Nintendo Switch: Features required for success

The Joy-Con controller for the Nintendo Switch.


Nintendo revealed its new Switch console yesterday, but much the new device remains a mystery.

The console/portable hybrid is coming next March, which seems awfully soon considering how little we know about it here. It’s not a lot. Don’t get us wrong, we’re intrigued by the base ideas of the Switch. But these days, we expect a lot features from our consoles. Just look at the competition, which offers suites of online features for playing with friends, sharing games, and connecting to other devices. Nintendo’s last system, the Wii U, had significantly fewer features than the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and it was a major sales disappointment at just 13 million units sold.

We know that Nintendo sometimes likes to imagine that it doesn’t compete with anyone, but today’s average consumer is becoming more and more tech savvy. The Switch can’t just be a shell that plays games if it wants to succeed. Here are some of the additional features we want to hear Nintendo talk more about for its upcoming system.

Young adults are part of the Nintendo Switch target market.

Above: Yeah, but can we play with people who aren’t at the same sweet rooftop party as us?

Image Credit: Nintendo

Better online features

Nintendo’s systems have always been behind with their online capabilities. Yes, you could play with friends online on the Wii U, but it’s a painful system compared to how simple it is to do the same thing on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. And even when you are playing with friends, you can’t voice chat with them. That kind of defeats much of the purpose of online gaming with buddies if you can’t socialize and coordinate with them.

Switch needs to stop lagging behind like this. We want a simple friends list that makes it easy to invite friends to game, join them, create groups, and start talking to them.

Nintendo Switch playing Splatoon.

Above: How long can this thing last without charging?

Image Credit: Nintendo

Battery life

As soon as Nintendo showed off the Switch, one concern bubbled up over all others: battery life. Playing games on a portable screen sounds cool, but how long can the device last when it’s not hooked up to its dock? Unlike the Wii U, which had a tablet controller that just displayed games processed on the separate Wii U console, the guts of the Switch are in the same hardware as the portable screen.

Even with that advantage, the Wii U tablet only had a 3-5 hour battery life. If the Switch hopes to last long enough for all-night rooftop parties, it’ll have to do better than that. Or we’ll have to carry around a lot of external chargers.

Skyrim Special Edition E3 2016 - Spriggan

Above: How good will Skyrim look on Switch?

Image Credit: Bethesda

The specs

Raw horsepower isn’t everything, but it certainly helps. We know that Nvidia is supplying a custom Tegra chip for the Switch, but we don’t know exactly how powerful that will make the system. The Tegra was originally designed for mobile devices, but it could still be powerful enough to graphically compete with modern consoles. But we won’t know unless Nvidia or Nintendo releases some actual specs.

And even besides the chip, there’s a lot we don’t know about the Switch. What’s the screen resolution? What kind of operating system is it running off of? Will it support 4K? Hopefully we’ll have a better idea of just how powerful the Switch is before its release.

The Virtual Console is cool, but it could be better.

Above: The Virtual Console is cool, but it could be better.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Virtual Console

The Virtual Console has become a standard for Nintendo systems. It’s a digital store that sells older games for classic Nintendo consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System, GameBoy, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and more. It even includes games from some other companies’ consoles, like the Sega Genesis.

It’s a cool idea, but it has some problems. The Virtual Console has been on the Wii, 3DS, and Wii U. However, buying a game for one platform doesn’t unlock it on others. At the very least, we should be able to play the Virtual Console games we already bought for 3DS and Wii U on Switch.

But we’d like to see this idea developed further. Nintendo has been slow releasing new games on Virtual Console in the past. It would be great if the Switch launched with a massive library. Also, give gamers an option for a subscription service that gives them access to all the Virtual Console games instead of paying for them individually.

Oh, and let’s finally get GameCube games in there.

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