Waiting for the NX reveal this month has been a bit like passing the hours after taking a laxative. You know something's going to happen, and you know it's going to be explosive, but you're helpless to speed things along. You have no choice but to sit quietly and let nature (or Nintendo) take its course.
But all that sitting around and waiting paid off, and now we have actual confirmation that Nintendo's new system – officially named the Nintendo Switch – is a thing that exists in our universe.
Many of the rumors leading up to the reveal proved true: It's handheld / console hybrid, it has detachable controllers, it uses Nintendo 3DS-style game cards in lieu of CDs, and its early games feature familiar faces like Mario and the Inklings.
In all it was a predictable reveal, but an exciting one too. Nintendo packed a lot of info about the Switch into its three-minute debut trailer, which it followed up with official documents about the system's innards. With a March 2017 release confirmed, we can expect additional information about upcoming games to start coming in at a satisfying clip. After so many months of speculation and silence, the rest of the year and the first quarter of next year promises to be a fun time for malnourished Nintendo fans.
Of course, no system reveal (especially a reveal packed into a three-minute trailer) comes without its concerns. More than a few people on social media, especially people with young kids, are worried the Switch's detachable controllers mean they're doomed to endless games of Find-the-Remote. It's a valid concern; those break-apart controllers are quite wee. But the oft-repeated "snap" sound we hear in the trailer is probably a good indication those controller bits nestle onto the portable screen quite securely.
Another concern lies with the menagerie of games Nintendo showed off. On your first viewing of the Switch trailer, you can be forgiven for thinking we were shown a bunch of Wii U ports. The 3D Mario footage isn't dissimilar from Super Mario 3D World, and the Splatoon footage looks like, well, Splatoon. But on closer inspection, it becomes clear Mario is frolicking through a town inspired by the riotous colors and skulls seen during Día de Muertos, and the Inklings are sporting new hair styles. Even the very Mario Kart 8-ish footage shows off two item slots, a feature that wasn't present in the Wii U installment of the kart-racing series.
In other words, these Switch projects are almost definitely new games, but they look like they'd be at home on the Wii U. Should we take this as a troubling indication the Switch is cripplingly underpowered next to the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and their upcoming point-five hardware upgrades?
We shouldn't, because Nintendo's trailer also includes two quick indications the Switch has enough muscle to push fancy pictures around. One is footage of Skyrim: Special Edition, which is due out for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 28. While we don't receive any text or voice confirmation that the fellow on-screen is playing the remastered version of Skyrim instead of the vanilla release, the lighting in the snippet is rich and colorful, indicating it's the former version of the game rather than the latter.
We also see footage of NBA 2K17, a current-gen game that definitely doesn't have a scaled-down clone of itself living five years in the past. Granted, NBA 2K17 will be old hat by the time the Switch launches in March 2017, but its presence is there to serve up a message: The Switch is capable of projecting nice pictures, and it has third party support behind it.
Sure, the Wii U debuted with third-party support, and nearly all of those developers crapped out within the first year of the system's sad life. But EA and Bethesda have never been Nintendo's staunchest allies, so seeing their games feature in the Switch's debut video indicates the companies have a considerable degree of confidence in the hardware.
What about Nintendo, though? Why are its new Switch games seemingly stuck in the era of the Wii U?
For one thing, graphical improvements from gaming generation to gaming generation have yielded diminishing returns for a long time now. For another, there is frankly very little wrong with how Nintendo's games look on the Wii U. Super Mario 3D World's rain effects still wow me, especially with how wet pavement glistens and how Bowser's knobby scales glow in the dim, damp light. Moreover, all the screenshots and video I took in of Paper Mario: Color Splash didn't prepare me for how gorgeous the game looks in-motion on my HDTV. It feels like the Wii U's graphics still have so much to offer, especially in Nintendo's hands.
We'll have plenty of time to pick nits over the Switch's capabilities in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I feel confident we're going to see some very pretty games more than worth of being labelled current-gen.