exactly what it is doing, and despite recent failures, has built a system that is a perfect fit for the 21st century audience.
Say hello to the Nintendo Switch.
Unlike the Wii U, it is immediately apparent what the Switch, formerly NX, brings to the table. The console experience is found in the living room, so that is where they started. Their recent assertion that the machine was, indeed, a home system was immediately proven true. The player picking his system out of the dock to bring it with him also confirmed the barrage of rumors that we heard about the platform’s portability. Seeing it in action, however, made it crystal clear exactly what his machine can do and how its functionality can bring an added element to our gaming existence.
This is no expansion, continuation or reinvention. This is the opposite of Nintendo’s status quo. Rather than building a gimmick that forces the industry to adhere to their standards, the company has taken a hard look at its audience and built a system that is form fitted to the active, flexible lives that we live. We don’t need a 5” by 5” safe zone around us to play the Switch comfortably. The system adheres to our situation, whatever it calls for. Why are smartphones so popular? Because they do the exact same thing.
Alone on a Wednesday night? Switch has you covered. Riding the train to work? Covered. Stuck in the back seat on a road trip with friends? Covered. At the airport for another 5 hours because your flight was delayed for the eighth time? You get the idea. Media has consistently moved toward flexibility and accessibility since the dawn of the smartphone, and while Nintendo is one of the last large entertainment companies to embrace this strategy, its answer to the problem is the most elegant and fun we’ve seen yet.
While the focus of the video was not on games, the ones shown provide another reason to be excited about the new console and provide hints of a full Nintendo reboot. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was expected, but Skyrim? That is huge for the company. That game alone proves that Nintendo is serious about having all games on the platform, regardless of maturity level. The list of 3rd party support adds fuel to the fire, with names such as From Software and Atlus popping up. If Nintendo can get large amounts of support for the Switch, it will provide a unique experience for every game that releases. The company is finally giving us what we want rather than what it wants us to. Apparent Splatoon and Mario Kart 8 ports, as well as a mysterious new Mario title, support this idea. Why strand excellent games on a platform nobody bought? Does Nintendo finally get it? Only time will truly tell, but after this trailer, the answer is definitively “Yes”.
It is what we want on our own terms.
After watching the trailer for the third time, it is apparent that Nintendo pulled out all the stops. There are multiple, simple options for control. A traditional controller exists, even going as far as copying the beloved Xbox layout. The detachable controllers let you play the Switch like a massive Vita or like a personal console on the go. Nintendo even provided a solution for local multiplayer on the go! (!!!) I have yet to think of a situation where I couldn’t use my Switch.
Even the minute details are fine tuned. The system has a matte finish to minimize fingerprints. It uses cartridges, which provide fast loading times while also being insanely portable. The detachable controllers have a split D-Pad for multiplayer parity while keeping the famous layout on the traditional controller. It has a kickstand and headphone jack, which is more than can be said for the iPhone 7.
Even the marketing strategy seems to go along with the new Nintendo strategy. We were informed of the announcement 15 hours prior to it going live, which sufficed in shifting attention away from Rockstar for more than a few seconds. I expect we will see a tight and controlled pre-launch cycle, as Nintendo is sticking with the March 2017 release date. This means that we can pencil in 5 months worth of megaton announcements regarding games, specs, release dates and more. While they forced us to sit on our hands for a year and a half, the floodgates are officially open.
There is a lot that we don’t know about the Nintendo Switch. But what we do know is that Nintendo’s strategy is clear. This is a console for us. It can be whatever we need it to be. It destroys the cords tethering us to the left couch cushion and beckons us into the open world. Wherever we go, the Switch can tailor its experience to fit our situation. Nintendo has finally moved into the 21st century, and I have never been more excited for its future.
Brett Williams is an Associate Editor for MONG who was one of the 15 people who bought a Wii U. Does he deserve special treatment from Nintendo now? Absolutely. Follow his nonexistent ramblings on twitter.