In Depth

Nintendo Switch: Online mobile app launches in two weeks

iOS and Android smartphone app to debut on same day as paint-based shooter Splatoon 2

Nintendo Switch: High game prices 'due to cartridge cost'

15 March

Using cartridge-based video games could explain why players have to pay more for titles for the new Nintendo Switch, says a report. 

Since its release at the beginning of this month, the console has proven to be hugely successful, selling more than 1.5 million units in its first week.

However, fans were disappointed to hear games would be more expensive than on rival sets.

Rime, an indie game set to launch in May, costs £39.99 on the Nintendo Switch and £29.99 on PC, Xbox and PlayStation, reports Eurogamer, while Puyo Puyo Tetris, which originally released three years ago on the PS4, also costs £10 more on the Switch.

Gizmodo even said Nintendo had "to be joking" for demanding a £20 premium for Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the all-in-one. 

According to the site, prices vary depending on the physical capacity of the cartridges, which range from 1GB to 32GB. Developers who release games on a higher-capacity cartridge have to pay more than those with titles requiring a smaller size.

Forbes adds that cartridge-based games are "technically easier to develop for" and are also more convenient due to their faster loading times. 

However, it warns, moving to a cartridge format could be an "alienating" decision for third-party developers and high production costs and smaller capacities could turn game-makers away from the Switch. 

Nintendo also offers game downloads via its online eShop, but digital titles "must be priced the same as physical versions", meaning players still pay more, PC Magazine reports.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports Nintendo has applied a "non-toxic battering agent" to its cartridges to "avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion".

The coating of "denatonium benzoate" has a distinctly bitter taste and is often added to paint to prevent people from ingesting it.

Nintendo Switch a huge success in Japan and US

7 March

The Nintendo Switch has been on sale for less than a week but it already appears to be a commercial hit in Japan and the US.

More than 313,700 units have been sold in Japan since the all-in-one console launched on Friday, says VentureBeat, which is around 5,000 units more than Nintendo's Wii U managed in its first week and 179,000 more than its GameCube in 2001. 

However, the company's critically acclaimed Wii sold 70,000 more in its first week, adds the website, while the portable 3DS console shipped 441,000 units.

However, Reggie Fils-Aime, head of Nintendo America, told the New York Times that the Switch is the fastest-selling console in the company's history in the US, although he didn't give any sales figures. 

He also said that Zelda: Breath of the Wild has become Nintendo's best-selling launch title, beating the revolutionary Super Mario 64. 

However, TechRadar says it's worth noting that "both of these games were the only core launch titles for their respective American console releases, suggesting that the titles were strong enough to move this impressive amount of consoles". 

The Nintendo Switch is available now and can be found at Game for £279.99. 

Nintendo Switch: The Week reviews the modular console

3 March

It has been more than a decade since the Nintendo Wii took the world by storm with its mission to engage non-gamers with simple and fun titles that utilised motion controls for an active gaming experience. 

Slightly less successful was the Wii U, which introduced the tablet-cum-controller design that allowed players to take their favourite games outside the living room.

Now the Japanese games giant has a new system it hopes will put it back on top of the console war. 

It's called the Switch and it's quite unlike any console currently on the market. Nintendo has combined a handheld gaming experience with a regular home system to create a hybrid, all-in-one that can be used both at home and outdoors.

The majority of the Switch is bundled into a small, tablet-sized game console with a small touchscreen display and a battery life ranging from two to six hours. However, it can also be slid into a television dock, transforming it into a conventional home system. 

Nintendo has created a quality product, with the Switch's wireless Joy-Con controllers feeling particularly plush and arguably better than the gamepads from its Xbox and PlayStation rivals.

Only the kickstand on the back of the touchscreen lacks the production value of the rest of the console. It's made from a very thin strip plastic and can be a nuisance to unlock. 

The controllers can be used in a variety of ways: attached to either side of the screen, so the Switch can be used as a handheld device, or slotted into a dock that forms a more conventional gamepad setup. They can also be held wirelessly in each hand. 

In their review, Wired says the left Joy-Con "simply won't stay synced" when the console is docked to the television, or will register button presses "late or not at all". 

Our tests, however, had no such problem. The controller remained connected and had no noticeable lag over several hours of gameplay.

Expert Reviews claims the Switch doesn't feel "unwieldy" when being used as a portable system, even though it's significantly larger and heavier than Nintendo's 3DS handheld. 

We agree. After extensive use of the Switch in its most portable configuration, it never feels unnecessarily weighty nor difficult to hold. The Joy-Con controllers' comfortable design together with the console's wide display helps evenly spread the weight, allowing hours of gameplay to go by without any discomfort. 

Longer periods did cause our Switch to become a little warm on the back panel, but it didn't feel as hot as a smartphone running a graphics-intensive game. 

At the top of the console is a small slot for the game cartridge and having massive first-party titles on a cartridge that is more compact than those for 3DS is incredibly convenient. It also allows users to take multiple games with them on the go. 

However, it's a shame Nintendo decided to bundle the tiny cartridges in huge containers. The large box-art may help shift titles off the store shelves, but it ultimately feels like a waste of plastic. 

We trialled the Switch with the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and found the Joy-Cons provide subtle yet satisfying haptic feedback when a new item is picked up or when the game's hero, Link, is hit. The feature is a welcome addition and helps break the wall between the player and the virtual world. 

It's a visual treat, too. Colours on the 720p touchscreen pop and gameplay is smooth, although these are noticeably improved when the console is docked to a TV, which removes the graphic restrictions of the portable mode and smooths harsh lines and increases the resolution. 

Zelda is one of a relatively limited line-up of 11 games, which may deter a few people from a day-one purchase. It's disappointing that fans have to wait until the end of April to get their hands on a ported version of Mario Kart 8.

Nevertheless, "there's more industry positivity around Switch than there ever was around Wii U," says the Daily Telegraph, and players may be more compelled to invest in the console once the line-up of games increases.

Initial impressions would support this, as the Switch feels like a superbly constructed games console with masses of potential. 

Once the games line-up increases, especially with Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 on the horizon, the all-in-one console could become as desirable as the Nintendo Wii was a decade ago.

Price and where to find it

The Nintendo Switch was released today and can be ordered from Game for £279.99. Delivery dates, however, have yet to be confirmed due to the high-volume of pre-orders. 


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