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6 things we want in a new Nintendo Switch
Our Switchmas wishlist.
If you were excited to see a new Nintendo Switch model at E3 2021, you weren’t alone. There were plenty of convincing rumours floating about that pointed to a pre-E3 announcement of a new 4K-capable mid-generation Switch upgrade, most of which came from an industry insider speaking with Bloomberg anonymously. Alas, E3 came and went without so much of a whisper about a new Nintendo Switch.
So, what’s the go? Is Nintendo releasing a new console or not?
Well, considering the record-breaking number of views Nintendo received at this year’s exclusively online E3, it’s safe to assume that Nintendo would have announced a new console at the event if it was in fact ready to pull the curtain back. That’s not to say the Nintendo Switch Pro doesn’t exist—several credible leaks suggest it does—just that it might be much further off than we initially anticipated.
Now that we’ve had more than enough time to dream up our ideal Nintendo Switch upgrade, I thought I’d share our ultimate Switchmas wishlist.
Will most of these features be included in the next Nintendo Switch? Probably not! But this is a safe space where there are no stupid ideas, just blue-sky thinking and a whole lot of naivety.
Here’s everything we want to see in the next Nintendo Switch (outside of what’s already rumoured), no matter how feasible.
1. 4G/5G connectivity
Let’s kick things off with the most unlikely addition to the new Nintendo Switch hardware: 4G/5G connectivity.
The current Nintendo Switch has been an invaluable travel companion and for a lot of people, an internet connection won’t be necessary to play single-player titles. But if Nintendo really wants to capture a larger Fortnite and Apex Legends audience, the ability to insert a data SIM would go a long way. Of course, you can always tether your smartphone or use a pocket WiFi device but having an in-built mobile connection would make everything so much smoother on the go, from multiplayer, to impulse buying eShop titles and playing cloud-version games like Control: Ultimate Edition on Switch.
In an ideal world, the Nintendo Switch wouldn’t just have a SIM card but would also be available on a no-interest payment plan through telcos, just like the Xbox All Access program.
Anyone with multiple Switch devices will attest to the painful process of verifying digital purchases on their second device. In multi-Switch households, secondary consoles must be connected to the internet to verify purchases on the shared account before playing. It can get pretty annoying when you’re on the road and grates against the pick-up-and-play nature of the Nintendo Switch.
Sony is rumoured to be working on reviving the PSP (PlayStation Portable) with a 5G model that’s capable of streaming console-quality games. If that rumour holds any water whatsoever, it could make for some stiff competition for the Nintendo Switch, a console that’s so far avoided any direct competition from Sony and Microsoft.
2. More ergonomic and reliable Joy-Cons
Considering the form factor of the new Switch is likely to remain largely unchanged, we probably won’t see any changes to the Joy-Cons themselves.
Still, it would be grand if I could buy a brand-new Nintendo Switch with revised Joy-Cons that don’t drift. And it’s not just the drift I want to see fixed. I currently have three pairs of Joy-Cons (grey, neon red/blue and yellow) and one Pro Controller and each set has at least one issue.
The grey Joy-Con that came with the Switch suffers drift regularly, my neon yellow pair disconnects in handheld mode constantly and both my red Joy-Con and Pro controller won’t hold any charge.
Frankly, it’s a disaster and the sole reason the Switch has gone from being my primary console to a hassle I’ll contend with if I’m desperate enough to check out an exclusive title (like New Pokémon Snap).
I’d love to head into the new (mid) generation with a little more confidence in Nintendo’s controllers.
While we're improving the controllers, I'd also take a more ergonomic pair of Joy-Cons with the next Switch. The current Joy-Cons are a fine solution as a second controller but playing extended handheld sessions is always uncomfortable. Something closer to Hori’s officially licensed Split Pad Pro would be a nice inclusion.
3. Support for Bluetooth headphones
Another omission from the original Nintendo Switch that is counterintuitive to its portability is support for Bluetooth headphones.
As more and more people go wireless with their daily buds, fewer people have a traditional pair of wired headphones sitting around. And those that do are increasingly using USB-C or Lightning connections (you can thank smartphones ditching headphone jacks for that).
A low-latency aptX Bluetooth chip in the next Nintendo Switch iteration would allow me to use some fancy noise-cancelling earbuds to truly appreciate that glorious Hades soundtrack on public transport and dare I say, open up the door to online voice chat that doesn’t require a smartphone app? How controversial.
4. Switch Lite as a second display
Madness, right? Hear me out. The same data miner responsible for uncovering the revised base Switch model (the one with longer battery life) uncovered details in a firmware update that referenced support for a “secondary display of sorts”. The details are slim but what’s there raises a lot of questions: Is Nintendo creating some kind of freak DS-Switch hybrid? Is it more of a Wii U tablet-style solution? And does that unlock the possibility of playing classic DS and Wii U games on the Switch?
While that sounds great, it would be a much more significant hardware evolution than every other rumour and report currently suggests. But, what if we can have our 7-inch OLED display cake and eat it too?
What if the rumoured secondary display support incorporated existing Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite consoles as controllers that could connect to the new hardware? Essentially transforming your existing Switch into a Wii U tablet-style controller that connects to the new Nintendo Switch Pro? Both the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite have sold like wildfire over the past year (which is one reason why Nintendo isn’t in a rush to announce an upgrade). The ability to use your existing console as a controller would (a) be a more cost-effective second-screen solution and (b) ease the blow for people who did fork out for a Switch recently when a new model is announced.
Yes, it’s an expensive solution for anyone who doesn’t already own a Nintendo Switch but maybe Nintendo follows up with an affordable, modernised Wii U tablet for the people that don’t.
This blending of Nintendo’s wildest hardware designs could result in a console that can cross almost every Nintendo generation. A machine capable of playing through the vast majority of Nintendo classics. It would be like the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate of Nintendo consoles.
Is that even possible? I have no idea but I’d love to see it.
5. Nintendo Switch Online power-up
The idea of DS and Wii U games on the Nintendo Switch would be a dream but missing classics and backwards compatibility wouldn’t fix Nintendo Switch Online.
Nintendo has never had a great (or at times, even functional) online strategy and the fact that it currently charges money for its online service is, frankly, laughable.
Say what you will about Nintendo’s fumbled approach to online but it had a good thing going with the Wii Shop and Virtual Console. They were janky in comparison to Nintendo’s console competitors’ online offers but over time, Nintendo fans grew attached to the Wii and Wii U’s online ecosystem. I’ve still got the Wii Shop theme as my ringtone.
Then Nintendo just… threw it all away.
The eShop is an, at best, okay digital storefront but it lacks the quirky charm of the Wii Shop and ditching Virtual Console meant everyone who upgraded to the Switch was punished for spending money on mountains of classic games.
Not only did Nintendo shed a lot of the Wii Shop Channel’s jazzy appeal but it also didn’t match every other digital game subscription available. PlayStation and Xbox have offered bonus monthly games with their subscriptions for years now. In fact, they’ve moved past that and have started offering entire libraries of games to paying subscribers. Xbox Game Pass is obviously the benchmark but Sony’s PS Plus Collection offers tremendous value too.
Nintendo Switch Online offers NES and SNES games but the libraries are small and made up of a small handful of classics thrown in with some fairly obscure titles like… S.C.A.T.
For Nintendo’s mid-generation jump, a Switch Online/eShop refresh would go a long way towards making the experience feel fresh and exciting over four years after its release. While you’re at it, give the dashboard a fresh lick of paint too and let me download titles to my Switch remotely using the app (like I can on Xbox).
6. Revive StreetPass
That’s it. That’s the suggestion.
StreetPass on the Nintendo 3DS was one of the most beloved features of the handheld console and it was taken from us for no good reason. The recent release of Miitopia on Switch is just salt in the wound.
For those who skipped the 3DS, StreetPass was an in-built social system/game that would connect with other 3DS devices you passed in the street even when your device was in sleep mode. Whenever you passed another 3DS, a little green LED would glow to notify you of a pending StreetPass.
Some games had StreetPass features. For example, Mario Kart 7 would exchange Mii and player data with passersby so you could race their ghost when you launched the game. In Pokemon X and Y, StreetPass earned you PokéMiles, a unique in-game currency that could be used to buy rare items.
But the most addictive part of StreetPass was Mii Plaza. The plaza itself was a simple meet and greet of sorts where you’d welcome each Mii you’d passed on the street into your plaza (where they’d remain for a while).
Every Mii that arrived had a custom design and greeting and people managed to make some truly hilarious and sometimes disturbing character greetings within Nintendo’s family-friendly restrictions.
Every Mii that arrived would also provide you with a puzzle piece for Puzzle Swap, a collection of jigsaw puzzles based on a long list of Nintendo classics, and Find Mii/StreetPass Quest, a passive RPG adventure where strangers’ Miis would fight to save your regal avatar from imprisonment.
The games themselves weren’t overly thrilling but the dopamine hit you’d get from racking up StreetPass friends definitely was. It was reason enough to carry your 3DS absolutely everywhere, even when you weren’t planning on actually playing it. Catching the train, heading to the cinema.
For a time, every public outing was coloured with the excitement of lining up new Miis at your gates. Big gaming events like PAX were a goldmine for those moreish StreetPass hits.
No game or console since has managed to replicate that feeling of community. I don’t know about you but that feeling is something I’ve been missing lately. I’d take it back in a heartbeat, even if it is in the company of weird Miis created by complete strangers.
What should the next Nintendo Switch be called?
For a console that might not actually exist (yet), the next Nintendo Switch sure has a lot of names. The rumours of a 4K-upgrade immediately inspired the alias Nintendo Switch Pro (like the PlayStation 4 Pro before it). The Switch Pro name was further encouraged when Amazon Mexico briefly listed something called New Nintendo Switch Pro back in May 2021. As mundane as that sounds, it’s a very Nintendo way to name a new console (see New Nintendo 3DS XL).
Personally, I’ll join the chorus of people calling for it to be named Super Nintendo Switch. It’s simple, conveys upgraded performance and pays tribute to one of the most beloved consoles of all time. That’d be my preference but I wouldn’t put money on it, much like most other features on this ambitious wishlist.
Anything’s possible at this point. Nintendo Switch Plus, Nintendo Switch Ultimate, Nintendo Switch DS, even Switch U is as likely a name as any.
In an ideal world, we’d finish by saying we won’t have to wait long to find out but for now, the new Nintendo Switch rumours seem to have been put on ice.