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Nintendo Switch Is Everything but the Kitchen Sink, but Its Launch Game Lineup Looks Thin

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 10.21.36 AM

Nintendo finally pulled back the curtain on the Switch hardware’s full capabilities last night, and it’s got a lot of very different capabilities (though their presentation itself betrayed the fact that they’re not entirely new ones). Meanwhile, they showed off just a few new games, though they touted 50 developers working on 80 different games.

First, the hardware features and other details that were confirmed:

-Joy-Con controllers have motion control abilities like the Wii Remote.

-One half of a pair of controllers features an IR camera that can track objects, detect their distance, and read hand signals—think “rock, paper, scissors.”

-The system’s built-in screen is a capacitive touchscreen.

-The controllers feature “HD rumble” and Amiibo functionality.

-They also have hidden shoulder buttons where they connect to the grip, which gives them extra buttons to make them full controllers when used individually for multiplayer.

-The battery life is expected to range from 2.5 to 6 hours depending on the demands of individual games.

-The controllers come with attachments that make them slightly wider when used individually, as well as adding a Wii Remote-like wrist strap.

-Controllers have a button for screenshot capture and (eventually) gameplay video recording.

-Most online features, including online gameplay, will be paid services after a trial period that starts at the console’s launch and runs through fall 2017.

-Online game lobbies and communication will be handled through a smartphone app.

-The online play subscribers will be able to download and play one classic NES or SNES game per month.

-The Switch will launch on March 3, 2017.

-The system, including a set of Joy-Con, the wrist strap rails, the grip to make them like a normal controller, a dock, the console itself, and an HDMI cord will set you back $299.99.

The software that was shown or announced:

Super Mario Odyssey (trailer)

Splatoon 2 (trailer)

-A new Shin Megami Tensei

-A new SquareEnix RPG currently called “Project Octopath Traveller”

1-2-Switch (Seemingly a Wii Sports-like party oriented, tech demo-y title. Trailer.)

Arms (trailer)

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (with a brand new trailer featuring some voice acting)

Skyrim

Fire Emblem Warriors (trailer)

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (trailer)

-A new Fifa game

-A compilation video featuring games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a Sonic game, and more (trailer)

That’s a lot of information to take in, and there’s a lot to be excited about with the Switch—those tiny controllers are certainly packing a lot of tech—but there are also a few reasons to have some reservations. First, all the hardware features are things we’ve seen before, as the presentation opened by explaining how they each evolved from past Nintendo’s systems. The IR camera is new, but everything else has been done before, and the touch screen is only available if the system is being used as a handheld, likely making it impractical to apply to most games.

Then, the games: only a handful of them will be available on launch day or within the launch window, with the software lineup still mostly headlined by Zelda until Mario Odyssey arrives during 2017’s holiday season. Here’s what we know about so far (via Polygon):

Launch day:

1-2-Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Skylanders Imaginators
Just Dance 2017

2017:

Has Been Heroes (March 2017)
I am Setsuna (March 2017)
Sonic Mania (Spring 2017)
Lego City Undercover (Spring 2017)
Arms (Spring 2017)
Super Bomberman R (March 2017)
Snipperclips: Cut it Out, Together! (March 2017)
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (April 28, 2017)
Splatoon 2 (Summer 2017)
NBA 2K18 (September 2017)
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Fall 2017)
Super Mario Odyssey (Holiday 2017)

That’s not a whole lot of games over the course of the year, and it’s certainly not a lot that you won’t be able to get on other systems. Though there are absolutely many more games in the works according to Nintendo’s own given numbers, it remains to be seen which of those will be must-have exclusives on a system that costs the same as—or more than—the base model PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S.

Aside from that, relegating common online gameplay features to a smartphone app sounds unnecessarily complicated and isn’t reassuring of the fact that Nintendo’s understanding of online gaming has vastly improved.

On the other hand, Breath of the Wild looks awesome so far, Arms looks solidly fun, the new Mario game promises to bring back the sandbox feel of Mario 64 and Sunshine (despite not arriving until the holidays), and strong 3rd party support is a good sign if it follows through, despite being more of a basic necessity than a special feature. Breath of the Wild might not have been enough to revive the Wii U, but that system’s low sales mean there are plenty of players out there who’d need to buy a new system to play it, and that combined with the Switch’s novelty might make for a more compelling selling point than either the console or game would separately.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be an interesting year for Nintendo.

(image via Nintendo)

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Dan is a video game modding hobbyist and secret ninja who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa Brown, and his dog, Liz Lemon, both of whom are the best.