Switch, 2020 and Pro ... future jets - Lakitu's Sachet

Switch, 2020 and Pro ... future jets - Lakitu's Sachet
This pernicious, dismal and coercive 2020 is about to come to an end; there would be much more to write, but finding ourselves in a specialized site, and in a Nintendo-themed column, we can not help but analyze these last twelve months from this perspective. It is never easy to historicize current events without writing nonsense, despite this we will try to frame this period, trying to hypothesize what it would have been like without the pandemic that has altered our lives. Before the word Coronavirus was spoken millions of times every day, when Covid-19 still sounded like the code name of some technology project, Nintendo announced that, during 2020, no other models of its hybrid console would arrive. So, at least this point - we will see shortly why it is so important - we can say that it has not been altered in racing.

The lockdown influenced the development and planning of the Japanese company's software, by Furukawa's own admission. The real question is: how different would it have been without a pandemic? It is probable that the traditional "Christmas game" would not have been the pleasant Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Having been twelve months marked by the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., and given the upcoming release in February, it is not stupid to assume that the privileged December slot would have been the turn of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury. We do not yet know the extent of the additional content, but from how they have been presented we imagine they are more than a simple outline: Bowser's Fury aside, it would still have been a title, however beautiful, imported (like many others) from the Wii U playroom. If this was not the Christmas game, we will find out by May / June 2021: as important as the influence of the Coronavirus was, we find it hard to believe that it forced a title to be postponed for more than five / six months.

Our thesis is very simple: even without a pandemic, this 2020 would still have been a year of transition for Nintendo Switch.

Animal Crossing and transition

2017 has hosted the great debut of Nintendo Switch, and it has been a basically flawless year: full of great releases every month, between March and November it also included the arrival of two heavyweights such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. 2017 laid the foundations for the entire future of the console, created that audience base that, over time, Nintendo has tried to expand.

2018 was marked by local multiplayer (and not only), with titles such as Mario Tennis Aces, Super Mario Party, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu has also arrived! and, above all, in Kyoto they tried casual gambling with Nintendo Labo. A prestigious project, which has achieved more critical than commercial success. "The attack" on the casual audience was not an isolated case: while not as decisive as in the past, Nintendo is very keen on this market, and every year has tried to deal a blow in this direction. The most successful, at the moment (also helped by the Coronavirus), was undoubtedly Ring Fit Adventure, whose slow progress seems unstoppable. A game released in 2019, a year that saw the celebration of the portable dimension of the console. And not only because of the release of the Lite version, the portable and less expensive one: in those twelve months Nintendo published many works that, in the past, would have accompanied the fate of the family paperback. Let's talk about Luigi's Mansion 3, but above all about Fire Emblem: Three Houses, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakning and, of course, about Pokémon Sword and Shield. A year that ideally ended only in March 2020, with the publication of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, an episode that made the series soar thanks to both the quality and the favorable historical coincidences (and, in this case, we are not referring only to to Coronavirus).

And here we are in 2020, with Paper Mario: The Origami King and the many works of tribute to the plumber, an effective and complacent way to fill an otherwise rather poor year of publications (impossible not to mention, in this context, the exclusive Hades console). Why do we think Nintendo has given itself a transition year? First of all, thanks to her long sellers and Animal Crossing, she was - rightly - convinced that she had a vigorous favorable inertia. Second: in this year of poor releases, the foundations have probably been laid for a second "big half" of Switch's life. Third: all Nintendo consoles faced a "weak" year. Simply, in those of great success it was prodromal to a second youth (Wii, 2008), in the others it marked the beginning of the end (GameCube in 2004, Wii U in 2015).

Switch Pro

Many years ago, when Nintendo Switch was still called by its code name NX, Iwata warned us: we should expect different solutions than usual, even an Apple-style structure (his words, not ours) with a ecosystem of platforms, capable - implicitly - of supporting the same software. Initially the claim seemed to have been disproved by the hybrid nature of the Switch, as if Nintendo had changed its mind; however, things have returned to align themselves with the announcement and distribution of Switch Lite, which - as specified a little while ago - dates back to 2019. For months, rumors have been chasing about the arrival of a third edition of the console, more powerful than the original one, and renamed Pro.

On the existence of this third model, important sites have been exposed, in particular Bloomberg, which would have suggested 2021 as a publication date and, above all, an adequate line-up for a memorable launch: a fact that would connect good for the "poor" 2020, and for the many internal teams that have not published something for years (EPD 9 for example, that of Mario Kart and Arms). Probably every internal division, and every software house owned by Nintendo, is preparing for a last "hit" on the Nintendo Switch.

But what exactly will Nintendo Switch Pro be? Of course, at present we have no definite news. At the beginning of the year, through a system update, parts were identified that would allow the various works to increase their performance: a feature absolutely in line with the nature of Switch Pro which, according to Bloomberg, should also support 4K. However, it is very difficult to make predictions: there are basically two possibilities. The first is that Switch Pro is, in all respects, a better and more performing version of the 2017 hybrid. Bigger, more powerful, equipped (as rumored) with LED screens. The second possibility, perhaps more tempting, is that it goes through and through to complete that ecosystem we were talking about: the hybrid console, the portable one and ... the home one. Always more performing than the original, but without a screen, and therefore less (or equally) expensive. Nintendo, even on a visual level, could make a beautiful figure: with the gargantuan dimensions of the next-gen, compacting the beating heart of Nintendo Switch in a clear, regular black cube, would be something extremely different from the competition. In support of this theory, in April a patent was released on "autonomous" Joy-Con, not attackable to the console.

We would be ready to bet, as we did in 2018 for the Lite edition, on the existence of Switch Pro. Which could be a more powerful and valuable hybrid than the original, or a home version of the same. Whatever the case may be, let's venture another prediction: a Zelda accompanied the launch of the hybrid, a Zeldino that of the laptop, a Zeldone will find the third edition of Nintendo Switch on the shelves, which will mark the debut of the second youth of the platform.

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