Nintendo Switch: No Backward Support For Wii U And 3DS, Not As Powerful As Xbox One And PS4

We all thought the Nintendo Switch (then codenamed Nintendo NX) would transcend the Xbox One and PS4–it seems we were wrong.

Nintendo has been keeping the Nintendo NX project hushed for so long but earlier this week, they finally pulled back the curtain and revealed the Nintendo Switch, the handheld-console hybrid that propelled the whole gaming community into excited spasms.

Throwback to when we all thought that the Nintendo Switch will be this awesome gaming device that will finally put Nintendo on the same playing field as Xbox One and PlayStation 4, we speculated that with Nintendo Switch’s power, any title on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One can basically run on Nintendo Switch. But with new details surfacing about the Nintendo Switch, it’s not looking too good for people who are expecting a beast-like device that’s going to battle with Xbox’ Project Scorpio or PS4 Neo.

Nintendo Switch is the official name for then project Nintendo NX
Nintendo Switch is the official name for then project Nintendo NX [Photo via Nintendo]

First, the Nintendo Switch will run via a custom Tegra processor by Nvidia. Games Radar finds out more about the Tegra and reports that is the designation for Nvidia’s mobile efforts. So if you saw the Nintendo Switch trailer, which we seriously hope you did, and thought that the handheld variation of the Switch looks more like a tablet, then you’re not too far off. And this does not only mean physically. Internally, in terms of power, the Nintendo Switch will more or less run on what smartphones and tablet use to run.

Right of the bat, we understand that the Nintendo Switch will not try to compete with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4’s raw power. Well, a video game insider last year did note as much, saying that the Nintendo Switch (then called Nintendo NX) will not compete on a power level. It turns out he was right.

At the Nvidia blog, Nvidia also says the following about the processor they’re developing for Nintendo Switch.

“[the Switch will take advantage of] fully custom software, including a revamped physics engine, new libraries, advanced game tools and libraries. NVIDIA additionally created new gaming APIs to fully harness this performance.”

Although quite vague, this can bring two things. One, good news for gamers, since the Switch has the potential to deliver increased graphics processing at a lower power consumption; Two, however, is bad news for devs. Games Radar goes into detail.

“…third-party developers have to learn these tools and how to best utilize them, and that can make ports in particular a bit of a pain. Remember how Sony touted the PS3’s proprietary Cell processor? While it was indeed powerful, its designs made achieving parity in games that were also on the Xbox 360 difficult. This is part of why PS3 versions of games like Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed tended to struggle while their 360 counterparts ran comparably better.”

If you noticed Skyrim at the Nintendo Switch trailer, then we’re getting pretty concerned now. We’re just hoping we don’t get nasty ports on the Nintendo Switch (something of a trend in PC and newer-gen ports these days).

But to calm your nerves, iTechPost notes that during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, the Tegra X1 chip (the chip used by Nintendo Switch) can run Doom 3: BFG Edition in a 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second without framerate drops–a performance that’s more beautiful and flawless compared to the Xbox 360 PowerPC Tri-Core Xenon and the PS3’s IBM cell processor.

Nintendo Switch is the only console running on an Nvidia processor. [Photo via Nintendo]

In terms of backward support for its predecessors, the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS, a Nintendo representative finally confirmed to Polygon that Nintendo Switch will not be compatible with Nintendo 3DS cartridges or Wii U discs.

Although the cartridges for the Nintendo Switch, which will be known as Game Cards, appear to be quite similar to cartridges of the 3DS’, it seems they will not be running on the same protocols. Nintendo 3DS cartridges reportedly can hold up to 8 GB (pretty low if you notice, but Nintendo 3DS never did have to project huge overwhelming graphics on HD TVs), but with news that the Nintendo Switch will run huge games like NBA2K17, which can get as big as 40 GB on other consoles, we’re concerned how Nintendo is going to handle it.

Nintendo promises to give more technical specifications as we get closer to the March 2017 release date but as of now, we can only hope that we get to play downloadable Wii U and 3Ds games on the Nintendo Switch, despite the lack of physical backward support.

More details about the Nintendo Switch as March 2017 draws nearer [Photo via Nintendo]

Eager for the release of Nintendo Switch? Stay tuned for more updates before the official launch in March 2017.

[Featured Image via Nintendo]