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Opinion: Nintendo Has Been Awful at Explaining Switch's Features

Nintendo launched a new console this month and fans have been quick to pick up on what the little hybrid can do–mainly play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and some haircutting sim named Snipperclips. But there have been some features that Nintendo has just out-and-out dropped the ball on explaining or even revealing to players for its "little hybrid that could."

Let's start with the Joy-Con as a pointer. It actually does work in that capacity despite the lack of a sensor bar. The functionality was beautifully illustrated with a video for World of Goo, not by Nintendo, not by the developer, but by a fan. That's a pretty cool feature that I would think fans would want to know about, especially judging by the reaction of our ever-opinated Chatty folks. It even opens the door for Wii ports and remasters.

We also found out about two weeks before launch that the Nintendo Pro controller for Switch has an amazing 40 hours of battery life. By comparison, the Wii U Pro controller offered 80 hours. Was that boasted in a press release? No, it was just written in fine print on the controller's box. Thanks for the heads-up Nintendo! 

We have also found out that Nintendo's lack of region locks for gamers also has a region-free implementation for developers. Yes, a remarkable accomplishment where a developer of a Switch game must only submit one version of the game for the entire world! As Image & Form community manager Julius Guldbog said in a Nintendo Switch subreddit AMA about its game SteamWorld Dig 2“Now that Nintendo has embraced region-free publishing we save lots of time since we only need to submit one version of the game for the entire world (instead of multiple versions to cover all regions). It saves us months of paperwork!”

Except, Nintendo didn't promote it at all. Obviously a few devs know about it, but again, this is a great feature that we are finding out about two weeks after the system launches.

Surprised? Oh wait, there's more. There is apparently a hidden cloud save feature. Yes! Cloud saves. Another redditer (bless their intrepid souls) named Patsuann had to return his Switch to Nintendo for repairs, and he had assumed that all his save data would be lost. Indeed, when his new Switch arrive, his account data was fine, but his storage was empty. Figuring he have to start Breath of the Wild from scratch, he booted it up, only to see a cloud download icon. "So full of hope i start my game, and there was my saves are intact!"

Cloud saves. Steam has it, PS4 has it, Xbox One has it. Nintendo surely told us about that, right? If it did, it was buried deep in a technical specs document, because this is the first we've heard of it.

While it goes without saying that Nintendo tries to be innovative with its hardware, it has been oddly awful at giving us the details of some of the most basic–and useful–features of its little hybrid. Given all these new features being found, you would think Nintendo would have been squealing about them like the prize pig showing off at the country fair. But instead, fans are doing better PR work than one of the premier game companies in the world. And Nintendo is so confident in the unit's popularity, even without key disclosures, that it has already announced it is doubling production on the Switch

I get that Easter eggs are cool. Keeping them secret so fans can find them and show off their discoveries is something every game company does. But these are prominent features, not cool little in-jokes that a developer dropped in to see who was paying attention. Instead it gives the vibe that Nintendo, at the very least, isn't paying attention. And at the very worst is totally out of touch with what fans and developers find important.

What else can the Switch do that you are keeping from us, Nintendo? Do tell, please, before we discover it on our own.

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