Flipping the Nintendo Switch; A Reveal Trailer Breakdown

We’ve watched the reveal trailer many times, so it’s only fitting that we toss out some thoughts in response.

Since October 21st (and due to the lack of any tangible or confirmed news) we’ve watched the reveal trailer for the Nintendo Switch a great many times. It’s building so much excitement among many of you – and for us as well – that we thought we’d delve into it in a little bit more detail. Well, as much detail as you can in a three minute video that you are speculating on that is. 😉

We’ve added it in again for you to see below.

The video starts very tranquil. I suspect that it’s dawn, with a man peacefully minding his own business, playing Breath of the Wild in the comfort of his living room. He’s on horseback, smashing the granny out of a few beasties when his dog starts barking at him. Rather than risk the dog doing his business on the nice carpet floor, he gets up from his seat.

He walks over to the Switch dock, casually slides the Joy-Con controllers off their base unit and effortlessly glides them onto the removable screen unit, lifting it out. In an instant the game screen blinks from the television to the portable unit. He’s ready to take it out!

Our man sets off to an open space, with dog and Switch in tow, and plonks himself on a bench as the sun rises. He then proceeds to ignore his canine friend as he gets engrossed in the latest Zelda game. The risk of his dog running off notwithstanding, he’s clearly enjoying himself.

Smudges?
Smudges?

Paul: It’s a nice introduction to how the Switch works. It seems to give the impression that the transition from console to handheld mode is seamless, and removing the Joy-Con controllers seems very easy. Eagle-eyed watchers will have noted what look like two USB ports on the side of the dock, as well as fingerprints all over the screen of the Switch. Given that it’s probably a dummy unit, is it just where the unit wasn’t cleaned or has it been used with touch screen in unseen footage?

Kyle: This first scene says a lot. It’s showing you the basics of its range of single player playing capabilities, while affirming that the image you see on the TV is supposed to translate well to the handheld. The scene from the Zelda game shows a very clear resemblance, which is hopefully carried over in the final product (and not just in this teaser video).

The scene, ahem, switches to an airport with a new fella on his way to meet his lady friend. Pushing a game into the cartridge slot he settles down on the floor – you know how airport seating can be – and gets stuck into whatever he stuck in. Once seated on the plane he opens the kick-stand, sets it on the table and plays some Skyrim with the Joy-Con controllers free of the unit, one in each hand. He plays throughout his flight, in the taxi on the way home and once there, docks the unit and carries on. With what you would assume is the Switch Pro controller, leaving the Joy-Cons on the portable section.

Expandable Memory?
Expandable Memory?

Paul: This sequence further illustrates the functionality of the Switch, demonstrating the ability to continually play the game no matter where you are, then carrying on when you get home. We get a look at the kick stand and what looks like a slot for expandable memory as well as what some have speculated are vents to allow air to circulate. We get to see the Joy-Cons being used separately from the system, which obviously means they have their own power supply as well as getting our first look at a “proper” console controller for the Switch.

Kyle: The look at the top of the Switch in the airport clearly shows a top vent (likely to aide in docked airflow), as well as a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a card slot for what appear to be game cartridges. The game carts look a little thicker than an SD card, and about as wide as a thumb – meaning they’re proprietary as we’d expect. The joycons appear to have “R2” style triggers that are thicker than the joycons themselves, and the controllers are so easily separated from the console that the player does so while it’s sitting on a kickstand (and doesn’t even move the system an inch).

We cut to a group of friends getting into a people carrier, as one drives along to the Go-Kart track his two friends engage in a little Mario Kart in split-screen, with each using one half of the two-part Joy-Con controller. Both of them are going at it, with one of the chaps playing as King Boo, who – as most of you should know – isn’t in the Wii U version of the game. We also see that the gamers slide the Switch into a special unit to keep the screen steady.

New Mario Kart? Air Vents?
New Mario Kart? Air Vents?

Paul: For the first time we get to see some of the classic Nintendo “party” style gameplay and we see that the Joy-Cons can operate as individual controllers in their own right for some split screen functionality. It would appear from the way the players are pressing the controllers that their could be some additional buttons along the join. Either that or they are pressing them out of habit! I do wonder if that screen support will be an official accessory, and you’ll notice the grooves cut out in it, supporting the theory about the air vents.

Kyle: It looks like the proper way to hold the controller split screen is to have the join where your triggers would be on a traditional controller, which makes me wonder if the (now sideways) triggers are used at all. The control scheme for this split controller gameplay must be separate, and maybe harder or limited compared to the main controller – implying that games must be designed around both “full” and “half” types of controller by default. Oh, and those grooves in the support are definitely for air vents, in my opinion.

Next, we see a group of friends shooting some hoops for real before sitting down at a bench with two Switch units, separating the Joy-Cons and engaging in what looks like some 2-on-2 action in NBA2K, again with each taking one half of the controller. You would imagine that they are paired together locally, given their location.

The scene changes again to a young lady playing a new 3D Mario title. She notices her friends on an adjourning building and she waves to them, before then getting her Switch ready to leave the house. Within seconds she’s with her friends, and as with the other scenes she wastes no time in getting them playing with her.

Post Production?
Post Production?

Paul: Once again, Nintendo are showing us the multiplayer aspect with a group of friends playing together. We also see footage of an as-yet-unannounced Mario title. In addition, we get our clearest indication that these units are not playable in the trailer, the footage that the young lady is playing clearly clips her arm shortly after she picks the unit up to play.

Kyle: The way these friends sit down to play it seems that you can play four player games across two Switch units; with two players on each side, and each player using “half” the controller. If that’s true, that’d be a great way to promote social gaming as you can more easily add multiple players. As we transition to the scene with the girl and the Mario game we get another look at that Joy-Con dock and I wonder what its purpose is, especially as it has lights on the front. Are they just for controller connection and designation purposes, or do they denote a battery charge? Does that Joy-Con dock have a battery backup to increase controller battery? So many questions.

We then cut to the final scene of the trailer, and it’s two teams of four players discussing tactics for Splatoon. One group are noting down their strategy as the other fine tunes their technique before both teams make their way to the arena. The teams connect their Switches to the docks, get ready and away they go as the crowd goes wild.

e-sports?
e-sports?

Paul: E-Sports is one of the biggest areas of gaming right now, and this suggests that Nintendo are keen to get into that market. We see that the Switch Pro controllers work on the Switch in portable mode. The players dock their Switch units at the arena. Did they bring their own or do docks work universally? I’d also wonder what this means for the online abilities – if you are seriously touting the competitive nature of Splatoon as an online title, are you going to give online games the right tools such as online voice chat?

Kyle: The way these guys slip their Switch systems into those docks definitely makes me think that docks are universal with no pairing process, which would be great for gaming at a friend’s house as you’d only need to bring the core system (like if you were going portable). On the matter of E-Sports, I’m not quite sure how those things play out but I always thought the players had headsets on, while these ones did not – I hope that doesn’t mean Nintendo still hasn’t gotten the message about voice chat.

Summary

Paul: There are teasers and then there are teases and Nintendo have certainly tantalised us with this break of silence. Of the footage featured, only Breath of the Wild is currently confirmed as coming to the Switch and even that might not make the launch. We got to saw exactly what they hope to achieve with the platform, and you’ll no doubt have noticed that there wasn’t a child in sight.

Although the Joy-Cons are a little gimmick-y (read: innovative) the general direction was very much that this is not a child’s toy. It’s a serious device for adults to become engrossed in gaming again, and have fun to boot. It’s message is very strong, play anywhere with anyone and really hits that party staple that the company have become known for.

The system looks pretty big. It’s bigger than a Vita and looks on par with a Wii U game pad in dimensions which pushes the portability claim and we obviously don’t know anything about the battery life yet. Long term I would worry about the life span of the Joy-Cons, especially if you are letting your friends use them and you constantly pull the things on and off.

We will get the answers we want in January, but for now I have to admire what Nintendo have done in creating something that has excited so many people again, and got every intrigued in their next piece of hardware. All aboard the hype train!

Kyle: Nintendo definitely aren’t taking the same approach that they have in the past with the Switch, and it’s paying off as they’ve pulled me back from the bring of not caring about their systems. While there were plenty of rumours before it, this video solidifies their new direction.

Looking at the system itself, we have a big, beautiful device that seems to have covered all the bases it would need to be a gaming system with the flexibility to fit today’s culture. It looks easy to use, it appears seamless in transition, and it fits every lifestyle from lounge around the house gamer right up to social go-getter. It offers you the chance to take your (soon to be) current gen gaming somewhere you’ve never really been able to take a console that plugs into your TV; anywhere you want.

It’s too bad that the trailer didn’t answer all our questions though, as there are still so many to be had with this one. While I eagerly await the January follow up, I can’t help but to wonder if Nintendo is finally going in my kind of direction. Whether they are or not is for time to tell, but they’ve got my attention for the first time in years.

Bravo, Nintendo.