Today, Nintendo gave the world their first look at the newest console, the Nintendo Switch. As the rumors and leaks predicted, the Switch is a combination home console and handheld gaming device. However, not only does the Switch blend the line of home and on-the-go gaming, it also introduces a console that has multiple ways to play. Throughout the trailer, we see five different styles ways to play the Switch. Take a look at the trailer below, and continue reading to see a breakdown of each controller type the Switch shows off.
1) Joy-Con Grip + Joy-Con Controllers(At Home Setup)
The first design we see are the two Joy-Con Controllers slipped onto either side of what Nintendo is calling the Joy-Con Grip accessory. This creates a square to a pill-shaped controller. The left side features an analog stick, d-pad, a minus button, and shoulder button. The right side has an analog stick that runs parallel with the d-pad on the other side, YXBA buttons using the classic Nintendo layout, a plus button, and another shoulder button. The middle is where the accessory piece will sit. There are two green lights showing in the video, which could either indicate player number, much like the PlayStation 4 does with colors. However, I think the more likely use of these colors would be the battery status of the two Joy-Controllers. At this point we don’t know whether the grip accessory will charge the controllers, so having something to indicate the status of both of them seems to be a necessary component.
There are two questions that come to mind when looking at this design. First and foremost, will the grip be included or is it going to be sold separately from the Switch? I would lean towards it being a separate purchase since it doesn’t appear to be a required component to make the system playable. If it is an add-on, the next question is how much will it cost?
The second question which can apply to pretty much any controller, is how will it feel if used for long periods? If the setup is too wide, I could see that becoming a frustration, but based on the initial look, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
2) Nintendo Switch+ Joy Con Controllers(Handheld Setup)
The second design we see is the Nintendo Switch itself( the tablet, the other piece is just a dock when playing at home), with the two Joy-Con Controllers attached to either side. This creates a hand-held unit that looks similar to to the Wii U tablet. Probably the most intriguing part of this setup is the ease of use. In the trailer, we see the Joy-Con Controllers slide off the grip accessory and connect to the Switch in one fluid motion.
Much like the other Joy-Con setup, battery life will be a huge factor here. Under the assumption that each Joy-Con Controller has its own battery life, there is now a third factor with the Switch. The iPad Pro clocks in with a battery life of around 10 hours on average. For this to be a viable, hand-held unit, it would need to be in the 6-hour range.
The second question with this setup has to do with ease of use. It will be interesting to see if transitioning the Joy-Con Controllers from the grip accessory to the Switch is as easy and seamless as the video makes it look.
3) Nintendo Switch(with a kickstand!)+ Detached Joy-Con Controllers(Handheld)
For our third setup, we see the Switch reveal that it has a kickstand on the back of it! Although subtle, this is a something a lot of people find themselves wishing a tablet had. Along with the kickstand, we see the Joy-Con Controllers detached from the Switch. The two controllers then are used wirelessly, evoking a feeling similar to the Wii Remote and the Wii Nunchuck. The major difference here is that the two controllers appear to be wireless.
The major concern with this appears to how comfortable this will be, especially over an extended period of time. When the are separated from the Switch, the two controllers are tiny. Even with each in one hand, it seems very awkward and uncomfortable based on the video. However, this setup does open the door to an important question: is it possible to connect the Switch, when it isn’t on the dock, to the pro controller(more on that soon). It seems like this would be doable, but we will need to wait and see.
4) Switch Pro Controller(At Home Setup)
After a questionable layout with the pro controller for Wii U, it looks like Nintendo got the message loud and clear. With the Switch back on the dock, we get our first look at the pro controller. Unlike the controller for Wii U, this controller offsets the analog sticks, and puts the four main buttons(YXBA) in a diamond shape on the right side. The layout evokes something very similar a Xbox 360 controller.
The big question I have for the pro controller has to do with size. It is hard to gauge how big this controller is in the video. However, based on what we have seen, this looks like the controller that all Wii U owners wish they had.
5) Nintendo Switch + Joy-Con Controllers(Multiplayer)
The fifth and final setup brings what is, in my opinion, the most surprising setup. The final permutation shows the Switch being used as a multiplayer console, with a single Joy-Con Controller being used by each player. Players rotate the controller to a horizontal position, which gives each player an analogue stick, four buttons, and a shoulder button. The trailer shows multiplayer Mario Kart, and NBA 2K.
As previously stated, my major concern with using the Joy-Con units as detached controllers has to do with size. The controllers look extremely small in every clip when they are separated from the Switch or the grip accessory. With something that small, it seems like it would get extremely uncomfortable if used for a long period of time.
Since the switch looks like it will come with two Joy-Con Controllers, the question will be how many other controllers can be connected for multiplayer? Along with this, how easy will it be to take controllers that come from a different Switch, and sync them to a new one?
Without knowing more information, it is hard to say at this point how many of these setups will be viable over the lifetime of the Switch, and how many will be rarely used after launch. However, the variety shown here reinforces the idea that Nintendo is trying to create a console that can be played, wherever, however, and whenever.