Nintendo is leaving us in the dark about some Switch details.
There's a lot to like about Nintendo's new game console. It's an incredible hybrid of portability and functionality, making it possible to enjoy the full Nintendo library from anywhere with few compromises. The controllers demonstrate Nintendo's constant push to improve how we experience games and include several new features you aren't likely to find anywhere else any time soon. It couldn't be more clear that March 3, 2017 is going to be a big day for Nintendo fans.
But there's plenty about this console/tablet hybrid Nintendo hasn't done a great job explaining yet. These are questions that need answering, and hopefully those answers come before Switch is shipping to those eager to play.
Will streaming video apps be a part of Nintendo Switch?
Nintendo tried hard to make the Wii U the first thing you turned on when using your television, without going the HDMI pass-through route. The controller included universal remote software, and all of the popular streaming video services are available on Wii U. Nintendo even showed off what integration with TiVO DVRs would look like on Wii U, though that feature never fully materialized.
Switch is a very different kind of system, and Nintendo is working hard to differentiate this new system from the rest of the gaming world. Part of that differentiation, according to sources at Nintendo, include focusing entirely on games at launch and not making any non-gaming content available initially. That means no Netflix, no Hulu, and no Amazon Prime Video for Switch owners at launch.
What isn't clear here is how permanent this decision is. Nintendo hasn't ruled out allowing streaming apps to be published to Switch at some point in the future, which is good news for those eager to use Switch as a good portable tablet, as well as a game console. Considering you can even watch Netflix and Hulu on the Nintendo 3DS, it seems unlikely these apps will never come to Switch.
Will there be a Cellular version of Nintendo Switch?
The high portability of Nintendo Switch, combined with the mesh networking feature that encourages up to eight consoles to play together without being connected to Wi-Fi, makes you wonder about a cellular version. Being able to play locally is fun, but being able to play these incredible games with your online friends no matter where you are would also be pretty great.
Nintendo isn't currently willing to discuss future plans with Switch hardware, but the company Nintendo partnered with to build Switch has made cellular tablets in the past. The NVIDIA Shield Tablet was able to connect to cellular networks and worked well for gaming, and we know NVIDIA worked closely with Nintendo on building Switch.
We may not ever see a cellular version of the Switch console, but it still seems like a great idea.
Are the Joy-Cons only available in those colors?
At launch, Nintendo is making available a standard Switch with dark gray Joy-Cons and a Switch with what Nintendo calls "Neon" Joy-Cons. The Neon variant has a bright blue Joy-Con on the left and a bright red Joy-Con on the right. Nintendo hasn't made any announcements about other colors or whether you'll be able to buy a blue Joy-Con for the right if you want an all-blue setup. At launch, these are the only options available.
You don't have to look hard to see Nintendo fans badly want this to change quickly. Renders of alternate color options for Joy-Cons are all over Reddit and elsewhere, but Nintendo remains silent on the issue. Historically, Nintendo has waited until after a major launch to make alternate color options available. Nintendo also has a history of making limited edition Zelda versions of consoles, but that isn't happening with the Switch at launch.
It's likely these colors will only be the default for a few months, but at launch these will be the only options.
Is there a web browser included in Switch?
This is a tablet connected to the internet, and Nintendo has included some kind of web browser with their consoles since before the original Wii, but it's not clear if Switch will have a browser at launch. It's possible Nintendo will add one later to better enforce the decision to make this launch all about the games and how you play them, but that wouldn't be a great decision.
Some wireless networks require a browser for logging in or verifying your account credentials, and by not including a browser, Nintendo would be making it impossible for those users to connect Switch and play online. Given the focus Nintendo has placed on app-based parental controls, it seems unlikely that a web browser of some description would be entirely left out of this console. Unfortunately, it looks like we'll have to wait until launch to know for sure.
Do any of my digital purchases from Wii U work on Switch?
Since there's no disc slot in Switch and second-screen designs don't work with the Switch setup, it's unlikely that backwards compatibility with the Wii U will ever be a practical option. Your Wii U games were specifically built for that experience, which makes it hard to take them elsewhere. That having been said, Nintendo's Virtual Console and all of the games available within should be perfectly compatible with Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo's plans for Virtual Console on Switch aren't entirely clear yet. We know there's going to be a monthly incentive program where you can play games from previous consoles for free each month, but at the end of the month those games go away unless you buy them. There's been no mention of games you've already purchased elsewhere, possibly because Nintendo hasn't fully figured out how this new online system is going to work. During the Switch announcement it was made clear that this online system would eventually only be available for a monthly fee, which suggests Nintendo is going to be finalizing the setup as people use it.
Got questions that need answering?
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