It took longer than anyone expected, but Nintendo has finally pulled back the curtain on its next video game console, the Nintendo Switch. It’s a great looking device that could solve a lot of problems for the Mario company — assuming its released to an eager public. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about the console.
The Switch is slated to launch in March 2017, so here’s hoping Nintendo gives us the answers sooner rather than later.
1. What other games are in the works?
Since a piece of gaming hardware is only as appealing as the games it offers, this is a huge question. Now that Nintendo’s console and handheld teams are working on games for a single device, I’m sure Nintendo has plenty of games in the works. To get people excited about the Switch, the company has to unveil some heavy hitters before it comes out. Here’s the lineup we know we can expect on the Switch.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – We already knew the next Zelda game was making its way to the Switch (along with the Wii U), so this isn’t a surprise. But it’s shaping up to be an great looking open-world action game, which should make fans happy. You can read more about the upcoming Zelda game here.
Mario – Who doesn’t love a new 3D Mario game? It’s not surprising that we’ll get one, seeing as the Italian plumber has appeared on all Nintendo consoles, but it’s good to see anyway. We hardly know anything about it, but I’m sure Nintendo will give us more information in the coming months.
Splatoon – Nintendo’s kid-friendly online “shooter” is coming to the Switch. In case you missed it on the Wii U, it’s a team-based game in which players try to coat the entire stage with their color of paint.
Mario Kart 8 – Looks like one of the best games of the Wii U is making the jump to the Switch. Internet sleuths have pointed out that, unlike the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8, the Switch version has King Boo and offers players two item slots instead of one.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – A portable version of Skyrim? Sign me up. It’s unclear whether this is the original game or the remastered edition, but taking an enormous open-world RPG like this on the go could be a game-changer.
NBA 2K17 – Sports fans can get their game on thanks to NBA 2K17, a basketball sim that received high praise from critics and players alike when it launched in September.
Just Dance 2017 – This energetic music game has you cut a rug in time with an eclectic playlist of pop hits. The series tend to be good party games, and a fun way to exercise. As an interesting side-note, this game is also moving to Wii and Wii U, making it one of the only games ever to span three console generations.
That’s definitely a good start, but I’m hoping for a new Metroid, and some fresh new franchises.
2. How long is the battery life?
If the Nintendo Switch can pump out gorgeous open-world games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I have to wonder how long it can run off of a battery when being used on the go. Rendering that big of a world is no small task for a piece of hardware, which means it requires a significant power source.
The makers of any handheld electronic device have to find a middle ground between power and battery life. A bigger battery offers more play time, but it adds bulk and weight to the device. A smaller battery makes it easier to carry around with you, but at the cost of total play time on a single charge. Which way will the Switch lean?
3. How much storage will it have?
Although we know Switch games will be available on tiny cartridges, I’m sure Nintendo will offer games in digital downloadable form. Which makes me wonder how much storage the Switch will have. If it can play games as big and gorgeous as the new Zelda, it’s going to need plenty of space to hold all those gigabytes.
Based on the company’s recent gaming devices, it’s likely the Switch will have an expandable storage slot you can stick an SD card in, just like the 3DS. But if games start taking up a couple dozen gigabytes apiece, we’re going to need all the storage space we can get.
4. Will it have a touchscreen?
The 3DS and Wii U both have touchscreens, which makes me think the Switch will continue this tradition. In fact, it’s hard to conceive of a portable electronic device in 2017 that comes without a touchscreen. Eurogamer reported on a rumor that said that you’ll be able to play Nintendo’s upcoming mobile games on it, further suggesting it will have a touchscreen of some sort.
Then again, how will you be able to play touchscreen-based games if the screen portion of the Switch is docked in your entertainment stand? Much still remains to be seen.
5. Will it require a data plan?
By the same measure, since it’s possible the Switch will be able to play Nintendo’s mobile games, how will they work when you’re out and about unless it can use over-the-air data? Nintendo’s first app, Miitomo, doesn’t work at all unless you’re connected to the internet. The same goes for Pokémon GO, a game that’s all about using an internet connection when you’re out exploring the real world. Will we have to pay our cell phone carriers an additional fee each month to connect our Switches while we’re gaming on the go? I hope not, but it seems possible.
6. How much will the Nintendo Switch cost?
Nintendo has always tried to appeal to casual consumers, people who don’t necessarily want to spend a ton of money on a gaming device. That means there’s a limit to how much Nintendo can charge for the Switch. My guess is that it would have to come in at or under the $300 mark, and preferably even less than that.
But considering a portable device with all the horsepower required to play games like the upcoming Zelda, it seem like the Switch could be a pricy proposition.
7. How good will the screen look?
To put it bluntly, the screens on the Wii U and 3DS don’t look so hot. They have low resolutions, with noticeably large pixels, which gives the games a “screen door” effect, as though you’re playing them through a window screen. In an age with microscopic pixels on smartphones and tablets, Nintendo’s existing devices look pretty ancient.
The question is, will Nintendo put a high quality screen on the Switch, or will it go with the fuzzier screens we’ve grown accustomed to from the company?
8. Will the docking station boost the graphics?
One potential way to lower the power load on the battery would be to downgrade the games’ graphics when the Switch isn’t plugged into the docking station. That means games wouldn’t look as sharp or texture-rich when you play on the go, but it would also allow them to look better when you’re playing at home on a big television. Putting some kind of graphic-boosting tech into the docking station would make a lot of sense.