Nintendo announced its new Nintendo Switch console today to general praise. As I read the specs and saw the design I found myself scratching my head wondering where I had seen all of this before. Then it dawned on me, and I paid our good friends at Razer and Nvidia a visit.
For those who don’t know the Switch is a Nintendo’s latest console is a tablet-console hybrid. It features a base that you can plug the tablet into to play on the television, and presumably charge, a controller that can be attached to either side of the tablet in mobile mode or connected for a more standard form, and better graphical support than we have seen from Nintendo in ages.
Rumor has it that the developer version of the console is powered by the Tegra X1 chipset. Which is reportedly on par with the Xbox 360. However, other rumors indicate the console may launch with the more powerful Tegra X2 chipset. If so that would mean this console is roughly as powerful as the Xbox One. If true this means the Nintendo Switch will be a graphical boon for mobile gamers. Yet this all looked familiar. Perhaps disjointed, but familiar. So I did a little snooping around my favorite Android consoles.
Enter the Razer Edge.
This device almost looks like a prototype for the Nintendo Switch. The Razer Edge features a similar detachable controller that seems almost clunky by comparison. This can, of course, be switched for a Xbox controller when connected to a television, but again this is clunky when compared to the Switch’s design. Aside from the controller, the Edge having a much weaker graphics chip and running Windows 8 the two devices could be mistaken as parts of the same development team. Altogether if you prefer PC games you could almost see a good reason to buy this device over the Switch.
But wasn’t I talking about Android consoles? I’m getting there. Indeed when I started out I thought the Razer Edge was an Android console. A little bit more digging reminded me where I misled myself.
Enter the Nvidia Shield Family.
This device has seen many iterations. From a handheld version that looks like an Xbox controller mated with a 3DS, to tablets, and even a TV console. Overall the controllers look almost identical to the combined mode of the Switch. Though I may be willing to give Nvidia the nod for aesthetics on this one. Spec wise the controller and tablets fail to live up to the Switch, but the console version appears to have almost identical specs to the Switch’s developer kit. Seeing as Nvidia worked hand in hand with Nintendo on this project I’m not surprised. The X1 architecture was already mature, and in mass production alongside other very similar devices to the Switch. It only makes sense the developer kits would use these resources to cheaply and efficiently distribute them.
Indeed ever side of the hardware seems to have been influenced directly by the Nvidia’s experience with the Shield lineup of devices. To some, this may be negative. For many fans of Nintendo’s handhelds, this may even be a turn-off. After all, we trust Nintendo with handheld consoles more so than we do with living room consoles. But, I think this is the best choice this time. Let’s face it Nintendo appears strapped for cash, and research and development cost tons of money. Teaming up with Nvidia to use a rich, developer friendly architecture is the smartest move they could have made.
Only time will tell if this is enough to attract developers and gamers alike. It has certainly piqued my interest. As a Nintendo, Razer, and Nvidia fan I love the fusion of these designs. It’s the only console I plan on buying this generation.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comment section below.