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Nintendo Switch review: pure potential (theverge.com)
302 points by Tomte on Mar 1, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 363 comments



As a late Wii U owner, I'm willing to wait until the Switch proves to be a success. The horror stories of the Wii U's launch, combined with lackluster support and signs that Nintendo didn't know how to adapt to the Internet age haven't exactly been mitigated by what we know of the Switch so far: no web browser, no Virtual Console nor movie services like Netflix at launch. Everything smells rushed...in the meantime, I got a PS4 to try the VR and have been more than entertained by the system's regular selection. It's surprising to me that Nintendo couldn't score Overwatch or a Rocket League, two of the best multi platform games currently out, which would go a long way in showing the purported value of console-power in handheld.


> signs that Nintendo didn't know how to adapt to the Internet age haven't exactly been mitigated by what we know of the Switch so far: no web browser, no Virtual Console nor movie services like Netflix at launch.

The Wii (not Wii U but the original Wii) had all of that though. A web browser, multiple on demand services including BBC iPlayer and Netflix, an online store that allowed you to downloadable games direct to the console, etc. So it's not the case that Nintento "can't adapt for the internet age", they clearly did already. This is more a sign that Nintendo don't want the Switch to compete with living room entertainment systems nor general purpose computing tablets.

This actually makes some sense when you consider both of those markets are already saturated. eg most living rooms already have several streamable devices such as:

    * other consoles (eg Xbox 360 / P3 and newer),
    * XBMC/Kodi devices,
    * Amazon Fire Stick and similar,
    * or even just a smart TV with that stuff in built.
And who doesn't already have a smart phone and/or tablet?

So instead of chasing after saturated markets that exist on the fringe of their business, Nintendo are focusing on their core market.


Another data point: the Switch will facilitate voice chat by the use of a smartphone app: https://www.reddit.com/r/NintendoSwitch/comments/5nv1ht/conf...

Chat is a function served by many, many applications and devices, of course, but it doesn't seem strange for games and system makers to provide dedicated in-game/system chat even in the face of Discord. Granted, chat is much more integral to a game than Netflix or even a web browser. But the argument isn't that the Switch "competes" on these facets, but that it's natural to use these apps before/during/after a game session. For example, after playing a game on my PS4 or Wii U, instead of switching off my system to turn on Netflix on my Smart TV, I'll just use the app on the system, because it's usually fewer steps. Admittedly, I rarely use my console browser...but that's because I usually have access to my laptop in my living room. But the Switch is meant to be a mobile device; it's not hard to imagine the situation of checking the web to look up a tip or guide while gaming. Could you pull out your phone? Sure, but again, you could argue this for any function on any system ("just use X device, which most people carry around all the time").

Again, it's not the absence of these things that are alone disconcerting. It's just that we know of these downsides -- on top of a whole bunch of other online-related things that on launch week we have no clue: Nintendo's online account system, social network, purchase transfers, etc., things that Nintendo's history has not inspired confidence about.


This is what made me hold off on preordering.

It seems so ill-conceived, and I can't imagine how it will work. Does in-game audio get piped to your phone? If not, what are you supposed to do? Have two sets of earbuds, one from your phone and one from the device?

Also, what's with the console's lack of an ethernet port? Everything I've seen suggests that Nintendo did not prioritize online play when designing the Switch.


Have Nintendo ever prioritised online play?


I would argue this is a major selling point of nintendo. I can't count the number of times i've seen people express disappointment that its so hard to have friends over and play a game these days.

modern consoles were designed seemingly to discourage single console multiplayer gaming; everything is being pushed to online. I think nintendo is smart by catering to the split screen gamers out there, since no one else seems to.


Splatoon is an online-first title and one of the best on the Wii U.


All I remember about Splatoon was that there was no way for me to play with my friends.


The console supports 10/100, possibly gigabit, ethernet over USB. It's an <$20 adapter that can be gotten on amazon.


> The Wii (not Wii U but the original Wii) had all of that though.

For what it's worth, the Wii U also had that too (a web browser, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, etc).

I get the impression that most Wii U owners didn't use it much, and mainly used the console for gaming. But it's still there, and works.


"I don't want to compete against all the other (faster) sprinters in the olympics, so I just cut off my legs"


Lack of a virtual console I can understand, but are you really being dissuaded from purchasing a Switch based on its lack of web browser and Netflix -- two things that run on half a dozen or more devices that the typical HN reader probably already owns?


> but are you really being dissuaded from purchasing a Switch based on its lack of web browser and Netflix -- two things that run on half a dozen or more devices that the typical HN reader probably already owns?

It's competing against those devices though. And not just for sales, but pocket/bag space. If I'm bringing a Switch somewhere, I don't really want to carry an iPad with me too if I want to watch something on Netflix.


> It's competing against those devices though.

It's not, it's a game machine. If you want to play games take a switch, if you want to do other things then take them.


Not to be too uncharitable, but did you read the rest of their comment? The very next words are that they don't want to bring multiple devices.


Yes, but it starts out with the assumption that the devices have the same function, which they don't. In a similar vain, a laptop will not replace either.


It's a bit surreal.

You can now bring all this information and entertainment with you and it takes up less space and weight than any 2 textbooks I used at uni and people are concerned about an extra half kilo in-case they can't make up their mind if they want to play console games or watch TV that day on the train.

Of course their phone can do all these things as well but they need the bigger screen or something.


Reminds me of the people who think we'll be able to plug our phones into a dock and have a portable pc everywhere, there will always be trade offs.


If you can't admit there is a huge overlap between mobile touch screen devices your are just being silly.


Have you replaced you phone with your tablet/laptop or visa-versa? They're all mobile touch screens.


Of course. I used to use my laptop all the time to browse at the couch or watch netflix in bedroom. Now I just use my phone for those purposes.


I usually have a phone, and sometimes also a laptop. If a added the Switch it would be add a far superior viewing experience when I am sitting in the train and watching.

Also, when Im playing video games and want to look up something, I would like it to be 2 clicks away and not on a different device.

I think Nintendo could just sell these as tablets that are specially good for gaming. The people who already carry around tablet will not drop theirs until the Switch supports common stuff, and they will not buy a Switch because why add another device of the same size.


Exactly...two things that are ubiquitous on modern devices, but aren't on the Switch because of what seems like rushed online infrastructure. Why should we have faith that Nintendo has successfully executed social matchmaking and account services, which are much more bespoke?


Something only 60s/70s kids will remember is the bubble in digital LCD clocks in the early 80s meant the average 80s kitchen had over 15 digital clocks in it, and keeping them set or covering the screen with electricians tape was an annoyance. I'm happy to be down to 4 digital clocks to maintain in my kitchen and I could achieve a mere 1 with some effort. I'm happy I don't have to install and maintain a netflix account on my bathroom scale and my car keyless entry keyfob and my digital picture frame and my outdoor thermometer. Might be an early sign that Netflix on Everything is post bubble peak.


There were so many of those cheap little LCD clock modules with the two little buttons to set the time. They were crammed into absolutely everything. It was like we were thinking, we desperately want the future to be here, but we don't have the technology yet, so these will do.


This reminds me of a comment by Douglas Adams in which he pointed out the absurdity of regular clocks/watches going out of fashion at about the same time as pie charts became insanely popular (since a traditional watch works more or less exactly like a pie chart).

While this is just a funny thing to notice, it really shows that both technical product design and fashion often depend more on a "look what we can do now!" factor than actual practicality.

Luckily, there are more and more product designers who recognize that minimalism is often the better principle to base their work on.


Remove the word "minimalism" from your comment and I'll upvote you ;-)


I'm not sure that analogy works because an unmaintained Netflix isn't a blinking eyesore like an unset digital clock. I setup Netflix on my PC and on my tablet which casts to my TV. Other devices, like my Xbox or my TV itself, are no worse for having never been setup with Netflix.


On the other hand, I am perfectly fine with a console that just plays games, because that's what I buy it for.

There were plenty consoles that came with a plethora of features but had no good games at launch - if Nintendo does it the other way around, I don't have a problem with that.

Also, if you look at it from Nintendo's perspective: If Netflix is everywhere, it certainly won't be the feature that actually sells their product.


Nintendo seems strongest when they are focusing purely on the gaming experience. Adding web browsers and Netflix because you can is just a distraction and not where their core competencies and interests are.


Adding UI for a Netflix account that's never setup is a waste. I would much rather they focus on something people would actually want to use.

It's the same basic problem as smart TV's. I don't care if it only adds 1$ in manufacturing costs focusing on making the best TV/console/car is much better reason to buy something than adding yet another so so entertainment features.


> Something only 60s/70s kids will remember is the bubble in digital LCD clocks

Even Nintendo was in on the action back then: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kj1iVgrpX4Y/maxresdefault.jpg


Also, every time Netflix releases an app on a new platform, their UI gets collectively slightly worse on all platforms. It's probably the sheer burden of building and supporting and synchronizing so many client apps.


Maybe I'm a glass half full kind of guy but I'd like to believe they spent less effort on duplicating features that fulfill needs most buyers can already meet with other devices and more effort on features germane to the console itself, like the matchmaking and account services you mention. I could very well be wrong.


For something portable like this, it would be appealing to have Netflix on the go on it. It could be the best screen you have with you, and multifunction means that you can potentially leave some other device at home.


With just wifi? Why not use a tablet, which is going to give better video playback with a regularly updated app anyway?


Because it's another expensive device you need to buy, carry with you (+0.5kg!) and keep charged (+weight for all the chargers, because of course iPad won't use USB-C ;) )


Fair point. But is that necessary at launch, or can it be a few weeks or months down the road? I'm guessing it will be.


I think the larger point is, anyone else would have had it at launch, because it would have been both a no-brainer and no big deal. Netflix is generally pretty good about supporting ports of their client to anything that can run it. There's also no Virtual Console, the eShop isn't available for review yet... and Nintendo has a terrible track record on online services. The Wii U was even further behind on such matters than it was on graphics, compared to the Xbox One and PS4. You can argue that Nintendo shouldn't compete on graphics. But simple stuff like "downloadable games I buy should be linked to my account, not my console" are things they should be doing and have a really bad track record with. So I think Nintendo doesn't deserve a lot of the benefit of the doubt that they will get things like Netflix up-and-running on the Switch.


If Nintendo hadn't shipped a shitty Netflix app and instead got the console to work better it would have been worth buying.


I mean, they did neither. And Netflix would have done a lot of "free" work to put their app on the Switch.


The Switch is basically a high-powered tablet with proper gaming controls. I'd love it if it could actually replace "real" tablets. As it is, we're going to have two separate classes of tablets: those that are actually good at gaming (Switch), and those that are good at everything else (iPad, etc.).

That said, it's easy to see why Nintendo's focusing on gaming: it's their core competency, nobody else in the tablet space does serious non-casual gaming well, and it would be a tremendous undertaking to make the Switch into a real iPad competitor.


I already have a tablet. I certainly don't want to browse anything with shitty Nintendo software. They should focus on games.

Hell, this is the best sign yet that the switch will have SOME value beyond "you can play the latest Mario here"


Can I just say that the Wii U browser wasn't a "power user" browser or anything, but was totally charming and fun. I loved it.


Do you really want to carry both an iPad and a switch in your bag, though?


I would much rather carry a Switch and an iPad rather than something that amounts to an iPad with awful tacked on gaming controls, with the kind of games the iPad is known for.

Multipurpose portable utility computing platforms are all well and good, but in a general sense are a jack of all trades and master of none.

I prefer to read on a kindle. I prefer to type on a laptop. I prefer to watch movies on an iPad. I carry my DS in case I want to game. I also carry a DSLR in case I feel like taking photos.

I can guarantee I get more work done on my laptop on the train than the guy with his iPad, and I take better photos than the guy with his phone out. I like to think I enjoy the gaming I do on the train more than the people playing bejewelled to pass time.


Hmmm, do you have to walk or bike to the train? If you carry that much stuff around, I guess a car would be better. I've been simplifying what I carry around, I can read better on an iPad anyways.


Late response, but I walk. It's roughly a 10 minute walk from my house to the train station.

I've not weighed my bag, but it usually contains:

* 6D DSLR body, 20mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4 85mm f/1.4. (About 4KG total of lens & camera.)

* Xiaomi Notebook Air 13" (About 1.2 KG.)

* iPad Pro 9.7.

* Kobo H2O.

* Nintendo DS.

And other sundries: A couple moleskines and pens, a leatherman, headphones, a 20k mAh USB battery pack and lightning cable.


I mean, do you really want to wear pants AND a shirt?


Yes, I need both of those. When I'm commuting, I don't want to carry both a tablet and a game console. I'll choose one that can do what I need (so in this case, an iPad).


The thing is I don't want to carry multiple devices or have tonnes of things plugged into my tv. I want to turn on a device and watch Netflix or YouTube.

I also got the WiiU late on a whim and it wasn't a good purchase. The switch looks like what the WiiU should have been but still seems underpowered compared to other things I can plug into my TV.

I already have a PS4. I cannot see the switch replacing it without the basics of a decent online system and access to streaming services.


I'm not really clear why it's a problem to have more than one device plugged into a TV, especially when they're going to have such a different selection of games.


There are plenty of indications that Nintendo considers this release a just as an early on release addressing the enthusiasts who need to have a new console on the first day. They clearly plan to ramp up everything over the course of the year. One could claim that the release is only finished when Mario Odyssey gets released. Nintendo clearly hinted at the virtual console coming to the Switch, its just not there yet. It is probably connected to some of the upcoming online feature (as they talked about offering a different older game with it every month). Nintendo probably equally wants to stress that the Switch isn't a tablet but a serious gaming system. Therefore (and probably just because they are not finished), no web browser or Netflix client now. But there is no reason to assume they are going to be left out forever.


I honestly don't really care about a browser or NetFlix, because I've never used NetFlix with our Wii U. The two things that have disappointed me about the Wii U have been: * Lack of games * Reliability

Reliability especially...the drive has pretty much stopped reading any discs, even when there aren't any scratches. The console randomly stops with a fatal error. I don't really want to pay to get it fixed, since new consoles are coming out and there isn't a huge catalog for the Wii U.


I can't tell whether it's scratched disks or broken drive. So happy Nintendo went with cards for the Switch.


Me too, but mostly for the lack of load times. I remember the move TO optical and I've hated load times ever since.


Sounds like a dirty optical drive?


The lack of a web browser is I suspect a reaction to WebKit vulnerabilities having been one of the primary entry points for people hacking the (New) 3DS. Omitting this functionality reduces the OS's attack surface.


Quite a few hacks come right from exploited game saves and I have a feeling the same will happen this time around too.


..and maybe to stop users playing HTML games (Nintendo ripoffs for example). This is a shame as I felt the Wii U was crippled in this respect (i.e. video tag supported but not audio!)


Why would I buy a switch to play HTML games? Honestly this argument seems a stretch to me.


There's a popular website used on the Xbox One that emulates older Nintendo consoles from within the included Edge browser with controller support, and it can use OneDrive to store your ROMs and saves.

Something similar to that on the Switch could eat into Virtual Console revenues.


> Why would I buy a switch to play HTML games?

A portable, dockable tablet with a built-in reliable controller? If it had a browser, I'd be surprised if people didn't specifically write some games to target it.


I'm hoping that they do bring it back, because Nintendo did see the potential and have dev tools for the WiiU to target html based content - https://developer.nintendo.com/tools


3DS has a browser and a built-in reliable controller. I haven't heard about any HTML game for 3DS.


The 3DS used a relatively deficient browser engine, with much less support for web standards; it didn't support anything a non-trivial game might need.

A browser based on current WebKit or Blink, with full hardware-accelerated support for WebGL, a fast JavaScript JIT, WebAssembly, fullscreen, joysticks, and other such standards would make a compelling platform.


Well, the point stands: browser and integrated pad is not enough for third party browser games to emerge. Nintendo would also have to provide relevant APIs, some of which aren't commonly used by regular websites (e.g. WebGL).


I don't think that's the reason, considering Nintendo created special JavaScript APIs for accessing the Wii U's gamepad hardware features and made them available to all sites via their browser.

My bet is that they felt they needed more time to figure out how to properly sandbox it to prevent homebrew/piracy-related exploits, and that it will be released as a free installable item (or packaged with an OS update) in the next few months.


Except they will support connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots, which almost always require logging in or accepting terms of services on an HTML page nowadays. So they definitely didn't get rid of WebKit.


It was also the entry point for the Wii U.


I agree with your points and wanted to add some more as to why I am wary in looking in a new Nintendo console.

1. Wii and the Wii U especially never truly lived up to their potentials. They release small minigames (Nintendo Wolrd is a good example) that were amazingly fun and utilized the dual screens, but then developers almost completely forgot about what differentiated the consoles and it became merely inconvenient to have motion controls or the dual screens.

2. They absolutely do not listen to their fans, at least Americans. I can't tell you how badly a lot of people wanted a true console Animal Crossing, and they throw a shitty board game at us. Mario Party 10 could have easily been an amazing multiplayer game with dual screens and motion controls but they watered it down to a very mediocre experience. Pokemon 3d? Heres a tekken style game. Hell, the Wii U is finally getting a Zelda game.. at the release of their new console.

3. Amiibos. Sorry I don't want DLC in the form of hard to obtain collectibles.

Don't get me wrong, some of my favorite games were brought to me by Nintendo but it is hard clutching on to these memories when they are just pumping out years worth of "almost there" titles and experiences. I would love to be proved wrong but Nintendo is certainly more focused on bottom line profits than providing a fun gaming experience.


This is exactly how I feel about my Wii U purchase. I bought it initially to play the new Fatal Frame and Zelda games. Then I had to buy an external hard drive because FF couldn't fit on the device. Then Zelda was pushed back... all the way until their new console was released. The system itself just feels lackluster and I won't be buying into another generation of Nintendo console with barely any worthwhile titles.


Nintendo has a history of only supporting games on their consoles. They still don't view themselves as your home theatre center-for-everything like xbone does, and that's a relief for me. They only thing they need to be "complete" in this day and age is to have good online multiplayer.

That being said I'm looking at the switch as a vita replacement, not a home console.


> no web browser, no Virtual Console nor movie services like Netflix at launch.

I'm not a console gamer, but why would you want those things in a game console? My TV does all that already. What my TV can't do is play new Nintendo games.

If anything, I find it annoying when I buy a new device and the developers have clearly spent more than half their budget trying to (poorly) replicate functionality that's already built into every other device on my TV cabinet.

Do one thing. Do it well.


> Virtual Console

> why would you want those things in a game console?

The virtual console was huge on the Wii and Wii U

> Do one thing. Do it well.

This is a game console, not some Unix tool. The rest of the competition has demonstrated that not only can they play games, they can handle other features just as well. Unix philosophy doesn't apply to everything in life.


i see the lack of a web browser and no movie services as a move to emphasize that this is a gaming machine and not a tablet. it focuses the use of the machine as a gaming device and not as a do it all device. i like this commitment. it's similar to what amazon does with the kindles (that ignores the limitations of the e-ink screen though).

although, i have certainly been disappointed with nintendo's embracement of online services even within games. e.g., matchmaking and co-op features.


As a longtime Nintendo fan I'd say it's not so much a commitment as a total lack of resources put into basic online functionality. It just seems brave of them because it's such a glaring error.


Lack of a web browser is a feature if you are a parent. The easier it is to control access to content, the better.


That's what parental controls should be there for, an actual feature. Nothing would have stopped Nintendo from just adding a "disable web browser" to the parental control feature the Switch already possess. As such the lack of a web browser is not a "feature", it's merely omitting functionality.


True, that is what parental controls are for. Still, kids are clever, and I'm lazy. That makes it a feature in my book.


The problem is that it appears to be handheld-power in console, not the other way around. That being the case, the trend seen with third-party titles and the WiiU is going to be more pronounced right out of the gate with the Switch.


No browser?? No netflix? If you want these there are umpteen devices in your life giving you instant access already. This is about pureplay gaming. Nobody buys a console to browse anymore. I can literally do browsing and netflix with 3 devices right now within my immediate reach in the living room, and I'd be really unlikely to want to replace my smartphone with the switch when I am travelling even if it had a browser.


Browse no. Netflix, well yeah sorry, if a big powerful device is hooked up to my TV and it's not speakers I expect it to have Netflix. It doesn't matter much to someone with 5-10 consoles and blu ray players and smart TVs, but for a lot of the country $300 is still a decent chunk of change and it's likely to be replacing a much older console. Still, those folks are less likely to be getting a newly launched console, so it may be fine.

Netflix on devices certainly makes me use them and think of them more. I'd say half my PS4 time is spent on Netflix, which gives plenty of opportunity to pique my interest for some newly released game or service whenever it boots up.


The wired review is much more negative, if you want a contrasting view: https://www.wired.com/2017/03/review-nintendo-switch/


>"At this point, with Nintendo not having commented on or fixeds the issue, I can only go forward assuming the Switch consoles going on sale this Friday will all potentially have this problem, and that Nintendo is about to sell you a $300 game system requiring some kind of fix before it performs its basic functions."

Yikes, that sounds disastrous.


From what I've gathered - the antennae in the Joy-Cons do not get enough power. GameXplain did a video showcasing the issue. The right Joy-Con also has the issue, to a lesser extent.

Nintendo might be able to adjust the gain on the Joy-Con radios, at the expense of battery life. They might have to re-certify with the FCC to do so.


It definitely looks bad, but I've seen a few videos demonstrating the issue and it only really happens if you have the joycon entirely covered by your hands, or behind your back.

This could be a software bug that is fixable with an update, but that seems unlikely considering it affects the left controller more than the right one, which would indicate a hardware design flaw.


I'm not following your train of logic where it isn't that bad if a joycon doesn't work if covered by your hands. For a real product it needs to work in all cases, not if you put your hands a certain way.


Sounds like another big-name product, for which the advice "not if you put your hands a certain way" was touted as a complete disaster.


I don't disagree, I'm just saying it's not a complete disaster.


Well if you weren't sold on waiting for the next release, you should be now. I was super excited about getting one of these, but now I will probably hold out for the Switch "S". At the very minimum, wait to see if the buggy left joy cons are being shipped with this initial batch.


Not all of us can delay playing Zelda in 900p@30fps for that long. I mean, if I don’t get it on Friday, I will be pissed. Also, note that there’s the Pro controller, which is better for playing on the TV anyway, so at least in that case, this is a non-issue.


I thought it was going to be 60fps on the Switch, did that change?


I'm sure you know the Pro controller is 70$ =/


The Xbox One controller is 60. Paying $10 extra for HD Rumble seems like a bargain.


The xbox one/ps4 controllers are packed in, pro controller is not.


That’s because Nintendo decided to include a different kind of controller with the system, and have the “normal” controller be a separate purchase. I think, this was a good decision. My point was that the price point for the Pro controller seems fair.


Maybe some places. They're $40 on Amazon and $48 on Newegg.


Honest question, why not buy it on the Wii U then?


I wrote 900p@30fps for a reason ;) The Wii U version runs at 720p, and the frame rate is a bigger problem (both versions aim for 30fps, but “dips” happen much more often on Wii U, from what I’ve read). In addition to that, loading times are much faster on Switch due to the switch to cartridges.

And if that’s not enough, there’s also the “fact” that many of us want to play other Switch games this year, so why wait?


I'm considering just that, but the Wii U version is 'only' 720p, plus from what I hear it might struggle with performance.


Not everyone has a Wii U either


ArsTechnica is also tending towards negative, with optimistic parts: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/03/nintendo-switch-revie...


Ars has been against the switch from the beginning. I was actually surprised by the optimistic parts.


I know the author of that is huge Nintendo geek too, so that doesn't bode well for it. Although he does say most of these issues could be ironed out soon.


If someone can answer that question for me:

Why has Nintendo shifted towards producing underpowered consoles? I used to play the Super Nes when I was a kid, and it was the most powerful console of its generation. The N64, the GameCube, the Wii and subsequent offerings were all underpowered in terms of graphical abilities and raw power after that. I hear people say "But the gameplay is what matters", which I agree with, but my question in the end is "Why can't we have both?".

Is it a costs thing?


It is mostly credited to Gunpei Yokoi's philosophy:

"Yokoi articulated his philosophy of "Lateral Thinking of Withered Technology". [...] "Withered technology" in this context refers to a mature technology which is cheap and well understood. "Lateral thinking" refers to finding radical new ways of using such technology. Yokoi held that toys and games do not necessarily require cutting edge technology; novel and fun gameplay are more important. In the interview he suggested that expensive cutting edge technology can get in the way of developing a new product"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunpei_Yokoi#Lateral_Thinking_...

Nintendo consoles have always been a bit behind technologically; but I think this became really accentuated with the Wii, which was by design not that far ahead of the Game Cube- when the rest of the industry went full steam ahead fighting on specs.


I think there's a bit of a darker side as well. The Wii was so unbelievably successful, and profitable that it seems to have created a kind of corporate-level of addiction, and subsequent profit-seeking behavior. The Wii was underpowered, quirky, but just happened to hit all of the notes that a ton of people who hadn't played games before (and would later move on to playing on phones and tablets) were looking for.

Most of all, they made a profit per unit sale of the Wii, when the standard at the time was (is?) to sell consoles at a loss and make it up on fees and sales of games. They made profit on the base Wii, then they profited from all of the other shit they made up to sell for it. When the time came to move on from that gold mine to something new, they predictably tried to strike gold a second time.

They didn't.

Now they're trying a third time, and I suspect it will end badly for them. They've increasingly lost sight of what made them great, blinded by the allure of unbelievably quick and vast quantities of hard cash.


Nintendo has a history of doing quirky things, in an effort to differentiate themselves. They've always been innovative.

- Directional Pad (NES)

- Shoulder buttons on controller (SNES)

- third handle on a controller and controllers with expansion slots (N64)

- portable gaming systems (starting with gameboy, which didn't even have a backlit screen)

- subsequent iterations that included: folding designs (SP), Touch screens for interactivity (DS), game sharing (DS), 3D (3DS, designed before 3D was "a thing")

- RFID out-of-game experiences (Amiibos)

- Innovative nunchuck design where moving the controller is an axis of control (Wii)

- A second-screen experience (Wii U)

- ... and these are just the recent/well known innovations. I'm sure I'm missing many (link cable, anyone?)

So, basically, Nintendo has always tried to push the envelope with their consoles. Nintendo isn't interested in making a boring "not-a-pc-i-swear" console.

Nintendo hasn't lost sight of what made them great. In fact, I'd argue that they're still very much on that path. The day we see uninteresting hardware is the day Nintendo has strayed from what made them great.


You forgot the quirkiest thing of all, the Nintendo Power Glove [0] released in 1989.

[0]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Glove


And the NES robot, R.O.B. ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.O.B.


And Virtual Boy :)


And the Superscope.


Power Glove was Mattel, not Nintendo. (Though it was featured heavily in The Wizard, which Nintendo was involved with; and its name evokes Nintendo trademarks from the era like "Nintendo Power" and "Now You're Playing With Power", so lots of people thought it was Nintendo's.)


You can really divide that list into two distinct eras:

Era 1: Nintendo is the head of the pack in software and hardware, and not afraid to try new things.

-NES

-Gameboy

-SNES

-Partly N64

-DS

Transitional period: Gamecube. At this point it's pretty clear that Sony is bringing things to the table that Nintendo is struggling to match. It's not a bad console, the GC, and it ends up being almost laughably affordable, but it's the slowpoke of the gen.

Era 2: Wii->Present.

-The Wii, as you say a pretty quirky and novel take on interfaces. This is the period when Nintendo makes a huge part of the fortune they're sitting on today, and expands to a truly staggering userbase. Traditional Nintendo fans (i.e. people who want Mario and other key franchises) are happy, new gamers are happy, people who want one console are not.

-WiiU, frankly stunk. It didn't do what anyone really wanted it to do, it wasn't as inexpensive and cheaply fun as the Wii or GC. The WiiU tried to be the Wii, and a mainstream console, and it wasn't.

-3DS. Not a bad thing, but I'm yet to meet anyone who really gives a shit about the 3D. Another gimmick that gets forced into things, but ultimately the portable brand is full of such incredibly good games that it doesn't matter.

-Modern portable: ... Fantastic. It's hard to argue against Nintendo's mastery of this aspect of gaming. Underpowered, still too focused on gimmicks instead of perfecting the core experience.

-Amiibo... brilliant business move, it's hard to argue against how happy it made some people, but it was also a manipulative money-grab. It was a case of Nintendo understanding how to maximize a fad, but it brought nothing of value to games.

-"Second Screen Experience"... again, it was something you could work with, but it mostly got in the way of developers and ended up being underwhelming.

Nintendo has lost sight of doing something simple, extremely well. The Gameboy was great because it was just a portable gaming machine, and it kept on that way until two screens and 3D gimmicks, and multiple iterations of largely the same handheld started to muck it up.

Hardware has made Nintendo rich, but it's the software that made them great. Mario as a concept and a game was much better than the NES platform and interface. The more Nintendo has made money on hardware, the more their software has suffered.


Gamecube was the slowpoke of that generation? That sounds wrong. Official specs suggest Dreamcast < PS2 < GC < XBox. But it seems to be generally accepted that XBox specs were a bit overblown and in practice GC and XBox were almost equal in overall real world results. (And the weak PS2 clearly won that round anyway.)


I think that's a good assessment, but Gamecube wasn't a slowpoke. More powerful than PS2 which won the generation. Games looked really good on that system compared to PS2. It really suffered from arriving late, after PS2 had huge momentum. It also had the smaller 1.5GB optical disc that might have held it back.


I'm not really sure I agree. I think the eras you've chosen are pretty contrived.

If the gimmicks that "muck up the same handheld" aren't worth anything, then the vita should have captured a large segment since it had virtually no gimmicks and just solid hardware. Not the case.

Nintendo's portables have added a lot. Please don't tell me that juice is "essentially just water with some flavor gimmicks." yes, everyone is iterating. No, nobody knows what will ultimately pan out and what won't. If you want Mario on PS then say so, but Nintendo is genuinely trying to innovate and think differently. Move and Kinnect are gimmicks. Nintendo will happily devote a generation to do something interesting.

The day Nintendo gives that up and makes an x86 platform running expensive hardware with no "gimmicks" is the day they become a primarily a software developer.


I love my 3DS, I use it all the time... yet the 3D slider has remained in the "off" position since within 3 hours of purchase.


Not to mention the Virtual Boy!


To add to your point, several of those ideas were released before even the NES, by Nintendo!

Their portable Game and Watch series included buttons in the direction pad format and even a few folding duel screen models as early as 1982.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Game_%26_Watch_games


I still can't for the life of me understand why they didn't slap a gps chip on it. I was so hoping that Nintendo would develop the gameplay that will become the standard for AR games.

Instead, it's a glorified 3DS. =P


From what I understand, they can readily afford to make these bets though. If Switch turns out not to be another Wii, but rather a WiiU, that's no sweat to them and they can easily figure something else out.


"Nintendo have $10.5 billion in the bank – enough for it to take a $257 million loss every year until 2052."

http://nintendotoday.com/nintendo-not-doomed/


Them and Apple... two companies so swaddled in money that they can't even hear their consumers anymore.


Shareholders aren't impressed by "our quarterly losses only burned through a tiny portion of our stockpile", though. The pressure on Nintendo to deliver with the Switch is quite high.


The SNES, N64, and the GameCube were not really behind technologically (they were different from their competitors, but not behind). The Wii was the first Nintendo console that was clearly just flat out technically inferior to all of its competitors.


I think the GameCube was actually ahead of the PlayStation 2 and behind the XBox in terms of raw power. But it might have had other limitations that I'm unaware of.


It was very close to the Xbox in terms of its graphical capabilities. The major advantage the Xbox had was its hardware shaders.


I think people mistakenly believe it was less powerful due to its small size and cutesy shape.

Personally I love the GameCube shape but I recall people complaining about it looking like a child's toy.


I like this utilitarian perspective and believe it could strike a good content/profitability balance if done correctly. Constantly pushing new hardware specs is what has allowed the novelty of franchises to wear off into tired rehashes with better graphics. So we have to buy new hardware to push the new rendering engine that powers the new Call of Duty game that is ... the same as the previous 3 Call of Duty games, with more realistic 'splosions and faces.

If a company could, and would, pour its resources into a novel concept that leveraged existing, known technology, then I could be pretty happy with that. I don't like having to buy/accumulate more "stuff" but that's what we're being sold.

The closest I've seen Nintendo come to allowing this "Lateral Thinking ..." philosophy was with Xenoblade Chronicles X. Otherwise I've been wholly disappointed with the Wii U and the Wii before it (once the novelty wore off).


The SNES CPU was underpowered compared to the Genesis. But the overall system yielded better gaming experience.

It's similar to Apple lesser RAM numbers compared to the market, yet iPhone are still smoother globally.


The SNES is not underpowered compared to the genesis if you compare them as a whole and not just spec for spec like comparing mhz on a CPU. Console hardware is made for running games and are not general computing devices. The snes hardware had many hardware supported graphical modes that allowed it to push the envelope without relying on a beefier CPU, the most famous of which is Mode 7 which allowed the pseudo 3d you see in games like F-Zero, the FF world maps, Mario Kart, Secret of Mana, Super Mario RPG and so on. And then there was this very common practice on SNES to embed coprocessors and DSP on the game cartridge, which is what allowed the graphical effects of Star Fox and Yoshi's Island notably. There was no such practice on the Genesis.

> The list of Super NES enhancement chips demonstrates the overall design plan for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, whereby the console's hardware designers had made it easy to interface special coprocessor chips to the console. This standardized selection of chips was available to increase system performance and features for each game cartridge. As increasingly superior chips became available throughout the SNES's vintage market years, this strategy originally provided a cheaper and more versatile way of maintaining the system's market lifespan when compared to Nintendo's option of having included a much more expensive CPU or a more obsolete stock chipset.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Super_NES_enhancement_...

As far as graphical capabilities were concerned, the SNES ecosystem was definitely more powerful. By the time Sega considered the idea of extending the Genesis with the 32X it was already too late into the console lifecycle to matter and flopped (very close to the release of the Sega Saturn and 1 to 2 years before the Nintendo 64, depending on your region [NA, EU, JP]).

There was also the Sega CD but all it did is enable a library of not-games pseudo-interactive movies.


The SNES is not underpowered compared to the genesis if you compare them as a whole and not just spec for spec like comparing mhz on a CPU.

This is literally what the parent said phrased differently.


I didn't want to state the obvious and be too detailed but yes that's exactly what I meant. And is what people were trying to assess above too: what are the reasons behind Nintendo hardware. And to phrase it again differently, Nintendo tries to be vertical for "entertainment", doesn't really matter how, as long as they achieve quality fun.


Yes, but the Genesis came one year before and had quite a more beefy CPU (even two IIRC). This makes the SNES "processing" power a bit tame in a way. Otherwise I agree, visual and musical capabilities were vastly more important for gamers. Lots of games looked magical on a SNES but rusty on a Genesis.


Define underpowered. It had a slower clock, but supported much more feature wise. You can't just compare clock speed when comparing different architectures. It's more appropriate to compare the entire system. By that account, the SNES was the most advanced console out. Same for the NES. Same for the 64 (which was a joint development with SGI of all things). Even the gamecube had some grunt but was hampered by it's silly disc format and poor development environment.

No, Nintendo didn't decide to go with underpowered hardware until the Wii. Prior to that they were certainly competing with the top tier systems.


But more importantly than the specs war between those two consoles, the Genesis had vastly superior games and catalogue. I had both and the only people I've met who think the SNES > Genesis were people who only had the SNES.


It had a slower clock speed. You fell for Sega's "blast processing" hype machine


From what I've gathered through the years, I think there's this undertone to Nintendo's strategy around not directly competing with the likes of Sony and Microsoft: companies that tout and create powerful beefy specs that become a one if not the main driver to market their devices effectively.

Nintendo seems to continue, whether they're always successful or not (Wii vs Wii U), to push the company strategy towards make new-ish gaming paradigms and focusing more on the 1st party game quality.

We're also at a period where I feel we can all see the effect of diminishing returns on visual output (i.e. PS4 for a layperson doesn't look orders of magnitude better than PS3 releases later in that device's life), so again Nintendo is looking to differentiate where graphics quality is becoming more of a commodity amongst the major consoles.


Exactly, they have their niche and their own unique games. The scene for the most powerful gaming device is already pretty saturated with the Xbox and Playstation, and let's not forget, the PC.


The Gamecube was actually more powerful than the PS2. An easy comparison here is to look at Resident Evil 4 on both consoles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkKX-nU9fX4

If anything, the fact that the Gamecube's graphical superiority didn't help it much in the market is what made Nintendo make their shift towards innovations instead of clock cycles.

You can't have both because the market has told Nintendo specifically (via the DS, 3DS, and Wii) that it wants unique experiences, not more pixels.


Well, then Nintendo really learned the wrong lesson from the Gamecube versus the PS2, because the lesson should have been "people want to be able to play DVDs on something that costs that much and hooks up to your TV, and they don't like switching discs to play a game."


Nintendo was considering changing its strategy before the GameCube even came out. See my other post here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13769605.


Both the N64 and GameCube were not substantially underpowered.

The choice of cartridges over discs, and later mini discs over full sized ones, were not directly ones of choosing the 'weaker option'.

The PS2 and Wii were the weakest systems of their generations and the most successful in terms of hardware unit sales.


> The N64, the GameCube, the Wii and subsequent offerings were all underpowered in terms of graphical abilities and raw power after that.

The N64 was underpowered?


Definitely not. The N64 outperformed the PSX, but it was far harder to program for and cartridges were far more expensive than discs. That's where Nintendo's lack of 3rd party support began. The Gamecube and Xbox were about on par with each other, and both outperformed the PS2. But the PS2 had a huge lead time and strong 3rd party momentum from the PSX. The Wii was the shift where Nintendo began to fall behind on horsepower, instead focusing on broad market appeal, lower price points, and less intimidating input methods. The Wii U and Switch are continuing that trend, trying to chase the Wii dragon, but so far not succeeding.


I think there's more to it than that. Matt Leone wrote an amazing Oral History of Final Fantasy 7, published over at Polygon: http://www.polygon.com/a/final-fantasy-7

The switch from N64 to PS is talked about a lot - Square definitely started development for FF7 on the N64 prototype systems before switching over. Hiroshi Kawai, a character programmer for Square, has what I think are the most telling comments:

"I kind of had a suspicion that things weren’t going too well for the 64 at that point, because … one of my responsibilities … was to write performance applications that compared how well the 64 fared against the prototype [PlayStation]. And we’d be running parallel comparisons between the [PlayStation] where you’d have a bunch of 2D sprites bouncing off the screen and see how many polygons you could get within a 60th of a second. And even without any kind of texturing or any kind of lighting, it was less than 50% of what you would be able to get out of the [PlayStation]. Of course, the drawback of the [PlayStation] is it didn’t really have a z-buffer, so you’d have these overlapping polygons that you’d have to work around so that you wouldn’t get the shimmering [look]. But on the other hand, there was no way you’d be able to get anything close to what FF7 was doing [on PlayStation] on the 64 at that time."

Kawai has more on the topic, which is fascinating. And the entire piece is just amazing, and I imagine most people on this thread would enjoy reading it.


At the time, this is true. One of the N64's primary limitations was its suboptimal microcode. It wasn't until too late in the console's lifecycle that studios like Factor 5 and Rare really showed its potential with their own custom microcode.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_64_programming_charac...


At the time the Playstation pushed more polygons per frame. I remember this debate because Nintendo said that they allowed for larger seamless polygons and said that it produced a better image on the screen.


Weren't N64 games over all higher resolution than PS1? I remember PS1 being just a jagged mess compared to N64


I think the main difference was textures: on the 64 they ended up being blurrier/flatter and therefore less pixelated. That said, there were definitely PS1 games that looked great and weren't cursed with jaggies (Wipeout, for instance).


I'm not sure about resolution, but the N64 had built in AA and AF.


Maybe I'm super confused here, but I thought there was no such thing as "higher resolution" when it came to analog TV signals. This was before HDMI/HDTV. Your resolution was whatever NTSC/PAL dictated. Or am I wrong?


The screen resolution is the same but the resolution of the image can change. If a system's output renders to the entire screen then just imagine a 1 pixel output would make the entire screen the same color. 4 pixels could have 4 quadrants of colors. 16x8 pixels would have 128.... etc. The max resolution would be the max resolution of the display. Though a topic of interest may be sub-pixel rendering where a system/font/game can take into account the RGB color pixel layouts in an LCD screen into account in order to improve the visual quality of the max resolution.

So a system can have double the resolution of another and games can even choose to render at different resolutions depending on how intensive it is. Some games will choose lower resolution but more polygons and some might choose higher resolution with fewer polygons, among other choices. There are even modern cases where console games will change the resolution they run at to keep framerates solid https://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/forums/6e35355aecdf4fd0ac...


a common criticism of the n64 was that it used cartridges while other consoles of the same era had adopted cd-roms offering much higher capacity. that lead to some games being shorter and/or simplified on the n64 compared to their equivalents on other platforms.


I'd highly suggest reading this discussion from 2000 between Miyamoto, Itoi, and Iwata. It pertains to the cancellation of MOTHER 3 on the N64, which was probably their most ambitious project at the time. It's an enlightening read. (https://yomuka.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/earthbound-64-cancel...)

It's long, so I'll throw in a few quotes.

>Miyamoto: Game quality was at a point when it caught up with top-tier entertainment, with visuals that had come so far that all we had left was coming up with new ideas for us to express. It was like we gained incredible calvarymen to make an unstoppable army. […] We came in right during that time period. I think we got distracted by the prospect of building up that powerful army and lost sight of how we were going to form our battle strategies.

The following snippet is the highlight. Note that Iwata became the president of Nintendo shortly after, in 2002.

>Iwata: There’s this really strange common sense now that says it takes a huge team of people working with a large scale and a lot of time to create a good game. A good game is supposed to be based on a good idea that’s very fun, even if it’s small. That notion disappeared somewhere along the way, and it’s turned into a battle of who can spend the most time and utilize the most manpower. You could even say that Nintendo needs to take a stand against this.

The result: the adoption of the Blue Ocean strategy.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-10-10-nintendos-i...

I'm reminded of a Twitter thread in 2013 by CliffyB, where he talks about the game industry's obsession with inflated budgets (http://www.igameresponsibly.com/2013/06/13/cliff-bleszinski-...). This is what Nintendo sought to avoid with a slower adoption of raw power and instead making more focused games.


I actually thought the Switch was more or less breaking that trend. It doesn't seem underpowered when considered for what it is (a tablet).


The portable screen is just 720p, which is not the end of the world. What I found surprising is that even when it's running Zelda on a full display, it only runs at 900p. I think if it can't do 1080p in 2017, it's fair to call it underpowered.


By that standard, the ps4 and xbox one are also underpowered because some games on those platforms also run sub-1080p. Every game makes performance tradeoffs. Some games on Switch will support 1080p, others will opt for other visual bells and whistles.


The PS4 and Xbox One came out in 2013.


1080p came out in 1998.


Doesn't that prove the point?


Yeah, its a cost thing from what I understand. Sony and Microsoft actually sell their consoles at a loss, they lose money on hardware sales.


Nintendo also sold consoles at a loss. The Wii U was sold at a loss, but they specifically didn't want to do that with the Switch (http://venturebeat.com/2016/10/26/nintendo-wont-sell-switch-...). I believe the original Wii was originally sold at a loss, but it wasn't long before Nintendo got the costs down and got profit on hardware sales.


Nintendo is competing against two competitors with impossibly deep pockets: Sony and Microsoft. They can't do a loss leading razer-and-blades sales model where they lose on the system but make it up on games. Thus every system they sell since the entry of both competitors has to be both profitable and price competitive.


It's not just a costs thing. I have never, ever, ever, ever noticed a loading screen in any Nintendo game in my entire life, which is astounding. Lower-fidelity assets must be partly attributable to this, along with clever design to effectively hide whatever loading screens they do need. I have plenty of time to ponder this curiosity while waiting for Bloodborne and FFXV to load...


You must have stopped playing nintendo games before the gamecube came out.


There are loading screens in the new Zelda.


I guess I can live with that... but only if they're not at random places in the overworld, like Morrowind or Oblivion on consoles had.


It's hard to make photorealistic Mario or Zelda. Their consoles are primary for their own games which have very cartoony look.


They know they can't win a spec arms race.


Anyone can win a spec arms race. Whoever wants to spend the most money will win. Nintendo doesn't want to participate in a spec arms race.


And I'll note that Nintendo definitely has the money to spend.


I believe this allows them to be more profitable than Xbox/Playstation where they try to squeeze in the best hardware. I also think it aligns well with the younger target audience. The graphics restrictions has also given us some of the more interesting graphics styles in modern Nintendo games.


It's cost thing, but not just at the hardware level. Developing cutting graphics is always more expensive than settling the the level of what your could do 2 years ago.

Since they are not in a race, they prefer investing in other things.


Nintendo can't sell consoles at a loss the same way sony and MS can. You're also forgetting their portable lineup, their portables have always been under powered compared to their competitors.


This isn't true. The N64 had more graphical power than the PSX, and the Gamecube had more power than the PS2.


They've always been underpowered, that's part of their shtick. Just some generations all of the competitors are underpowered too.


Nintendo can't really afford to sell hardware at a loss, for years, just to build-up market share, like Sony/MS can. Sony/MS can just do some Excel accounting magic to hide those losses under the giant umbrella of all their other businesses, but Nintendo - they have to make a profit, period.

Also, yes, gameplay is what matters. I have a PS4 Pro/VR combo and I can't say the games are that much more exciting than what I played on the PS3. Is Open World Game XYZ so much more incredible than what Rockstar pulled off with GTAV on the PS3? Eh....

We're plateauing quickly in terms of graphical fidelity. The PS3 was an easy sell, a huge upgrade over the PS2, but the PS4 - not so much. "It's kinda like the PS3, but crisper!" is how I'd describe it to a non-hard-core gamer.

Give me 60 fps and 1080p and I could give a rat's ass about how complicated the shader that renders photo-realistic ear wax in my RPG protagonist's ears is - that's not going to make me shell out another $400.


> Nintendo can't really afford to sell hardware at a loss, for years, just to build-up market share

Not really. It's old but back in 2014 we saw Nintendo could run at a lose for many decades if necessary and still be fine because they were sitting on almost $11 billion in cash [1]. Today I thought I read that it's higher but not sure how to look it up.

> like Sony/MS can. Sony/MS can just do some Excel accounting magic to hide those losses under the giant umbrella of all their other businesses, but Nintendo - they have to make a profit, perio

The PS4 sold for a profit from day one. I'm not sure if the XBox One was similar or not but they're likely making a profit as well.

Selling at a loss isn't as common in the latest generation.

> We're plateauing quickly in terms of graphical fidelity. The PS3 was an easy sell, a huge upgrade over the PS2, but the PS4 - not so much. "It's kinda like the PS3, but crisper!" is how I'd describe it to a non-hard-core gamer.

Problem is you're only thinking in terms of graphical power. The PS4 has easily a better network for online gaming along with a ton of great games. Don't forget about PSVR being a really nice, mid-level entry into the market and is currently the leader as far as all currently released numbers indicate.

Being an easy sell or not is going to depend on the person you're selling to but I wouldn't dismiss the PS4 as just "crisper" than the PS3.

[1] http://nintendotoday.com/nintendo-not-doomed/


The SNES was extremely underpowered compared to my desktop at that time. A 3 MHz 16 bit CPU in the early mid 90s like I had in my 80s home computer, except it was 1994 not 1984 and I had a 40 mhz 32 bit 386 and was playing with this new "linux" thing I downloaded as a series of floppy disks from a local BBS.

Nintendo hasn't changed, but the console market has, such that their competitors gave up on the console ideal and now ship what amounts to strange desktops with mid grade video cards.

It seems to just be a cost thing.


That's not really accurate.

First, PCs were extremely expensive at the time compared to the SNES. Your desktop likely cost $2000 or more I'm guessing.

Second, the graphics co-processors for rendering sprites and tiles in the SNES where much more interesting than what you'd get on a computer of the time.

Commander Keen was the most advanced PC scrolling game back then and it used a severely restricted colour palette compared to the SNES.


That's great. Except it wasn't until the year 1990 that someone like John Carmack could make a smooth-scrolling 2d platformer that would rival Super Mario Bros in terms of performance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptive_tile_refresh

SMB was released in 1985.

So yes, please tell me more how an early 1990's PC, without the specialized hardware that consoles had, in the hands of a programmer not-quite-up-to-par in the skills department as John Carmack, would kick the SNES's butt when it came to smooth-scrolling games.


You're right on the money, there. PC hardware sucked for games until 3d graphics accelerators came along.


This is usually the point where the Amiga fans come out of the woods to point out that the Amiga was actually the best hardware for gaming at that time.


I am very excited about the Switch and hope my preordered unit arrives in time :). I do like the WiiU, the biggest complaint being, that it is tied to my tv, and not always where I want to play it. Playing it on the pad is nice, but the resolution and range are very limited. I also like the 3DS, and would really like a faster version of it with a larger screen with much more resolution.

It turns out, that the Switch checks all these boxes. If you design a screen for a 3DS successor with is slightly larger and higher res, you arrive at the screen of the switch. It is also the same size as the screen of the WiiU. And docked, it outperforms the WiiU as stationary console. Of course it falls behind the PS4, but I think the market for non-portable consoles has been "won" by the PS4. But while they will continue to exist, the prime time for stationary consoles might be over too. With the Switch, you are no longer tied to the TV. Nintendo took quite some care to make sure that the Switch mostly performs identically docked and undocked. There shouldn't be many if any games which are tied to one mode only.

The popularity of gaming laptops should tell us, that there is an increasing number of people who want to be mobile in their gaming, not necessarily as in playing while riding the bus, but as in taking your gaming hardware with you when like visiting friends. And that is, where the Switch easily outshines for example a PS4. Add to it the ability to do multiplayer gaming on the local network (Splatoon2, Mario Cart,...) and it has a lot of prospect.


It seems like the ideal system for me as well, as someone who uses the 3ds pretty heavily, let's hope there are enough of us to save this console.


I really wish these reviews would tell us the display's brightness.

It's weird to criticize battery life without saying how many nits the display is outputting and what the battery life would be at, say, 200 nits with a demanding game.

So far all I've been able to find is that Zelda lasts 2.5 hours with full brightness. How bright is full brightness? It's a mystery!

Edit: Digital Foundry says that max brightness is higher than the 3DS XL and visible in daylight. So 500-600 nits maybe?

They also say that it lasts "just over 3 hours" with the display at half or low brightness.


I'm more interested in how low "low brightness" is.

I will never forget my Blackberry Bold 9600. Full brightness was quite bright. No brightness was also quite bright. Not great for checking your phone in the middle of the night without sunglasses.


  Now I can take Zelda with me wherever I go — not some limited 
  version, mind you, but the full console Zelda experience. I can 
  play on my TV, pick up the tablet from its dock, and continue the 
  game without skipping a beat or compromising the experience.
Continue... where, exactly? Modern mobile games work because they can be picked up for a few minutes in a line at the grocery store and put back down when you get to the checkout. Can a full Zelda title lend itself to this pattern of short mobile sessions? Furthermore, the Switch may be a svelte device, but is it something you'll actually carry around every day like your phone?

The Switch looks very well suited to a plane or road trip, where you have to sit for a longer period without anything to do, but it's hard to imagine that representing a major change in regular usage for most users.


If I recall, a number of studies showed that most people mostly play their portable gaming devices at home. I suspect the portability of the Switch for big games like the Legend of Zelda are largely about accommodating this use case (comfort, extra screens in the home, multitasking).


I think it's also hard to overstate the parental appeal of "you can get the TV back at any time without the kid whining about an interrupted game".


Or SO can watch TV while you kill some Moblins :)


The Wii U does this, and with much better battery life. I can kind of see where moving the whole console into the controller is a logical step forward, but at the same time I feel like they should have just beefed up the Wii U to have Xbox One/PS4 specs or better. But maybe then it would be harder to sell as a "new" console?


According the US Census in 2013, 5% of commuters used public transit and nearly 10% carpooled. [1] I know I would enjoy occupying that time with some Zelda!

[1] https://www.census.gov/hhes/commuting/files/2014/acs-32.pdf


Now this form factor is what Google's Project Ara should have been. It's a modest size tablet to which you can attach peripherals. Peripherals big enough that many industrial sensors would fit. If you need an airflow meter with temp/humidity/CO2 sensing (HVAC techs use these), that would fit. Or a digital voltmeter/oscilloscope. (That would be very useful, especially at a Nintendo price point.) Or an RFID tag reader. (Those are way overpriced now.)

What's the interface to the peripherals? (The base unit has USB-C and the peripherals have Bluetooth, at least, but it's not yet clear what the wired connection between peripheral and main unit is.) Can the device take new software, or does Nintendo have a lock on that?


Can't you just get those peripherals as plug ins devices for an iPhone/Android?


Then you have dangling cables and need both hands.


Personally, I am a fan of the setup. I like the idea of having multiple TV bases so that the switch can be moved between rooms easily. My kids are at the age where they do a lot of family RV trips and we'd be able to get a base for there too.

I'm much more interested in the Switch as a family console than a personal. I grew up an only child and played A LOT of online games by myself. Ever since college I've had a standing rule about not playing games unless it's social - aka in the room.

This perfectly fits my use case.


It feels like Nintendo is really gouging people on the peripherals though. Each docking station is $90, which seems pretty expensive for what's essentially an HDMI port and USB charger, especially just for the convenience of being able to play it in any room at any time. It doesn't take very many of those before you've basically paid for a whole new Switch.


The games aren't really cheap either. $50 MSRP for something like 1-2 Switch is ridiculous to me.


Hmm, the battery life is kinda disappointing. I'm not interested in Switch as a TV console (PS4 does that significantly better and has better games for when I have time to give them) and it seems it's going to struggle as a 3DS replacement when it can't even live through a rather average flight :/

I do still hope the best 3DS franchises will make it to the Switch and I might pick it up after price drops under the price of PS4.


Just under 3 hours of battery life for a highly demanding game like Zelda seems pretty fair to me to be honest. 6 hours for less demanding games also seems pretty fair.


For me, that's disappointing. It means that a year or two into battery wear you'll be tethered to an outlet.

The situation looks even more dire after reading this quote.

> ...although we’ve yet to find a battery / cable that can charge the console faster than it drains.


Batteries don't tend to degrade like they used to. The chips that charge and discharge them are a lot more sophisticated. Most batteries do well for 2.5-3 years these days.


Obviously the dock can keep the machine powered while playing, so there is at least one.


Other outlets were not having the same issues. I suspect a cable or device issue.


Good thing is that you can use almost any powerbank with it, thanks to it's charging through USB-C.


According to reviews, it depletes the battery faster than it can be charged so a powerbank won't expand life as much as it should.


No, it can charge while playing when using the official adapter. It's just that people were using low-rated battery packs. USB C can support up to 100W, the Switch charger is 45W, so if you're using a pack that doesn't output more than 10-20% of that, obviously you'll have slow charging and probably not enough to sustain playing and charging simultaneously. I'm not worried, I'm almost never away from power for more than 3 hours anyhow, though I will be finding a high capacity battery that can output a good enough charge rate.


Yah, you're right. Quoting from the review: "we’ve yet to find a battery / cable that can charge the console faster than it drains." So it's possible and likely that someone will make a capable pack at some point.


Found

On the positive side, plugging a powerbank into the Switch causes the console to recharge faster than it depletes its own battery even in a stress test scenario with brightness and volume maxed. [1]

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2017-ninten...


Looks like it won't take much. A lot of USB-C power banks on Amazon max out at 3A/5V; at 15W, that's just about the top power consumption measured on the Switch (16W), so it ought to be enough to at least keep the battery constant as power use fluctuates during regular gameplay.

I expect we'll see 5A+ power packs in the future which will handle it easily.


I can highly recommend http://www.banggood.com/ZMI-QB820-20000mAh-Quick-Charge-2_0-..., although I'm hoping someone with a thermal camera can do a proper teardown and review at some point - it gets a little warm at ~40W output.

It charges my XPS 9350 just fine, so it should do the Switch no worries.


Those are extremely impressive specs for the size. Great find and thanks for the link.


But the Switch downclocks the GPU greatly in portable mode, so it consumes less power. If it does that, and charges but a bit slower, you won't need a 45W battery pack.


But you can't charge and use it at the same time


The Switch battery life is comparable to the original 3DS battery life. It seems that it'll last much longer than my iPhone does when I play demanding games on it.


"Jack of all trades, master of none." It's not a console you'd want to own without another console, it's not a portable you'd be able to use like a proper portable.

So what is it, other than something for people who already knew they'd buy whatever Nintendo had to offer?


"... sometimes is better than a master of one" is the rest of the saying ;)

The Switch is almost a Wii U. The one big difference is that the Switch doesn't allow both screens at once - by using the small screen as the console.

It is an average Nintendo TV console with the added functionality of being able to let someone else use the TV by undocking the Switch and continuing game play - just like the Wii U.


I think you're over-selling the Wii U. I was originally excited by the Wii U portability, but the range that the gamepad can go from the console is incredibly short.

My office is 20 feet away from the console (through two walls), and I can't use the gamepad reliably. That's hardly portable. It doesn't work anywhere in the house other than in the adjacent room.


Well, I wasn't trying to over-sell the Wii U - but it was definitely a Prototype for the Switch - that's practically undeniable. Especially when you look at the Wii U prototype [1]

Range on the Wii U is terrible, and the Switch is an "incremental improvement" in that regard :p

Battery life between the two is about the same, with the Switch gaining range

[1]: http://nintendotoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/slide002...


You are literally the first person I've ever met who knew the rest of that rhyme! It would be on HN of course... chuckle

I agree with your closing point, which is why I'm so disappointed here. I love Nintendo games, but for a long time now I've despised their hardware.


I've skipped all the Nintendo consoles since the GameCube, in part because I didn't care for odd controls (I just want to play Mario/Zelda/Metroid with a regular gamepad!), and in part because as a result of those odd controls backward compatibility isn't too great either.

The Switch, however, will be the first console I'll buy. I'm not too happy with the low specs, but it's somewhat justified by the portability. And if Nintendo does what I hope they'll do, I'll be able to play a whole bunch of older and indie games now that there's a normal controller as a default (portable Metroid Prime!?!).

Unfortunately I don't quite trust Nintendo to be sensible, so I'll have to wait and see what happens first. I'm very tempted to get a second-hand Wii U so I can play Zelda and go through my unplayed first-party back-log, though.


since the GameCube, in part because I didn't care for odd controls

Gee, I remember thinking the Gamecube had pretty odd controls when it came out. The C-stick seemed like an odd compromise between the N64's C buttons and the PS 2 controller's dual analog sticks.


It was definitely a bit odd... it worked, but it wasn't the ideal solution. In the end, there's a reason why that was a dead-end.

The problem is that everyone wants to create bold new interfaces, but few people want to refine existing ones. If you can make a breakthrough, go for it, but if not... just make iterative improvements. I'm a lot happier with how Sony and MS have gone with their controllers, by contrast.

Honestly the Switch seems like the closest thing to a classic control scheme that they've had in a while. If it had more than 3 hours battery life, and didn't seem in need of a day-0 patch, it might even be worth it.


> I just want to play Mario/Zelda/Metroid with a regular gamepad!

Both the Wii and WiiU offered pretty good controllers so you can do just that.


You seem to be thinking of your PS4 as a "home console" and the Switch as the "portable", whereas the Switch is really both those things and none of them. You can play the same games both on the couch and on the go (unless you are hellbent on always playing two games in parallel on each console).

I think the Switch will allow for a new "non-binary" way of thinking about what's portable and what's a home game, and fit into our lives in a new way. I can't wait to start playing a game on the commute back home from work (which takes well under the 2.5h), and continue the same session on the big setup later when I arrive. I think it will allow me to spend more hours per week playing big titles compared to what I can spare today.


I'm in the opposite camp. I'm a happy owner of Wii U and would probably skip the Switch.

I don't like the compromises (mostly performance) made just to make it portable. That's the use case that doesn't interest me in the slightest.

I would just prefer a beefy modern console that plays fun Nintendo-ecosystem games.


Same here as a happy Wii U owner. Skipping the Switch unless there's some very compelling content and I don't know what that would be. It's essentially the Wii U all over again but you can take it out of the house. I don't care about that.

It might be a little more compelling if they kept the processing in the dock and the handheld was a thin-client, requiring a home network or internet connection to stream from it. Battery life would improve at least.


And I personally wanted a new TV console with current-gen capabilities. It looks like neither use case is completely addressed.


So I wouldn't buy a Nintendo console as my first console. But I have a PS4 that covers me for most of my gaming (and Netflixing needs) and the Wii U was a great addition to get access to all of Nintendo's stuff. So I'm excited to swap out the Wii U for a Switch -- although there's no rush for me.

One thing that has changed my opinion a bit about Nintendo's products, though: Having a kid. Suddenly it's very clear what it means for Nintendo to make a family console as a product subtly different from a gamer's console or a more adult console, which is what I would consider my PS4 to be.


I believe this is squarely where Nintendo lives, in the family space. We have all of the consoles available to my kids. The only ones they play? Wii and Wii U. Don't care about Xbox or PS because of the Nintendo's first party titles.


I see the Switch as a replacement for the DS, which Nintendo was successful with. The fact that it works connected to a TV is a benefit but not a main feature. Nintendo is competing against the iPad and Android tablets that kids get for Christmas and their birthday. Not against the ps4 or Xbox. This is where I see Nintendo having a chance. Parents can buy their kids a tablet that is also a game console. Which is brilliant.


That's precisely why I'll be buying one: my daughter wants a 3DS, but I said let's wait for the Switch instead. Then we'll get to use it on our main TV (replacing our Wii U, which we rarely use) and have games that work in both settings. Win-win.


If your daughter wants a 3DS to play portable games (with nothing specific in mind) then waiting for a Switch instead of getting a 3DS is probably worthwhile.

If, however, your daughter wants a 3DS for specific titles, you're still better off getting her the 3DS. For example, if all of her friends are currently playing and trading on Pokemon Sun/Moon, getting a Switch will basically have her feeling left out.


In her case it's not for a specific title, so she was excited to learn about the Switch and is waiting for it. For whatever reason I don't see many kids around here playing on 3DS, so peers aren't a factor. (Most gaming with friends happens on PC/Mac Minecraft; I run a private server for them.)


I think the pokemon games will eventually get ported to thw switch. Which is great.


delayed gratification is not always a bad thing.


>> delayed gratification is not always a bad thing.

It's not so much about delayed gratification -- when you're talking about a specific game (especially one that is online) on a specific platform, it's more like no gratification at all.


The more I learn, the more I want this as a 3DS replacement. The TV aspect doesn’t interest me as much. It looks like it might deliver on that promise as they work the kinks out.


> The more I learn, the more I want this as a 3DS replacement.

I don't know if that's even possible. The 3DS has pretty good third party developer support and a huge back library.

The true worth of any system is how many high quality games are on the system and whether they're the games you want play.

Outside of the obvious "must have" first party titles, I can't see a whole lot of system-selling "must have" third party titles. If you're not into Nintendo's own games, you pretty much have no compelling reason to get a Switch. And if Switch hardware sales aren't strong enough, third party developers will stay away.

It also doesn't help (especially for parents on a budget) that Switch games are around $20 more than 3DS games.


Some of the niches that the 3DS owned up until now might be disrupted by the Switch though. I'm one of these old school (as in, thoughtful turn based combat, whether tactical ala FE or FFT, or more about party building and dungeon exploration like SMT and Etrian) RPG gamers who bought the 3ds solely games like the Fire Emblem, Etrian Odyssey, Shin Megami Tensei, Devil Survivor series, and of these, Atlus has already announced that the next major sequel to SMT will be on Switch instead of 3ds. The DS and 3ds up until now had all the major games of the series (Strange Journey, IV, IVA). It's nice to see the series go back to a more powerful console, we have missed seeing those demons animated in 3d the way they were in Nocturne on Playstation 2. Can't say I will miss the 3ds if the other game series follow suit.

Fire Emblem also traditionally had home console releases alongside portable gamesystems, but the Wii U flopped too hard for niche games to have much room. Concentrating developer efforts on a single console that does both portable and home, large screen play is a smart move for Nintendo.


It really depends on the game genres you like.

For example, I like fighting games, and that's why I bought the 3DS (even though you can count them all on both hands). Street Fighter IV was one of the early launch games for the 3DS and holds up surprisingly well.

Meanwhile in the Switch announcement, Capcom announced a rehash of the older 2D Street Fighter II, which is a less than impressive announcement. At least the Wii U got Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

If I didn't just buy a GPD Win recently (which plays the Windows Steam versions of SFIV and Street Fighter x Tekken among others at close to 60fps @ 720p in a 3DSXL-like form factor), I would still choose my 3DS for fighting games over the Switch for the foreseeable future. I still play my 3DS a lot because I somehow started playing Pokemon for the first time (Sun/Moon) and got hooked on it.

I actually pulled the trigger on the my GPD Win a couple of weeks after being disappointed with the Switch webcast. It basically killed any remaining desire I had to get a Switch, but as I mentioned earlier, it all comes down to the genres you play and which platforms serve them the best.


I'm excited about the switch. My kids will use it in the car, we'll play some mario kart when we go out to eat at, my son almost exclusively games on his 3ds.

I'm hyped!


This is a good review. Nice pictures, and some real-world usage scenarios, especially concerning battery life.

I really wanted to like the Switch, but the addition of and focus on motion controls during their January press conference really killed it for me. Alternate input methods for games have failed, but Nintendo keeps pursuing this. My worry about the fact that the console supports motion controls is that games will use them. Motion controls killed the Mario Galaxy series for me, I couldn't get past the first hour or so without having so many frustrating input problems. I have a Wii U and Nintendo's games insist on using the microphone for stupid gameplay mechanics, like blowing on it to move platforms.

Nintendo makes really good games, but they're tied to crap hardware and forced to use really awful input gimmicks. This feels crummy to say, but I kind of hope the Switch fails so that they're forced to go third party, drop their crap hardware division, and put out their excellent software on game consoles I actually want to own and use.


Hmm, I have to disagree here. I'm actually really excited about the Joy-Con's and the Switch's portability. Mainly because you take the tablet with you and you have the ability to do same-screen co-op just like that.

For a game like Towerfall or Mariocart (Or a launch title, like Snipperclips) that is amazing. And the ability to play Zelda on an airplane sounds awesome.

I do think they flubbed a ton of stuff on the software side (and even hardware...digital triggers on the joy-cons...) mainly by making 1-2 switch a $50 title and not a pack-in, so I see that flopping hard. At this point the only reason to buy is Zelda, so in that regard it seems like a soft launch for the dedicated fans, then the real launch will be this holiday season.

I do agree on disliking motion controls for a console like this, but motion controls do have their place in VR, so maybe Nintendo has some future plans in that space...


Yeah, the portability is really cool! And the ad-hoc networking for multiplayer seems neat. The joycon controllers seem pretty neat, simple little controllers, which means you can focus on gameplay. I was really excited for it.

But... then the January demo happened. It's all dumb mini-games with shit motion controls. It's an ice cube vibration demo(?!?). It's some poorly-defined camera vision detection thing. They seem to be doubling down on awful input methods, instead of showing us good games that I want to play on hardware I want to own.


> It's all dumb mini-games with shit motion controls.

Do you mean 1-2 Switch? That's one game out of quite a few games that are coming out this year. 1-2 switch is definitely heavy on the Nintendo gimmick though.

I was somewhat surprised at how few 'gimmick' games were announced. Most of the games are standard controller-type games. Mario, Mario Kart, Zelda, Splatoon 2, and all the indie games that were announced yesterday.

Edit: You're right..forgot about Arms being motion controlled too.


What I remember from the press conference was 1-2 Switch (motion controls barf), Arms (motion controls barf), Zelda (getting it on Wii U), Splatoon (probably actually good), something about ice cubes (what), Skyrim (isn't this game like 8 years old?), some distant-future titles, and a handful of nebulous 3rd party statements of support.

Maybe I'll pick one up in a year or two if they don't lean to heavily on the motion controls gimmick after all. But I'm not holding my breath.


> I do agree on disliking motion controls for a console like this, but motion controls do have their place in VR, so maybe Nintendo has some future plans in that space...

I could see them doing something like the Samsung Gear VR for the Switch.


I disagree, I thought the use of microphone in gameplay was an interesting addition, and it's not like it's something that you had to do more than a few times total in a game. Also, there's no possible way that motion controls will be the main input for most games- it's portable.


Experimentation is great but yes it's been (and continues to be) overdone. The best games in my opinion still use the standard controller, I just got done with FFXV and I never longed for anything but that DualShock4.


> I have a Wii U and Nintendo's games insist on using the microphone for stupid gameplay mechanics, like blowing on it to move platforms.

Haha, really? They've done that crap since the Famicom. Didn't make it to the states, but the Japanese controllers had a microphone. Had to blow into it for a couple games (Japanese version of Zelda, for one). They must be really in love with that input method.


> Alternate input methods for games have failed

Is that really so? Motion controls work very well for certain niches. Some types of games are better without them, but so long as developers allow the choice of conventional inputs in cases where they don't work well, it shouldn't be a problem.


Joy stick for fighters.

Mouse and keyboard for FPS and similar games.

Traditional controller for platformers/side scrollers

Touch for a few types of games on mobile, not many though.

Almost never do I want to use motion.


Motion controls actually worked really well for the Madden series on Wii. Only, EA put some bargain-basement coders on the Wii versions, and that, coupled with the below-average graphics, are what made it not as successful a game series.


...Motion control for VR.

It works incredibly well in VR - whereas I know a fair few people find gamepad controls immersion-breaking, compared to interacting with the virtual world with your hands and your body.


Wii bowling


And tennis. And golf. And baseball. And many others where people either don't have or don't let their preconceptions steer their preferences.

Motion controls never caught on because game studios aren't interested in making games locked to one console, and motion controls are far less standardized.


> And tennis. And golf. And baseball.

Until you realize your standing-up-arm-waving strategy is being destroyed by the person sitting on the couch making little wrist flicks, who may as well be pushing buttons for all the motion they're making. And that person isn't experiencing severe RSI, the likes of which doesn't happen playing those sports for real, 5 minutes into the match.


I mean, I am not going to complain if I am sitting there taking my time diligently trying to aim my controller and then my 7 year old brother comes running around the corner with his machine gun just spamming AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA and gets an ace. It's all part of the fun. If you aren't having fun playing a video game, stop playing.


The mode of play that is more fun hurts and loses to a mode that is basically button pressing (mostly because when you're making the "real" motions it can't figure out what you're trying to do half the time, and does something else instead, while wrist-flicks are picked up reliably). The failure is (at least their implementation of) motion controls.

Was great for rail shooters, though. Don't know why they didn't make an effort to get a port of every rail shooter ever made on the Wii. Only console ever where they'd be (the only?) first-class citizens.


So, the first generation of motion control games that use that control scheme had some problems? Color me surprised.

In truth, you want to be able to play from the couch. You also want to be able to play in a more immersive style. Being able to detect one or the other and having a slider to allow more lenient play would be ideal. At the other end of the spectrum, I imagine requiring a more true translation to the actions on the screen would help prevent any RSI, as it would naturally require a wider range of actions.

It's easy to fall back on what we know because the new thing doesn't always work right and has some pains in the initial implementation. That doesn't mean we discount it entirely.


That person is also not enjoying themselves. I am with my arm waving.


Random waggling do not true motion control make.


I would posit that some limited motion controls could benefit most, if not almost all games. The big problem is the controllers are poorly adapted for motion in most cases. The Wii is able to do more with motion because the controller setup makes that possible, with the separated joystick portion and motion portion. It causes problems in that it's not as button-rich as contemporary controllers, so cross-platform titles often require changes, but when used appropriately, the motion controls can enhance play quite nicely.

Unfortunately, there's little incentive for established third party developers to put much effort into motion controls, as they want their games on as many platforms as possible and large differences in control schemes make that hard.

That said, the PSVR stuff is really the next level of motion controls. Unfortunately, it looks like they ignored where I think Nintendo had good foresight, and didn't include a way to use analog joysticks with the controllers, so it appears you either use the VR controllers or a regular Playstation controller, and there's no hybrid solution equivalent to the Wiimote nunchuck joystick (I hope I'm wrong, or they have a way to fix this with an attachment). Motion controls are still going strong, we're just still evolving past the equivalents of the Atari joystick and original NES controllers.


The Switch is supposed to have excellent hardware.

Also, the majority of people at preview events (greatly) praised the motion controls of the upcoming game ARMS. HD Rumble also is reported to be amazing.

I for one am excited to play with what may be the first really great motion controls.


If I look at all the controllers since SNES, alternate input methods were always their thing.

And since they have a big hardware divison, they need to come up with innovative ideas to sell hardware.


Nah, N64 and Gamecube were pretty standard. Buttons and joysticks.


The Gamecube, yes. But the N64 analogue stick was the first of its kind, no?


And don't forget the rumble pack on the N64. It cracks me up that Sony still calls their controller the "DualShock", since that was a direct "2 is better than 1!" response to the N64 rumble pack.

On the other hand, Sony's one-upmanship also added the 2nd analog joystick to controllers and that turned out to be incredibly important.


Well, when they added it, it was rather useless.

I think I only played one game on the PSX that really used 2 sticks and that was Ape Escape.

Only when FPS became a thing on consoles, the second stick was finally used in more than a few games.

And when did this become the case? With the XBox?


There were FPSes on PS1 and PS2 but they were not good and didn't use modern control schemes (though maybe Red Faction used it?).

I would credit Halo more than XBox for inventing/popularizing the good controller scheme for FPS games.


Eh, not really. Analog sliders were common, including Pong. The joystick itself is a clear extension of the Atari 2600 joystick. It's a small tweak to existing control methods, not a whole new paradigm like motion controls.


Yes, for todays standards.

N64 was a weird trident with a thumb-stick, PSX added these sticks later with the DualShock controller.

GC had this freaky button-layout.


The GC controller is the best gaming controller, IMHO. Followed by the SNES controller.

My hands have never cramped playing my Gamecube or SNES. They cramp constantly trying to play FF15 on my PS4 and playing Xbox isn't much better.


I love the PS4 controller. I would get hand fatigue with the PS1/2/3 controller but the PS4 is just the right shape for my hands and I never notice anything even after extended play times. I like it a lot.


The 360 controller gets my vote, but the Gamecube comes in at a close second :)


GC was the first with analog-plus-click triggers too, I think.


The showed what, 2 games that used motion controls? I wouldn't expect most games to even bother with them. I guess we'll see though.


> Alternate input methods for games have failed, but Nintendo keeps pursuing this.

The switch support standard input methods and then some.


I assume is a form of internal corporate welfare. One has to assume that the company would be bigger and healthier without the hardware division.


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