After its public unveiling, we finally know that the Nintendo Switch features a new take on home gaming – gaming you can take on the go. The unit plays games on HDTVs like traditional home consoles, but when removed from its HDTV dock, can be taken on the go and played in portable form. Other Nintendo Switch Features include detachable Joy-Con remote controllers, cartridges for games, and a built-in stand for portable gaming.
“Nintendo Switch allows gamers the freedom to play however they like,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, President and COO, Nintendo of America. “It gives game developers new abilities to bring their creative visions to life by opening up the concept of gaming without boundaries.”
Below we discuss seven Nintendo Switch features that should not be overlooked.
Let’s Talk Battery Life
“The first thing that I thought of was how a larger LCD would increase the area that the backlight needed to hit, thereby increasing power consumption,” said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. “The casing is larger, so you might be able to handle it by increasing battery capacity, but you can’t just simply make it heavy either.”
While the quote above is for the 3DS XL, Nintendo’s largest portable console, it speaks strongly for the challenge of enabling large bright screens for gaming while also not requiring heavy and expensive batteries.
Nintendo promises Nintendo Switch will have a “bright high definition display,” and strong 3D graphics, but the unit will somehow have to juggle weight, cost and playtime when considering how much battery capacity to package with the unit. Of all of Nintendo Switch’s features, battery life may be the hardest one for Nintendo to get right.
One limited solution to battery life may be to put extra battery capacity into the Joy-Con remotes, with their own charging features. It’s possible that the Joy-Con Grip, which can be used at home and can holds the Joy-Con remotes during play, acts as a charging station itself. If a gamer is on the go and returns home, they may want to be able to charge the Joy-Con remote controllers while playing, in which case the Joy-Con Grip could be their only hope.
One of the more interesting reveals is the ability to perform local multiplayer with multiple Nintendo Switch consoles, while on the go. This enables teams to have their own screens to view during play. In a demo of the NBA 2K series, players paired two Nintendo Switch consoles together, and then shared each system’s Joy-Con controllers to play four player gaming locally, on the go.
What’s still to be determined is whether four-player portable gaming is possible just with one game console. A demo of Mario Kart showed only two-player action using one console.
Performance Drops For Portable Play
Possibly to preserve battery life, Nintendo Switch seems to run at lower visual fidelity when played off the TV. In the preview video provided by Nintendo, the framerate of portable play was consistently lower than when games were shown on an HDTV.
While not confirmed, the resolution of gameplay in portable form may also be lower than on HDTV.
It’s also possible that certain game play modes are not enabled for portable play. For example, the Mario Kart demo presented showed two-player multiplayer running at a slower track speed. It’s possible that four-player fast-speed racing is only possible at home.
While amiibo support was expected as one of Nintendo Switch’s features, it was nice to see a series of Mario amiibos shown while Nintendo Switch’s Mario game was displayed. Nintendo already mentioned amiibo would be supported on their next console, and here’s some visual proof.
A Small Controller
OK, this one may not be a big deal, but the Joy-con remote controller is tiny! Perhaps this is acceptable in Japan, but American markets tend to prefer larger controllers. A controller this small may be viewed as too toy-like to some.
It also limits the types of games that can be played in multiplayer when Nintendo Switch is used in its portable form. It may work great for games like Wii Sports, but may not be capable enough for shooters or other action games.
Hinting at Other Nintendo Switch Features: A Mobile Architecture
With Nintendo Switch, Nintendo is switching from a technology architecture they’ve used since GameCube to an ARM processor by Nvidia. Nvidia hardware is frequently used in mobile devices, and may open up Nintendo’s platform to more Nintendo developers.
“The ARM technology means that developers will likely have to learn a new development model, one likely based on Android,” writes Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat. “Nintendo hasn’t said what operating system the Switch is using yet.
Other mobile rumors continue to pop up, including integration of Nintendo NX with smartphones.
This is small thing I wrote previously for WSJ, but some told me Switch “goes well” with smartphones, without elaborating. Hum…..
— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) October 20, 2016
A number of new versions of Nintendo’s flagship games were displayed, as well as third party support from a new Skyrim. Screenshots are included below for each title. Names below are not official.
Other previously confirmed games include Dragon Quest X, Dragon Quest XI, Steamworld Heist and Just Dance 2017.
Super Mario Switch
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild