Digital | ON: GAMES

Nintendo is switching it up

by Brian Ashcraft

It’s still early in 2017, but Switch, Nintendo’s newest gaming console, is bound to be the most desirable hardware of the year. Both a home console and a handheld, it’s being touted as an all-in-one must have. Drop it in its dock and players can game on a television screen. Attach Joy-Con controllers to the sides of the console’s multi-touch 6-inch LCD screen and turn it into a handheld.

This is Nintendo’s most novel console, blurring the lines between home and handheld hardware, but there are no plans yet to ditch the 3DS, so fans of its current dedicated portable console need not worry. Nintendo always breaks new ground with its controllers and the Switch’s Joy-Con is no exception. The right and left Joy-Con controllers can be joined together by a Joy-Con Grip peripheral to form a traditional-looking one-player controller, and each 10.2-cm long Joy-Con controller can also be used separately as two-player controllers. Each one has an analog stick and four face buttons and is outfitted with motion-sensors, rumble features and even an infrared camera.

The Switch comes with 32GB of internal memory, but players can save games on microSDXC and microSDHC cards. Battery life varies, but Nintendo says it’s possible to play “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” for three hours without recharging.

The Nintendo Switch will be released on March 3 for ¥32,378. There are two color options: Switch consoles with gray Joy-Con controllers, or with a neon blue and red one.

A mini-game plan

Traditionally for Nintendo, mini-games have been a way for the company to get particularly creative and, well, strange. Take the popular “Wario Ware” series, which featured games involving clearing the air after someone has farted and deploying airbags for a crash-test dummy. “1-2-Switch” follows in that grand tradition of weirdness.

Most of the “1-2-Switch” mini-games do appear normal. You’ll find a quick-draw cowboy game, a sword-fighting game and a spell-casting game. But there are stranger ones — a cow-milking one and another called “Baby,” which turns the Switch into a crying infant that players must soothe back to sleep.

Interestingly, for many of the “1-2-Switch” mini-games, players don’t look at the Switch screen or the television, but rather, they are required to look at each other while playing. “Soda,” for example, has players shake a Joy-Con controller as if it’s a bottle of cola and then pass it around until it “explodes” open. It’s akin to old-fashioned analog party games. That’s not strange, but it is rather brilliant.

“1-2-Switch” will also be released on March 3, priced at ¥5,378.

Zelda’s breath of fresh air

Nintendo fans will likely buy “1-2-Switch,” but for the diehards, there is one game that will appeal even more — “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”

This first HD “Zelda” title, “Breath of the Wild,” has Link awakening from a 100-year sleep, only to learn Calamity Ganon has ruined the kingdom and it’s up to our tunic-wearing hero to save the day. To help him on his way, Link carries a special tablet tool called the Sheikah Slate that gives him a lay of the land and his enemies, as well as allowing him to use bombs, manipulate metallic objects and freeze certain things.

Instead of having to clear each dungeon in a specific order, Nintendo is making the experience non-linear. The open-world “Breath of the Wild” even makes it possible to play through the entire game while skipping the game’s main story line. This frees up the experience for players who want to progress at a different pace.

For those who aren’t quite ready to commit to the Nintendo Switch, don’t fret, because this “Zelda” game is also getting a Wii U version.

“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” will be released on March 3 for ¥7,448. There is also a special edition priced at ¥10,778 that comes with a Link Amiibo, a soundtrack CD, special map and a unique game-box sleeve.