Monday 16 January 2017

Can Nintendo Switch transform gaming?

Nintendo's announced the release date of its upcoming hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch, as 3rd March.

Nintendo's newest portable and desktop machine could be a zany Transformer in disguise! The Joy-Cons, a cool name for Decepticon combiners, can be detached from the tablet and used individually, much like a classic NES controller or Wiimote, or combined with a Joy-Con grip to form an Xbox-inspired controller.

Nintendo Switch is the company's attempt at bridging the divide between handheld and home consoles. Gamers will be able to play on the go and then connect the machine to a HDTV using the dock. This will have the benefit of enhancing games from 720p up to 1080p. Although this varies from title to title and some critics were left nonplussed with initial comparisons. However, most agree the device is a formidable, and well-built, handheld.

Whilst the new console is a compelling concept and I applaud the Kyoto-based company's modular approach. Ultimately, the hidden costs of the Nintendo Switch lead me to cancel my pre-order at Amazon. This would have been my first new Nintendo console since the Wii (I sidestepped the Wii U and the 3DS gave me migraines).

Nintendo's taking the accessories market to a whole new level with this generation. There's no pack-in game, the included Joy-Con grip doesn't recharge attached Joy-Cons (these can be recharged from the tablet screen or a Joy-Con charging grip sold separately), and the Pro Controller, a must-have for avid gamers, costs £65. Further to this. An extra pair of Joy-Cons will set consumers back £75 and there's many more first and third-party accessories available at launch. Items such as an additional Nintendo Switch dock are a luxury. That said, they're a necessity for connecting the machine to TVs, located in different rooms, if you don't want to lug the included dock around.

The machine's internal storage is a paltry 32GB. This is expandable, using microSD, up to 2TB, and should be more than sufficient for most owners.

It's all too easy to spend north of £500 on what will be a Zelda machine for at least the next few months. As a Zelda fan since A Link to the Past, on the SNES, I don't begrudge that in principle, but the current price point is too high. Why didn't Nintendo include Breath of the Wild, a port of the delayed Wii U title? Better to wait for a holiday bundle, and inevitable price drop, later in the year. Plus there's Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Xenoblade 2 and Super Mario Odyssey to bolster the lineup.

Incidentally, I (like many other early adopters) got burned when the N64 was released in the UK and the price dropped within weeks. Nintendo sent a free copy of Mario Kart 64 and a controller, as an act of goodwill, in the wake of negative media coverage and only after I'd written to the company.

For now the PS4 and Xbox One will more than suffice. The latter's backwards compatibility is a winner and assures a Scorpio purchase this holiday season.

Will you be getting a Nintendo Switch at launch? Let me know in the comments below.

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