Will it work beyond the gimmicky feeling, however? That’s hard to tell this early on. The battery life (3-6 hours, depending on the game) is not exactly stunning. And although you can use it with a USB-C power cord while on-the-go, that could get troublesome if you utilize it for the far more interesting feature: 8-way local multiplayer. This, in fact, is going to be the true benefit of this portability. Wirelessly connecting up to 8 portable home consoles for local multiplayer? This is Nintendo’s strength, something they’re trying to maximize to their full potential with the Switch. In a world where the major game consoles have simply dropped local multiplayer altogether, Nintendo is staying true to that ideal — even if it has to fight that battle alone.
The Nintendo DS touchscreen
This is a pretty cut-and-dry piece of DNA. The Nintendo DS was the first Nintendo console with a touch screen. The company followed that up by including a touch screen on the Wii U Gamepad. Now, it combines the power of a DS with that of the Wii U Gamepad, delivering a capacitive touchscreen similar to what you’ll find with your cell phone. This functionality was not shown off at the Tokyo presentation, and few reports exist of what this looks like in the wild. Hopefully, more details will emerge of how Nintendo hopes to bring this to life in the future.
Motion Control from the Wii
Nintendo is one company that has seemingly hated the idea of the sedentary lifestyle. Most other game consoles have given up that fight with gamers, instead focusing on games that don’t require you to go anywhere. Nintendo has shirked that trend for a long time, and even more so since the early 2000s with the Wii. Now, it continues that trend. The Joy-Cons each possess motion controls, with motion sensors includes and IR sensors similar to those found on Wiimotes. It’s clear Nintendo has no intention of dropping motion control anytime soon.
Off-TV play with the Wii U
The Wii U’s primary distinguishing feature from the Wii, outside of slightly improved graphics, was the Wii U Gamepad. No Nintendo console’s DNA lives more strongly in the Switch than this piece of hardware. Indeed, with the Joy-Cons attached to the tablet device, one wonders why the Wii U’s Gamepad didn’t just look and feel like that in the first place. By comparison, the Wii U gamepad almost looks childish and ancient. Sadly, the Wii U is only a few years older than the Switch, making the Wii U look just as much a sad failure as its sales figures suggest.
A Bright Future — or a Dark One?
Nintendo’s emphasis on the idea that the Switch is a culmination of everything they’ve done so far leads to the idea that this is a last-ditch effort before the company switches more fully to its more solid handheld business. The merging of handheld and consoles certainly makes sense in a more mobile world, but it’s a hard act to pull off given how distinctly different those two worlds are these days on the hardware spectrum. It’s clear Nintendo believes it can bridge that gap in a realistic, powerful way, which, if true, will ultimately change the home console game. It’s been years since Nintendo has shaken up the console market in a realistic way. The Switch may do just that. Or it may be the last nail in the coffin for Nintendo’s struggling home console division.