Another year, and here we are again — wondering if the next 12 months might deliver perhaps the most exciting thing for any Nintendo fan: new hardware.
It feels like years now that we’ve been reporting on and discussing another potential Nintendo system, and that’s because it has been years. Whispers of a ‘Switch Pro’ were doing the rounds soon after the original console launched in March 2017, and while Switch Lite and Switch OLED reconfigured the base system in modest ways (and the original Switch got a ‘silent’ internal upgrade with better battery life), it’s been nearly seven full years now since we’ve got our hands on totally new Nintendo tech.
On one hand, it’s a result of merging handheld and home console lines into one product — there are naturally going to be 50% fewer hardware reveals than in previous generations. But for an industry and audience that thrives on shiny new things, it feels unusual to have Switch approaching its eighth year at retail without any public announcement or acknowledgement of a successor.
It’s true that Switch is a remarkable system, and we’ve seen developers perform miracles on it. However, it’s also true that its mobile chipset wasn’t cutting edge even when it launched, and the work involved to bring third-party titles to Nintendo gamers these days would be significantly easier in many cases if devs had a little more horsepower to play with. Obviously, no sane person is expecting PS5-level performance from ‘Switch 2’, but using some 2020 or 2021 vintage silicon, perhaps, would give a massive boost over the mid-2010s tech powering the current console.
HOWEVER! Surveying the last year of Switch releases, with GOTY-level gems like Zelda and Mario Wonder bolstered by Pikmin 4, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, Persona 5 Tactica, Super Mario RPG, Sea of Stars, Blasphemous 2, a Red Dead port, Octopath II…, it doesn’t feel like a regular console’s seventh-year lineup (and that only scratches the surface). In fact, we looked back on previous Nintendo systems’ seventh years and it’s clear that Switch’s rude software health at this point in its lifecycle is a trait inherited from its handheld ancestors, which generally enjoy a longer shelf life than their home-based brethren.