When it comes to an ability to produce technological innovations in the entertainment industry, few can come remotely close to Nintendo and their penchant for uniqueness. This drive to be different has given birth to their newest system, the Nintendo Switch. Here is a closer look at how their new modular hybrid device is a technological game changer, influencing not just how we might look at portable and home console gaming, but hybrid devices in general.
Now You’re Playing With Power… Hybrid Power
The selling point of the Nintendo Switch is its ability to seamlessly transform from a home gaming console into a portable system, allowing for unprecedented freedom and a variety of play styles. The hardware is entirely contained within the main console, which is essentially a tablet with a capacitive touch display. Modular controllers, called Joy-Con, can slide onto either side of this main tablet device along rails, locking into place to form a powerful portable gaming system. However, the Nintendo Switch also includes a dock that the main console can be slid into at any time, connecting via USB Type-C and transmitting the video and audio signal to any TV connected via an HDMI connection to the dock. At this point, the Joy-Con controllers can be detached from the main console and placed into an included grip accessory that allows them to function as a single traditional wireless gaming controller. It is truly a portable system with the power of a home console, something that consumers have been clamouring for.
Innovation Through Unification
The Switch’s hybrid nature allows for Nintendo to move away from the traditional practice of developing for separate portable and home console systems, merging their development into one consistent product flow in support of a single device that satisfies both audiences. The days of waiting for an exciting new title to arrive for one system while another receives great new content are over, and as a result you can expect the Switch to boast an incredible library in even a year from now. Incredible titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mariokart 8 Deluxe, Disgaea 5, and many others are already available, and sure million-sellers such as Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, Arms, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are still to come within this first year alone. With a high game attach rate and Switch owners buying multiple titles, Nintendo has a money-printing machine on its hands once again so long as the flow of high quality titles doesn’t dry up.
Highly Accessible Technology
The Nintendo Switch can be played in a variety of ways. Aside from the docked and portable modes already detailed, the system includes a built-in kickstand that can retract when away from the dock. Players can remove the Joy-Con controllers from either side and give one to a friend, with each left and right half capable of fully functioning as an independent controller. This allows for two-player gaming right out of the box, something that hasn’t been seen in many years. For example, players can travel with a friend on an airplane with their Switch console in portable mode, detach the Joy-Con controllers and instantly enjoy split-screen races in Mariokart 8 Deluxe. For those unable to crouch over a traditional controller for long periods, the Joy-Con controllers can be detached and still used separately in either hand, allowing for vastly increased comfort and muscle relaxation. The Joy-Con themselves pack a lot of punch, featuring everything from motion controls adopted from the hugely popular Wii era, HD Rumble, NFC, and a motion IR camera to track movements. Combined, these features and play styles make Switch the gaming industry’s most easily accessible and consumer-friendly system on the market. Expect copycats.
The Nintendo Switch, in essence, is what the gaming and tech industry needs: An evolutionary system that isn’t afraid to shatter expectations and break free from pre-established confines. In that sense, it is one of the most innovative and impactful pieces of consumer technology in years.
Some of us just might not realize it yet.