Nintendo’s legacy will eventually be summed up in a single word: refreshing. They’re obviously legendary in many respects and the origins of what many would consider classical video gaming. And many times they are just as innovative as they are wayward, but whatever Nintendo brings to the table, it is always guaranteed to be exactly that: refreshing. Breaking from the dull roar of capitalistic competition, shirking the industrial badge of one-upmanship.
To wit, last night’s Nintendo Switch event. Developers had already reached electric peak of their emotional spectrum with “cautiously optimistic” and the general public was just anticipating finally getting a hard date on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But Nintendo, in classic Japanese stoicism, knew all this, and seemingly had a measured response to each and more.
The Switch in general, actually, feels like a fully considered device, both as a tempered reaction to their past failings and the trends of the current industry. And you can see that either in their archived presentation live-stream or in the collection of news and trailer below. So let’s get into everything you missed from last night.
Launches March 3 for $299.99
There’s your worldwide launch date and launch price. That’s what you really care about, right? But good news because we also have tech specs to share with you. The Switch features a 6.2-inch 720p capacitive touchscreen (I guess someone finally told them resistive screens are like interacting with hard tofu) but will output full 1080p when docked and hooked up to an external display through HDMI. Internal storage is a bit disappointing at 32GB when the lowest the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 go is 500GB, though that’s expandable via a Micro SD slot.
Although games will come on physical GameCards, so it’s not as big of a deal as it could be. Super interesting is the 802.11ac Wi-Fi, allowing up to eight Switches to connect for local multiplayer. And as for the actual guts, all we know is that it’s a custom Nvidia Tegra SOC, so wait for the eventual barbarous teardowns to find out what actually makes this thing tick, I guess.
Battery life, charged through a USB-C port, is advertised as six hours, though that varies on your given activity. Playing Breath of the Wild, for instance, will only net you three hours. And it won’t be region-locked at all, meaning you can buy and play games from any region without having to jump through any arcane homebrew hoops. You can also buy a separate dock (with an AC adapter and HDMI cable) for $90.
What an absolute curiosity. They’re a little bit avant-garde, a little old school, and a lot weird. You can either hook them up to the Switch and use them in a modern dual stick configuration (replete with a button dedicated to capturing screenshots and, eventually, video) or break them apart for two individual controllers that are more akin to a SNES one if the D-pad was an analog stick.
Embedded in each one is haptic “HD Rumble” feedback—which is supposedly advanced enough to give the sensation of individual ice cubes falling into a glass—and an accelerometer-gyroscope combo for Wii-like motion controls. And you can see on the bottom of the right Joy-Con an IR motion camera that can recognize objects (the example Nintendo gave was playing rock-paper-scissors) while the left Joy-Con has NFC built into it for Amiibo support.
Oh, and there will be wrist straps so don’t worry about flinging one of these bad boys into your new 4K display or potted plant or whatever else you have in your home, shit, I don’t know you. They’re included with every Switch or you can buy them at $80 for a pair of $50 for just one. Extra grips that charge and combine your Joy-Cons are $30 while the Pro Controller (a more traditional controller) is $70. Also no, you’re not crazy; these accessories are stupid expensive.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — March 3
Let’s be honest, though. This is really what you came here for. We as a collective people have been looking forward to this before we even knew the Switch was a thing. And for many, many reasons beyond that, this most likely will be the make-or-break launch title for the console.
That makes its unknown nature even more exciting and terrifying. It’s fully voiced, it contains a fair amount of survival gameplay mechanics, and it’s going for a surprising emotional and melancholy story. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be excited. It’s just that there’s a lot hanging in the balance here and that’s kind of scary.
Fire Emblem Warriors — Q4 2017
The definition of a tease. We got the studios working on it, which are Team Ninja of Ninja Gaiden fame and Omega Force of Dynasty Warriors, uh, notoriety, and a release window. And, I guess, a glimpse of Marth, for what that’s worth.
I’ll try to be neutral to optimistic about this, but Dynasty Warriors (and Hyrule Warriors) was never my particular jam. That sort of hack and slash gameplay just never quite intrigued me, but I guess the idea of these two studios smashing together their specialities is rather interesting. I like the idea of a speedier, more intricate mass brawler. We’ll have to see this holiday season when it releases.
1-2 Switch — March 3
And here’s the requisite party game. Not that I’m bashing on the concept. Trust me, I put in more than enough hours into Wii Sports et al. to know that I love a good party game. And this one, much like the others, is designed to be a collection of showcase pieces for what this new technology is capable of, which in this case is ad hoc, interpersonal multiplayer games.
By that, I mean you will be looking at each other rather than the screen. A lot of it actually looks rather familiar (of course there’s fucking tennis—err, not fucking tennis, but fucking tenn—whatever, you get it), but there’s also a quickdraw thing and some sort of clown-based Johann Sebastian Joust clone and, uh, shaving? Office job simulator? Good god is Nintendo weird sometimes.
Arms — Q2 2017
You know what, after Splatoon, I have absolutely full confidence in Nintendo making a silly-looking game truly competitive and engaging while being full of the traditional mirth they specialize in. This is expressly a fighting game, which is a genre they haven’t really had much success in. But the concept is rather fun in absurdly motion-controlled combat.
I will say, however, the best and especially accurate roast I’ve heard about this is “If you ever asked, ‘What if Wii boxing was actually fun,’ then Nintendo’s ARMS is your answer” from Engadget. So, yeah, be sure to remember that reality is also a thing.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 — 2017
The first Xenoblade Chronicles back in 2012 (I guess it more accurately came out first in Japan in 2010, but whatever) was so far up my alley it was all the way across the street. The box art alone was enough to get my inner JRPG/anime heart beating—obviously with superfluous use of action lines and kawaii eyes. What an unbelievably expansive and full and rewarding world to explore and live in for 100+ hours.
Enter Xenoblade Chronicles 2, an unexpected announcement but a very, very welcome one. And based on this trailer, it will have an even bigger world, one full of sky cities, friendly critter, angry critters, and god damn monstrously gigantic critters. Oh, and most importantly, bonkers swords. Just give it to me already.
Super Mario Odyssey — Q4 2017
Wow, okay, so there’s a lot to digest here. For one, we haven’t had a full-on 3D Mario game since 2010’s Super Mario Galaxy 2. Second, he’s not in the Mushroom Kingdom and more like in some sort of Manhattan facsimile full of, like, real god damn people and not adorably anthropomorphic mushrooms. And third, what in the world does an open world “sandbox-style” Mario game look like?
None of those are bad things to ruminate on. It’s just that this is as exciting as it is bewildering, and it is a lot of both of those things. It’s not even a desire to know more; it has become a necessity. But also sweet fuck does this thing look gorgeous. Also, New Donk City, y’all.
Splatoon 2 — Q2 2017
Splatoon was mega dope. Now there’s going to be a Splatoon 2. What else do you need to know?
Super Bomberman R — March 2017
Has the world been clamoring for a new Bomberman game? Who knows. I sure as hell don’t. But that doesn’t mean a new one won’t be welcome. To tell you the truth, Bomberman 64 probably got the most play out of any N64 game. Even more than Goldeneye. Its multiplayer held so many secrets and nuances that many people simply missed out on for the base understanding of a traditional Bomberman works.
And the single-player campaign was actually pretty good. I fully embrace all the criticism surrounding it for it’s all valid, but I personally found a way to look past it all and have been secretly harboring a deep, profound love for it for the past 20 years. (Fuck, it’s been 20 years.)
Puyo Puyo Tetris — Q2 2017
Did you ever play Tetris Battle Gaiden? No? Not surprising, but you’re doing yourself a disservice. Catch a bit of Giant Bomb’s (prolific) coverage of the game and realize the truth: Tetris, ostensibly the only perfect game to ever be made, can actually be improved with Japanese menus, cartoon characters, and power-up attacks that ruin your opponent’s board.
That should open you up to the idea of Puyo Puyo Tetris, a mashup of Tetris and the Puyo Puyo series. The game mode can switch at any time and bring about a new set of rules while utilizing the same sort of attack mentality that Tetris Battle Gaiden had. Sounds pretty dang good to me, guys.
Sonic Mania — Q2 2017
One thing the trailer skips over in the history of Sonic is that for a long, long time, it was complete and unrepentant trash. But I suppose that’s also the whole idea behind Sonic Mania, an unapologetic throwback to the style and gameplay that made the hedgehog a household name in the first place.
It’s a blend of classics like Green Hill Zone and a whole bunch of new levels and worlds. Also a new move, which got a strange amount of screen time in this trailer. That was pretty weird. But I guess when there’s only so much to show off, it comes down to just filling time.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe — April 28
Yeah, okay, Mario Kart 8 was pretty great when it came out. In fact, it was one of the best games on the Wii U. But you know what I really want? A new Mario Kart game straight up. Some sort of new twist on the kart racing formula that fully takes advantage of what the Switch has to offer.
I’m assuming that’s coming eventually. Every Nintendo console has to hit every franchise milestone at some point or another. Just wait until Mario and Sonic team up again for the Olympics.
Redout — Q2 2017
Wooo nelly. I am way into this. This is a speedy, hyperactive, futuristic throwback to the likes of F-Zero and Wipeout and the other speedy, hyperactive, futuristic racers that helped make Nintendo a heavy hitter of top titles. It also doesn’t hurt that some parts of this trailer make me think of Thumper, which is perhaps the best representation of velocity-induced madness we have to date.
Project Octopath Traveler — TBA
Whoa, now there’s a bonkers art style. It looks a bit like 3D Dot Game Heroes and Dragon Quest Builders with a splash of Paper Mario stretch out over the fundaments of a Final Fantasy. Yeah, I’m way into it.
I Am Setsuna — March 2017
Now you have no reason to miss out on I Am Setsuna, a pretty dang good RPG that you probably didn’t play when it came out last July. Sure, it had problems and sacrificed on a few points to really stick the landing on others, but it ended up being a fantastic bit of nostalgic role-playing. When this thing rolls around on the Switch, you should probably give it a jangle.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — Q3 2017
Yeah, sure, why not.