Let’s do this nasty thing!
I’ll just skip over the mediocre and poorly structured press conference and move onto the details, because there is a lot to go through. The Nintendo Switch will debut globally on March 3rd, 2017 for $300. Neither of which were the most popular expectations, but are both reasonable given the technology and system details. First off, the system can indeed be played in TV, tablet, and handheld modes to fit the player’s preference. When portable the system has a pretty mediocre battery life of 2.5-6 hours depending on what is being done, but uses a universal USB-C charger, which lightens the portability issue, albeit slightly.
Joy-Cons are motion control devices as well as functional controller halves with what Nintendo is defining as “HD Rumble”. Multiple variants of Joy-Cons will be made available throughout the system’s launch, including a SKU that features asymmetrical colored Joy-Cons , but both the right and left variants will maintain two functionality differences. The left one will have a dedicated share button for distributing screenshots and video across social media, while the right has an IR motion camera that is also used to scan Amiibo. Along with this, it has been confirmed that the system will have a multi-touch 720p screen, 32GB of internal memory, and support for MicroSD cards with unlimited storage. The system will also be capable of local multiplayer with up to eight Nintendo Switch units.
The online system for the Switch is set to be the most robust and modern of any Nintendo system yet, but unfortunately it will be locked behind a paywall as of fall 2017. While this news alone is crappy considering that online multiplayer should be a right for anybody who buys a modern game console, but things get odder. The explanation here is really poorly worded, but after additional clarification, it was revealed that an NES or SNES will be updated every month to include online features, and that will be made available to subscribers, but only for that month. It is such a roundabout decision that I barely understand the logic behind it.
Oh, but Nintendo’s baffling decisions do not end there, as they issued prices for various Switch accessories. The Pro Controller for the Switch will cost $70, a pair of new Joy-Cons will cost $80, or $50 individually, the charging grip will cost $30, and the Dock, which is just a piece of plastic, wires, and metal, will cost $90. So if you want another Dock, a pair of Joy-Cons, and another charging grip, it will cost you $200, a mere $100 less than buying another system in its entirety.
While I can understand the $300 price point, although it is at the highest level of what I was anticipating, I can’t help but shake my head here. The system is very much built around multiplayer, and expanding it both locally and online. So why is it so gosh darn expensive to do that? Online services are something Nintendo customers have and should have accepted as a given. Controllers should never cost more than a new retail title, which is an exorbitant price as far as I am concerned, and most importantly, it should not cost $90 to conveniently set up a console in another room.
Moving on to line up my irritation and vitrial into one space, the arbitrary gimmicky launch day motion control game for the system has been announced as 1, 2, Switch. A title so impressive that Nintendo did not show any proper gameplay footage alongside it. From what I can tell, the game is a two player minigame collection that lacks the same clarity and longevity of a good minigame collection by making all of these games very simple and short. It does little to inspire confidence in these capabilities, and looks far less appealing than a rebranded and updated Wii Sports… Which Nintendo could have totally done if they wanted to, as the two Joy-Cons can be used like a Wii remote and nunchuk.
Okay, I think that was everything I disliked about the system itself. Switching over to the games, it was revealed that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will indeed meet the launch date expectations some have laid out. While I have major concerns about the game due to the supposed size of the world, the Zelda series has a firm allure that I cannot deny, and having this game begin what will be a new generation for Nintendo, in many ways, signifies good and promising things. I just really, really worry that I will end up not enjoying the game after exploring my tenth square mile of Hyrule and gaining hundreds of arrows that I would have never used.
ARMS is a new IP from Nintendo that takes the form of a one on one fighting game with a cast of character who possess extendable spring-like arms with boxing gloves at the end of them. While I was initially uninterested in the game, I turned around after seeing more than just the initial trailer. The character designs are vibrant and appealing, if a bit archetypical. Despite what was shown, the game can be played with either motion controls or a regular button presses, and even though it’s only a two button fighter, there is some tech on display here. With matchups, loadouts, dodges, air control, combos, strafing,and more. It certainly has promise and whether or not it will live up to that will be seen sometime this spring.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an expanded version of the Wii U original, with a new classic inspired battle mode, new tracks and additional character that bring the Inklings from Splatoon into the mix along with the Animal Crossing and Zelda characters from the Mario Kart 8 DLC. Considering all of the crossovers on display here, I’d actually be surprised if the next installment in this series doesn’t ditch all present and start calling itself Nintendo Kart. Regardless, this game looks like it will be a staple title of the system, as Mario Kart games often are, when it debuts shortly after the launch on April 28th.
Despite rumors that the game was simply just a port, the Splatoon game for Switch was revealed to be a full blown sequel with Splatoon 2… which is an unfortunately simple name considering the potential here. Anyways, the game very much resembles its predecessor, to the point where I actually struggle to see much that differentiates the two beyond 2 having more stuff. New maps, new weapons, new abilities, new outfits, and a whole lot of new content piled onto what had become a very well devised multiplayer shooter, even if it is not a dramatic shake up. Though, I’m sure more distinctions will be made as the game draws closer to its summer 2017 release date.
Super Mario Odyssey is a new 3D Mario game in the same vein as Super Mario 64 and Sunshine that actually left me kind of stunned at how gosh darn wonderful it looked. The game has Mario explore a multitude of worlds based on real life locations, and what was shown certainly runs the thematic gamut with an area that is basically New York, a desert area filled with Day of the Dead inspired characters, and a desert land with a distinct low-poly style. Combined with new abilities like Mario rolling up into a ball, tossing his hat as an attack and platform, or just generally more fluid movements, I’m actually very excited for this game when it launches this upcoming holiday season
In a move that left me surprised, Monolith Software showed off their next game, which went against my initial expectations of a new project of theirs by not only being another Xenoblade title, but a sequel to the original. Yes, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was announced with a string of in-engine footage that offered very little context or information about the game. There are Nippon, a sky whale, ridable animals, a more anime flavored art style with more saturated colors, and a protagonist wearing a goofy outfit. While I am concerned about the game’s scope, and would rather play Xenoblade Chronicles X beforehand, I am looking forward to the game when it is released sometime in 2017.
Snipperclips: Cut it Out Together! is Nintendo’s debut digital title with this system, and it is a 1-4 player puzzle game that involves players either cooperating together by snipping away bits and bits of the geometrically shaped character in order to solve challenges that are not hard in regards to figuring out what to do, but rather in the act of actually doing it. Based on the live demo shown, the game looks to be a massive effort of teamwork or an extreme exercise in griefing. A game that will push friendships to the limit and make for excellent video material. Or in other words, exactly what one would expect from Nintendo. It’s also quite cute to boot.
Moving over to the third party stuff, Puyo Puyo Tetris is not the most interesting release in theory, but this two year old formerly Japan exclusive puzzle game looks to be an immensely loving hybridization and collection of two of the three truly amazing classic puzzle games (the third being Puzzle League aka Tetris Attack). While simple, there are many different modes and offerings included with the game, along with a deluge of multiplayer offerings that might make this one of the more compelling party games I’ve seen in a while. The game is set to release for the Switch and PS4 sometime this spring.
Speaking of party games, Super Bomberman R is the first new entry in the series to land on a dedicated gaming system since the rights for the series were given to Konami, and after over six years of nothing, I kind of expected this series to lay dormant. Instead, the classic franchise returns as 1-8 player endeavor that is at least trying to capture the appeal that kept the series going for nearly three decades. There are some concerns I have, mostly regarding the underwhelming visual style and the fact that the game is being developed by Konami, but I think there is a lot of hope for this title. Whether this game does explosively or simply bombs will be seen when it launches exclusively for the Nintendo Switch on launch.
As for the other exclusive third party offerings for the system, the developers didn’t have much ready for Nintendo’s showing. Atlus announced a new Shin Megami Tensei game for the platform with a CG trailer and not even a proper name for the game. Grasshopper and Suda51 announced a new No More Heroes game for the Switch, but only showed a single piece of concept art of series protagonist Travis Touchdown. While Koei Tecmo, Team Ninja, and Omega Force announced their next venture in creating a Nintendo Musou game with Fire Emblem Warriors, which was announced with a brief CG trailer that showed Marth’s torso along with the titular Fire Emblem. All of these are interesting ideas, but I have no reason to anticipate them as of now.
Square Enix also showed a title that I at least think is an exclusive with Project: Octopath Traveler. The bizarrely named title comes from the people behind the Bravely series, and is an RPG that will follow the lives and stories of multiple characters in a traditional RPG setting. Beyond that though, I’m not sure what this game is suppose to be. Just that is has a unique visual style that makes it look like a shoebox diorama made entirely out of pixel art.
There are a lot of games coming out on the system, and more games I could touch on, but but after looking beyond exclusives like Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers and Fast RMX onto games like Disgaea 5 Complete, New Frontier Days: Founding Pioneers, Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition, Dragon Quest Heroes I & II, Skyrim Special Edition, Has-Been Heroes, I Am Setsuna, and Shovel Knight I gave up. The system is going to have a healthy library going forward, and assuming this pace can be maintained by Nintendo, then I think things are looking up for the Switch.
Besides I’m sure that many more titles will be announced from here on out, whether it be through a variety of Nintendo Directs or the company’s E3 showings. What was here served as simply a taste of what is to come, and barring my issues regarding the subscription fee and the overpriced accessories, I am excited for the system. I am also concerned about the Virtual Console and such, but I’m hoping Nintendo gets everything situated by the time I buy the system. I will likely pick one up before the end of year, but that’s mostly because I want to have a new game system to play after undergoing surgery I hope to have in December 2017.
Moving away from the Switch, the Microsoft published and Platinum Games developed action game, Scalebound, has been canceled. The reasons why were elaborated upon by various news outlets and the reliable Liam Robertson of Unseen64, and it came down to a case of differing ideologies between western and Japanese companies about the game’s direction and how to address certain issues it was facing throughout development. Many of them regarding its performance on Xbox One. This was later worsened when several senior staff left the project to pursue a month long break, which caused the project to fall behind various deadlines
Relationships soured from there until development of the game halted sometime during the fall of 2016. The project is currently in an odd state, with Platinum having an unfinished game that they spent four years developing on their hands. While Microsoft retains the IP, despite having no intention to do anything with it, and going so far as to remove information about the game from their public channels.
Meanwhile, Platinum Games issued an apology over the game’s cancellation, expressing remorse over what happened with this project, and assuring fans they will continue to deliver quality games as time marches on. As for the game’s director, Hideki Kamiya, he was unusually humble when delivering the news, and also denied accusations about him leaving for a month for the sake of their mental health. What exactly happened with this project is currently not clear, but what is clear is that Scalebound will not be released, and that’s a damn shame.
Also a shame is how Guerrilla Cambridge will be shutting down. Yes, the studio responsible for the MediEvil series, the PS Vita shooter Killzone: Mercenary and the recent VR shooter RIGS: Mechanized Combat League will be unfortunately shutting down, and for no discernable reason other than reducing redundancies in Sony Computer Entertainment’s line-ip, whatever that means. Hopefully the developers will find other ventures to explore, as they do appear to be a talent group.
…Oh, and I forgot to include this, but here’s a video detailing the Nintendo Switch’s parental controls with Bowser and his son. It made me smile.