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Nintendo's precarious reveal runs risk of Switching off fans

Steep pricing and fumbled details makes for a less than assured launch.

Let's start with the positives. Despite the muted aftermath of Nintendo's Switch reveal in Tokyo this morning - and the ungodly hour most of us had to rise in order to watch it live surely played its part in some of the more downbeat reaction - there was plenty to find joy in.

Super Mario Odyssey has taken an unexpected turn for the real world, its delightfully named hub world of New Donk City featuring life-like citizens and a thrillingly open sandbox for Mario to play in. Arms is a new IP being overseen by Mario Kart 8's director that looks like a pleasingly deranged take on Punch Out. 1 2 Switch sees the local multiplayer focus that Nintendo's taking with Switch - always one of the Wii U's strongest suits - being played to with great effect, a screen-free experience that looks like Nintendo's own spin on party favourites such as Johann Sebastian Joust. Zelda continues to look fantastic, and Splatoon is getting a sequel. By 2017's end, Nintendo's console is sure to have acquired a formidable line-up.

Before then, though, there remain a few too many question marks, while some of the answers that came this morning left an unsavoury taste. The price is the obvious sticking point (and in part you can thank Brexit for the inflation). At £280 it shows that, while the Switch is placed somewhere between a home console and a hybrid, it goes beyond its direct predecessors, eclipsing the £220 asked for the 3DS at launch and the £250 price tag for the Wii U. Perhaps more pertinent, however, is the £200 that the PlayStation 4 is currently going for - and that's with Uncharted 4 bundled in to boot.

The Switch has its own unique premise, of course, of being able to take your home console games out with you on the move, but a handful of revelations make that promise seem more precarious than before. The battery life - 2.5 hours on the bottom end, with more generous estimates placing it at 6.5 hours - is a kicker for serious extended play, or any hopes of the Switch becoming a faithful companion for the bulk of long-haul flights. More worryingly, the third-party support from western developers was either absent or limp - Skyrim's not coming out until later in the year, while it's disconcerting that EA is again looking to do a 'custom' FIFA for the console. For that, it's too easy to read compromised, or perhaps a port of the last-gen version rather than a take on what would be this year's new FIFA model.

Best leave it to Nintendo, then, and while its games did look splendid - as you'd expect - elsewhere its efforts bordered on self-sabotage. A new subscription-based online service is fair enough, given it's the standard now across PlayStation and Xbox, but it skimps on some important details. A phone app allows for voice chat and party set-up - and you'd hope that stuff is native to the console itself as well - while subscribers will also get a free game every month. Except - and here's another kicker - it's a NES or SNES game. And it's only yours for a month. The removal of region locking is one thing, but here's hoping Nintendo has better news to share when it comes to game ownership being locked to player accounts.

There were similar dismal caveats throughout the fine print that trickled down through the event. The Switch's internal storage is going to be a mere 32GB, an amount that was already inadequate when it was the premium option for the Wii U. The accessories for the Switch all carry eye-watering price points - GAME is currently asking £74.99 for another pair of Joycon contollers, a frankly extortionate amount. Getting fully kitted up at launch looks set to be a devastatingly expensive experience.

Still, at least you won't have to spend so much on games, given how few there are at launch. Skylanders, Just Dance, 1 2 Switch and Breath of the Wild is the currently meagre line-up, and while Zelda is close to a known quantity, what's effectively a port of a Wii U game - one which will be available, cheaper, on a platform you may already own - isn't enough to justify a day one purchase. (For Nintendo loyalists, anyway - non-owners of Wii U might find it more appealing.) Given how quiet Nintendo's software houses have been in recent months, it's hard not to be underwhelmed by what's going to be available on day one.

The main worry around the Switch right now, though, is that it has priced itself out of appealing to that broader market Nintendo's own hardware needs. Nintendo's still got a fair amount of convincing to do, in other words, and that starts in the next few hours when we finally get to play the Switch. Let's see what this thing can do. '

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Martin Robinson avatar

Martin Robinson


Martin worked at Eurogamer from 2011 to 2023. He has a Gradius 2 arcade board and likes to play racing games with special boots and gloves on.