The Nintendo Switch has been out for about 2 years now and has been incredibly popular among gamers. Rumors all over the internet speculate that Nintendo’s due to release a new model of the handheld console hybrid any time now, and speculation has pretty much settled on it being the Nintendo Switch Mini. Which, depending on your perspective, is either a brilliant idea, or a horrible idea.
Quick rundown: Speculation suggests the Mini model will cost less due to using less powerful technology, and will therefore be a great entry-level for those yet to buy a Switch. Which, if true, is fine. From a business perspective, as well as of players looking for more people to play with, this is good news. Speculation also suggests the Mini may not have detachable joycons, may not work with the dock, and would be somehow more portable. Yay?
This Mini model rumored isn’t targeted towards current Switch owners for a reason: It’s likely to be an inferior product all around. Collectors might bite, but that’s part of what they do; they collect. Let’s face it. If the joycons are built in and the Mini doesn’t use the dock, it’s not much of a “Switch” anymore. And the Switch is already portable enough. Unless people are demanding phone-sized Switches with tinier buttons than what joycons already have, there’s really no purpose for a Mini.
But something currently missing from the Switch would be more exciting and could push hesitant buyers to finally grab a Switch of their own.
I’m talking about Nintendo Switch VR. There are games on the Switch right now that would be incredible for a virtual reality experience! Megaton Rainfall, Hollow, Doom, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Phantaruk, and probably more I haven’t even seen yet! (There’s over 1800 games on the Switch right now.)
Granted, those games aren’t set up for a full VR experience right now. Nintendo tried VR with the Virtual Boy years and years ago and it failed tremendously. So it makes sense that Nintendo would hesitate trying to enter the VR market again. But that’s where gaming has gone now and Nintendo’s going to need to face the challenge again if they want to keep up at all. But there’s hope, if only slightly.
Recently a hacker reportedly found a VR test screen already on the Switch. So Nintendo may or may not be experimenting with it as we speak. If they’re not working on it, a next-gen Switch should really consider being built with VR in mind. But if they are working on it, it would be much better than sort of working backwards to build a Mini model.
Although developers probably won’t work backwards to update pre-existing games to have a full VR experience, a Canadian company called Exklim has created and released NS Glasses, a “VR” headset that holds the Switch up to your face in an enclosed sort of box to give you a new experience. It’s 30% off as of this writing on IndieGogo, making it only $70 USD. Forget Oculus, which nearly costs the price of a Switch! This thing costs only a little more than a game!
I know, this isn’t a full VR experience either. And we may not get VR on the current Switch model ever. But games like the ones mentioned above arguably could feel like a better experience if this headset can immerse you even a little more into them. I feel first person games and horror titles would benefit most as intense action and jump scares would be more intense when they’re right in your face.
Sounds weird? Nintendo had a Switch VR headset patented years ago. Here’s the sad truth about Nintendo. They hesitate sometimes when they really should go with their gut. With the Wii, they chose not to go full HD but they should have, and they regretted the decision to not jump on that. The Switch could have supported 4K TVs, but they hesitated again. At least it’s easier to understand the hesitation about VR due to their history. But if they pulled the trigger, made and released the Switch with VR capabilities AND released their patented VR headset, they could have taken an amazing system and made it ready for anything.
Just knowing there’s a VR test screen, knowing there was a VR headset patented, it suddenly makes this fan, at least, craving a VR experience even more.
I’ve had Playstations and Xbox’s in the past and I’ve sold them as impulsively as I’ve bought them. But deep down I’ve always been a Nintendo fan. And I could go grab a PS4 VR and find a game that’d satisfy this new craving, but for some reason I can’t explain, that idea doesn’t excite me nearly as much. Maybe because I already chose the Switch. Maybe because I already see the squandered potential in games I’ve already bought on it.
It’s not too late, Nintendo. Hopefully a huge new update to the system can bring VR support to the Switch. Mario, Link, the Inklings, they’re all fine as they are currently (Although a VR Splatoon would be pretty great). They’re classic characters that don’t need VR treatments. They could have a VR title but it’s unnecessary. But give other developers that opportunity!
Nintendo’s one of the most innovative gaming companies ever. People often call their innovations gimmicks, but those gimmicks often lead to the competitors looking to 1-up Nintendo. When the Wii came out, Microsoft and Sony came out with their own motion control devices. And when Sony tried to let players take their games out of the living room with their ill-fated Vita, Nintendo kept evolving from the Wii U’s tablet to the Switch we currently have now. Either they’re ahead of their competitors or they’re able to fine-tune what the competition is already trying hard to achieve.
Maybe that’s why we didn’t get VR on the Switch at launch. Maybe Nintendo’s waiting to really blow us all away on the next-gen console/hybrid/whatever they make. Here’s hoping.
Sources: ExtremeTech, Exklim, TheVerge