There’s a lot to like about what Nintendo showed of the Switch in its brief three minute trailer. It was very aspirational and made up of a handful of scenarios that might not play all that regularity in real life – are people really going to take their dog to the park and then sit on a bench and play Zelda? – but showed a quite compelling vision of the console’s mixed portable and home console capabilities.
But there’s also an awful lot of questions left unanswered by Nintendo, and they’re being stubbornly tightlipped about some things. There’s a notable lack of screen touching and prodding fingers in the announcement trailer, and when Eurogamer asked Nintendo of America whether the console would feature a touchscreen, they replied, “We have nothing to announce on this topic. We will make additional announcements about the Nintendo Switch hardware later, before the launch of the product.”
You could also wonder about if second screen gameplay is possible, as on the DS, 3DS and Wii U. That would hinge entirely on what the Switch Dock can do, as all examples in the video showed the players docking the tablet screen before resuming their game on the TV. If you need the screen to be docked to play on TV, then there’s no way to have second screen play, and there’s less reason for there to be a touchscreen as well.
“The Nintendo Switch Dock has been created so that it is extremely easy to seamlessly switch from playing games on a TV to transition into a portable mode,” Nintendo said to IGN. “The main function of the Nintendo Switch Dock is to provide an output to the TV, as well as charging and providing power to the system.”
There’s obviously more humdrum questions about what resolution the screen is – dev kits are rumoured to be at 720p – how long the battery will last, what specific Nvidia chipset is being used, and so on. Those are good things to know, but ultimately aren’t as important for the actual gameplay on the system as what inputs it has and the flexibility those offer to developers.
One additional point about the Dock is that it doesn’t seem to include any additional processing power – honestly, why do people keep expecting external boxes to add more power to a system? That’s almost never, ever how these things work! However, that doesn’t mean the console can’t run at a higher power mode when it’s docked, allowing the Nvidia SOC to run at full tilt without concern for battery life, potentially enabling the console to run at a higher resolution for TV play than its native built in resolution.
Finally, it might have looked like Skyrim and NBA 2K17 were both confirmed for the Switch, by dint of them both appearing in the announcement trailer, but… well… they both replied to Polygon to say they were “happy to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Nintendo” on the trailer, and that “While we are not confirming any specific titles at this time, we are pleased to announce our partnership with Nintendo and support of Nintendo Switch.”
That’s not a denial, but with both companies having the same statements, it’s clear that Nintendo is holding back on a lot more information until a later date. All of the games in the trailer were purely representative, as opposed to actual live gameplay, so spotting Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon might have suggested Wii U backward compatibility, but is anything but a certainty.
Whatever the case may be on each of these points, it would be lovely if Nintendo could put things to rest sooner rather than later.