For the past couple of years, Nintendo fans have been eagerly awaiting news of a new, more powerful version of the Nintendo Switch. We’ve been expecting a more robust Switch, capable of running games at faster frame rates and higher resolutions than ever before. The Switch (OLED Model) Nintendo announced this morning? That ain’t it.
Have you ever been expecting to receive a certain gift for Christmas or your birthday? Something special, maybe an item you’ve been dropping hints about for months. The big day comes, you tear into the wrapped packages, hoping each one contains that one particular item, but when the colourful paper settles to the floor, the thing you want is nowhere to be found? That’s how this morning’s Switch OLED reveal felt this Tuesday morning. I keep wanting to poke around the back of the tree to see if I missed something.
Oh sure, we got the fancy new 7-inch OLED display we’ve been hearing about since March. That’s a marked improvement over the current console’s 6.2 inch LCD, crisper and sharper. Combined with the new kickstand, as wide as the core Switch unit and fully-adjustable, this new model is a huge upgrade for folks who like to play their Switch in tabletop mode, perhaps while drinking large glasses of refreshing iced tea. The enhanced built-in speakers should help as well.It’s also got 64GB of internal storage compared to the original Switch’s 32GB. That makes this the perfect model for people who want to squeeze in another week before caving and purchasing the highest capacity Micro SD card possible. Tabletop players and SD card hold-outs should be over-the-moon right about now.
And I’m not going to ignore what the enhanced display will do for folks who play their Switch in handheld mode. The things they are used to looking at on the smaller Switch or Switch Lite screens will be bigger and brighter than before. Will the novelty of the larger screen fade in a week or two after purchasing the new model this October? Yes, if not sooner. But for that one, shining moment, that new screen is going to be everything. Maybe even enough that you won’t mind the lack of upgraded battery life.
Because really, it is everything. It’s right there in the bad name Nintendo picked. Switch (OLED Model). Not New Nintendo Switch. Not Super Switch. Not Nintendo Switch Pro. Just a notation in parentheses, because that’s all this new model deserves. The upgraded console we’ve been dreaming of for a couple of years now can keep those fancy names we brainstormed. This is just the Switch (Somewhat Upgraded But Not By Much).
Most disappointed of all by this modest update to the Switch hardware are players like me, who use the Switch nearly exclusively in docked mode. The new display means absolutely nothing in docked mode. Metroid Dread, launching alongside the new console version, will look exactly the same on my monitor no matter which Switch I use. The kickstand? Nothing. The enhanced speakers? Nothing. The extra storage? Well I guess that’s fine, but for the sake of consistency I am going to say nothing. The built-in wired network port in the new docking station is neat, but I’m pretty sure my older Switch is going to fit in that new docking station just fine, considering the new console’s dimensions are exactly the same.
Instead, my New Super Nintendo Switch Pro hopes and dreams all hinged on the promise of enhanced power. We dreamt of faster frame rates. We expected support for 4K docked resolutions. This is what all of the early reports and supposed leaks told us. From the early 2019 rumours up to this year’s E3, where the new model failed to surface, 4K was the one consistent expected feature. Hell, a 4K docked Switch could have meant a full HD undocked Switch. But no, we’ve got the same 720p undocked resolution and the same full HD docked.
I am not alone in my disappointment over this (OLED Model) either. A quick search of Twitter reveals a whole lot of underwhelmed people complaining about the lack of 4K support for this otherwise incremental hardware upgrade. Comparisons are being made to the PlayStation Vita, which launched in 2012 with an OLED screen. We even got a new version of my favourite Sailor Moon meme, which so far I consider the best thing to come of this morning’s announcement.
The Nintendo Switch is a great little console/handheld hybrid, absolutely packed with fun games to play and exciting new ways to play them. That’s not going to change with the Switch (OLED Model). That’s the problem, really. Not much is going to change at all, and I’m left dejectedly nosing about the pine needles on the floor beneath the Christmas tree, hoping I missed something better.