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Nintendo ‘Switch’ features innovative design, but uncertain potential

The newest gaming console is almost here, Nintendo’s spotty history may harm the console’s success

February 8, 2017

The Nintendo “Switch” is the latest console by the Japanese game development company. This console is set to release March 3, worldwide, millions are eager for the company’s long awaited innovative console, but the question still stands if this this console will be able to contend against the other modern consoles on the market.

The “Switch” continues Nintendo’s philosophy of being more focused on innovation and bringing something people have never seen before to the Gaming Industry. The console has two “nunchuck” controllers, which are separate controllers, each held in one hand. These controllers can click onto a square pad and used remotely for home gaming, or can click, or “switch,” onto a tablet, turning it into a mobile console. The console’s primary selling point is its switching, along with its major first party titles that are launching with the console.

One of the shortcomings for the mobile aspect of the console, is that the battery life of it is approximately 3 hours. This may seem not too inconvenient for those on a city bus or those with lunch breaks at work. But for those who are on long road trips, or plane rides, this 3 hour limit could become very frustrating.

There seems to be clear signs that the “Switch” is the culmination of years of innovation from Nintendo. The “nunchucks” are a more modern and modified variation on the 2006 Nintendo “Wii’s” “nunchuck” and the “Wii-mote” controller, the “Wii-mote” focused almost entirely on motion controls, where players move the controller in one direction, and the character and/or object of the game mirrored that movement. The tablet used for the “Switch’s” mobile features is reminiscent of the “Wii U GamePad,” which served as the primary controller for the 2012 console.

The first launch game for the “Switch” is “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” the long awaited installment of the famous series that looks to be a true return to form for the franchise, dating back to the very first “Zelda” game from 1986. The original “Legend of Zelda” game was famous for its vast exploration, and open world that the player was thrown straight into, with dungeons hidden around the world, and minimal guidance towards the player’s main goal of defeating the evil “Ganon.” “Breath of the Wild” supposedly takes place a century after a massive calamity in the land of Hyrule, which most of the games take place in. This mysterious calamity leaves a ruined Hyrule open for exploration, through far reaching valleys and overgrown and forgotten temples.

The “Switch” doesn’t have any forced on “gimmicks” that have scared away some consumers, though the duel “nunchucks” do have motion controls available for certain games, the motion controls are not required for most of the new games such as “Breath of the Wild” and the to-be-announced “Super Mario Odyssey.” So far, Nintendo has not announced if there will be any use for the tablet aside from its mobile functionality, and the “nunchucks” snapping onto the tablet could make on-the-go gaming an interesting experience for gamers.

Though Nintendo does create video games, its focus audience has not always been pure gamers, entirely. The 2006 “Wii” was aimed towards a much larger audience: kids, adults, elders, and gamers alike. They developed games such as “Wii Sports” and “Wii Fitness” with the idea in mind that a grandparent could pick up the controller and have just as much fun as a child playing “Mario.”

This idea led to a massive success with the “Wii,” by 2007, the NPD Group, which specialize in reporting on worldwide sales and industry analyses, reported that the “Wii” had sold 10.8 million units in the U.S. alone. The “Wii” became the fastest selling “next-generation” console, surpassing Microsoft’s “Xbox 360” and Sony’s “PlayStation 3.” As of 2016, the console has sold 101.63 million consoles worldwide.

The 2012 “Wii U” was a far less successful console, shipping only 3.5 million units worldwide by 2013, and about 96 million worldwide as of 2016. A cause to this less impressive release has been mainly pointed at the console’s title. “Wii U” was largely mistaken as just an extension of the “Wii,” rather than a brand new console.

The “Wii’s” success, however, was considered because of Nintendo’s then-CEO, Sotaru Iwata, now deceased. Iwata turned the company’s focus towards innovation and “pure fun,” rather than trying to compete with the other company’s modern graphics and abundance of Third Party titles. Third Party titles are games created from developers not owned by the company’s who make the consoles those games are sold on.

Iwata was a well respected businessman and became beloved by the gaming community throughout his time as Nintendo’s CEO, until his passing in 2015. He coined the famous quote, “On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” Iwata died from complications with a bile duct tumor, but Nintendo carries on his philosophy of mass market appeal and unique technological innovation, that Nintendo still believes has saved the company many times from economical collapse.

The Nintendo “Switch” is just on the horizon, and whether it will push the Industry forward, or just be another luke-warm Nintendo console, has yet to be seen.

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