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What is Nintendo teasing for the Switch? (update)

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Our thoughts on today’s upcoming reveal

Nintendo Switch - blue and red Joy-Cons in Joy-Con Grip James Bareham/Vox Media

Update: And now we know! Nintendo has announced a DIY “build-and-play experience” for Switch called Labo — with cardboard toy-con accessories.

We don’t have much of an idea of what Nintendo going to announce later today, but we do know that it’s “specifically crafted for kids and those who are kids at heart.”

What the heck does that mean?

There are some theories

Nintendo is uniquely focused on making sure kids can play its biggest games. There is an assist mode in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe that helps with steering, so younger players can enjoy a race by just pressing a single button to go forward.

Super Mario Odyssey also has an assist mode that removes the coin penalty for dying and gives you a marker that points to the next objective. The co-op mode also makes it easier for a younger or less-experienced friend to join in.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of those rare games where the design seems to work well for players in a wide range of age groups.

So when Nintendo teases a “new interactive experience” that’s good for kids, you have to assume it’s something that goes above and beyond the sort of game modes that exist in these games now that help children play. What would be worth a pseudo-Nintendo Direct stream when the company already handles these situations so well?

The first theory is that Nintendo is teasing some sort of new Joy-Con that connects to the system or works as a standalone controller with larger buttons and a layout that works better for people who aren’t used to playing video games.

The existing Joy-Cons can be uncomfortable when detached and used as single controllers, and a rounder design with larger buttons for (hopefully) a reasonable price would be a welcome addition to the system.

Joy con
These things can be pretty uncomfortable, whatever your age
James Bareham/Vox Media

The reveal could also be a set of formalized rules for assist modes in upcoming games, and a promise that one will be included in every first-party Nintendo release. Knowing that the system would help kids play in a consistent way across all the system’s best games would be a nice selling point for families with younger children.

Or it could be both of these things: Imagine a world where Nintendo promises specific rules for assist modes, while also releasing a completely new controller that takes advantage of those rules for simplified control schemes. That could be a powerful one-two punch that would help sell software and hardware.

Another theory is that Nintendo is teasing some form of new interactivity with amiibo, or even the launch of a Switch Virtual Console with a focus on simple and classic games; those would be announcements that technically benefit both kids and kids at heart. But the Virtual Console often appeal to older gamers interested in nostalgia these days, so that seems like a long shot.

Or we could be way off, and it’s something completely different. It’s fun to speculate — even with the tiny bit of information we’ve been given so far — and it’s nice of Nintendo to give us something to look forward to on a Wednesday morning.

What do you think it’s going to be? Share your thoughts in the comments, and if anyone calls it they can win the warm satisfaction of being right on the internet.