Nintendo Switch Nintendo announced details about their newest piece of hardware recently, revealing the Nintendo Switch – a hybrid between a home console and a handheld gaming machine that they’re clearly hoping can recapture the lighting in a bottle that was the Nintendo Wii.
The Switch arrives in stores March 3rd at a Canadian price of $399. That gets you the console, the docking station it uses to charge and connect to your TV, and a Joy-Con controller – a three piece unit that snaps apart into two individual controllers and a plastic centerpiece that’s only purpose is to hold the smaller Joy-Cons together in a ‘regular’ controller configuration. The two mini-controllers can be used independently, allowing you and a friend to both play a game – and they feature motion control functionality that will probably cause hardcore gamers flashbacks to Wiimote waggling…I mean controls.
There’s no pack-in game included and the announced launch lineup is fairly sparse at this point. 1-2-Switch, a collection of minigames that really looks like it SHOULD be a pack-in game, Just Dance 2017, Skylanders Imaginators, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Zelda is the obvious draw, but it’s also appearing on the Wii U so it’s tough to call it a killer app.
Though there aren’t a lot of games to buy day one, Nintendo can still get your money via accessories. Want an additional set of Joy-Con controllers? That’s $99.99 Canadian for the pair – a bargain compared to the $64.99 they want for individual ones. You’ll also need the Joy-Con Charging Grip – an upgrade over the simple plastic non-charging one included with the system, but at $39.99 it better be. How about a more standard-style controller option – Nintendo’s Pro Controller? $89.99.
While some expect the Switch to be used as a handheld gaming system, I’d hesitate to call this a replacement for the Nintendo 3DS, as the Switch design feels more like the next step in Nintendo’s idea of putting a carrying handle on a GameCube so you could take it to a friend’s house. This is a portable console, not really a handheld one. Though you can play it that way, it’s for very short stretches due to the truncated battery life, shorter even than the Wii U gamepad’s battery life. At this point it looks like the most ‘mobile’ use you’ll get out of it is using it as a portable base station for games like 1-2-Switch, as the bulk of its games involve watching the opponent – not the screen – so you should get a longer run-time out of it.
Nintendo will also be rolling out a new online system for Switch, and while it starts as a free service it will transition into a subscription service in the fall. The cost is unknown as of yet, but Nintendo has revealed that they will be providing subscribers with free games ala PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Gold memberships. Subscribers will get a free Nintendo or Super Nintendo game each month, but they can only access and play that game through the course of that month, at which point they lose access to it unless they buy it.
If you want to play multiplayer in games like Mario Kart 8 (currently slated for a late April release) you’ll need the online subscription. To find games and chat with friends, however, you’ll also need to download an app on your phone as that’s the only way to matchmake or voice chat with Switch. There’s no word on why you need to use an app on a secondary device for basic features like matchmaking or chat, but it seems like a case of Nintendo finding a convoluted solution for a problem that was solved in much smarter ways years ago by literally everyone else.
At this point, I wouldn’t recommend pre-ordering a Switch, even for hardcore Nintendo fans. Breath of the Wild is on Wii U as well, so save your money and get it there – wait for Switch to get some more games and Nintendo to get the back end in order.