SBox Soapbox: All About the Nintendo Switch (Livestream and More)

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By show of hands, how many of you were unlucky enough to live on the East Coast US during last night’s Nintendo Switch livestream? Tired ain’t ya? You know, there was a time when living here was the ideal spot for these gaming press conferences. You don’t have to wake up too early for the early day stuff, and even the somewhat late events happened during prime time 8 PM. Not the case for the Nintendo Switch event. Could be worse, though! At least I’m not in Europe.

Okay, mini-rant over. The point is that I indeed have seen the Nintendo Switch event the other night and have come to offer my thoughts on what was showcased during the show (and everything they left out for some reason). I realize that I’m probably the eleventh or so Nintendo Switch commentator you’ve seen today. Don’t worry. I’ll make it worth it by purely sticking to my reactions and thoughts, instead of repeating the news you’ve probably heard at nauseum the past 36 hours. If you aren’t aware of what was shown or just want a refresher of the show’s news, click here for the highlights.

Sorry if I miss something, by the way. I’ll only be covering the big stuff as well as some tiny little details that caught my eye. We’ll cover this event in three sections: system, games, and extras.

 

Exhibit A: The System

What better way to start a discussion about the Switch then by talking about… the Switch itself? Overall, I feel that discussion of the console’s capabilities was the star of the show. Nintendo wasted no time discussing the big questions like release date and price.

In terms of release date and price, I found myself very surprised on both ends. My original assumption was that the Switch will be released in late March in order to save time, and that the system will have two entry models at $250 and $300 a pop. Turns out the exact opposite was true. The release date is far more enthusiastic than I thought. March 3? I don’t know if that confidence or cockiness, but I like it. March was already a phenomenal launch window for me personally (because it’s my birthday), but this also serves to get the console in the hands of as many people as possible. Plus, this works out great for Nintendo, who needs to get back in the game as soon as possible. After all, they kinda took the year off last year.

As for the price, it’s a bit steeper than I expected, but it’s still in range with what I and everyone was predicting. The cheapskate in me wishes I could get a Nintendo system for under $300, but I can’t be too picky about a new game console’s price. Not only is it a step down from the premiere model for Wii U, but the price can only go down from here. This places the Switch comfortably among it’s immediate competition, the PS4 ($300) and Xbox One ($250).

Next item on the agenda is something I have been and continue to be fairly nervous about: the Joy-Con controllers. To be fair, though, this conference did serve to put most of my concerns at ease. One thing I liked about the Joy-Con was the inclusion of the L and R buttons as well as the button on the vertical top of the controller. I don’t know why I thought they’d make a system without an L/R button, but it’s good to see. I was also very impressed with the analog sticks doubling as an amiibo scanner. I was even more impressed with the controllers’ hidden ability to sense distance, weight, and gestures — a fascinating feature that I’m interested in seeing how it’s implemented. Furthermore, 2.5 to 6 hour battery life for the Switch gamepad depending on stress is very reasonable. True, 2.5 is very low but I assume you’d have to do a lot to get it down to that point. Worst comes to worst, you can always use the battery packs.

All in all, I was very impressed with the Joy-Con controllers, except for one minor detail. I said it before and I’ll say it now: those things look way too small for horizontal gameplay (at least on their own). I know I shouldn’t judge it without holding it in my hands, since every Nintendo controller looks weird until you try it, but it just looks like it’ll give me hand cramps. I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out one day.

There was a huge misstep in terms of the system info, however. One glaring bit of information that was just left out of the equation: the specs. Oh yeah, that thing. Not a lick of information was said of the system’s horsepower; at least not at the conference. All we got was that the graphics are clearly underpowered compared to the PS4 and Xbox One (for obvious reasons) and that the system will (finally) be region free. It’s probably my biggest gripe with the show, especially since the console is coming out in less than 3 months and we still don’t know what’s inside the machine.

 

Exhibit B: The Games

Now for the bread and butter of any game system. The thing I was most excited to see throughout the conference were the new and somewhat familiar titles coming in the Switch’s first year.

Like most everyone else, my most anticipated game for the Switch is now Super Mario Odyssey, that game I was starting to believe was a mere tech demo. I’ll admit that I hadn’t been entirely into a Mario game since Galaxy 2, and this is the shot in the arm I believe the main series has needed for a while. That blend of Galaxy and Super Mario 64 is freaking brilliant. And putting Mario in the real world New York…weird, but still awesome. Not to mention that they gave Mario a cool new ability which I like to call the “hat trick”. It’s always good to see a new addition to the Mario formula. The only downside is that I’ll have to wait a while before I play it.

Aside from the new Mario, we got a ton of clarity on the games seen during the Switch’s launch trailer. Of the games teased back in October, the only game we didn’t hear a peep about was NBA 2K17, but that’s only because Take-Two is actually bring NBA 2K18 to the Switch. In addition, Bethesda’s retraction of Skyrim has turned out to be merely a psych out, as that is also coming to the Switch. (Portable Skyrim? Very interesting). Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, complete with Splatoon add-ons, new tracks, all the DLC characters, and the the new feather item, will be among the first Wii U ports to come to the system, while what I thought was going to be the Splatoon port turned out to be Splatoon 2. So far so good.

We also finally got word on when Zelda: Breath of the Wild comes out. Even though I’m not the biggest Zelda fan in the world — I’m working on it — I’m very pleased to see the game as a launch title; if for no other reason than to see the fans so happy.

As far as new games, Nintendo’s website is currently listing 35 titles coming to the Switch between Spring and Holiday 2017. That’s a fantastic number of games, but unfortunately here’s where I come to one of my grievances with the conference. While I totally understand that it’s unreasonable to expect all 35 games to be showcased at the event, the amount of games they did show was still kinda low considering. I have nothing against 1-2-Switch and Arms, but they spent way too much time harping on both of those games when they could easily fit another game trailer or two into the schedule. Don’t even get me started on Zelda.

“Hey, when’s Zelda coming out?”

“I don’t know. Ask him.”

“Okay! Hey, when’s Zelda coming out?”

“I don’t know maybe he knows.”

Out with it already! I don’t need the theatrics for a game we’ve known about for 3 years now. Give me more new stuff in the same vain as Xenoblade 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors. Again, nothing against Zelda, but there are so many show-worthy games to show. I mean the Switch is going to have Bomberman, Disgaea 5, Ultra Street Fighter II, Project Sonic 2017, and Minecraft. Need I remind you that these games will also be portable? Tell me about those, too!

 

Exhibit C: Extras (& Verdict)

I decided to add a third section dedicated to the external announcements and things that didn’t fit the other sections.

For one, there’s the announcement of Nintendo’s new online service. Nintendo is apparently dedicated to finally evolving its online game… game. There aren’t a ton of details about this yet, but we do know that it’s a paid service which will run free up until Fall. We don’t currently know how much it’ll cost, when the service becomes pay-for, or what features it will have. It is currently rumored that there will also be a free game promotion along the same lines as PS Plus and Games for Gold, where Virtual Console games will be offered monthly. If that’s true, that’s a fantastic idea. They’ve technically done this before back when Club Nintendo was a thing, so I’d love to see that idea revisited.

Speaking of online play, Nintendo seems to be also taking two big steps. They openly mentioned the system will support voice chat, something they’ve been very hesitant on in the past. They also showed off the Joy-Con controllers’ Share button, which can take screenshots and eventual recorded video of your gameplay to post online. Maybe this means Nintendo is finally letting up on their YouTube revenue program that’s been the thorn in content creators sides for years. Both are very big and much needed additions to Nintendo’s repertoire. I won’t get my hopes up either feature as Nintendo didn’t explicitly say either will be what we expect, but I’m hopeful nonetheless.

Lastly, there’s the very controversial matter of the Joy-Con controllers. Holy crap, they’re expensive! $50 for a spare L or R Joy-Con, $80 for a new set of both, $70 for a Switch Pro controller. My advice, don’t ever break or lose your Joy-Con controllers. I get it if you want a different colored one, but I’m sure if you give it time there will be online places willing to do paint jobs to achieve the same effect. I’ll be first in line for that kind of thing.

Overall, I’m very excited for the Nintendo Switch. I was already sold on the concept back in October, but this presentation really solidified my excitement for the system. This may have admittedly not been the best conference ever. There’s still a ton of important details left unsaid, and I wish they had utilized their time with less fluff in order to showcase as many games as possible. However, I’m sure, or at least hopeful, that we’ll be getting some of those remaining details in the near future.

What do you think of the Nintendo Switch so far? Did you like the presentation? What games are you looking forward to most? Let me know in the comments so we can discuss them together!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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