The dust has now well and truly settled on the Nintendo Switch 'Preview Trailer', a three and a half minute reveal that aimed to succinctly and stylishly promote the merits of Nintendo's next-gen gaming concept. Since it aired Nintendo and a handful of gaming executives have added a few relatively vague details, and more reports based on reputable sources have potentially given us some additional insights into the system's capabilities. Nintendo itself, meanwhile, doesn't intend to fully talk about the system in detail until it has a full unveiling in early January.
Though the concept matched what many had expected, based on leaks, it nevertheless had a couple of Nintendo-like twists. We also got a clear look at the design for the 'hybrid' concept, with the console effectively being a powerful portable that can be easily placed in a dock for play on the TV. The aspirational 'millennial'-led trailer also put a big focus on local multiplayer and the freedom to play console-style games on the move, with detachable Joy-Con controllers being at the core of the message.
Most have shared opinions on the system, but we wanted to hear what key developers think, in particular so-called 'Nindies'. The 3DS and particularly the Wii U eShop have attracted some extremely talented developers to Nintendo systems, and no doubt their support will be sought again for the Switch. In order to gauge their opinions we sent the same set of questions to the following people - David D'Angelo of Yacht Club Games (Shovel Knight), Brjann Sigurgeirsson of Image & Form (SteamWorld Heist), Ivo Wubbles of Engine Software (Gunslugs 2), Graham Smith of Drinkbox Studios (SEVERED), Dant Rambo of Choice Provisions (Runner 2), Jools Watsham of Atooi (Chicken Wiggle) and Manfred Linzner of Shin'en Multimedia (FAST Racing NEO).
We did focus on the reveal trailer, specifically, as going beyond that naturally raises uncomfortable NDA concerns for some developers. With that in mind, below are the Nintendo Switch thoughts of some of the most critically acclaimed and highly-regarded eShop developers.
What were your first impressions of the reveal trailer?
David D'Angelo (Yacht Club Games): It was great! Really exciting to see that Nintendo will continue to put fun first by focusing on delivering new, engaging ways to play, which is what we're all about!
Brjann Sigurgeirsson (Image & Form): The first thought, right at the very start of the reveal trailer, was "YES!" And I kept thinking "YES!" throughout! I was worried that they were going to do something less, for example having some Nintendo seniors sit and discuss "all the cool stuff" about the new system and actually not show it. If you compare it to previous reveals, the Switch reveal was very, very tasty.
And it also had the benefit of not ending people's speculations. Is it going to have a touch screen? How fast is the processor? And so on. They whetted the appetite of gamers, I can't imagine anyone being put off by it.
I thought the style of the preview trailer was very slick. It made the Switch look very cool and interesting.
Ivo Wubbels (Engine Software): We were one of the few developers that was already working on the system before Nintendo did the announcement, so we did already know the system's details. However one thing that did surprise me in the trailer was the audience Nintendo seems to target with Switch. Where you would expect kids to be the main audience, it seems Nintendo is trying to target to young adults this time. That is an interesting move.
Graham Smith (Drinkbox Studios): My first thought when watching the trailer was "Interesting. They're marketing it to young people". Then when listening to some gaming podcasts I heard people saying "Looks like they are targeting adults instead of kids with this trailer". This made me realize that I'm getting old.
Seriously though, I thought the trailer did an excellent job of showing the potential of the Switch as both a home and portable console. As someone who travels a lot, it's something I think I would really take advantage of.
Dant Rambo (Choice Provisions): It was definitely positive! It also aligned with what we expected the Switch was going to be. I seem to recall Nintendo merging their console and handheld hardware divisions a few years back, and this feels like the logical progression of that merge.
Jools Watsham (Atooi): I was very impressed. I had no idea what to expect. I had heard the same rumors everyone else had heard, but until you hear the official word you really can't put too much stock in the speculation. I thought the style of the preview trailer was very slick. It made the Switch look very cool and interesting. The number of appealing games featured in the trailer was a very nice surprise.
Manfred Linzner (Shin'en Multimedia): We think it was one of the best promotions Nintendo did so far. It made a lot of people aware of the Nintendo Switch and how it will change the way people can play!
What are your views on its appearance and build?
David D'Angelo (Yacht Club Games): Looks pretty slick to us. It's always tough to say before it's in your hands, but the video made it look really easy to adjust to your personal tastes.
Brjann Sigurgeirsson (Image & Form): Yes, it certainly looks like a gadget I want. And that's important - people are going to put the cradle somewhere next to their TV sets in their living rooms, and if they're like me, they'd want it to look good.
To me it doesn't look like a toy for kids anymore, that's probably a good approach.
Ivo Wubbels (Engine Software): To me it doesn't look like a toy for kids anymore, that's probably a good approach. But in the end it's the games that make the difference.
Graham Smith (Drinkbox Studios): The design is pretty sleek, and I like everything about the appearance with the exception of the Joy-Con Grip controller, which looks like it might not be the most comfortable controller to hold. I'll need to try it before being able to say this for sure though, and the Switch Pro Controller looks like a decent backup option.
Dant Rambo (Choice Provisions): It's definitely aesthetically different from their previous devices! I think I'm a fan, but I'll probably need to see it in person and use it before I can come to a decision.
At a glance, however, I do think I like it.
Jools Watsham (Atooi): The appearance of the Switch is clean and minimal, which is a pleasing aesthetic to me. I expect we'll see color variations and other visual differences in future iterations of the platform, but as a base design I like it a lot.
Manfred Linzner (Shin'en Multimedia): It's definitely a new style for Nintendo. We like this new direction.
Nintendo seems to be pitching it as a home gaming experience that also serves as a powerful handheld. Which, do you think, is the key function of the system?
David D'Angelo (Yacht Club Games): It's all wrapped up together by the Joy-Cons! The idea of discovering a cool game at home and then bringing it to your friends' or workplace for others to immediately join in with a second controller is really amazing. It helps bring the traditionally at home local multiplayer experience on the go. Once you discover the game using a Joy-Con in the wild, then you can take it home and continue your multiplayer training or single player experience!
Brjann Sigurgeirsson (Image & Form): Well, I think that's exactly its strongest point - a home console that you can bring with you. For me, who goes to expos a lot, it means I can show stuff to people on show floors just as easily as presenting on a big TV screen in, say, a conference room. Both scenarios are as likely during expos. The versatility can be a huge advantage for the Switch: a 3DS and Wii - or PS4 and Vita - rolled into one.
The versatility can be a huge advantage for the Switch: a 3DS and Wii - or PS4 and Vita - rolled into one.
Another obvious advantage is that it's a sleek mobile device with a relatively big screen AND button controls. I've often thought that an attachable button setup to the iPad Mini would be fantastic. Well, here is a realization of that.
Ivo Wubbels (Engine Software): Nintendo has always been strong in handheld gaming, to me it seems like a new very powerful handheld which you can play on TV as well. But we will have to see how people play this most.
Graham Smith (Drinkbox Studios): Personally, I'm mostly interested in the portable aspects of the console, and I think the trailer was very focused on this. Besides having 1st party Nintendo titles, the portable aspect seems to be the Switch's main distinguishing selling feature over competing consoles.
Dant Rambo (Choice Provisions): I'm actually curious to see how their priorities shake out here. If they're going for the hardcore gamer demographic — as the trailer seems to indicate — then I suspect most of their focus will be on the "home" experience. And if they're already dipping their toes in the mobile market with their iOS/Android games, they might feel a little more freed up to focus on pushing Switch more as a home experience than a mobile one.
That said, I'm excited that the system is capable of both. That definitely aligns with my own gaming habits, and I'm sure most people feel the same.
Jools Watsham (Atooi): Well, I think that's the clever thing about Switch: the key function of the Switch is in the eye of the beholder. I will likely use it primarily as a handheld device, because that's my bag, baby. But, I imagine some people may use it primarily as a home console displayed on their TV.
Manfred Linzner (Shin'en Multimedia): The Switch melts together what players enjoy the most. So it will simply depend on the user's preference.
What are your thoughts on the Joy-Con controllers and the concept of local multiplayer gaming on the go?
David D'Angelo (Yacht Club Games): Really cool! We remember the days where we lugged our 20 pound computer down the street so we could play LAN games with our friends. Or bringing a controller to play GoldenEye with schoolmates. This feels like the next great step - the system is all ready to go with local multiplayer out of the gate!
Brjann Sigurgeirsson (Image & Form): It's interesting and - hopefully - completely seamless/painless. The controllers will actually play a large part of the success of Nintendo Switch. It seems that they're going to be docked/undocked a lot, and the design and material must be able to cope with the handling.
The success of local multiplayer gaming on the go also depends on other things, the screen not the least. If it's anything near the 3DS screen tech, it won't be playable outdoors. But I seriously doubt Nintendo's going to let that be an issue.
One of the things I love most about Nintendo is their continued support of local multiplayer games, and I can't undersell how much it means to me they're planning to continue that tradition.
Ivo Wubbels (Engine Software): I think especially indies will come up with some great and creative ideas. AAA games probably will have to be more cross platform and won't take advantage of the system. I think Nintendo will have some more cool updates on the controller soon. I just wonder how many spare controller parts Nintendo will have to sell, when most kids could lose one of their controller parts...
Graham Smith (Drinkbox Studios): Without actually trying them, it's hard to say. When playing with two people (one joy-con each) they look a bit small, but this might not actually be a problem. With one in each hand, they look quite comfortable. I'm curious if they will have any motion controls built in to them.
Dant Rambo (Choice Provisions): I'm actually very excited about that. One of the things I love most about Nintendo is their continued support of local multiplayer games, and I can't undersell how much it means to me they're planning to continue that tradition. I had an absolute blast playing Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and New Super Mario Bros. U with friends and family.
Jools Watsham (Atooi): I think multiplayer gaming on the go is fantastic! Being able to enjoy multiplayer games with such ease is a core strength of the Switch. It's a perfect fit for the co-op gameplay of Treasurenauts!
Manfred Linzner (Shin'en Multimedia): Many of our games feature local multiplayer modes as we enjoy playing with friends and family on our own. On the other side many new games abandon local multiplayer and even single player experiences for being only playable online.
We are happy that the Nintendo Switch is a machine that makes it easy for players and developers in regards of local multiplayer. The Joy-Con controllers are simply too inviting and fun to start playing with someone face to face!
On page two the developers consider the potential success of the Nintendo Switch, and the challenges it may face.