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Nintendo may not be the grandaddy of video games (that honor belongs to Atari), but no one can deny that Nintendo has been a significant part of the video game market for a very long time. Forged in the burning fires of the first console war, the “bit war” where Nintendo’s NES and Super NES faced off against the Sega Genesis, Sega lost and Nintendo became the dominant console choice.
This was until Sony, and later Microsoft, entered the fray. The three companies form the major cornerstones of console gaming today, each competing with the other for video game supremacy. For the past few years, the gaming landscape has been dominated by Sony’s Playstation 4 (released in 2013) and Microsoft’s Xbox One (released one week after the Playstation 4). Nintendo has its own offerings, the latest being their Wii U (released in 2012) which has a smaller but still sizable fanbase. All three systems were considered “current-gen,” or the latest generation of gaming consoles.
But now, in 2017, we get our first glimpse of the next generation of games. Friday, March 3 marks the release of Nintendo’s newest console, the Nintendo Switch. The Switch is Nintendo’s new home gaming console, designed to be the first of the new next gen systems.
Nintendo has already established its dominion in gaming. In 2006, Nintendo surprised markets by releasing the Wii console system. The Wii was a system different from any other; unlike its competitors, the Wii used motion controls as opposed to standard controllers. The move was widely successful, and Nintendo sold over 100 million Wiis in the console’s lifetime.
The Switch continues the trend of new and different. It acts like a hybrid gaming system with the ability to switch between being a home console and a handheld. The system itself is designed to be hooked up to a television and play games designed for big budget systems but it also comes with a screen that can be taken out of the system and hooked up to the controller that makes it portable–much like a handheld. This shouldn’t come as too big a surprise. Unlike home consoles, Nintendo has dominated the handheld console market for some time now.
The controller for the Switch has some of the mainstays of classic controllers, including dual analog sticks and the ergonomic shape most controllers share. Much like the console itself though, sections of the controller can be detached and either attached to the portable screen or used as motion controls similar to its Wii predecessor. In other ways, Nintendo is going old school, as the new Switch games will be on cartridges instead of disks. The last major gaming system that used cartridges was the Nintendo 64, which came out 21 years ago.
Will the Switch be the mega hit that the Wii was? Probably not, but the Switch still has a lot going for it. Its pre order sales have been incredibly high, selling out instantly at places like Best Buy. No doubt it will explode out of the starting gate, but that momentum may not last due to the fact that, upon release, the Switch won’t have a very big library to choose from. There are games like “Zelda: Breath of the Wild” that are highly anticipated, but without a comprehensive library to choose from, the steam for the system could go out fast.
Whether the system sells really or is disappointing, Nintendo’s new innovations can’t be ignored. And nobody doubts what Nintendo can do. After all, it survived two console wars.