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

You'd think it would want to tout such things as cloud saves and using the Joy-Con as a pointer.

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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.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 20, 2017 9:00 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Opinion: Nintendo Has Been Awful at Explaining Switch's Features

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      March 20, 2017 9:25 AM

      Game goes in hole, fun comes out. Can't explain that.

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        March 20, 2017 10:34 AM

        can you please clarify which hole? i have so many and they all lead to fun

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          March 20, 2017 10:59 AM

          Sorry, it's unclear. The instructions are in Japanese.

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            March 20, 2017 1:58 PM

            Oh, that means any hole is compatible!!!

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          March 20, 2017 1:02 PM

          Bend over and we'll show you.

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        March 20, 2017 11:08 AM

        That didn’t work out for pouya... No wonder he hates nintendo!

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        March 20, 2017 1:27 PM

        You basically just described sex.

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      March 20, 2017 9:26 AM

      That's pretty cool about the cloud saves.

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        March 20, 2017 9:36 AM

        Exactly! They should probably say that!

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        March 20, 2017 9:53 AM

        Whoa, wtf

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        March 20, 2017 10:51 AM

        Wow, yeah. Just this weekend a friend was asking me about the switch, and I had said that games were no longer locked to the machine, but saves would still be an issue as there currently is no way to back them up. Guess I was wrong!

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      March 20, 2017 9:48 AM

      Holy shit! Yeah, they need to announce that Cloud Save stuff like, yestermonth.

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      March 20, 2017 10:02 AM

      why is the idea of using the gyroscopes to mimic a point news? they did this with Skyward Sword. it's nothing new to Nintendo.

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        March 20, 2017 10:05 AM

        'Cause it apparently works significantly better than Skyward Sword's implementation. That one constantly required recentering and from what I've heard so far this doesn't at all.

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          March 20, 2017 10:23 AM

          still an odd thing to deem worthy of a news call out. it's been done before on lesser hardware.

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        March 20, 2017 10:28 AM

        I think it's cool that is does it without IR. it takes a six-dimensional matrix as position 0 and then calculates the acceleration and angles. I love matrix math!

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      March 20, 2017 10:04 AM

      if it involved sending your hardware to Nintendo as part of the process, don't assume this is a customer-facing feature. If this were intended for customer use Nintendo would be screaming from the high-heavens about it.

      This could just as easily be a warranty replacement feature with limited backend capacity and a limited storage time, intended only for situations described in the article, not actual real Cloud Save support.

      GET AN ACTUAL STATEMENT FROM NINTENDO ABOUT THIS.

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        March 20, 2017 10:06 AM

        Yeah, reading that Reddit thread I think we need confirmation from the Big N.

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        March 20, 2017 10:42 AM

        There is an official statement from this, it's Reggie saying "wouldn't that be wonderful?"

        seems legit to me although he did say friend codes would be gone :/

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          March 20, 2017 10:58 AM

          I suspect cloud saves will show up when they launch their new online service in the fall.

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            March 20, 2017 11:00 AM

            It is just a sign of how rushed Switch launch was. They wanted to move the hardware asap. In doing so, we are left wondering about online features...

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              March 20, 2017 11:07 AM

              Agreed, they've done a poor job explaining a lot of this stuff. This page: http://www.nintendo.com/switch/online-service/ says the free trial for their online service will be available in March, is it already live? Can you play something like Snipperclips with a remote second player?

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                March 20, 2017 11:42 AM

                Online service beta has to be launching with the Splatoon 2 test. Seems logical to me, so we will find out this weekend if I am right.

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          March 20, 2017 11:34 AM

          I'm ok with friend codes going away. Their online model should have been account based a long time ago

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            March 20, 2017 1:43 PM

            They were gone with the Wii U and came back here. It seems like everything except for core functionality was put off to the side so they could get it out by March.

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            March 20, 2017 1:47 PM

            They're not necessary for adding friends, but are there as a measure if you have no other alternative method.

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        March 20, 2017 11:01 AM

        Yea it's pure speculation based on what one dude said he saw. It doesn't belong in here because it's not actually a feature at this time.

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      March 20, 2017 4:26 PM

      Hasn't the save thing been pretty much debunked? People looked at his video and spotted a lot of irregularities.

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