Ever since the very first PlayStation Portable was announced, I couldn’t wait for the day I could comfortably play high-end games anywhere.
The only problem was that technology — and let’s be honest, support from strong developers — was never up to the challenge. And if we’re really being honest, I’ve been dreaming of a console that could live up to this dream since the Game Gear. The Atari Lynx tried, the Sega Nomad was flying too close to the sun and in recent years, others have tried and failed.
I had so many high hopes for PlayStation Remote Play when it was announced. And as I dipped more into PC gaming, I thought the Nvidia Shield would allow me to competently play games like Skyrim and Overwatch in bed. Neither lived up to those expectations in practice. So much for that dream ...
But then today, Nintendo announced the Nintendo Switch, the long rumored console / portable hybrid.
For the first time, it seems as if my dream would finally come true. The Nintendo Switch does something fundamentally different than PlayStation Remote Play or the Nvidia Shield: it blurs the line between the home console experience and portable console experience natively, not as an ad hoc solution.
Ever since portable consoles came out, players had to divide their experiences and expectations based on what device they were playing on. It’s clear that you would be getting a difference experience on a WiiU than you would on a 3DS. PlayStation Remote Play devices and Nvidia Shield tried to bridge the gap through streaming content from a more powerful device to a mobile device. Both concepts are trying to pipe a bigger experience into a device that has no business trying to punch above its weight class.
In talking to my colleagues about the Nintendo Switch, Dave Tach summed it up best, “The secret sauce of the [Nintendo] Switch is that you don’t have to choose a handheld. You get one when you buy it.”
The Nintendo Switch was made with portability in mind. But it’s also meant to hook up to your HDTV ... and it’s also meant to be brought to a friend’s house, on a plane or for you to awkwardly pull out on a date.
The idea behind the Nintendo Switch is that the experiences it delivers are meant to be had anywhere. This can be done because Nintendo doesn’t aim to push the limits of what their gaming experiences look like. Instead, their goal has been to evolve what the entire gaming experience is.
The Game Boy puts Nintendo games in your hand. For many, this was the first time players had the freedom to play great games anytime, anywhere. The Nintendo DS took the idea further and changed how we interact with games physically. The Wii did the same thing for the home console.
And now, the Nintendo Switch is poised to change where we play, how we play and what should we expect from the overall experience of playing games.
If Nintendo can hold to the promise of what its launch trailer expressed, then the launch of the Nintendo Switch on March 2017 can once again change things.
Nintendo might be able to remove the restrictions of where we play games. When I dream of playing a massive adventure like the Legend of Zelda games, I imagine doing it at home on my couch. Sure, the mobile versions are great. But they are just that: mobile versions.
In this Nintendo Switch future, there might not even be “mobile versions” of your favorite games anymore. Instead, you’ll be able to play your favorite Nintendo games everywhere, uncompromised.
The future sounds wonderful.