After much speculation, the first Nintendo Direct event for the Nintendo Switch was streamed live on Jan. 12. The president of the Japanese branch of the company, Tatsumi Kimishima, unveiled the console and a selection of games for the upcoming launch later this year. While both the device and the president have a lot to live up to given the legacy of those before them, Kimishima has risen admirably to the task of bringing the industry headfirst into the ninth generation of video games.
Even though the company has seen increasing competition from Sony, Microsoft and mobile gaming in recent years, the Switch aims to build on the successes that helped make Nintendo a household name. The company has had all manner of popular consoles since the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985 and successfully brought portable gaming to the mainstream with the original Game Boy in 1989. With the Switch, the company opts to combine elements of both home and portable gaming in one device when it launches simultaneously in Japan and the U.S. on March 3, of this year.
The console will be able to play games in HD when hooked up to a television via an HDMI cable and a power dock similar to the kind some of Apple’s devices use. It will also serve as a portable console when one has to go somewhere. Even though there are reports of the system using less processing power as a portable device, it can still be used in all manner of public settings. More footage shown in the presentation demonstrates the device can be used anywhere from a family barbeque to a commute to work or school. Each player can take one of two pieces of the device’s controller, the “Joy-Con” to play with in multiplayer, while single-player games can use both parts; the touch screen or an optional Pro Controller accessory.
A wide array of games for the system will also be available at launch, with more to come in the console’s first year on the market. A party game known as “1-2-Switch” will launch on the same day as the console that can show how the console will work with a single game, in a similar vein to “Wii Sports” and the Wii U title “Nintendo Land.” Using one of either piece of the system’s Joy-Con controllers, players will perform a variety of tasks such as a quick-draw shooting contest, displayed in a skit influenced by classic westerns such as “A Fistful of Dollars.”
Another title slated for the near future is a fighting game known as “Arms.” Using both halves of the Joy-Con controller, players will use a combination of the buttons, analog sticks and motion controls to box against an array of cartoonish fighters with extendable arms. The game sports an array of colorful characters, and looks to be a worthy spiritual successor to games such as “Punch-Out” as well as a promising new IP for Nintendo.
Of course, the console will have a healthy assortment of existing franchises as well games from third-party developers who have pledged their support to the Switch. Sega, plans to release new entries in series such as “Sonic the Hedgehog” and the “Shin Megami Tensei” role-playing-game series. Electronic Arts will release new entries in their bestselling sports titles, and Bethesda will give the console its own port of the critical and commercial smash hit “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.”
Many key games such as “Pokémon,” “Super Smash Bros,” and “Mario Kart” are confirmed to have new installments as well as enhanced ports of previous entries in development. The Virtual Console service of games from previous consoles plans to be expanded to include games from the Nintendo Gamecube.
There are also very highly-anticipated new entries in some of Nintendo’s biggest series. After much time in development, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” will launch alongside the console as well as a Wii U version on March 3. The game will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the series as well as introduce the lore of Hyrule to a new generation of fans. A new 3D entry in the Mario series, “Super Mario Odyssey” will launch during the holiday season. The game will see Mario in a variety of new settings from lush jungles to lively cities, as well as a new mechanic of platforming involving the Italian plumber’s iconic hat. Last but not least is a sequel to the surprise Wii U hit competitive shooter “Splatoon,” which will feature a host of new modes and weapons to take part in combat with, as well as a large assortment of colorful clothes and running shoes to customize your “Inklings” with.
While the ninth generation of video games will be one of the most competitive ones to come, Nintendo and Kimishima have risen to the challenge with the Switch. During the presentation, many people from different backgrounds and developers have expressed great interest in taking advantage of the technology the Switch offers. At the tail end, both the president of the US branch of Nintendo, Reggie Fils-Aime and the director of many key “Zelda” titles, Eiji Aonuma, both express great joy for the console and “Breath of the WIld.” With the potential to unite Nintendo’s large and devoted fanbase as well as appeal to a new generation of gamers, the Switch will be quite the console to keep an eye on when it launches on March 3. Now let’s Switch into a new way of playing video games!
Story by Steven Pryor