A couple of weeks have now passed since the release of the Nintendo Switch. And — barring technical issues for some consumers and a typically sparse launch lineup — it seems to be a success so far, given that Nintendo is doubling production of the machine. But while many are enjoying the novelty of the hybrid console/portable, it’s always interesting to look back on what rumors circulated about the system in the past two years, back when all we knew was the codename “NX.”
So today, let’s look back at the rumors — from the reasonable, to the baffling — and see how far we’ve come, shall we?
The NX was announced almost two years ago exactly, on March 17th, 2015 (roughly a month before the launch of this very website, in fact). Documented in a shareholder meeting (the same one that announced the mobile partnership with DeNA), Iwata announced the console as a reassurance to shareholders that Nintendo would continue to be in the home console game going forward, and provide a bolster as the new fiscal year approached. It would be another year and a half before we learned anything official about the console itself though, leaving ample time for rumors and speculation, especially as the system missed two different E3s.
2015 was mostly quiet, due to the fact that Nintendo still had several high-profile Wii U games come out: Splatoon, Super Mario Maker and Xenoblade Chronicles X, to name a few. Towards the end of the year, however, two different patent applications sparked the flame of interest, one for an “upgradeable console” (which appears to be what ultimately became the Switch dock) and a new handheld device (which became the basis for the console itself). These two items sparked the most interest going into the new year, and provided the theoretical models for what the console would look like in the coming months.
It didn’t take long into 2016 for more speculation to arise, much of it untrue. A Super Smash Bros. title was rumored for launch. A mockup controller based on the patent was supposedly leaked, only to be revealed as a 3D printed falsity.
Other rumors proved more valid, such as the fact that the console would be cartridge based. Breath of the Wild was delayed to 2017, and many accurately assumed it was to launch aside the new system. There even emerged reports of a now-forgotten new handheld console, codenamed “MH.” But as it became known that concrete info would come in the fall, and that the system would arrive in March 2017, all these rumors would end up eclipsed by one in particular…
The hybrid dream
On July 26th 2016, Eurogamer reported that the NX would be a portable console with detachable controllers. The following day the Wall Street Journal corroborated the story, and also said it would be a hybrid console. Such reputable sources carried weight to them, and it was thus assumed that they spoke the truth. As it turned out, they were right — those facets, alongside the mockup Eurogamer provided, ended up being what the Switch became almost exactly. Nintendo lost its chance to stun and amaze by waiting too long.
Other accurate rumors came along soon enough, such as the split D-pad and share button or the motion controls plus force feedback (known now as HD Rumble). More strange patents emerged. And as months passed and autumn rolled around, the idea of actual concrete NX news seemed to slip further and further away…
Until, at seemingly random, came the announcement of an announcement: the following day would bring, at long last, the reveal. People around the world hastily refreshed their YouTube pages on October 20th to bear witness to the first glimpses of the console — dubbed the Nintendo Switch, it was what many people envisioned: a home console you can take on the go, making it so you don’t have to stop playing games just because of commutes. While the first trailer was sparse, it was enough to spark even more speculation for the next three months — until January 2017, when Nintendo would tell all about the console.
Explosion at the rumor mill
From here, accusations were thrown left and right about the console specifics — both in terms of hardware, pricing, and what games would come to the system. Cartridges were rumored to have 16GB of storage. (It ended up being double that.) The long in-limbo Smash amiibo were supposedly delayed for launch (true-ish, as they have yet to be released — though recent filings suggest that may be due to a Smash release on the console). Price estimates ran the gamut, though generally ended up around $250, slightly cheaper than what the console ended up becoming.
Rumors of ports were more pronounced than anything. Some were quite accurate, such as Mario Kart 8, while others — such as Pokémon and Dark Souls — have yet to be proven. Yet more rumors included games that got proper sequels instead of ports, such as Splatoon and Xenoblade. Murmurings of GameCube on Virtual Console have since gone unanswered, as has anything to do with VC on the system, actually.
Launch itself was often rumored at March 17th (two weeks later than what it ended up being), which spurred other chatterings. Some said Zelda wouldn’t release in March. Others said Mario, Splatoon and Skyrim would be launch titles. Both of those ended up false. More reports of games coming the first year, such as Pikmin 4 or a Retro Studios game, or even a strange Mario/Rabbids RPG, are still up in the air.
Of course, plenty of valid reporting has been confirmed. Notes about the Switch dock increasing performance were true. So were talks of a Warriors title, now confirmed to be Fire Emblem Warriors. Leaked development tools finally revealed hardware specifics. While plenty falsities were disproven, there were also several rumors that ended up proving true in the end.
Looking back: How far have we come?
While the majority of the most outlandish rumors were omitted here (due to the fact that many of them came from anonymous or untrustworthy sources), it’s actually surprising how many of the rumors surrounding the Switch either ended up true, or at the very least are still possible. True, things like the early mockup controller were demonstrably false, but the general idea of the system — a hybrid home console and portable — ended up being pretty accurate. And while many of the games rumored for the system were slightly off, few have been outright revoked as of now, leading to the possibility that we may see big things at E3.
As to whether the Switch itself will ultimately prove a success or a failure… well, only time will tell. But the concept is there, and the announced games so far are enticing enough. It’s up to Nintendo to sustain interest in the console going forward with proper advertising and support.
But speaking personally, it’s fun to look back at what we could only imagine, and see it realized right before our very eyes.Leave a Comment