Nintendo Switch Launch Period Speculation

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So the time has come. Everybody even remotely interested in Nintendo is probably gonna be up Thursday night (North American time) for Nintendo’s full reveal of its launch plans for its next major hardware platform, the Switch. That’s less than two months out and only just now getting answers on crucial details like price and launch lineup. Rumors and predictions are all over the place.

I don’t think I have any predictions on the system itself that will significantly differ from what all the major publications are probably already saying: the most likely price is $250 USD, the likely date is the weekend of March 18th, and it’s looking increasingly likely that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will make it to launch in Japan and North America. My previous posts on the Switch have also pretty much laid out what I think may happen to the platform long-term. That still leaves a lot of questions to consider for the launch period games though.

What’s kind of funny is that Nintendo showed off multiple games in its initial Switch reveal trailer that in any other context would be major first party releases. One of them looked like the next main 3D Mario game, which should be a big deal. Nintendo should at least give us the title and some more gameplay footage of it on Thursday right? I don’t think Nintendo has ever suddenly pulled a major Mario platformer out of its hat basically two months before launch though so maybe that’s one of the Switch’s main fall 2017 games? I don’t even want to begin speculating on how it will actually play after the Galaxy games, 3D Land, and 3D World (I’m not even finished with 3D World).

That Mario Kart footage from the reveal trailer is potentially at least as big a deal commercially speaking, since that franchise has became one of the main sales leaders among Nintendo’s IPs on the Wii and Wii U. Nintendo indicating it will port games like Super Smash Bros. to Switch suggests this could simply be a port of Mario Kart 8 but fans pointed out some new assets in the Switch reveal trailer. An enhanced port? A new game? Just like that Mario platformer, Mario Kart doesn’t sound like something Nintendo reveals and launches all within a season, but maybe being an enhanced MK8 port could allow this.

On enhanced ports I think leaks a while back indicated Smash on Switch won’t make launch. I don’t remember if anything even approaching hard information emerged about other ports of Wii U and 3DS games, but porting Super Mario Maker and Splatoon makes perfect sense. Those are games designed for long-tail communities, Nintendo just released a 3DS version of Mario Maker.

I don’t like making any solid predictions on 3rd party games for launch. The initial speculation about the launch date however came after Capcom revealed the March 18th Japanese release date for Monster Hunter XX (pronounced: double-cross) for the 3DS. In my post linked above I stated my belief that regardless of how the Switch does in the west, the Japanese handheld market is going to be the bedrock on which it survives. Two franchises dominate that bedrock: Monster Hunter and Pokémon. Getting them on Switch can secure the transfer of the 3DS audience and thus the 3DS’s third party support. GameStop already sort of blabbed about a Pokémon game on Switch (Stars?). Nintendo may be advertising the Switch to westerners as a console, but I think it’s really an attempt to prop up a Nintendo console’s software library using the third party support that traditionally remained healthy on Nintendo handhelds. It’s just hard to say how much of that will show up at launch.

Since Atlus revealed a website celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Shin Megami Tensei franchise (the original Megami Tensei will turn 30 in 2017), there’s been talk about it revealing something for Switch this week. I think it could definitely reveal and/or launch something on Switch this year, but I’m not holding my breath for it to reveal anything on Thursday. A Switch version of Persona 5 would have been perfect but Atlus already denied that. Maybe a port of something else because it feels a bit soon for a full-blown “Shin Megami Tensei V,” one of the DS or 3DS games probably.

This being a Tokyo presentation, Dragon Quest XI has to figure somewhere in there right? It’s probably just as important for the Switch’s Japanese audience as Monster Hunter and Pokémon.

There’s a chance some western developers could give the Switch some token support like they did for the PSP and PlayStation Vita in their early periods, testing out the possibility for more western console-style 3D games on handhelds. On top of the already shown Skyrim, already confirmed Just Dance, and what looks like NBA 2k, maybe we’ll see a shooter or two thrown out there. It might be a “little brother” version of some popular franchise. The latest episode of Rolling Stone’s Glixel podcast actually suggested a shocker might be a Switch version of Overwatch, which actually sounds like a technical possibility when you think about it. Just seeing Blizzard do something on Nintendo hardware would be interesting in itself. I think Diablo III would be a more interesting prospect but I’m not expecting it.

Honestly the one thing I care the most about in regards to the Switch outside Zelda is Virtual Console. Really this applies to Nintendo’s entire online and digital infrastructure for the Switch, but for me it’s mostly about Virtual Console. All I want is my Virtual Console library on a device I can take with me as well as play on a TV — all the Virtual Console games from NES, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, Game Gear, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, and whatever else Nintendo puts up there. I wan to know my Wii U and 3DS VC games will carry over somehow. That back catalog has been one of the most potentially valuable things Nintendo has. If I had no other games I could probably still spend hours upon hours playing VC games. Nintendo seems to still care enough about VC to release new games like Pokemon Snap on it this month, but It’s really hard to gauge at this point how or if it’ll figure into Nintendo’s plans for the Switch. And obviously, Nintendo needs to finally arrive at a system where I can move my profile and games to a new Switch just by logging in. Is two-factor authentication too much to ask of Nintendo in such an environment.

I should go ahead and admit Zelda making the Switch’s launch already just about guarantees my trying to get one in March. Any other games around that time are gravy, especially given how packed that month is with games like Mass Effect: Andromeda and Ghost Recon: Wildlands.

BULLETS:

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One thought on “Nintendo Switch Launch Period Speculation

  1. Casey Michael Curran says:

    One thing not too many people are talking about, but I hope is true is Gamecube support on Virtual Console. Really hope that gets coupled with more VC games. Nintendo really should be doing about 3 a week, if they can make that thing mainstream, those things will sell like crazy with impulse buys.

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