Monday, January 16, 2017

Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017: Not-so-live Impressions

♫ It's beginning to look a lot like Switchmas
Rumours everywhere you go ♫

Believable ones too.

♫ But people, don't be dismayed
My predictions will still be made
And here we go... ♫


1. A launch line-up filled with up ports and remasters.
2. Pretty thin western third-party support:  If Skyrim and NBA 2K17 were both deemed trailer worthy, I'm fairly confident there isn't much else to show.
3. €300-350 for the main Switch bundle in Europe
4. Wave Race: Screw it, why not. :D
5. Animal Crossing: Probably not at at launch, but in sizzle reel form at least. I know I keep predicting this; eventually I have to to right! :D
6. Mario not at launch, but in the holidays: With Zelda at launch or a few months after, and the excitement of a new system driving early sales, they don't really need Mario right now. They can afford to take more time to polish it up, and I think they will.

And here we go... ♫

  • 00:00:00 - Pew! Pew! Lasers!
  • 00:00:12 - Huh? If they're burning off a minute here with a countdown clock, they might have even less to show off than I predicted. :D

  • 00:00:52 - Wow, it's been a while since Nintendo held a press event like this. I think the last one was the one where they spent an interminable length of time demoing that single mini game in Nintendo Land. Wasn't that how they closed that one out too? Yikes! Let's hope for a bit more oomph this time around.
  • 00:01:04 - I think I just got my wish. The lasers have just gone OFF. THE. CHAIN!!!
  • 00:01:19 - And the crowd go wild.
  • 00:01:48 - Oh, it's Kimishima, with an English translator over the stream. This is all new and strange.
  • 00:02:16 - In case you're still struggling with the basics. :D
  • 00:03:15 - Okay. Date and price time. Surprised to hear they're going to be talking about online features here though. Because, you know, Nintendo.
  • 00:03:22 - March 3rd. That's freaking soon. I was expecting mid to late March. The 17th seemed to be the scuttlebutt back at the end of last year.
  • 00:03:38 - Oh boy, the price. Here we go.

  • 00:04:02 - Oof! That's abut $50 more that a lot of people were predicting. That works out at about €280 right now, add on VAT and, yeah, that's about €350, depending on how, uh, generous our local retailers are feeling. :D Wouldn't be too surprised to see it going for €400 or so in the likes of GameStop.
  • 00:04-17 - Online services now. "I'm pleased to announce the return of friend codes. Now double the length, and for extra security, made up of exclusively of indecipherable characters from NES password screens."
  • 00:04:32 - So, the good news: there will be online multiplayer, and with some of the features people have been asking for it seems. The bad news: it sounds like you'll need to use a phone to access friend lists, send invites, chat and basically, do anything. Oh dear. This is bad. DeNaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
  • 00:04:48 - And they're going to be charging for this? Just wonderful. Not that I play online much, but this service doesn't sound appealing or well thought out in the slightest.
  • 00:05:25 - But hey, at least there'll be no region locking on the Switch. That's pretty cool. Switch Taiko no Tatsujin, here I come!
  • 00:06:20 - A bit of a run-down on how past systems have influenced the Switch now. Oh yeah, now this is the kind of nonsense you just don't get outside of a proper E3-style press conference. Fingers crossed for some sales charts!
  • 00:06:41 - Am I crazy, or did they tell everyone at the time that you weren't actually supposed to carry around the Gamecube by the handle?
  • 00:07:22 - Ahh! It just wouldn't be Nintendo event without embarrassing pictures of models playing games. These look like a bunch of classics from the Wii and DS days. No game cop though? Come on.
  • 00:07:42 - Another Switch trailer.
  • 00:07:57 - "You connect it to the TV to play games" They're really leaving nothing to chance this time, are they? :D Not after the Wii U.
  • 00:08:10 - Oh right! I guess Joy-Con (L) and Joy-Con (R) are the official names of these things (that no one will ever use).
  • 00:08:48 - It would be nice to see some games, but it looks like were getting another breakdown of the different ways you can use the Switch. Joy! (Con) (TM). Well, I guess we are seeing Mario Kart here, which almost certainly has to be in the launch line-up, given how much exposure it's gotten, between this and the reveal trailer.
  • 00:09:34 - I'm very much against handing a joy con to a friend or family member and sharing the joy right then and there actually; thank you very much.
  • 00:09:43 - A two and a half to six and a half hour battery life. I was going to joke about that verging in on Game Gear territory (which it is), but that's also about the same as the 3DS, apparentley. I guess it'll do, not that I'll ever be taking this out of the dock. Well, unless I need to for Mario Maker. Hopefully this thing has a touch screen.
  • 00:10:02 - It does. Mario Maker is saved! (Now watch them announce that the Switch version doesn't allow uploads either. :D)
  • 00:10:19 - Eight player local multiplayer is pretty impressive, but I'm kind of doubtful that there will never be that many Switches in the same place outside of a retail outlet.
  • 00:10:47 - These Switch puns are out of control! Well, I say puns; it's just been the same one over and over again.
  • 00:11:23 - Oh good. More detail on the joy cons. Just what I was hoping for. I think at this point the only unknown about them is whether they have motion controls or not.
  • 00:12:18 - The home button has a house on it!? Is everyone getting this? There's going to be quiz afterwards. NFC confirmed though, so there's still a chance of me getting that Tetra amiibo. :)
  • 00:12:33 - A capture button. Well, for screenshots at least. Any chance of Twitch streaming though? I'd imagine not.
  • 00:12:39 - In the future it'll be able to capture video as well, huh? I don't know, that sounds like a classically dodgy Nintendo promise. I'm still waiting for that DVD-playing attachment for the Wii.
  • 00:12:56 - So, motion controls confirmed then. Look forward to that Skyward Sword remaster in about two years.
  • 00:13:15 - SL and SR; geez, Nintendo, as if one set of weirdly-named shoulder buttons wasn't enough. :D
  • 00:14:00 - What's even happening right now?
  • 00:14:07 - Boy, I'm glad they had a couch on stage just for that. :D
  • 00:14:43 - Oh, you thought they were done with the joy con? Think again. Colours! Wrist straps! Endless excitement!
  • 00:15:05 - The wrist strap is a separate thing that slides onto the joy con with slightly bigger shoulder buttons. Just why? (Edit: Okay, those bigger shoulder buttons do seem a decent improvement if you're determined to use one of these things as a controller. I don't know why anyone would want to though. Look at the placement of the analogue stick compared to the face buttons!)
  • 00:15:20 - And the wrist straps also cone in different colours. Of course! Not since the Microsoft E3 2016 conference have we been so spoiled for custom controller options. :D
  • 00:15:28 - Boom! The right joy con has an IR sensor too. Perfect for re-releasing all those Wii games on the eShop. :) Hopefully they'll do a bit of upscaling this time though.
  • 00:15:33 - Oh, it's an IR camera. It can tell the difference between rock, paper and scissors? Alex Kidd sequel here we come! :D I suppose it should still be able to replicate the Wii's IR pointer though, with the right sensor bar.
  • 00:16:25 - HD rumble! Hopefully it'll be able to do more than simulate the feeling of holding a glass with ice cubes though. Otherwise it won't be much use outside bringing unparalleled new levels of realism to Tapper.
  • 00:17:00 - Games! Finally.
  • 00:17:23 - "A game everyone can play together: Mad Dog McCree Returns!"
  • 00:17:58 - Wait, this can't be Wild Gunman sequel? Can it?
  • 00:19:00 - Introducing: the two coolest guys in existence. Hold on, is this "game" basically press the button faster than the other person?
  • 00:19:25 - Well, that was embarrassing. 1-2-Switch seems to be the name here. Looks like a mini game collection, and from that trailer, it looks like it's firmly aimed at the old Wii audience. Well, good luck with that, Nintendo.
  • 00:20:43 - So it seems like this is a take on something like Johann Sebastian Joust where you're using the controllers, but not the screen to play. I get the feeling this'll generate plenty commentary from a handful of game journalists on how "genius" a move this is for Nintendo over the next few days/weeks. In the end, I expect it won't amount to much more than a short-lived novelty within the social circles of the games press though. I'm afraid that Wii audience is gone and I don't think there's anything Nintendo can do to win back that type of player at this point.
  • 00:21:32 - Looks like this won't be bundled with the Switch either. Not a great move if they want this to catch on.
  • 00:22:43 - Another game now. Some kind of boxing thing?
  • 00:23:34 - Yep. Boxing with extendy arms. Looks just a tad influenced by the look of Splatoon.
  • 00:23:41 - Wow, I'll bet a lot of people weren't expecting to be hit with an onslaught of motion-controlled games coming into this thing. :D This look like it might be fun, if not a bit wonky to control, like a lot of Wii games were. But no one's going to buy this. VR enthusiasts aside, I don't think there could be less of an appetite for motion-controlled games right now. I don't know what Nintendo are thinking leading off with this stuff.
  • 00:24:20 - Arms. Certainly to the point.
  • 00:25:30 - It controls exactly as you might imagine. Without a traditional control alternative though, I think this is pretty much dead on arrival.
  • 00:25:37 - At least the jump is mapped to a button. I'm looking at you, de Blob!
  • 00:25:43 - "Because Arms uses physical controls, anyone can pick up and play". (But they won't, Nintendo. They won't.)
  • 00:26:44 - This fight would be so much better with some Halo stream commentators over it. Don't you think? :D
  • 00:27:57 - And the first port of the night: Splatoon. (For those keeping track: nope, still haven't played it, yet I've started on Shenmue 2 recently. I have no idea either.)
  • 00:29:35 - Oh, Splatoon 2 - not a port then. Have to say it doesn't look like a radical reinvention of the first game though.
  • 00:31:12 - Traditional controls! At least someone knows what's up.
  • 00:32:12 - Coming out in Summer. Just 1-2-3-Switch for launch so far then, right? I'm starting to get the feeling that the launch line-up might be a a bit lacking here.
  • 00:33:14 - Okay, this totally just looks like Splatoon again. :D
    • 00:33:25 - MARIO!!! Yes!!!
    • 00:33:29 - Wow, this looks cool. That's New York, or New Donk City as a sign on the left suggests. Wait. "Dixie Street"? "Diddy's Mart"? Come on, Nintendo, you can't cross the streams of Mario and Donkey Kong Country like that. It will be bad.

    • 00:33:34 - I guess this is the hub world of the new Mario game then. This is awesome.
    • 00:33:48 - Not sure how I feel about realistic humans and Mario existing in the same world though - it's a bit Sonic '06 - but platforming in a huge open city like this? Sign me the fuck up!
    • 00:33:59 - That's the Sambo de Amigo-ish like town again. Looks great.
    • 00:34:19 - Looks like vegetable throwing is back. And damn, some of these levels look big.
    • 00:34:27 - Not a great shot, but I imagine this is the vehicle that'll take you from the open world to each level.
    • 00:34:32 - Mario and real humans. Nope, nope, nope. Mario better not be kissing any princess not named Peach by the end of this. Or hedgehogs.

    • 00:34:45 - Damn. Bowser looks straight off the cover of a 90's hip hop album here.
    • 00:34:56 - Hat-throwing seems to be a big feature this time around.
    • 00:35:35 - Super Mario Odysee. Well, I guess there isn't much bigger you can go than Galaxy. (I'm sure they''re saving Universe for the inevitable Mario MMO)
    • 00:35:41 - Well, that's unnerving. :D
    • 00:36:28 - So Mario is visiting the real world in this game. They are taking cues from Sonic! This is a worrying development.
    • 00:37:36 - Bam! Mario in the Holidays. Damn, I'm good. Not crazy about that logo though. Those eyes on the cap aren't great; the top bit and bottom bit are going in different directions; it just looks a
    • 00:37:47 - Monolithsoft. Is this the rumored port of Xenoblade Chronicles X?
    • 00:37:58 - Looks more like the first game though. If this is a HD version, I might be interested. I still haven't played that; I just know the muddy, 480p output from the Wii isn't going to do the visuals any justice (and I'm too lazy to mess around with Dolphin).
    • 00:39:56 - Xenoblade 2 - another sequel when everyone expected a port. Not quite sure how that numbering works, but whatever.
    • 00:39:33 - Koei-Tecmo. More Hyrule Warriors?
    • 00:40:04 - I think this might be Fire Emblem. Only because of the music; I recognise it from Smash Bros.. :D
    • 00:40:12 - Yeah, that logo is of no help whatsoever. :D (JiliK: SRPG expert once again)
    • 00:40:36 - Yep. Fire Emblem Warriors.
    • 00:40:45 - Third party time! As a drinking game, I suggest you take a drink every time someone says they're excited about or committed to the Switch, two if they have no actual game, or even announcement to back that up. You know what, scratch that, you might not make it through the end of this. :D
    • 00:41:17 - Dragon Quest X and XI: those are games.
    • 00:41:31 - And Dragon Quest Heroes 1 and 2. Nice. Nintendo Switch: your home for licensed Musou.
    • 00:41:49 - Atlus? Intriguing.
    • 00:42:33 - Looks like some SMT type business.
    • 00:43:23 - Again, Japanese only logos: not helping, Nintendo. :D
    • 00:43:34 - A Square-Enix RPG now. (Surprise!) Kind of an indie game-ish look. Well, like an indie game take on 16-bit Final Fantasy. Looks cool.
    • 00:43:50 - Project Octopath Traveller. Really, Square-Enix. Really? :D Encouraging to see the Switch scooping up games that have traditionally been on the DS and 3DS though. Like I said before, it's this stuff and Nintendo's own games that are going to (hopefully) make this a sustainable platform. Ubisoft and co. might pop in around launch, but they're unlikely to stick around with long-term support unfortunatley.
    • 00:44:06 - Yep, that was an SMT game alright.
    • 00:45:05 - Oh yeah! Now we're talking. This is the type of vague, nonsense, non-committal third party support I've been waiting for. So which of these turns into the EA unprecedented partnership of the future. (Which I suspect must have been EA Access for Wii U, right?)
    • 00:45:59 - Todd Howard now. Yes, it's true: all of it. Skyrim is coming to the Switch.
    • 00:46:15 - I can take it anywhere, Todd, but when a quest inevitablly gets messed up, can I pull up the console and fix it? (What am I saying? I'm sure whatever third party port house worked on this will have all the bugs ironed out by the time it comes to Switch. :D)
    • 00:46:57 - Suda! Man, I would be very excited to see Grasshopper coming back to do a Nintendo game.
    • 00:47:26 - No way! They're not bring back No More Heroes, are they?
    • 00:47:39 - They are! Third party section redeemed! It might be a while if this is all they have to show though. :D
    • 00:49:39 - Oh boy! EA time. They barley even make games anymore, certainly not ones they'd risk releasing on a Nintendo platform. Apparently they have one in development though. I'm guessing it's going to be a single FIFA from them and done.
    • 00:50:15 - Jeez, Bill, speed it up. This guy's going to go on forever.
    • 00:50:52 - Yep. FIFA. Get excited, people.
    • 00:53:27 - FIFA and Skyrim, huh? That third party launch line-up on Wii U doesn't look so bad now does it? :D
    • 00:54:25 - I guess Minecraft is on the way too, pretty sure I saw Sonic of some description in there too. (Can't be bothered going back; I'm trying to power through to the end of this thing and go to bed. :D)
    • 00:54:28 - Huh, no word on Mario Kart here. I guess they pushed some stuff into whatever Treehouse Live Coverage happened today. Not going to be watching that though. They have an alarming tendency to drop obscenely long Pokémon demos into the middle of those things, I find. :D
    • 00:56:15 - We're not quite done yet though. Kimishima is back with some hot, SKU configurations. Here's what's in the basic bundle anyway.
    • 00:56:36 - Two SKUs then. The only difference: the colour of the joy cons. Uh, why?
    • 00:57:07 - Shibata, my man! I really hope we'll getting back to normal Nintendo Directs after this - so much more lively and to the point than this type of plodding, super Japanese press conference. After nearly an hour, I'm kind of struggling at this point. :D
    • 00:58:51 - Oh, Reggie, I'm not sure those tweets about Nintendo Switch are ones you'd like to read right now. I'd imagine the second half of this has smoothed things over a bit, but a seeming focus on motion controls, an iffy-looking launch line-up and even iffier online plans won't have done the machine any favours on social media.
    • 00:59:44 - "What games" indeed, Reggie. :D I kid, well, a bit. There were some solid announcements here, though a lot of that stuff's a long way off. In the immediate term, I think things are going to be a bit sparse - sparser than I'd expect given that they only have one console to support now, that Wii U support has been wound down for a few years, and that freakin' everything is riding on the success of this thing now. Don't get me wrong: Zelda at launch is a big deal, but unless they're holding off a lot of stuff for later, I'm not sure their release schedule this year will big enough or diverse enough to attract much more than die hard Nintendo fans and gadget enthusiasts for the moment.
    • 01:00:03 - A new foe has appeared! :D I guess they're wrapping things up with Zelda. We should finally find out here if it is actually going to make launch or if it's slipped like the rumours have suggested. Oh, and hopefully what's up with the Wii U version too. Please don't be cancelled. Please don't be cancelled.
    • 01:00:36 - Wait, what? It's good?! Damn it, Miyamoto, you just made me cancel my pre-order!
    • 01:00:45 - Here comes the release date. Man, the Wii U version better not be freakin' December or something. I'm going to be so pissed. (Yeah, with no Mario until the holidays. I'm almost certainly going to be holding off on the Switch until at least then.)
    • 01:00:49 - AAAAH!
    • 01:01:05 - Damn it! :D (I'm convinced Zelda's launching alongside the Switch now though. All this playful teasing isn't leading up a delay announcement. It'd be pretty funny if it did though. :D)
    • 01:01:21 - "I don't know the release date either. Please ask Ravidrums"
    • 01:02:35 - Another Breath of the Wild trailer by the looks of things. Hopefully a bit less spoilerific than the Treehouse Live back in June.
    • 01:02:43 - A sea side area. I wonder if this has any sailing.
    • 01:03:10 - Ooh, looks like we're resuming from where the last trailer left off.
    • 01:03:23 - Damn, look at the size of the world! So excited for this.
    • 01:04:31 - Happy to see some town areas here. I kind of got the impression from the first trailer that you'd be all on your own in this game.
    • 01:04:36 - A raft! Called it!
    • 01:04:38 - The Great Deku Tree?
    • 01:04:47 - Hmm, 100 years ago? I do have to wonder if this is going to fall somewhere on the newfangled Zelda timeline or if that was just for Hyrule Historia and they're just going to ignore it now. I hope not; I think maintaining a set timeline could really help them advance the storytelling in the series (as well as allowing them to bring back characters and ideas from previous games in interesting ways). It's not the only thing they'd need to do, but I think it'd be a good start.
    • 01:04:55 - That was quite a tangent. Well anyway, I guess this is Zelda. She looks quite similar to her Skyward Sword incarnation here.
    • 01:05:03 - Yeah, I'd say her look here is kind of a halfway point between Skyward Sword Zelda and old-school 3D Zelda. I like it. Is it heresy to say that I wish she was a playable character though? Enough with the princess rescuing, Nintendo. I want to see her finally out there, adventuring!
    • 01:05:12 - That looks like a Gerudo!
    • 01:05:15 - Damn, things getting raw in Breath of the Wild. It does look like Zelda has a pretty decent role in the story here, at least. I seriously do hope she doesn't get kidnapped here again though. I know it's "tradition", but it's such a dated, old trope. A world-ending calamity is stakes enough, Nintendo. I'd rather have Zelda active for the final third the story instead of being trapped in an alternate world or whatever, again.
    • 01:05:27 - Gorons! Zoras! Great faries! The gang's all here.
    • 01:05:29 - Oh shit, is that a rito?
    • 01:05:35 - Damn it, Nintendo! Maybe one day..
    • 01:05:37 - I really want Link to turn into a wolf here. The people who hate Twilight Princess would be so furious. :D
    • 01:06:01 - March 3rd. Okay that's the Switch version at launch any way.
    • 01:06:06 - And that's it. No word on the Wii U version though. I have a bad feeling about this..
    Right then, how about those predictions?

    1. A launch line-up filled with up ports and remasters. WRONG - I think I'm leaning towards wrong here. For one, I wouldn't say the launch line-ups in both Japan or the West are "filled" with anything. They both seem pretty small. There certainly will be ports, but the intent of this prediction was more a Wii U-style token offering of "big" third party games, alongside a few ports of Nintendo's own games from the Wii U, or maybe even the 3DS. It's hard to pin down exact launch line-ups at present, but it doesn't look the Switch will be getting any of that on day one.

    2. Pretty thin western third-party support. CORRECT - Yikes, there really is, even compared to previous Nintendo consoles. I suppose it's not terribly surprising given how a lot of their games fared on the Wii and the Wii U, and and just how risk-averse the big third parties have become these days. Even having called this though, I was still expecting more support than this, even if only on day one.

    3. €300-350 for the main Switch bundle in Europe CORRECT - Yep, €320 seem to be about the going rate at the moment. Even in the local GameStop, astonishingly (I'm still not paying €69.99 for Battlefield 1 though, or €74 freaking' 99 for Gravity Rush 2. WTF? Is this even real life?).

    4. Wave Race WRONG - Well, of course. :D I'm surprised we didn't see at least few more first party titles of some description though. With the Switch basically being their only platform now, you'd assume they'd be ensuring it's as well-supported with first party content as possible so that the Switch won't suffer the same kind of software droughts the Wii U did, even if that content does largely consist of ports and remasters, at least to begin with.

    5. Animal Crossing WRONG - I'm convinced now that the first time I don't predict this, it's totally going to happen. Get ready for no Animal Crossing ever again, people, because I'm never going to stop! :D

    6. Mario not at launch, but in the holidays CORRECT

    Three out of six. Pretty respectable.

    Wrapping things up, I'd say I'm generally pleased with what they showed. Zelda still looks great; I couldn't be more excited for Mario Odysee; and, as someone who doesn't care that much about on-line and actively dislikes playing on handhelds, the Switch really looks like the perfect Nintendo console for me. For the first time since the dual screen reign of terror began (:D), I'll have access to everything coming out on a Nintendo platform, on a TV, with no apparent weird workarounds or caveats. And that's all the more exciting because the types of mid-tier Japanese games that the 3DS thrived on look set to continue on with the Switch from what was announced here. Not to mention, freaking' No More Heroes 3! Coconuts: they're worth more than human life! Just think about shaking down coconut trees and collecting them with the Switch's HD rumble. It'll be so stupid! I can't wait.

    That's just me though. I do wonder how exactly the Switch will fare with the wider market. I think the price of the console is a little high, not to mention the peripherals. The software line-up is pretty unimpressive right now, with none of the big third party franchises your average gamer would expect, outside of FIFA anyway. Speaking of unimpressive, the online offering sounds like a potential mess here too, relying on an external phone app to function as well as charging you for privilege. To be honest, I can't really see the Switch going down well at all with the average console gamer, and that casual audience they're chasing with 1-2-Switch? They're playing colourful, addictive, and most importantly, free games on their phones now; they're not paying €320 to compete at milking a virtual, invisible cow at some trendy rooftop party.

    I suspect the Switch's best hope of succeeding is to catch on with what's left of the handheld market, which isn't insignificant if the 3DS's numbers are anything to go by. I wonder how appealing the Switch will be to that audience in it's current state though. As well as the lack of software and presumably clunky online, the current battery life doesn't seem great for playing on the go. Not to mention, the Switch's lack of backwards compatibility with, and complete shift in form factor from the 3DS could result in a good share of that platform's audience just not jumping over to the Switch.

    Ultimately, I think the Switch might have a challenging time ahead of it, not least because I think they're probably chasing after the wrong audience with it right now. Looking at this presentation and the types of games announced so far, they seem to viewing the Switch as a console first, with optional handheld capabilities, primarily aimed at the same sort of casual and lapsed gamer audience as the Wii. I suspect they'd probably have more success marketing it as a handhed first instead - the clear successor to the 3DS, with the types of games and franchises you'd expect on the next Nintendo handheld, as well as having the full Nintendo console experience in portable form, and the ability to play all of that on your couch, in front of your TV.

    Having said that though, it's a bit early yet to go writing off the Switch. It hasn't even come out! And I certainly know better than to write Nintendo off at this point. Even if the Switch doesn't come screaming out of the gates, I have a feeling it'll do okay in the end, even if it does take a bit of course correction to get it there. Who'd have ever though the DS - that lump of ugly, grey plastic with a wonky port of Mario 64 would have gone on to dominate the world? Hey, you never know, maybe 1-2-Switch will dominate the world all on its own. Maybe people will end up stepping over other people just to get a taste of that HD rumble. Nintendo, if anything, are always great at defying expectations.

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