Nintendo Switch 2 wishlist: 14 new and upgraded features we want
With the reveal of Nintendo's Switch successor 1-2 months away, here we've collected our bets, hopes, and petitions regarding what we want to see and to enjoy on the new system.
As Nintendo hasn't said a word about the successor to the Switch in its latest financial report (the one referring to the fourth calendar quarter of 2023), shareholders, fans, press, and analysts alike are already looking at only one possible window to finally make a statement about the new console. As it would be a major surprise if Nintendo Switch 2, let's call it like that for instance, does not reach the market before Christmas, the company is obliged to make its plans public in the next fiscal report at the latest. That is, specifically, in late April or early May 2024, if it doesn't make an announcement as early as in the busy month of March. Yes, next month.
That report will already include all the results for the 2024 fiscal year, which ends on March 31, and therefore also covers the first quarter of this calendar year. The manufacturer must then share its forecasts up to March 2025 and define its investments and part of its strategy for that entire period.
The fact that Switch may this year become the best-selling console in Nintendo's history, and that it may even become, according to the most optimistic estimates, the best-selling console in history before it goes out of production, can no longer cover up the (tricky) matter of its natural succession. Hardware sales are dropping week by week, there are no blockbusters in sight, and the first party calendar until spring is being filled with smaller-scale games or remakes and remasters of classics. It all fits together. It's the calm that precedes a new console.
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A few months ago I wondered what the playable invention of Super Nintendo Switch will be, looking back at the history of Nintendo's machines and their reliance on gameplay innovations to succeed or even survive. Today I want to dwell on the more incremental or evolutionary aspects of what Nintendo Switch has been. That is, with the hybrid console in hand, where we expect, want or clamour for Nintendo to make changes to Super Nintendo Switch or whatever that successor is going to be called, mainly on a hardware level.
What will Super Nintendo Switch bring in terms of changes, improvements and new features compared to the original Switch?
Here are 14 requests, ideas or wishes for the new console, along with the likelihood, in our opinion, of them being fulfilled:
1. A centralised and improved online platform for the community
The big evolution in Nintendo's online services was forged in the 3DS and Wii U era and finally consolidated with Nintendo Switch Online. However, the company is still years behind the competition, especially when other actors such as Microsoft are service specialists.
Always protecting the privacy and exposure of under-aged, Nintendo needs to introduce a revamped online ecosystem to make it much easier to add friends and share games online. A centralised place to spectate activities and enter rooms and games and even organise tournaments, finally forgetting the tedious friend codes and expanding and facilitating connection and matching possibilities. Of course, the issue of integrated voice chat must somehow be overcome, instead of looking the other way covering one's ears.
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2. A screen to the brim
Nintendo Switch OLED model did better in this regard, but seeing the bezels of a standard Switch today gives a painful feeling of an old-fashioned toy rather than a modern gaming device. With today's technologies it's much more possible to squeeze the available space, and while we're on the subject of the screen, it would be desirable to have the OLED variant as an alternative launch option... and perhaps it's time to increase the resolution for 7-inch or perhaps larger screens.
Ok, we know Valve hasn't done this with the Steam Deck and it's a performance toll, but if Switch 2 still carries the bulk of game execution and is eminently more powerful, maybe it's time to go full-HD on portable, which would give a pixel density never before seen on Nintendo machines.
One day we'll know why Nintendo's love affair with the analogue triggers ended so soon. It's true that they didn't invent them, but they bet heavily on them with the Gamecube, with greatly ergonomic buttons and a great travel for maximum precision in different genres, especially racing games. Above all, the fantastic F-Zero GX, to the point that we understand that it didn't get a sequel for the simple fact that it couldn't rely on those controls.
The fact that the hardware innovation experts decided to omit them from Wii U and Switch is something we still don't fully understand. It's true that the former had a GamePad as sturdy as a preschool toy and that the latter is fully portable and perhaps they feared breakage, but then they introduced so many other delicate elements, such as the analogue pad of the 3DS. So? A patent conflict?
Let them sort it out, because if Super Nintendo Switch aspires to be an alternative or complement to PlayStation and Xbox domestic consoles much more so than the current machine, it needs to pick up what is standard, especially when it comes to controlling vehicles and modulating certain shooting devices. And if it can, with added resistance such as DualSense's adaptive triggers, which combined with the motion aiming that Zelda spread, would make using Link's bow even more satisfying. Or Splatoon's jets!
4. Goodbye to stick drifting
Speaking of control, the Switch's main and embarrassing manufacturing problem must be completely solved. We know it's complicated and that other manufacturers have suffered similar problems, but the kings of controllers have to find a definitive solution so that we never again see our character, or its camera, move on its own.
5. Redesigned Joy-Con controllers for improved ergonomics
Still on the controllers. No one will deny that the Joy-Con were a great idea and that they have enabled previously unimaginable games, be it single or two-handed solo play, or improvising a multiplayer game on the go. But the hands of most adults are not those of children. Nor those of Japanese people. Racing in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with a single horizontal Joy-Con nowadays results in several hours of pain and stiffness, even if it's just a quick cup.
We need Joy-Cons that are not much larger, but with more space and ergonomics, taking standalone use into account.
6. A D-Pad on every controller
Shall we continue with the controls? Yes, we shall. The Pro Controller and Nintendo Switch Lite got it: the digital four-direction pad is used as much or more than ever, especially given the 2D retro-indie explosion. Playing games like Street Fighter or Mario vs. Donkey Kong on a standard or OLED Switch in handheld mode is a pain with the little directional buttons on the Joy-Con, also because of the above point.
And what happens when you hold it horizontally? Not so much, if you think about how many times you've played with the left Joy-Con horizontally. The nice symmetrical design would be hurt because the right controller has to respect the four classic face buttons and their feel, but the look is not the most important thing here.
7. Make better use of the Dock
We've heard some rumour that the Switch 2's Dock will include a bit more hardware, a bit more computing guts, if you get my drift. The current one basically just acts as a box for charging, resting and connecting to the network, TV and peripherals, but it's still the handheld that runs games on the big screen, just with all the power and consumption of a plug and no battery use.
If the Dock 2.0 does, apart from all this, mainly boost CPU and memory, higher resolutions and detail could be put on the TV. In addition, we have every right to imagine other uses, such as portable but streaming-powered gaming when close to the Dock, or the possibility of offering a Wii U-style dual-screen mode, with each "window" showing something different. This was lost with the final evolution to Switch, but Nintendo and others experimented a lot and came up with good applications, such as the unrepeatable Affordable Space Adventures.
8. More decent audio
Some Nintendo Switch titles, such as the two open-world Zelda games, MK8 Dx, or Metroid Dread, offer great positional surround audio, but most people don't even know about it. The option is somewhat hidden and this is delivered exclusively in 5.1 and linear PCM, which wouldn't be much of a problem if we didn't see so many games adhering to licensed formats such as Dolby or DTS on the other machines. In other words, it would increase compatibility, usage and therefore enjoyment of the soundscape. You have to pay royalties, yes, and the PS5 itself had many problems and limitations at first despite Sony being the champion of cinema in the past, but we are no longer in Wii times and the optical output is also a thing of the past they'd save some money on.
It's an important thing for audiophiles and, again, if Nintendo wants to get a lot more new releases in all their glory from other companies, but we also understand that in the headphones generation, and being a half-portable console, they don't prioritise it. Though we don't agree!
Speaking of earphones, it would also be advisable to adopt more recent Bluetooth formats to reduce lag and, in any case, to keep the USB-C port to be able to connect some wireless earbuds without lag.
9. Full backwards compatibility
Will I be able to use all my Nintendo Switch games and accessories on its successor? This is surely the million-dollar question, especially among those who got their hands on the machine in the last few months and now smell white smoke. There are many factors here, but above all, physical games, digital download games, and controllers.
Given their track record, we don't believe that Nintendo will not allow downloading all eShop games already purchased on Switch in order to play them again, or to continue playing them on Nintendo Switch 2. It would be a decision that is not only insulting to fans, but also somewhat absurd and inconsistent. We also expect this for the classics available as part of Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions, a service that, as mentioned above, they will want to protect and promote.
Now, will they keep the same slot for cartridges or game cards? If there was already a switch from DS to 3DS, it was for one main reason: piracy. At this point some have already messed with the Switch in several ways, and maybe to avoid opening the backdoor already developed for the current console, they prefer to change the physical format once again, perhaps saving costs and increasing the storage memory in the process (the two problems of the current Switch cards). This is guesswork, but considering it's the console for which the most physical games are sold, we don't expect Nintendo to be done with boxed retail releases just yet. Will they dare to release a slotless model with increased download storage in the style of the disc drive-less PlayStation and Xbox? That doesn't sound like them.
Another question is the Joy-Con controllers. We don't see why they shouldn't allow Pro Controllers to be supported unless there's some radical and unexpected change to the control method, but the Joy-Con could be made obsolete with something as simple as replacing the snap-on rail on the sides of the screen with sturdier ones. Perhaps they'll also do away with the infrared sensor which has been, let's face it, infra-utilised...
Short of knowing if they have any playable ace up their sleeve as we mentioned before, all that is "known" about Super Nintendo Switch is that it will be a case of more and better. Above all, more power and better performance. But, seeing how products like Asus' ROG Ally, Valve's Steam Deck, or Lenovo's Legion Go are coming out in terms of power/price ratio (and in some cases with the performance detriment of relying on a non-dedicated OS), it will be very interesting to see where Nintendo stands with its hardware, keeping in mind that that they will expect to sell many millions more than the aforementioned three combined.
We don't expect Nintendo Switch 2 to dare to break the €500 barrier, and that it'll sit around the €400-450 ballpark, looking at their current and previous pricing policy. How much raw power are they able to cram into a portable device for that price, in turn making a significant difference to its 2017 hardware, will be the key to defining what the machine will be able to offer in its early years. Specifically, these components are mostly fast, capable, and modern processor and graphic chips (4K HDR on TV and DLSS to save some sauce?), the amount and type of RAM, and solid-state storage.
Nintendo has never been lavish on raw power. Well, never since the Gamecube flop. They had already abandoned that race. Component suppliers will have competed, however, to offer them the best package deal, knowing their huge potential for success. And the company will want to give third-party companies the ability to easily port their AAA PS5 and Xbox Series releases to its new hybrid, so that they can play them on a real handheld. They will want to minimise the necessary optimisation, embrace the multi-format possibilities of Unreal Engine 5, and be clever with the hardware engineering.
Games as recent as Hogwarts Legacy show that this path can be hugely lucrative for Nintendo and the third parties that will jump in, perhaps more than ever, however untimely this new console may seem.
Probability: ★★★☆☆☆☆ (you define sweet spot).
11. Total redemption with third parties
The previous point goes hand in hand with this one. Nintendo's negotiations with third parties now that they are in a position of power must be fruitful. More so than ever. The path abandoned out of arrogance in the Nintendo 64 era and recovered little by little with 3DS and Switch must now be walked to the end.
Third parties will only release their blockbusters on Nintendo Switch's successor at the same time as they do on PS5 and Xbox Series if it is compelling enough, and only if they all do, will this point have been made for the first time since the SNES.
Ok, I sounded a bit Bilbo Baggins. Nintendo Switch has been home to big, huge hits from others, such as Minecraft. But it hasn't been home to Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Star Wars, Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Elden Ring, Tekken, and Grand Theft Auto. And FIFA/EAFC don't count, with EA almost always delivering a subpar port.
It has always been the company's biggest challenge with such a strong first party portfolio and, for sure, one of the main challenges they have set for themselves now.
12. Two blockbusters at launch
Nintendo learned a lot from previous hardware debuts and some post-launch droughts. With its frontline studios working at full throttle on the new machine for several years already, we expect perhaps not quite the juggernaut that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey were in just 9 months in the previous launch year, but a comparable effort.
We firmly believe that Nintendo EAD Tokyo's big new game, whether it's the next 3D Mario or perhaps with Donkey Kong as a special guest, will be the big launch game for the Super Nintendo Switch. And it can't be the only one. When Smash Bros., Animal Crossing or Splatoon are usually second-wave hits (and when Metroid Prime 4 has time left and we don't expect the inevitable sequel to Mercurysteam's Metroid Dread to be ready either), there are few own console-selling IPs left. Will Nintendo dare launching its new console... along with the new Pokémon?
13. Gamecube in NSO
Give me the analogue triggers I was asking for before and then give me Gamecube as part of Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack. We lost its backwards compatibility after Wii, so it seems like the most distant and forgotten console, for how beloved the little cubic machine was. That Wind Waker and Twilight Princess HD remasters stayed on Wii U didn't help.
The new hardware should be able to run, enhance, and store these downloads without much stress, and then NSO will have a growing and incredibly tempting retro collection - yes, because that's retro too - in subscription format. And while we're at it, DS and 3DS are very welcomed too.
14. A modern and agile eShop
We started out talking about a centralised online system, and this should go hand in hand. The move from the Wii U and 3DS eShops to the Nintendo Switch store was a huge leap for mankind. However, nowadays, when we are all used to browsing digital services and shops of all kinds, it has become archaic. We need it to not take several seconds to load each page, to be able to filter and find games much more easily (do I really have to take that stroll to re-download the ones I own?) and, although some may not like it, for new releases, sales, and offers to merge with menus and system software. Everything and everyone are going digital and Nintendo has figured out how to do it better after years of lagging behind.
What are you asking of Nintendo Switch's successor?