Back in 2005, Nintendo showed off what was then called “Revolution” at E3, but they made the then interesting but now clever move of not revealing the controller during that presentation. Instead, Nintendo only showed the small, but slick and beautiful console. Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata stated that the controller was going to “revolutionize” the industry, so they thought it was too early to show off the controller, thereby leaving the full reveal for a later time that same year.
Imagination began flowing everywhere at once as people crafted crazy theories what form this revolutionary controller would take and how many buttons it would end up having amongst many more questions. Obviously I too had started thinking about about the controller and what I hoped it would be. One afternoon, after going to an internet café to get my weekly dose of gaming news, I thought “Wouldn’t be great if the controller had an integrated screen?” I started picturing playing an FPS with my brothers and my cousin (the game I was thinking off was Perfect Dark, still missing the old Rare), each with their Revolution controllers with the integrated screen, would eliminate the need to look at the TV screen. In the process, it would also eliminate “screen cheating,” the process of figuring out where your rivals are by looking at their quadrants of the screen. That would have been sweet, but also having the chance to take your controller everywhere to play your favorite games was just icing on the cake.
That idea continued to stick in my mind even after the eventual reveal of the Wii (née Revolution) controller. Despite the fact that it wasn’t what I had originally imagined, I nonetheless was greatly impressed with what we know now as the Wii Remote. But I still thought that if Nintendo could put a screen on a controller to make home console gaming portable, that still was an even cooler idea than motion controllers. Nintendo had done something like that with Four Sword Adventures on GameCube.
I didn’t have either the game or a Game Boy Advance, which served as the “controller” for the game when playing multiplayer, but, as far as reading about the concept went, I thought it was an excellent idea to bring multiplayer on home console with separate screens without having the need to put a LAN connection between four or more consoles. Yes, wireless multiplayer eventually came with the Nintendo DS, so my idea was not so out of hand, Nintendo either needed more time to improve the technology, or perhaps they needed to wait for the technology to evolve in order to refine the concept.
Then years later, the Wii U came. The GamePad offered separate views, motion controllers, and portable gameplay, the last of which albeit in a very limited sense. It was “portable,” so long as you were within eyeshot of the console. I thought my dreams were coming true, but, then again, the technology wasn’t there yet to make it fully portable. Besides that, you could only use one GamePad at a time, so multiplayer with several GamePads on the same room was something we would never get. Even though Nintendo had originally proclaimed that two GamePads could be synchronized with one Wii U at the console’s E3 debut, that idea ended up never being supported, probably by the fact that the console failed to gain global success, unlike its predecessor, or that the cost would be prohibitively high.
The technology wasn’t there yet to make the Wii U fully portable. Nintendo either needed time or to wait for the technology to improve to refine the concept.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Wii U. I enjoyed every single game I got for the console. Having a separate screen make so many games interesting, more entertaining, and more engaging. For titles like the HD ports of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, they did not just offer a much better graphical presentation of both games but also expanded and improved upon their gameplay. And for exclusively designed games, like Super Mario Maker and Star Fox Zero, the Wii U took advantage of the GamePad’s unique qualities. Even Hyrule Warriors features co-op with one player watching the TV screen and the other looking at the GamePad as they presented two completely separate views of the game.
But its potential drained as the console failed to meet sales expectations, and Nintendo took note of what worked and what didn’t. And thus came along the Switch, which changed the game once again. The Switch is essentially is what the Wii U should have been, but it adds so much more to the equation.
It’s a mix of everything good that Nintendo has done through their history in the video game industry: It’s a home console you can take on the go, you can have multiplayer anywhere without needing to get another extra controller, and it seems that the Joy-Cons will have motion-sensor capabilities (after all, Just Dance 2017 is coming to Switch). Nintendo has said that they haven’t already revealed everything of their newest hardware, and that they will share more information in January just before the console’s release on March.
But I don’t need to know anything else. I saw the trailer and saw that lucky guy playing the highly anticipated Breath of The Wild. The moment he discovers that he needs to take the dog out but shows that this won’t get in the way of him playing as he pulls the Joy-Cons from the Switch Grip, I thought to myself, “Sweet! About time they’re doing is!” That for me was the selling point, a home console that you can actually have in your hands, take it anywhere you want to go, and play anytime you want to. It’s my dream come true.
Obviously I’ll miss the second screen integration now that Nintendo has announced that the Switch is a “single-screen experience” and games are going to get affected by this. The clearest example is Breath of The Wild, which, when it was showed on the game awards two years ago, included a map on the touch-screen of the GamePad, a feature that mysteriously disappeared from the game when it was again showed at this year’s E3. Eiji Aonuma confirmed that both versions of the game would feature the same gameplay, and this naturally would compromise the Wii U’s unique dual-screen potential. That was a hint of what was to come, and we can assume that some Wii U projects were moved to Switch so that the console won’t suffer from the software droughts that the Wii U had during its formative months and years.
But hey, I’ll be able to play the new Zelda at college while I’m waiting for class, at work while my boss isn’t around, and even at a boring wedding. What’s the limit with the Switch? There really is no limit.