Friday, October 21, 2016

New(ish) news from Nintendo

New console announcement! The Nintendo Switch.


No! That's not, well, I suppose it makes sense and I see where you could come up with that, but...

On a pedantic, I may be an asshole note (have you listened to the podcast?) Nintendo Switch is a terrible name, just not terrible in the same way Wii-U was. The average parental non-gaming consumer was confused about what the Wii-U was and what it actually did. They will at least understand that the Switch is something new. It's still a stupid name.

Seriously, remember when consoles had good names? Dreamcast. Game Cube. Xbox. At least Sony has the courage to stick with what works, though the jump from PS4 to PS4Pro is going to cause problems for technically handicapped grandparents who want to appear hip without buying nothing but gift cards. 

As a person who follows and plays video games, I had already seen the leaked photos and speculation on what the NX was going to be. I did not at all expect just about everything to be true. It is a console that connects to a television but can also work on its own as a slightly oversized handheld with little baby detachable controllers that will inevitably disappear into the cracks of couches and the back seats of cars.

But is it really new? No. Nintendo has done this before, just in the opposite direction. For years and years Nintendo had two platforms running at the same time: console and handheld. There were great games on both but to play them all you had to own both pieces of hardware. Until you didn't anymore and they released the Super Gameboy for the SNES and later the Gameboy Player for the Game Cube. These were brilliant accessories, especially for people (like me) who had no interest in playing games anywhere other than the couch.

The DS ended this trend, in my opinion intentionally. It offered an experience that could not be duplicated by shoving the same game into is grown up sibling. I do not mean to say that the DS was not a good system, it was, but ugh handhelds is something I will never get past, regardless of the quality of titles it causes me to miss.

Present day Nintendo has one reasonably healthy console with the 3DS (and 2DS) and one console that everyone has forgotten about, including them, the Wii-U. It is a good move to try to bring these two sides together but will the resulting frankenstein's hardware make the loyal to either side happy? Handheld players crave battery life and, well, portability. We will know nothing about battery life for quite some time and the Switch looked a little on the chunky side to me when compared to the Vita or 3DS. Console players want technical parity with Sony and Microsoft, and with both of the grown up companies upping their game (one more than the other) this is just not going to happen.

And don't bring up the graphics aren't important argument. If graphics weren't important Skyrim would not have featured so prominently in the reveal trailer. I call bull shot, anyway, or bull battery, one of the two. Playing Skyrim for half an hour on a full charge does no sound like a good time.

At the very least I understand where Nintendo is coming from and I agree that it is an idea with merit. I do not think that they will be able to pull it off while maintaining a reasonable price point, and since they have already said that the Switch will not break the bank in the same manner everyone expects the Scorpio to do I expect slightly better than Wii-U graphics that I can take with me on an endless quest to find another plug or hot usb port for my 'portable' system.

Which means that I will spend another generation not playing Zelda or Metroid. It's okay, Nintendo, I have gotten used to not having you in my life.  Know, however, that my constant desire to see you abandon your hardware shenanigans and just make games for the real consoles gets darker with each Mario game that I do not get to play. I don't necessarily want to see the Switch fail

but it would amuse me if it did. 

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