The Nintendo Switch is a brand new home console system launching on March 3rd and with it a return to cooperative, local multiplayer. It’s not only an exciting piece of technology, but could be the ideal console for the college demographic. Recently games and their respective consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox have prioritized online functionality and playing with friends remotely. Nintendo Switch takes a different approach.
We’ve known about the Switch, previously code named the “NX,” for a couple of years now. One of the most appealing features of the Switch was its ability to be a home console that can also be taken on the go, but at a presentation by Nintendo on January 12 it was revealed the the true star of the console is not its hybrid portable nature, but instead the side controllers, the Joy-Cons.
The Joy-Con controllers are detachable controllers than can function as one, unified and traditional controller or it can split into two separate controllers to share with friends. This opens the door to shared gaming experiences with dorm roommates, friends you’re visiting or people attending a party you’re throwing. Want to play Mario Kart with a friend? Simple. Split your controller in two and start racing.
Furthermore, Nintendo is focusing on local play with Download Play. This feature allows for up to 8 players to game together on one single copy of a game, further encouraging more people to have their own Switch system. It’s a blend of sharing the console and motivating friends to pick one up themselves, creating a community around a console focusing on playing together and, as Nintendo phrases it, “sharing the Joy.
The overall infrastructure of the Switch is reminiscent of the days when friends would bring their Xboxes together to have “Halo” LAN parties. Now it’s easier than ever, and Nintendo is leading the consoles launch with an attention to multiplayer titles to take full advantage of this feature. “1-2 Switch,” a game very similar to the critical and commercial success “Wii Sports,” “Snipperclips,” a puzzle co-op downloadable game, “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” a refined experience of the Mario Kart entry on the Wii U, “Splatoon 2,” a full-blown sequel to what many call Nintendo’s “Call of Duty,” and more fill up the Switch’s first year on the market.
The biggest setback for the Switch as of now, especially for the college age group, is the pricing of both the system and accessories. The system itself costs $300 and that doesn’t include one game. It does, fortunately, come with a Joy-Con controller pair that functions as a controller for both the owner or two players. The initial product also includes a docking station, which then allows you to play on a television set, in a handheld mode, or even on tabletops with a kickstand. So you’re pretty much set out of the box, but it can appear a little daunting when PlayStation and Xbox units are priced similarly or even lower with bundled games and higher fidelity graphics.
Accessories then drive up the cost. One single Joy-Con can run you about $50, while a pair costs about $80. Expandable memory cards are sold separately, which may be needed if you prefer downloading your games since the system itself only launches with 32 gigabytes of onboard memory. A Pro Controller to rival the comfort and structure of your PlayStation and Xbox controller costs about $70, but also features HD Rumble (a new feature similar to the iPhone Haptic feedback engine) as well as an NFC (near field communication) reader for amiibo, and Skylander figures. It’s all advanced technology, and thus comes with a price which can be hard for college students on a budget.
The Nintendo Switch is just under a month away and promises to deliver games from 50-80 third party developers this year as well as first party titles such as a brand new Legend of Zelda title on launch day and Super Mario game in the holiday season. Its library and install base will only grow, so whether you’re ready to hop on now or snag a Black Friday deal later -- it seems like it may be time to make the Switch.