Technology news: Nintendo Switch preview

Recently the highly anticipated Nintendo project, the “NX”, emerged from its chrysalis as the brand new butterfly that is the Nintendo Switch. Information has been leaking out for a while now, so I’m going to try and collate everything I’ve heard so far and give the best preview of what this new console is actually going to be.

The Switch itself is not a console but is in fact an LCD tablet style device (called the “Switch Console” by Nintendo) that functions both as a portable gaming system and an at home entertainment system, the latter of the two being accomplished via a docking station that the LCD screen slots into and that has HDMI output to your TV. The Screen itself is 6.2 inch has a resolution of 720p and will have a multi-touch screen, like a modern tablet, instead of the resistive touch screens of the Wii-U and 3DS.

This means that the tablet itself will be responsible for all the power of the system with certain leaks at the moment giving the unit around 4GB of RAM, that’s around half that of an Xbox One or PS4 and is more in the region of modern smart phones and tablets. This of course may seem pretty low to start with but when you look at what Nintendo has done before with less powerful units then it’s hard to stay worried, on top of that when you consider the kind of gaming you can do on modern smartphones and then take away all the phone multitasking that the Switch won’t have to do and its ability should grow exponentially. Apart from that not much is known about technical specs except that it uses a custom chip from the Nvidia Tegra series and utilises an entirely new API (Application programming interface) called NVN that according to Nvidia “was built specifically to bring lightweight, fast gaming to the masses”.

Next is the controllers, and in my opinion this is where the Switch starts to show where it wants to be in the modern console market. In the box you will get two Joy-Con controllers which whilst small in stature are huge in versatility. The controllers themselves are smaller than the old NES controllers and can be used either attached to the sides of the portable screen for mobile gaming or on the sides of the Joy-Con grip to create a larger more traditional gamepad. This isn’t the end though as when using the Switch as a portable you’ll not only be able to use them attached to the sides but also freely with one Joy-Con in each hand allowing you to place the screen on a flat surface (via the kickstand) and sit back and play, also with the Joy-Cons loose you can play multiplayer games with each person using one controller to play games like Mario Kart and Hopefully a new Super Smash Bros. Of course you can use the controllers in the same way in the console form but will also be able to get a Pro gamepad which resembles the ones you could get for the Wii and Wii-U, this could also be used with the screen when you’re not docked. For me all this versatility really builds the idea of as console that’s more designed to be enjoyed wherever you may be and with whomever you happen to be with and this will undoubtedly separate the Switch from anything that exists.

Other things we know so far is that the Switch will return to Cartridge based games (meaning no physical backwards compatibility) but I’m assuming this was done as a battery saving measure for when you take it out and about. Speaking of battery, rough estimates suggest that when mobile you’ll be looking at around three hours at peak performance (around the same as any portable device when used for heavy gaming) and the unit will come with a USB-C charging point meaning you can juice up whenever you find a power outlet. Memory wise it looks to have either 32GB or 64GB (depending on model?) and this can be boosted via micro SD cards. Also you won’t be able to use the screen and TV image in unison like you would the Wii-U as when the LCD screen is docked most of its surface space is covered by the cradle.

Game wise nothing is completely certain with many of the games they have shown looking like ports of Wii-U titles, there does appear to be a new Mario and Zelda but it isn’t known if they’ll be released on the Wii-U as well. One of the major things is that Nintendo has gained some support from third party developers after it lost most of them in the last console generation; this means that as well as having all the massive Nintendo games the console will also have a selection of the big hitter games which you normally only find on PS4 Xbox and PC.

As of right know this is most of the information I’ve discovered, and I may have missed some in all the excitement of a new Nintendo console and if I have then do of course let me know.

If you’re as excited as I am about this new generation in Nintendo’s storied career then don’t forget to make a note in your calendar for January 12th when they’ll do an online presentation detailing spec price and everything else you need to know.

Author: Hal, Plymouth store