Hubert Burda Media

The Nintendo Switch is the social gaming device you've been waiting for

The Nintendo Switch is the social gaming device you've been waiting for
Hubert Burda Media

The Nintendo Switch is the social gaming device you've been waiting for

Gaming is a booming industry at the moment. In the past year we've seen consoles drop and really take off with incredible success. Possibly the most demanded console of 2016 was the special edition release of the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition, meant to remind '80s kids of their childhood spent playing Legend of Zelda and Mega Man. Of course, vintage-loving hipsters also raced to get their hands on one of these beauties, which led to instant sell-out in stores worldwide and prices climbing as high as $500 online. 

The special edition of the NES Classic, released by Nintendo last year

The special edition of the NES Classic, released by Nintendo last year

If you missed out on that, however, Nintendo's got another toy up its sleeve. It dropped a promotional advertisement of the Switch as well as a press announcement this week, and it looks like the Switch is Gameboy, Wii and a sort of phablet all-in-one. And with this, it’s delivered the peace offering to the many Nintendo fans who felt let down by the Wii’s imperfections. 

Wii Were Wrong
The Wii started out as the future of Nintendo console taken to a social experience, which was entertaining and sometimes good for the odd tennis game or two. But two main issues faced the platform: hardware performance, and a tried and tested set of games that didn’t lead it further. 

Nintendo's Wii system

Nintendo's Wii system

Compared with the PS4 and Xbox One, the Wii U fell far behind in terms of processing capacities. It was bulky, looked more like a toy for under-12s than teens and adults in terms of refinement, and its user-friendliness was questionable. 

Add to that the lack of alternative platform compatible games that the PS4 and Xbox One both possessed, and it made the system even less attractive. Sure, it had plenty of exclusive games, but would you really cough up that much cash just so you could play Mario Kart exclusively? 

The Nintendo Switch console with the Joy-Con controllers

The Nintendo Switch console with the Joy-Con controllers

The Right Switch
The guys at Nintendo appear to have recognised their error: they were trying to do too many things on one thing. Any electronics maker will appreciate the same difficulty of size versus power and when it comes to portability, battery life. 

Instead of trying to create the ultimate all-in-one, the company went for a modular approach with the Switch. The core device is a 6.2” tablet that plays 720p and 4310mAh in-built battery which will keep you going for around 6 hours on a full charge. It has an audio jack, speakers and 32Gb of in-built memory with an SD card slot so you can bring and swop gameplay onto another device without needing to lug around everything if you’re lazy. On the two sides are slots to slide in the controllers, called Joy-Cons, designed for left and right hand grips. If you’re playing against someone using the portable Switch, you’ll need to decide who gets left and right. 

The Switch Dock and Joy-Con Grip system

The Switch Dock and Joy-Con Grip system

When taking it to the big screen, the Dock is what comes into play. It upscales the display to 1080p at 60fps, and works either with the two controllers or you can slide them into a standard controller grip for single or multi-player use. Additional controllers and grips can be purchased separately. You can also connect with multiple Switch consoles for multi-player games. 

Games can be purchased online and downloaded straight to the console. You can even set parental controls to limit and control use of the Switch. Various apps that can be added to your console later in the year will do everything from instant messaging to calendar fixing for joint gaming sessions and more. 

Slide and lock, the Switch goes from multi to single player

Slide and lock, the Switch goes from multi to single player

Should You Switch? 
It’s not meant to replace your PS4, really. Rather, the Switch is designed to combine social interaction with mobility. Given the opportunities for showing off it should be a hit with the younger crowd. But the modular format of the Switch is what wins our thumbs up. All it needs is a data provision (apart from the in-built Wi-Fi) like Amazon’s 3G-enabled Kindles that work anywhere in the world and the Switch could become the first gaming-first, communications-second system that looks good and works well (we hope). At US$299.99 it's a pretty solid buy. If you have a freight forwarding service, pre-order yours today. The Switch will be released March 3, 2017. 

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