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Forums - Nintendo Discussion - Regarding Nintendo Handhelds, was the Switch concept inevitable?

Nintendo's Switch console has seen a lot of praise and success in the market, already at more than 22 million Units sold WW as of the past October. The Console's unique mobile hardware and controllers have allowed the console gaming to adapt to an increasingly mobile world, and with their Smartphone games, Nintendo has once again shown that On-the-go gaming is their bread and butter. But in a way, the Hybrid nature of the Switch can be seen as a logical evolution of Nintendo's handheld design, and is what the company was building up to with their past mobile devices.

  • The Game Boy originally launched in 1989 and it popularized the modern handheld we know now. Marketing itself as an NES in the palm of your hand (abiet without color), the Game Boy offered the same types of games and gameplay found on Nintendo's hit home console at the time, and even found a niche with Adults thanks to the pack-in game Tetris. Other, more powerful competitors challenged the Game Boy, but the console's low price, strong battery-life, and superior developer support plowed through all who dared to challenge it. However, when we came to the SNES, the Game Boy looked a bit behind. Nintendo's home scene had evolved into 16-bit action, while Game Boy players were still rocking monochrome 8-bit graphics. Despite this, developers during this time began squeezing more juice out of the hardware, with some games looking close to the 16-bit graphics of the SNES. This was also the period where Nintendo introduced the Super Game Boy, letting players play their favorite Game Boy games on the Big Screen. Little did Nintendo know, this concept would be revisited in the future.

  • By the time the N64 rolled around, the Game Boy really started showing its age. People still liked it, but sales were flattening as it seemed there was nowhere left for the little 8-bit brick to go now that consoles began to move into 3D polygons. But a little known developer at the time, Game Freak, swooped in and provided the platform's biggest killer app since Tetris, Pokemon. The critter catching RPG phenomenon gave the Game Boy a new lease of life, and led the way for the Game Boy Color, an upgrade of the original system that brought full color to the Game Boy, and a bit more juice. While still 8-bits, the addition of color held developers and gamers over until the real next generation

  • The Game Boy Advance, released in 2001, was the first true successor to the original system. Modeled closely after the SNES, the 32-bit system allowed for more complex games, graphics, sound and gameplay to exist on a mobile device. This meant more long form games like RPGs, racers, strategy games, and a host of other 2D/pseudo-3D style games and genres, even full console games, adapted to the Sprite-based machine. The GBA was the first step in handheld games becoming as substantial as their console counterparts. So much so, that Nintendo released an add-on for its struggling Nintendo GameCube, that allowed you to play GBA games, as well as the entire Game Boy catalog, on the TV with the Game Boy Player. Given the GameCube's software droughts and poor third party support, having access to the GBA library gave it more of a compelling niche, and would be the second time Nintendo revisited the concept of handheld games on the TV.

  • The Nintendo DS released in 2004, and would become quite possibly the most influential gaming device of the modern era. But ignoring the revolution of its touch screen, the DS marked Nintendo handhelds first leap into full 3D. The system launched with Super Mario 64 DS, showing that 3D Gameplay and visuals were finally possible on a handheld, and it brought the DS more in line with modern consoles. Sure, the graphics were pretty blocky and it didn't have analog control, but the fact that full 3D worlds and presentation can now travel with us was another major leap for mobile gaming. The DS was also around the time Nintendo pulled out of the arms race on the home console front with the Wii, which was pretty much an extension of the GameCube hardware wise. This put the DS only about a generation behind its then current home console

  • The 3DS was when the transition finally was completed. The last dedicated handheld from Nintendo. The 3DS perfected 3D gameplay introduced on the DS. Complete with a new analog Circle Pad and visuals resembling the 6th generation, the 3DS was the point where Nintendo's handheld games really started feeling like their console brethren as worlds and gameplay became more console-like, with Nintendo even porting some of their console games to the system complete with touch ups, hinting at the direction its future platform would take, even when Nintendo moved into HD with the Wii U. In fact, you could argue that the 3DS was good enough to serve as a substantial replacement for Nintendo's home console that generation.

  • That brings us to Nintendo Switch, where after years of handheld-on-tv add-ons and handhelds playing catch up to console gameplay and presentation, Nintendo has decided to cut-out the middleman, and build an entire system around this concept. The progression of Nintendo's handhelds getting closer and closer to their consoles, was fully solidified with this hybrid system. Now, the Switch gives you the entire full blown Nintendo/Home Console experience on the go, as well as at home. At the same time, the console games also take lessons from the handheld side regarding short-burst play sessions.

So from the history of Nintendo's handheld hardware, the Switch feels like this was the inevitable conclusion Nintendo would've ended up at. Their mobile games progressively began to resemble their console offerings more and more, leading up to the Switch.



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I mean, didn't Nintendo literally say in the January reveal that the Switch was like a combination of just about every crossover they've made before with consoles and handhelds? It might not have been them,  but I seem to remember it quite clearly. In particular they mentioned Gamecube's handle alongside stuff like the Super Game Boy.



AngryLittleAlchemist said:

I mean, didn't Nintendo literally say in the January reveal that the Switch was like a combination of just about every crossover they've made before with consoles and handhelds? It might not have been them,  but I seem to remember it quite clearly. In particular they mentioned Gamecube's handle alongside stuff like the Super Game Boy.

Yes they did. But I mention handhelds specifically because Nintendo's handhelds were getting closer and closer to the design and production values of their console games over the years, especially once they pulled out of the arms race on the console front, which culminated into the hybrid concept of the Switch. 



The Switch is just a culmination of Nintendo's efforts over the years to fold their home console business into portables ...

Nintendo realized over the past generations realized that home systems aren't viable for them anymore because they aren't all that competitive without the virtue needing a portable design form factor so all of their home console franchises are being converted as anyone would guess it into handheld franchises like Animal Crossing, Metroid Prime, 3D Mario, Splatoon, and their JPRGs ...

Do you see a relationship of how all of those series originated on Nintendo's home systems with them now being exclusively developed on their handhelds ?

If they had been more successful with home systems, maybe it wouldn't have been inevitable ?



The logical evolution failed with the failure of the Wii U. While the 3DS was pretty much as powerful as the Gamecube (and the New 3DS is as powerful as the Wii), still one generation behind, we got a new handheld which is more powerful than the current gen Nintendo console and can compete with other home consoles.

Following previous Nintendo handhelds, we shouldn't have a handhelds as powerful as the Switch before the next generation. But I guess it's for the best.



"Quagmire, are you the type of guy who takes 'no' for an answer ?"
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I think it was the perfect storm that lead to Switch as it is right now.

1. Since the Wii, Nintendo has been making ambitious games with limited specs. Essentially creating quality games without pushing graphics.

2. We're at a point where developers can do modern home console gaming on affordable handheld hardware. They just look a lot worse.

3. Nintendo's success in the home console arena has been a mixed bag, with Wii U being a disaster in spite of great success with Wii. That encouraged them to double down on mobile. Some consider Switch a hybrid console, but its built around being a mobile device.

Hypothetically, what if the Wii U and 3DS were huge hits at the same time? That might have discouraged the Switch idea. I think something like Switch was inevitable, but if Nintendo had success pushing higher spec hardware they might have stayed in the home console arena as well.



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TheMisterManGuy said:
AngryLittleAlchemist said:

I mean, didn't Nintendo literally say in the January reveal that the Switch was like a combination of just about every crossover they've made before with consoles and handhelds? It might not have been them,  but I seem to remember it quite clearly. In particular they mentioned Gamecube's handle alongside stuff like the Super Game Boy.

Yes they did. But I mention handhelds specifically because Nintendo's handhelds were getting closer and closer to the design and production values of their console games over the years, especially once they pulled out of the arms race on the console front, which culminated into the hybrid concept of the Switch. 

That has, quite literally, nothing to do with Nintendo specifically. That's just the general trend of mobile devices getting closer to dedicated hardware in terms of power. 

I think that the Switch becoming a hybrid device was through years of evolution particularly in where Nintendo's biggest markets were, as well as how unsustainable having two console to support was. I think that compared to those two factors, the similarities in production value was not as much of a factor, especially because that would be an irrelevant point had Nintendo made the Wii 3 with power similar to a PS4. I really don't think something like a 3DS compared to a Wii U is that dissimilar to a PSV to PS3, if anything the 3DS would have a bigger deficit. 

That being said, I will say that if Nintendo had already invested in power to the point that the Wii U was comparable to an Xbox One or PS4, and it was at least somewhat successful (like 25m+) then... yeah ... maybe they wouldn't have gone down the hybrid route. That's one of the reasons why I don't think the PS5 will be a hybrid, at least not until many years down the line. And in a general sense, diminishing returns is a big reason why I think the Switch is a success. But again, that's not really what it seems you're implying specifically.



SKMBlake said:
The logical evolution failed with the Wii U. While the 3DS was pretty much as powerful as the Gamecube (and the New 3DS is as powerful as the Wii), still one generation behind, we got a new handheld which is more powerful than the current gen Nintendo console and can compete with other home consoles.

Following previous Nintendo handhelds, we shouldn't have a handhelds as powerful as the Switch before the next generation. But I guess it's for the best.

No, I'm not the tech expert guru around here. I'm sure 3DS can do things the PS2, Gamecube, and Wii can't. I mean it has more modern capabilities and effects, I mean a game like RE:Revelations actually looks pretty amazing for 3DS. It kinda reminds me of a OG Xbox game, the assets aren't amazing but its using effects you just couldn't get on PS2 or Gamecube.

I don't think 3DS/New 3DS has the GPU power or whatever to push out the best looking games on PS2, Gamecube, or Wii without scaling them back. First of all 3DS runs at a much lower resolution and still struggles to handle all the assets, visuals, and performance of 6th gen ports. Porting games to 3DS is evidently a lot of work because it often seems changes need to happen for it to work.

This is what makes Switch look even more impressive. While the 3DS was struggling to handle 6th gen content, the Switch jumped way ahead by being a lot more powerful than 7th gen consoles and has solid ports of 8th gen games.



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Mr Puggsly said:
SKMBlake said:
The logical evolution failed with the Wii U. While the 3DS was pretty much as powerful as the Gamecube (and the New 3DS is as powerful as the Wii), still one generation behind, we got a new handheld which is more powerful than the current gen Nintendo console and can compete with other home consoles.

Following previous Nintendo handhelds, we shouldn't have a handhelds as powerful as the Switch before the next generation. But I guess it's for the best.

No, I'm not the tech expert guru around here. I'm sure 3DS can do things the PS2, Gamecube, and Wii can't. I mean it has more modern capabilities and effects, I mean a game like RE:Revelations actually looks pretty amazing for 3DS. It kinda reminds me of a OG Xbox game, the assets aren't amazing but its using effects you just couldn't get on PS2 or Gamecube.

I don't think 3DS/New 3DS has the GPU power or whatever to push out the best looking games on PS2, Gamecube, or Wii without scaling them back. First of all 3DS runs at a much lower resolution and still struggles to handle all the assets, visuals, and performance of 6th gen ports. Porting games to 3DS is evidently a lot of work because it often seems changes need to happen for it to work.

This is what makes Switch look even more impressive. While the 3DS was struggling to handle 6th gen content, the Switch jumped way ahead by being a lot more powerful than 7th gen consoles and has solid ports of 8th gen games.

I don't understand your point, you said no then said pretty much what I said. Of course a 2011 device can run games with a more "modern" approach than a 10+ YO device. But we got Gamecube and Wii ports, even scaled down it shows that the 3DS is on par with the GC and Wii



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"My lawyer doesn't allow me to answer that question"

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SKMBlake said:
Mr Puggsly said:

No, I'm not the tech expert guru around here. I'm sure 3DS can do things the PS2, Gamecube, and Wii can't. I mean it has more modern capabilities and effects, I mean a game like RE:Revelations actually looks pretty amazing for 3DS. It kinda reminds me of a OG Xbox game, the assets aren't amazing but its using effects you just couldn't get on PS2 or Gamecube.

I don't think 3DS/New 3DS has the GPU power or whatever to push out the best looking games on PS2, Gamecube, or Wii without scaling them back. First of all 3DS runs at a much lower resolution and still struggles to handle all the assets, visuals, and performance of 6th gen ports. Porting games to 3DS is evidently a lot of work because it often seems changes need to happen for it to work.

This is what makes Switch look even more impressive. While the 3DS was struggling to handle 6th gen content, the Switch jumped way ahead by being a lot more powerful than 7th gen consoles and has solid ports of 8th gen games.

I don't understand your point, you said no then said pretty much what I said. Of course a 2011 device can run games with a more "modern" approach than a 10+ YO device. But we got Gamecube and Wii ports, even scaled down it shows that the 3DS is on par with the GC and Wii

I guess I'm saying 3DS/New 3DS still seems behind 6th gen consoles, it hasn't shown an ability to quite handle their most technically impressive 6th gen stuff. While RE:Revelations is impressive, it doesn't even have the scale of RE4. I'm on the ropes saying 3DS is at par with a Gamecube or even PS2, all I can say for certain is 3DS has some modern capabilities those devices don't. I say that as a person that has played a lot of 3DS and has a good collection.

Switch though, that's well ahead of 7th gen consoles. Its shown that time and time again.

Last edited by Mr Puggsly - on 07 January 2019

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