After a year and a half of speculation and rumors that had hardcore Nintendo fans and video game fans alike foaming at the mouth, we finally got some real info, so did we finally get the answers to the questions we were asking about the NX’s power? Well, not exactly, but now we know that the Nintendo switch is the name of the console, we know that it will be a portable/home console hybrid. We also know that because of this, we shouldn’t expect it to be as powerful as the ps4 or even the Xbox one.
But why be surprised from this? Lets look at the story of Nintendo first console and see why its never been their MO to be the typical game system, in the book game over by David sheff he shows us how a then freshly graduated electronics technician and now retired but well known staple of Nintendo, Masayuki Uemura, talked about his first impressions working with the company.
“Here were these very serious men thinking about the content of play. other companies were importing ideas from the American market and adapting them to the Japanese market, only making them cheaper and smaller, but Nintendo was interested in other ideas.”
Sound familiar? the tradition goes back even farther than most of us thought. This was before the NES came out, so even before Nintendo made its first successful home gaming system, they already had a mindset of what kind of company it wanted to be. when they started producing gaming hardware, they do things their way, that didn’t change, nor has it ever.
That didn’t stop them from attempting to produce the best videogame system at the time, sure there was lots of competition, and just like there is now, and they were quite aware of it. They made sure to examine the competitors hardware and see what they could improve or change to be a better videogame machine than what was currently available.
The Nintendo entertainment system could have been much different if they wanted it to be, a game system that had the same cartridge feature( a thing that Atari and Collecovision and similar systems had already established) but added the necessary power to give programmers and designers a better palate to work with than other consoles at the time. Was it the most powerful hardware at the time? absolutely not. There were 16 bit processors available to them, but they chose to keep costs low so that they could get the NES in more homes.
Were there risks taken? Of course there were, Nintendo was not the company it is now at that time. It had trouble even finding a manufacturer that would produce the chip it wanted in the NES. They made a deal with the electronics producing company Ricoh, but only after promising them that they would purchase 3 million units within 2 years. some thought this move was preposterous as leading videogame system selling companies in japan were selling 20-30 thousand units a year at that time. It worked out as Nintendo would go on to sell 9 million NES’s worldwide in its first two years.
That’s just one example of the success that Nintendo’s game systems have had in the over 3o years of being in the home console business, despite all the odds against them. Have they experienced failures? of course, the virtual boy was an unmitigated disaster. Much recently, the wiiu was another defeat, bogged down by a poorly promoted concept, terrible third party support, and awful name. But despite the setbacks, it doesn’t take away who Nintendo is and the quality and imaginative products that they have and will produce.
We don’t know how powerful the NVidia based chip will be that’s in the switch, but because of its portability, its improbable to consider it one of the most powerful in the market at this time. Is this a risky move? Probably. Does this mean the switch will be “dead in the water?” My hunch is that no, but well have to see. One thing is for sure, if you can take anything from Nintendo’s history, they’ll be doing it their way, for better or for worse.
By: Andrew collazo aka “Nintendoandy”