Getting Ready for the Nintendo Switch

nintendo switch
Nintendo Switch/WikiCommons

Announced October 20 2016 with an expected March 2017 release, the Switch––a hybrid home and portable gaming console––is Nintendo’s seventh major video game console release.

The console itself is not unlike a tablet in its design. The physical interface of the unit is sleek and uncluttered, consisting primarily of one large widescreen display. Two included wireless controllers, or “Joy-Cons”, can be attached to the side of the console in portable mode, while playing the Switch in ‘docked’ mode offers a more traditional home console gaming experience.

“The Switch has a flexible idea of controllers”, Scott Stein of CNET writes, detailing the numerous ways the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers can be utilized, from  “…[functioning as] side pieces [that] slide onto the edges of the Switch tablet, adding four buttons and an analog stick on each side, plus shoulder buttons” to something functionally akin to “…standalone Wii remote-like controllers [that are] held sideways to play games” after being detached from the Switch’s tablet interface.  

“The Joy-Con controllers also slide into another accessory, the Joy-Con Grip, turning them into a full controller separate from the tablet”, Stein writes.

And that may not be all; GameStop CEO Paul Raines seems to have recently confirmed the inclusion of motion controls in an investor’s call wherein he discussed how “…the console’s features have the potential to expand the gaming audience in a similar way to the Nintendo Wii”, Joe Skrebels of IGN reports.

A movement-related game is more fun for kids, you know, taking those accessories off”, Raines said,”…[the detachable Joy-Con pads] – you can really do a lot of interesting things with that in gameplay.”

While support for motion controls remains unconfirmed, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, seeing as how both the Wii and Wii U consoles featured extensive motion control support.

Nintendo representatives remain tight-lipped on the majority of the console’s specific technical details, though it’s been confirmed that the Nvidia Corporation has developed a customized, proprietary processor for the console.

“[the] Nintendo Switch is powered by the performance of the custom Tegra processor”, said Ashish Karandikar, vice president of Hardware Engineering at NVIDIA. “…[a] high-efficiency scalable processor [that] includes an NVIDIA GPU based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards.”

Nintendo_Switch_Logo
Nintendo Switch Logo/WikiCommons

Karandikar stated that Nvidia focused on both hardware and software optimization while developing the processor, including “…custom operating system integration with the GPU to increase both performance and efficiency.”

Some of the additional features of the Switch’s Tegra processor include a “…revamped physics engine” and “…advanced game tools and libraries”. Karandikar also noted that NVIDIA “…created new gaming APIs to fully harness this performance in the interest of delivering “…lightweight, fast gaming to the masses.”

According to Gamespot, based on the available information, it’s possible that the custom processor will be “…based on Nvidia’s Pascal architecture, which is used to power the company’s current crop of GeForce 10-series GPUs”, Jimmy Thang, staff writer, reported.

While much remains unknown regarding the technical capabilities of the system, since “…the Switch is based off of a low-power instruction set that’s typically designed for mobile devices”, gamers “…probably shouldn’t expect it to outperform the PS4 or Xbox One”, Thang wrote.

Seeing as how Nintendo has focused primarily on innovation and experimentation with their home consoles since the Wii’s release a decade ago, the possibility that the Switch won’t be in a position to technically outperform Sony and Microsoft’s respective consoles should hardly come as a surprise.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been confirmed for the Switch via the official launch trailer. Both the Wii U and Switch versions of the game were scheduled for a simultaneous release in March 2017, but according to a staff writer for iTechPost, “several reports have been suggesting that [the game] is not going to be released together with the Switch’s projected release date.”

The only other currently known first-party titles for the system are an unspecified Pokemon game, Mario Kart Switch, and an untitled Mario game which “..is planned as [a] Switch release day title in all territories”, Laura Dale reported in an article for letsplayvideogames.com.

As far as third party titles are concerned, while Bethesda Game Studios has not yet officially confirmed that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be releasing on Nintendo’s newest console, it seems almost certain given the amount of footage of the game shown in the Switch’s reveal trailer. Other third party games include Splatoon Switch, Just Dance 2017, Dragon Quest X, Dragon Quest XI, an untitled Sonic the Hedgehog game and an untitled Steamworld game.

More information is scheduled to be unveiled at a press event on January 12, 2017.

News of the press event, which will be streamed live across the globe, was delivered by Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima on October 26. The event will “…include [the official] launch date, pricing for the system, and details regarding the lineup of games currently in development”, Jose Otero of IGN reported.

 

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