It Seems The Nintendo Switch Lacks Performance [Opinion]

While rumors were circulating around the Switch — formerly codenamed the NX — Nintendo's imminent console-handheld hybrid, two curiosities echoed ubiquitously: resolution and frame rate.

Everyone knows Nintendo is not the leader of breathtaking graphical fidelity insofar as high resolution and over-the-top frame rate goes, but Nintendo is widely considered to make consistently excellent games that are visually stunning (striking color palettes in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker) and pleasing to play (smooth frame rates in Splatoon). Despite the lack of power in just about each and every previous Nintendo console, the company still manages to craft games that are far more stable than its contemporaries — until now.

A guest enjoys playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
[Image by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images]

With the launch of the Switch on the horizon -- it's slated for a worldwide distribution on March 3 -- it seemed Nintendo hinted that all first-party titles will run at 1080p and 60fps except for, of course, the console's first major release, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Breath of the Wild lands on both the Wii U and the Nintendo Switch on the same day (March 3) and both will run at 30 fps, but the Switch version renders at 900p while the Wii U version renders at 720p, still short of the lofty 1080p/60fps the company alluded to. In a statement sent to IGN, Nintendo has confirmed the following pertinent facts of both versions verbatim as per IGN's write-up.

  • Both launch on the same day, March 3.
  • Both have a frame rate of 30fps.
  • Both versions of the game offer the same content.
  • On a TV, the Nintendo Switch version of the game renders in 900p while the Wii U version renders in 720p.
  • The Nintendo Switch version has higher-quality environmental sounds. As a result, the sound of steps, water, grass, etc. are more realistic and enhance the game's Open-Air feel.
  • The physical copy of the Wii U version will require 3GB of available memory on the Wii U system or an external drive.
  • Some icons, such as onscreen buttons, differ between the two versions.
  • A Special Edition and Master Edition of the Wii U version are not available.
This suggests that Nintendo is clocking its forthcoming console weaker than its contemporaries, which is unfortunate considering the power found in both Sony's PS4 Pro and Microsoft's Xbox One S. (If Project Scorpio, Microsoft's upcoming console, is to be believed as "the most powerful console ever built," every console on the market will get blown out of the water, especially the Switch.)

Of course, Nintendo isn't about power and is seemingly more concerned with performance than anything, but the Switch needs to be powerful if it hopes to attract the hardcore market, a smart move for the company that only sold 13 million Wii Us as of September 2016, a paltry number when compared to the 100 million the company fervently believed the system would sell.

With the added support of third-party software and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim confirmed to be hitting the Switch on an unspecified 2017 date, this lack of performance neither bodes well for the consumer nor attracts future third-party developers. Furthermore, a custom Tegra processor built by NVIDIA powers Nintendo's anticipated system, so the lack of power is perplexing as one wonders what Nintendo is doing with that custom chip.

"Nvidia literally said that this system's hardware is so powerful, it's using the same chips that the world leading gaming machines uses," typed one commenter approximately three months ago, creating more confusion around Nintendo's use of NVIDIA's hardware.

Nintendo of America, A guest enjoys playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
[Image by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images]

Moreover, Nintendo has confirmed to a number of publications — IGN to name one — that the Switch gets a performance upgrade when docked, claiming that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will "play in TV mode in up to 1080p," but the capacitive touchscreen on the console itself is only a mere 720p resolution, providing more uncertainty regarding the true resolution of games when docked and undocked.

All of this information comes just two months before the launch of the Switch and, unfortunately, it all could very well hurt the system's sales performance in the long run.

[Featured Image by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images]