The more powerful Nintendo Switch rumors aren’t new, but if true, it would represent a fundamental shift in the company’s hardware design philosophy.
When the Nintendo Switch was launched in 2017, it was already out of date in terms of technical horsepower. Since then, first-party software has continued to make a technical impression, and a few third-party ports have surprised gamers by working relatively well.
Still, underpowered hardware is far from competitive with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and the gap will only widen with the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X in November. That’s why all eyes are looking at the fictional Nintendo Switch Pro, and rumors suggest that one is under development. Whether you agree or disagree with Switch Pro, its very existence is shocking in the first place.
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The legacy of Gunpei Yokoi
Nintendo’s hardware philosophy is not to chase the most powerful technology, with rare exceptions. Instead, the company’s machines are informed by the teachings of Gunpei Yokoi, one of the company’s most visionary designers. Yokoi’s influence, which supports the design of hardware including Game Boy and is responsible for creating franchises such as Metroid, has been echoing throughout the industry since his death.
When he helped shape the early Nintendo hardware, Yokoi’s legacy endures with subsequent machines. He famously worked to pioneer the concept of lateral thinking with dead technology: the idea of innovating at the hardware level with cheaper components. Yokoi did not prioritize raw horsepower, but instead pursued an innovative concept of developing weak technologies in new ways. Games & Watches are cited as the earliest examples of this philosophical practice, but the most obvious is the Nintendo Wii.
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The Wii’s technical incompetence was the butt of many jokes, but it’s the butt of incredibly lucrative jokes. The system was slightly more powerful than the GameCube and couldn’t candle on the PS3 or Xbox 360. However, while creating a motion game pandemic in the mid-2000s on its own, it drastically reduced sales of these machines. The Wii Remote has inspired the imagination of players everywhere, and at the affordable $ 250 Wii price, everyone has been able to make it a pandemic. Not surprisingly, this is due to Satoru Iwata’s philosophy of targeting casual gamers.
That attraction would not have been possible without Yokoi’s underlying ideology. Wii’s creative diversion of outdated technology symbolizes Nintendo’s hardware philosophy, and its success is why this approach is feasible and even decades after games and watches. Symbolizes why it continues to protect it.
What does Switch Pro look like?
Switch is the latest example of Yokoi’s philosophical practice and one of the most profitable. That’s why it’s incredibly unique for Nintendo to suddenly turn its back on lateral thinking with dead technology. It’s unconventional for Nintendo to reject this philosophy of releasing state-of-the-art switches with 4K. If there’s one thing Nintendo wants to count on, it’s tradition. Moreover, given how vibrant the Switch ecosystem is, this seems like a strange time to radically change corporate strategy.
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Of course, there is a rough precedent for Nintendo to upgrade its hardware. The system of the New Nintendo 3DS family is more powerful than the 3DS models released, but only a few. In most cases, the New 3DS system has added quality of life features such as stabilized 3D and C-Stick. Except for the ability to play a handful of exclusive titles and a few technical improvements to others, the added horsepower made little sense.
If anything, New 3DS was an opportunity to deal with hardware oversights and boost sales. The fictional Switch Pro could do the same with the addition of quality of life features. From Bluetooth to smaller bezels, more internal storage, and better Joy-Con, Switch Pro has a lot to offer.
However, the tide may actually be changing, and Switch Pro will be a sophisticated and powerful technology. Old Nintendo guards have been phased out, and young developers have taken Nintendo’s IP to new heights with titles like Super Mario Odyssey, pioneering new franchises like Splatoon. It’s only a matter of time before the influence of men like Gunpei Yokoi begins to fade and new voices take Nintendo in a new direction. I’m not sure if that time is now, but when that shift comes, it will be a fundamental turning point in Nintendo’s history.
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About the author Abram Buehner (34 articles published)
Abram Buehner is a writer, gamer, and versatile dok based on the East Coast of the United States. Traveling between his home at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and the Mid Coast of the Main Coast, Abram spends a lot of time writing about video games, movies, and comics. That is, when Abram is not playing games, watching movies, or reading comics. When he isn’t doing that, Abram kneels down in class, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in journalism.
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