October 31, 2016
Switching It Up — Nintendo's Next Console Champion
In the last few weeks there have been some interesting announcements from Nintendo. First, Nintendo surprised us by announcing a new edition of the original NES, the NES Classic Edition, which appears as a tiny version of the original console. It comes with 30 pre-installed games and a exact copy of the original controller. The included games are great, but there are some sad omissions, such as: the original Contra, Duck Tales, Tetris. But it does have all of the NES Mario Brothers and Zelda games, as well as Metroid, which for me are the only reasons I need to want one.
And then Nintendo released a teaser trailer for it's next major console, the Nintendo Switch (which had been going under the development name NX for some time). The Switch looks to be just as innovative as the Wii was a decade ago in that it merges the two gaming environments of console and portable into one unit. This separation of console and portable dynamic is largely something that was introduced by Nintendo with the Gameboy as a companion to the NES. Nintendo has long been the dominate factor in mobile gaming, so it's interesting that the Switch will bring these two environments together.
The switch accomplishes this by being a nice looking tablet with detachable controls, which can then be placed into a docking station to connect with a traditional HD television.
I've been a Nintendo fan for most of my life. Although I've only ever owned a few Nintendo systems (the Super Nintendo, the original Gameboy, and the Wii), I've had friends and other family who provided access to other systems such as the NES, the Nintendo 64, and the GameCube. Video games for me allowed me to tap into an imaginative place. And this is something that has long been a real strength of Nintendo, and something that I think takes a back seat to the action of games created by more recent development studios for the traditional console makers. This probably goes back to the philosophy of Nintendo's leadership of making things they love.
The Nintendo Switch will be the first system of the 9th generation of video game consoles, a generation that will not see any real new contestants for some time. That's not to say there's not any competition because Microsoft and Sony are putting out updated versions of their consoles to compete for the traditional gamers attention this holiday. These updated versions are slimer and even more powerful than the previous versions, and they include features such as blueray support.
It's ironic that the term 'traditional gamer' applies to more recent gamers who are drawn to the powerful consoles and action based games. To me the real traditional gamers are the ones who'd feel nostalgic for those old school 8-bit and 16-bit titles from Nintendo and Sega, and those drawn to the fun on Nintendo. A lot of those folks will be having kids of there own, so there is a good opportunity here for Nintendo to tap into that nostalgia for those wanting to provide that kind of fun experience for their kids. As this recent Fruit Loops commercial (which I love) points out, there is a real deep affection for those classic games.
I'm really excited for this new Nintendo system, and I look forward to the exciting games it will offer. In addition to Mario and Zelda, I hope we'll see new Metroid, Contra, Castlevania, Street Fighter. I also hope that content for previous consoles and portable systems will be available via an e-shop. I'd really like to be able to download classics and games I might have missed on recent portable systems and consoles (A Link Between Worlds, New Super Mario Brothers U, Wind Waker HD, Mario Maker, etc).