On this episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode are joined by Polygon’s Nick Robinson to answer listener questions about Nintendo’s latest game console, the Switch.
You can read some of the highlights from their discussion at that link, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
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Lauren Goode: I missed you last week.
Kara Swisher: Yeah. Where were you?
I was in Big Sky, Montana.
Oh. How was that?
It was amazing.
Was it big? Was there sky?
I also went to Yellowstone National Park one day. I was reminded of the beauty of our national park system.
I am incredibly uninterested, but go ahead.
I started skiing and then I realized that I couldn’t ...
Oh God, she’s continuing.
I realized that I couldn’t handle the mountains.
When someone tells you they’re incredibly uninterested, you just keep talking. Is that the plan?
Yeah. That’s what I do.
I snowshoed across Montana.
I was up to my eyeballs in getting Uber executives fired. That’s what I was doing last week.
You know, I couldn’t avoid the techies because while I was there, I’m not going to say who, but there was a very exclusive club that was up the mountain.
Yeah. For rich dudes.
Where I was not. I was not staying there. I was out snowshoeing. There were some techies at a venture capital event there.
Oh. Well, there you have it.
You can’t escape tech.
You can’t. You go to the mountains and you’re like, “I’m gonna get away for a week and escape technology, and tweets, and news.” You can’t escape.
I’m going to escape completely. Honestly, I’m like up to my earballs in — whatever, my ears — in tech people.
You are. By the way, you look fabulous today.
Thank you. I have a lot of makeup on.
You guys can’t see Kara because you’re in a podcast, but she’s got this jacket that I love. It’s black with this leather piping.
She’s got her CNBC makeup on. She’s ready to go.
Yeah. I’m ready to go. Yeah, I am.
You ready to talk about something I’m really excited about?
Yes. As long as it’s not Uber.
I’m like wriggling in my seat.
I’ve just been doing TV all day, talking about Uber.
It’s not Uber.
It’s about something that I think will bring joy to the hearts of many, unlike Uber.
All right. Joy would be nice. What are we talking about?
Well, we’re talking about the Nintendo Switch.
The new game console.
This is Nintendo’s latest game console.
Yeah. My kids want it.
They do. Are you going to get it for them?
Because they’ve got enough stuff. They have enough stuff.
They have phones and games and hoverboards ...
In this case it’s true, yes, absolutely. I don’t play Nintendo games. My kids do. They love them.
Did you play Nintendo games back in the ’80s, or any games?
I don’t play any games. I don’t play games. I’m not a game player.
You just play real-life games?
Real life. “Game of Thrones.” No. I don’t play games there, either. I just go right to the chase. I’ve never been a game player. It’s interesting. I don’t know why. It’s just one of these things. I just never got interested in it, seemed like a waste of time to me, I’ll be honest with you.
I don’t think it’s a waste of time. I think games can be a real art form.
I have a appreciation for it as this giant multi-billion dollar industry, which is the true art form.
I am not saying it’s not a business. I don’t smoke cigarettes either, and that’s a multi-billion dollar business. It seems addictive. My kids play them all the time and I find I don’t understand why they’re doing it when they can be doing 90 other things.
Well, so I agree with that aspect of it, because I would rather be outdoors or doing something active.
That’s just me.
Big Sky country with the techies.
It’s interesting because if you talk to certain people who are really into games, and you explain listing those hours that you’re spending playing games, I’d rather be doing something active or outdoors. It’s the same idea. You’re talking about multi-billion dollar big businesses, legit hobbies and activities that people have, but oftentimes both sides don’t understand the other.
That said, I love Nintendo. I got an original Nintendo for Christmas this year.
Okay. All right. All right, all right.
She wants to move on. She’s so over this.
Yeah. I want to move on.
Let’s have someone who’s an expert at this.
Yes. Okay. We did have some Verge reviews up on our website this week of the Switch. There was a preliminary review because some of the software wasn’t ready, and then there’s an updated one, but our sister site, Polygon, also has been all over the Switch.
Yeah. All over.
So I’m really excited to welcome Nick Robinson onto the show. Nick is a video producer at our sister site, Polygon. He’s also the co-host.
Hey, that’s not our brother site.
Well, because we have Women’s Day coming up.
So we’re going to call it a sister site, damn it.
All right. Sister site.
He’s also the co-host of the Poly ...
That’s right, sister. Let’s just call each other sister all week next week at South By.
No. Let’s not. Let’s not. Sister women, we’d be related by marriage to the same man, but let’s move on. I’m not going to ...
I thought that was ... what?
Sister women. Yeah.
Don’t you watch any of those Mormon shows, marriage shows? On HBO.
Seems like a whole other podcast.
What was the Mormon marriage one?
Oh. “Big Love.”
Yeah. But, our sister site, Polygon, has also been all over the Switch, and I’m very excited to welcome Nick Robinson onto the show. Nick is a video producer at Polygon, and he’s also the co-host of the Polygon podcast CoolGames Inc, and the hit YouTube series, Car Boys.
Nick, welcome to Too Embarrassed to Ask for the first time.
KS: Cool Games and Car Boys. Wow.
Nick Robinson: Thank you so much. The hit YouTube series, Car Boys. That’s very generous.
KS: The hit. Is it a hit YouTube series? What is a hit?
It depends on ...
KS: Like more than three people watch it? What’s the ...
And by that standard, then yeah, we have a mega hit on our hands, because it’ll be six people who watched it.
KS: All right.
I don’t know that anything we do on Polygon by YouTuber’s standards is like a super ... I guess it’s unfair to compare yourselves to the PewDiePies and Markipliers of the world.
KS: Let’s not compare ourselves ever to cutie pie, PewDiePie, or whatever the fuck his name is, that guy.
We are a drop in the bucket. But the people who do watch our shows are really, really nice about it and draw all sorts of beautiful, sometimes very flattering fan art, where we’re all like 89 percent hotter than we are in real life, which is always fun.
KS: So, Car Boys, what’s Car Boys about?
Okay. Let me figure out how to describe it.
KS: Briefly. Briefly.
Oh man. The one-sentence version of what Car Boys is, is it’s a vehicular body horror show hosted by two people who don’t really care about cars at all.
KS: Sounds very millennial.
We found this weird, sort of European car crash simulating game and really quickly it got out of hand. It was supposed to be a one-off video, and then after three episodes people wanted us to keep doing it, so we went back and re-branded it as a show.
But that was absolutely not our vision for it.
KS: I see. All right, that’s enough explanation.
Yeah. I knew that’s ...
KS: You’ve bored me already. All right. Nick, welcome to Too Embarrassed to Ask.
KS: We want to know about the Nintendo Switch, which also bores me. So interest me in some fact.
LG: Yeah. How is it different from Nintendo’s previous consoles?
KS: How is it different?
That’s a great question. I think I can do this. I can sell the Nintendo Switch to you.
KS: Oh. All right. Good.
I think that the interesting and exciting thing about it, compared to Nintendo’s past stuff, is rather than choosing between like a Game Boy, or a hand-held, or a Nintendo DS-type thing, or a console that plugs into your TV, this thing is simultaneously both things at once. It’s got a screen. It’s got controls on that screen, but you can also plug it into your TV at any time, kind of weirdly seamlessly, and then sit on your couch and play on the full screen. That’s kind of the promise of the Nintendo Switch. That’s the gimmick. It really works. It does exactly the thing you want it to do.
I got mine on Friday. I preordered one. It shipped out to most people, not everyone, we had people on Polygon staff who ... just, Amazon didn’t bother to send theirs, it happened to a lot of people over the weekend, but mine arrived on time. I’m grateful for that. So, I’ve had a few days with it, and yeah, I am very fond of it so far.
KS: So it’s different that you can detach yourself and move around the room?
Yeah, totally. I love that because there’s always been this weird tension of like, sometimes I would sit on my couch and play DS or Game Boy games when I’ve got this huge TV in front of me, and that always seemed silly. And conversely, having to leave a game behind or play a pared-down, crappy, portable version when I leave my house was never really ideal either. This is kind of Nintendo’s stab, and I think pretty much the industry’s first stab at basically accepting that technology has made it to the point where you can have something that fits in your hands and is the size of an iPad mini, that is also powerful enough to drive really good-looking games on your television.
LG: And it’s $300, correct?
Yes. That’s right.
LG: How does that compare to Nintendo’s previous console releases?
It’s about on par. I think the original Nintendo Wii kind of ... I think a big part of why that system blew up and was so popular was because it was $249. I think a lot of people had their fingers crossed that this was gonna be $250, and then it came out at $300 and doesn’t have a free, included game. So, it’s a little slightly pricier than I think we wanted.
KS: But it sold out, right? It sold out. It’s apparently not pricey.
Yeah. They are hard to get right now.
Especially like some of the controllers that Nintendo made limited supplies of. Something I’ve learned kind of late in life, something I’ve only realized in the past four or five years, is that I have a ton of affection for Nintendo, like a lot, and I will probably just follow them to the ends of the earth no matter how many irritating, frustrating missteps and mistakes they make, so I preordered this thing for that reason, and I have been really pleasantly surprised so far.
LG: I am right there with you, Nick. I’ve loved Nintendo growing up. I had the Duck Hunt gun, I had the Power Pad.
LG: I had all the different consoles. Now my niece and nephew are at the age where they have a Wii U, and whenever I say, “What do you guys want for your birthdays?” They say, “Oh, this game.” I get this weird sense of pleasure ordering a Nintendo game for them.
LG: Just remembering that I was doing the same thing years ago.
It’s really incredible that they still have the same place in the industry that they did all those years ago.
LG: Yeah. People respect you.
Where they were just making things that are so advanced and so polished that they’re indistinguishable from magic. That’s the Nintendo thing that no one else does.
KS: What’s the game, there’s like Mario, but what’s the other one? Zena, or?
KS: Right. Zelda. Right?
LG: And so Zelda, actually let’s talk about the games for the Switch.
KS: Well, yeah. There’s not that many, right?
LG: What games can you get for now?
LG: And it’s shipped with Zelda.
KS: It’s like one. Like one game.
Yeah. Right now in North America, if you count all of the miniature downloadable games and stuff, there’s nine launch games total.
KS: Wow. All right. Okay.
I think there’s a little bit more in the Japanese e-shop.
KS: That’s not very many.
So you can register an account there if you wanted to. But nine is the launch lineup right now. It’s a little thin. I actually think Nintendo would be in a really rough position with this system if it weren’t for them making the calculated risk that this Zelda game was going to be huge. And it turns out, this Zelda game is the fourth-best reviewed video game of all time. It’s universally praised. It’s very, very weird, and ambitious, and risky. I spent a lot of time with it this weekend. It’s legitimately something really special.
LG: So in you your experience, I mean let’s say that you’ve been playing Zelda for 15 hours on your couch, and then you decide to go out with the Switch in your hands, and maybe you’re on the bus, or wherever you might be, and you’re playing it, does the game actually transfer well from a large screen to a small screen?
Yeah, it does. Interestingly, there have been some people out there, Digital Foundry has done some really cool tests, they do a lot of great hardware and software analysis stuff, and they’ve actually demonstrated that Zelda runs better in portable mode than in TV mode. So if you take Zelda and put it on the little tiny screen, because it’s rendering at 720 natively and not like 900p, there are areas in the game where the game slows down less when it’s in your hands versus on your TV.
Which is kind of unintuitive because it draws a little bit more power when it’s docked to the TV, so you’d think it would run better, but I think it’s just a resolution thing. I will say there’s two questions, right? Do the games run as well in portable mode? So far they all do. And is the content well suited to being portable? Personally, Zelda is such a big game, and it’s a 3-D game, and there’s a lot of small interface and HUD stuff to keep track of, and a lot of little details that I actually, Zelda I haven’t been playing in portable mode as much because I just don’t ... It’s not ...
KS: You want more screen.
Totally. Like when I go into portable mode with this thing, I tend to switch over to their games, like this racing game called Fast Remix, or multiplayer games like Snipperclips, and Shovel Knight, which is like sort of 8-bit, retro, NES-type game. That stuff, to me, is a great fit in portable mode, where Zelda is almost like it’s so expansive, and so big, and so beautiful that I feel like I should save it for when I’m in front of my TV.
KS: So, who is this for? Because I suspect my kids will use it in portable mode almost all of the time. They have a giant TV and they watch everything on their phones, which is really interesting. And they have the smaller iPhone. Even though you think they would do it, I think they’ll probably use it more portable than anything else. So who’s it aimed at? Kids, or adults, or who?
That’s a great question. I think a lot of people who are in the games industry probably ask themselves the same thing when they sell it because a lot of us are probably pretty detached from what young people are playing on their iPads and how comfortable they are with portable screens and stuff. I think the answer is that Nintendo’s intent was to make something for everyone. One factor is if you look at the marketing of this thing. The marketing for the Wii and the Wii U has always had a ton of kids in it, and it’s very goofy, and silly, and child friendly. There’s something strikingly adult in all the Nintendo ads for this thing. It’s always a bunch of people who ostensibly grew up playing Nintendo games, going to rooftop parties and bringing their Switch there and playing games together in kind of weird places.
LG: Kara will kick you out of her house if you ever do that, by the way.
I actually tried it this weekend. I went to a party and I was like, “You know, just so I can talk about it on the podcast, I should probably take the Switch to a party and see if there’s any validity to bringing this thing to an event like that.”
LG: And what did people say?
People liked it. I busted out this game called Snipperclips, which is a Nintendo developed and published game where two players are cutting their ... I don’t know how to describe it. You have these two little gumdrop shaped people, and you can cut off pieces of each other’s bodies to turn each other into an arrow, or a letter T, and you’re just solving these puzzles. Like, how do we get this ball from one end to the other? Maybe if you cut a cup in my head, and I catch it in my head, and slam dunk it in the hoop. It’s a very, very multiplayer driven game. I brought it, and I set it up on the counter, and snapped the controllers apart and handed it to two people who had never used the thing before. I took a lot of photos at that party that wound up looking like weird Nintendo promotional photos because it was just people standing around this weird little screen having a great time and handing it off.
I think the controllers are something else we should talk about because it’s pretty wild, what they’ve done.
LG: Yeah. They’re motion-sensing controllers, but they also give a kind of haptic feedback as you’re using them, right?
There’s something called HD rumble, which is ...
LG: Kara is so not impressed right now.
She’s not psyched.
KS: At My Team Media, like 25 years ago, they were doing haptic response.
Kara, what if I told you that you could hold the controller and tell how many ice cubes were in a virtual cup just from feeling it, would that change your mind?
KS: Because I have this thing called real life.
LG: What if you played a game like you were eating a hamburger?
KS: Here’s what I want. I want a game that literally just immerses me totally. I want the holo deck or some other ... Just screw it with this shit.
We’re not too far from that. An interesting thing about this system ...
KS: Oh. It hums at me.
Yeah. There’s an interesting patent that Nintendo filed, a little while back, that seems to indicate that they’re gonna try at some point to put out a headset that you slide the Nintendo Switch into the front of and use as a VR thing.
KS: But they’re not a big VR company.
KS: Others have really jumped in. Samsung and Google. Everyone else has jumped into the VR thing. Facebook and others.
Yeah. Nintendo really hasn’t.
KS: But not Nintendo. Nintendo has stayed just fun Nintendo, right? Is that correct?
It’s completely right. I kind of would love to see what their take on VR would be because if there’s any company’s game worlds that I would want to inhabit in real life, it would probably be Nintendo’s because they just make the most pleasant, positive stuff in all of video games by a landslide.
KS: Right. But maybe they don’t want to do that in VR because of that. Right?
I guess we’ll see. So the interesting thing about the controllers, besides the haptic feedback, is that the controllers that snap on to the side of the screen, when you snap them off, you can actually turn them on their side and use them as two separate controllers. For the game Snipperclips that we were playing at this party, I just took the controllers off the side of the screen, handed it to two people who wanted to play, and all of a sudden they had pretty surprisingly functional video game controllers that they could use to play this game. You kind of always are ready for multiplayer, if you want to do that, which is a pretty neat idea.
KS: Yeah. So you ruined the party completely, right?
Yeah. It was awful. I decimated it. I ruined it because ...
LG: It actually sounds like you were the life of the party.
KS: You cannot come to my parties. Nobody gets to bring haptic anything. Unless it’s fun haptic.
What if I promise not to bring the Switch with me?
KS: Yeah. You’re not coming to my party.
LG: I bet it was a real novelty though. Not many people have this yet, so Nick show up at a party with a Switch.
Part of that is probably beholden to the fact that the type of party I would go to is the type of party that would have people that are excited by the Switch and know what it is.
LG: Yeah. He’s like, all of their email addresses end with theverge.com and polygon.com.
KS: Actually, I had a party recently, which Lauren was not invited to.
LG: Did you have that ladies party?
KS: Yes. Lesbian and Sujack had a big event.
LG: Oh, that one.
KS: And I invited 50 people and 200 lesbians came over and ate all my food, and drank all my drinks, and then left the place a mess. They would have enjoyed it because they were geeky lesbians.
LG: Thanks a lot, Kara. It’s okay.
They would have loved it.
KS: They would have loved it.
It would have been great.
KS: Sorry. They wrecked the place.
LG: There’s another dinner you told me about recently.
KS: They would have kidnapped you. It would have been bad for you. This group was a little bit crazy. You would have never heard or seen Lauren ever since.
So the last console, the Wii U, was a flop. I don’t think we bought it for our kids. We didn’t. So is this a comeback thing? What do you think about this?
That’s definitely their intention.
KS: Talk about the Classic, too. The Classic, which people like, too.
Right, right. I think the intent of this is very much to correct some of the choices they made on the Wii U. There are some things about this that are similar and that it allows you to play games on a smaller screen when you want to. That was always the promise of the Wii U that wasn’t that relevant that often because you couldn’t get too far from your TV. But yeah, I think their intent is to kind of combine their development teams because Nintendo has historically had people making handheld games and people making TV console games.
The idea here is that ...
KS: Marry them.
By putting all their eggs in one basket, they can just make games and then they’ll be TV games and handheld games. They won’t have to split their resources anymore.
LG: Right. Because the company was so protective of their IP on mobile for so long.
LG: Like when Mr. Iwata was running things. I had at least a couple interviews with him where I would say, "”Well, what about your mobile strategy?” And he would say, “We have the DS,” like that was their mobile strategy.
Right. Yeah, yeah.
LG: That the idea of actually porting games to other mobile devices was ...
I think the failure of the Wii U put them on their heels in a way that has made them make really interesting choices, like the fact that they’ve put out three iPhone games, two of which are worthwhile, in the past year. It’s made them make something like the Switch, which is like a very concentrated effort to make a system that is for everyone and it’s just the thing you buy that has the Nintendo stuff on it. It’s a really shrewd thing and a really kind of lovely piece of technology that I actually enjoy using a little bit more than I thought I would. I’ve been pretty happy with it so far.
LG: Were you able to get an NES Classic, Nick?
Here’s my dark shame, I was born in 1990, and I grew up with the Sega Genesis, and so I don’t have a ton of affection for old Nintendo the way a lot of my peers do.
And so it might have been one of those things where if I could have done it as an impulse buy I would have done it, but the fact that it was just perpetually sold out throughout Christmas meant that I never had the opportunity to be tempted to buy one. It never came up, honestly. You said you got one for Christmas?
LG: I did, actually. I had tasked my boyfriend with getting me the NES Classic. I was basically like, “You have one job, and it’s the NES Classic.” And he couldn’t get it because it’s impossible to get, and then he went above and beyond and found this old video game store in San Jose that was selling an original NES.
LG: And I got that.
LG: But I tend to be a little obsessed with the original NES. You mentioned Sega. I was in Osaka, Japan a few years ago and had read about this place on TripAdvisor called the Space Station Bar, and it was run by an ex-pat who just ...
I’ve been there.
LG: You’ve been there?
I’ve been to that bar, yeah.
LG: How amazing is that bar?
It was so cool.
LG: That was honestly my favorite part of my entire trip to Japan that year.
Did you go in the bathroom while you were there?
LG: I probably did, at some point.
Because the really amazing thing about, at least the bathroom I went in to.
KS: At some point.
It’s tiled. There’s tiles all over the bathroom walls. On every other tile is a screenshot of a bathroom depicted in a video game. There’s like 50 different bathrooms from 50 different games.
LG: Why do I not remember that?
Just all over the walls.
KS: You don’t remember?
LG: I don’t remember seeing that. Yeah.
It was kind of surreal though, to be somewhere in Osaka where everybody in the room was speaking English. They were showing Skate 3 glitch videos on the TV behind the bar. It was a very surreal experience.
LG: Yes. I’ll make this short because Kara’s really ...
KS: Yeah. Let’s move along.
LG: Her eyes are rolling in the back of her head.
It’s super boring.
LG: We had this magical experience with this Space Station Bar in Japan.
KS: It’s all right.
LG: In Osaka, where we were trying to find it for probably an hour or so, and the language barrier there, I don’t speak Japanese, and so I was having a hard time finding it. All the signs were in Japanese. I had just about given up when I saw a guy across the street who looked like he might potentially speak English, so I said, “Let me try and ask.” So I went up and I said, “Hey, I’m looking for this bar that has original Nintendos and I’m lost. Would you happen to know where it is?” And he said, “I’m the bartender there, and I’m on my way to my shift.” And I was like, “Oh my God, it’s meant to be.”
KS: Meant to be.
LG: I’m meant to go to this Nintendo bar. It was pretty cool.
KS: Okay. You’re in amazing Japan, and you go to a Nintendo bar?
LG: I had a lot of great food and did other cool stuff, too.
KS: All right. All right, whatever. I’d go to the temple.
LG: Let me just say ... Okay. Would you buy this? Say you bought this thing yourself, but do you think the average person should buy this? This is a good thing to get?
Here’s the thing. Here’s the big asterisk I’ll put on it. If we did not talk about the fact that it’s having weird controller disconnect issues, we would be remiss because there are a lot of kind of expected, I guess, first-wave hardware issues.
KS: No, it’s not expected. They just do this in tech because they don’t mind taking their betas out on you.
LG: Right. Learning by shipping.
Right. I am one of those people. I’ve reached the point, I think, in my career where I’m just perfectly happy to suffer on the first wave of hardware launches for something. The big problem with the Switch is one, hey a lot of people are having issues where the controller just kind of can’t stay connected when the console is far away from the couch. So the way that manifests itself, it’ll kind of cut off for a second and your controls will just get ...
LG: And you die. You die in the game.
And you die. I got hit during a boss battle in Shovel Knight a few days ago for kind of no reason. I was like, “Oh, this is kind of crappy.” The other big bummer that I’m suffering from, so it’s a bigger deal to me, is that is had probably the worst Wi-Fi reception of any home electronic I’ve ever had in my life.
KS: Well, that’s critically important.
LG: That’s terrible. That’s terrible.
It’s really bad.
KS: What’s the point?
LG: That’s the whole point, right? It has to have great Wi-Fi.
Nintendo games are a little bit less online play oriented than other peoples’, but it is really bad.
LG: That’s terrible.
For example, I tried standing right in front of my Nighthawk router, about six or seven feet away from it, I could probably have touched it with my foot if I tried, and it still got between one and two bars of connection.
KS: See? This is ridiculous. That should work 100 percent. I’m not buying it.
Totally. It’s baffling.
KS: Baffling. That’s not baffling, it’s they didn’t do a good job. All right. We’re gonna get some questions from you, and I’m sure that’s among them, but first we need to read and make some money. In a minute we’re gonna answer those questions about the Nintendo Switch, but Lauren? A word from our sponsor, ka-ching!
LG: I’m glad we’re taking a little break because Kara, she was falling asleep here at the table. She’s going, “Oh, well …”
KS: No. I was hitting my head against the table. That’s what was happening.
KS: Very nice. Well done. You’re getting really good at that, Lauren, I’ve got to tell you.
LG: I don’t want to get too good at reading ads.
KS: Now Nick, you ready to answer tech questions for our readers and listeners?
I am. I have one more lap left in this race.
KS: All right. One more. You can do it. We have a lot of questions, and we got to hurry. We’ve got things to do.
I did it. First place.
KS: All right. So, here’s the questions. The first question shall be asked by Lauren the Good.
LG: Okay. This is from Paul, he’s @ThirdScrivener on Twitter. “Am I going to end up paying $360 just to play Zelda, or does this have the support it needs from developers and Nintendo?”
KS: Yes. Is there more games?
LG: And one more question. “Had Wii U and love all first-party games, but had dreadful third-party support. Will Switch be different?”
LG: Everyone wants to have other games.
KS: The developer questions. The developer games question.
Those are both good questions. Historically, looking at Nintendo, I think the safe bet would be no. Nintendo has a history of getting very little to no third-party support with maybe the exception of the month the system comes out. I will say, there’s a real chance that things might be different on the Switch because it’s a much, much easier system to develop for than past Nintendo consoles. It’s got a lot of hooks in it for developer environments Unity, and Unreal Engine 4, and it can run all of them perfectly well. My understanding from talking to developers is that it’s just much less of a pain in the butt to make games for this thing, or get an existing game onto the hardware.
I’m personally pretty excited for third-party stuff on Switch, even though I wouldn’t normally be because I went to an event during GDC where they had a bunch of Indie games on display and it kind of hammered home this idea for me of, if I can get a game on the PlayStation 4, or on the Switch, why would I not get the Switch version if it’s the same game, but also I can play it in bed. Right? To me, that value proposition is kind of being underestimated right now. As long as the games all run well and actually come out on the thing, I think there’s a real chance that it’ll be better supported than those systems.
As for the Zelda question, this person is right. It is right now a $360 Zelda machine. That Zelda game is available on the Wii U. And my understanding is that version of the game is perfectly serviceable, so if you have a Wii U already, I don’t think you need to buy this thing for Zelda. Unless you’re me, because I have Wii already and I did exactly that, so I guess I’m the last person you should trust on this issue.
LG: And you want to take it to parties.
Yeah. You can’t take it to parties on the Wii U.
LG: This is the next question.
KS: Here we go. Well, I’m going to jump to another question and Lauren can ask the one above. Ash, I’m not going to say his name. @PukingJesus. I’m not saying his name. Sehaptic, that’s what I’ll say. “Would it make sense for me to go in on the Switch with roommates, or should we all get our own?” Which sounds like a nightmare. It’s a nightmare. She’s laughing because the name is Ash’saDildo, okay?
That was the name?
LG: No. I’m laughing because it’s a question about ... I mean you’re eventually all going to split up.
LG: And someone’s going to have to claim the Switch.
Yeah. Someone has to take custody.
KS: Should everyone have a Switch or should everyone have a separate Switch? One Switch or separate Switch?
I love this question. My gut answer is to just get one because it’s kind of designed to have multiple user profiles on it with separate save data. I think the warning I would caution this person with is that currently, there is no way to back up or transfer your saves on the Switch at all. So, if you decide you want to get your own Switch and you want to take your Zelda save with you, currently you’re completely screwed.
KS: Oh. Okay.
There’s no solution. Nintendo, historically, has launched systems without the ability to transfer saves and stuff, and then eventually patched that in later. I think the Nintendo 3DS was an example of a system that eventually got the ability to do system transfers, but right now there’s no way to do it, which is a little scary if you’re sharing it with another person. I think for now, considering there’s basically one video game on it that is of note to most people, just get one and share it.
KS: Come on.
You’ll be fine.
LG: Okay. Next question is from Louis, he’s @Louis581 on Twitter. “Can you connect the Switch to a TV with a USBC to HDMI connector and HDMI cable, or is the dock mandatory?”
KS: It sounds like a Best Buy pro question.
Its interesting because the bottom of the Switch is a USBC port, right? So you would think that you could do that, and certainly you can charge your Switch using that USBC port on the bottom, but for reasons that I don’t totally understand, you can’t do USBC to HDMI right now. It has to be in the dock. There’s some sort of, I think a proprietary connector on the bottom of the Switch that is somehow checking to see if it’s actually docked or not, and that’s how it determines if it’ll output to the TV. Right now, nobody’s figured out how to capture off of it without using a dock. It’s kind of baffling. If someone knows the answer, I would love to hear it because right now I’m still operating on a pre-Switch teardown universe where people have started disassembling them and maybe someone has cracked that mystery, but for now, no. You need the dock.
LG: You need the dock. Yeah.
They’re kind of expensive. They’re like $90 bucks.
KS: Oh. Okay. So, next question. I’m going to skip another one. “How high does the brightness go?” From @Scratchy. “Sometimes I play games when walking down the street.” I want to address this: Scratchy, you need to not play games while walking down the street, all right? Let me just stop you and say you need to stop. This is what I’ve been doing in San Francisco, and I did it today on the elevator, again on the way up. People hate me at this building.
LG: Wait, in the elevator?
KS: Well, they do it. When I walk down the street now, I get behind people and they’re always on their phone. I don’t actually use my phone walking down the street. I put it in my pocket and walk along. Now I’m going up behind people when they’re looking and go, “Hey!” Really loud. And they jump. It’s fantastic. It feels good. So, today in the elevator, I did the same thing.
LG: But, if someone’s in the elevator, they’re okay. They’re not walking into traffic.
KS: No, they’re not okay. I don’t like it.
LG: They just pressed a button and they’re waiting for 17 floors.
KS: It’s like literally, they could look at each other and say hello. I don’t like it.
LG: You’d rather make small talk.
KS: Whatever. Literally, everyone’s staring at their phone and I went, “Hey!” Like that.
LG: And then how did people react?
KS: Wah. Oh, ha ha ha, I’m looking at my phone.
LG: I cannot wait until I’m in an elevator with you next, and you are on the phone the whole time going ...
KS: No. A phone call is a different thing than just staring at the thing.
KS: And then not knowing your floor. Anyway, let’s answer this question. How high does the brightness go for this loser who has to play games while walking down the street?
I’ll tell you this.
KS: Can you walk down the street and play it?
It think the brightness is impressive when you turn it up all the way.
KS: I see.
I have not played it outside. Because I’m an adult, but I don’t know. It seems like it would be a pretty glarey screen.
KS: Totally out of your experience. You don’t want to play it. you want to play it in a dark little cave where all gamers go?
That’s exactly right.
That’s what I do.
KS: Or in your room.
LG: Here’s another question from Will@WeirdExits. “Would you feel safe putting it in a backpack for on-the-go stuff, i.e. on an airplane?”
KS: What does that mean?
LG: Why would you feel unsafe? I don’t know.
LG: Exploding batteries?
KS: How big is it?
Well, I think the concern would be the screen getting scratched, since the screen is bolted onto the console ...
KS: How big is it?
You kind of just have the one. If anything horrible happens to it, you’re in trouble, especially since you can’t move your saves.
So, when I went to this party, I threw it in a bag in my backpack that didn’t have ... a section of my backpack that had nothing else in it, because I was extremely scared of that. There are carrying cases and sleeves you can do. Stephen Totilo, the editor in chief of Kotaku, is a big proponent of just taking a sock and stretching it around it.
Which, I guess, is one solution you could do.
KS: How about a Baby Bjorn or something like that?
I’ve watched drop tests of it too, and seems like a pretty sturdy piece of hardware. I just watched a dude on YouTube last night, before I went to bed, drop it like seven times in a row.
KS: And? What happened? Did they put it in a mixer?
LG: I don’t think they put things in mixers.
No. There was no Will It Blend component to this video.
KS: Is that guy around? He’s got to do that one, don’t you think?
KS: The blend it guy. Yeah. That’s crazy.
The thing seems to take a beating.
More than you might expect. I would say if you’re super cautious and the type of person who a single scratch is going to just ruin your life, throw a case on it. Before you put it in your backpack.
KS: Nick, did you ever have to carry around an egg as a kid? You remember that exercise?
KS: Oh. You didn’t do the egg?
No. I’ve heard about it. Apocryphal tales of it from my parents.
KS: Yeah. Yeah.
But they phased that out for me.
KS: I probably would be your parent and make you carry an egg around. That’s what it’s like. Anyway, Lauren, next question. The one at the top is kind of good.
LG: The next question from Christopher Phelps. “So, secretly Android or not? Plus, do we expect a web browser and apps in the future?”
KS: That’s an interesting question. I’m so detached from the hardware side of things. I know that inside it’s like an Nvidia Integra chip. The speculation was that it would be an Android thing because of other, similar hardware before the Switch used that. I have no idea what they’re doing or how proprietary it is. Sorry, what was the second half of the question?
LG: And will we see web browsers ...
KS: And apps.
LG: A web browser and apps in the future?
Yeah. It’s weird because there’s kind of a dearth of anything other than games right now.
There’s no Netflix, there’s no YouTube, there’s no web browser. There is kind of like a secret web kit web browser that pops up if you are trying to connect at Starbucks or whatever and you need to go through their portal. But there’s not really any user-facing web browser. So, nothing yet, and Nintendo hasn’t said on where they are. The thing really feels, in a lot of ways, like it came it extremely hot, like it kind of launched before they were totally ready.
I think we’ll see that stuff down the line.
I think we will inevitably see Netflix and see a web browser.
KS: Well, they say that, is it even worth the money? This is from @GilbertJaramelioJr. “Is it worth the money seeing as you can’t watch Netflix, play many games, I would love it to be an iPad replacement.”
It’s a cool idea. The screen is really nice, so I get that instinct. I have enough Netflix devices, at this point in my life, that I’m not terribly heartbroken.
KS: There’s plenty of Netflix.
And also, the screen is big, but it’s not that big. I’d have to hold it up next to my iPad mini, but I think it’s slightly smaller, or at least it feels smaller. Using it as a makeshift movie-watching device, to me, would be kind of my last resort.
KS: Yeah. I’m telling you, my kids watch things on their phones all the time. They don’t care. A lot of kids don’t care. We’re too old for this.
Yeah. That’s a good point. I think they’ll get to that point with this system eventually too.
KS: Yeah. All right.
LG: Okay. We have one more question and we have to ask it because you’re going to explain the weirdness around putting this thing in your mouth. This question is from AJ, that one guy on Twitter. “We know how the cartridges taste, what about the Switch itself? The joy cons, the Switch pro controller?”
KS: I don’t even understand that.
LG: Why are people putting these cartridges in their mouth, Nick? Tell us how this started.
Let’s explain this to everyone.
KS: I don’t even want to know this. Okay.
It came to light earlier this month, or I guess maybe last month at this point, that if you taste a Nintendo Switch cartridge, it has this really awful, disgusting, bitter taste. And eventually, people discovered that it was because Nintendo had deliberately coated it in a very, very bitter substance designed to keep kids from eating it because the cartridges are so small. I have not tasted it. I will probably never taste it for a few reasons. One of which is I just buy my games digitally, so I’m not really going to have Switch cartridges lying around, unless Nintendo sends me some.
LG: Oh. That’s unfortunate. You should really just try it.
As for the rest of the components, I again, haven’t put my mouth to it yet, probably never will. I’m assuming it just tastes like, and I guess I could do it right now.
KS: What is wrong with you people?
Just pick a corner of it.
LG: Kara, you’ve never licked a new product?
KS: Never. Not once.
Yeah. I haven’t either.
LG: Well, I actually haven’t either.
KS: Food, yes.
LG: I’ve smelled them. There’s a certain ...
KS: You smell your cartridge?
LG: No. Not cartridges, but when you open a new Apple laptop, there’s a certain smell.
KS: You smell it?
LG: There’s a candle named Apple Mac, or Apple laptop, or something like that.
KS: I’ve never seen that.
LG: But I’ve never licked them.
KS: All right. If you say so.
I’m currently battling a post-GDC flu of some kind. So I’m realizing now that if I’ve licked this thing ...
KS: Don’t. Nick, please don’t lick it.
I may inadvertently hand the controller to one of my roommates and then they’ll get my illness, so I’m going to say no to licking for now.
KS: I feel like you’ve done a good job reviewing it. You don’t need to lick it, okay?
Thank you. I appreciate it.
LG: Unless you wanted to lick it live right now, for this podcast.
KS: No. Please don’t.
LG: And just give us an off-the-cuff reaction.
KS: There’s actually one more question.
Perfect metaphor for that angel and the devil on the shoulder right now of like, is this good content? Should I be licking it for the podcast? Or do I just avoid it?
KS: Content, content. Do it and Eli will like that for ... or, no. Polygon. Chris will like it for Polygon if you lick something. That will be nice for you, a lot of page views.
LG: You’re seeing the soft side of Kara right now. You really are, because normally she would be like, “Oh God, lick it. Why haven’t you licked it already? Write about it, damn it. Why is it not on the site already?”
KS: Put it on the site.
LG: And then she’s actually concerned for your well-being.
KS: Yes I am.
LG: At the moment.
KS: I just think that’s gross too.
I appreciate that.
KS: It’s okay. One more quick question and answer very quickly. This is from M, I don’t know, @10ML. “What’s the best title to have launched with the Switch right now?”
KS: That’s what I thought.
It’s the weirdest, riskiest, most bizarre game that only Nintendo has the resources to pour seven years into making something this bonkers. It’s really spectacular.
KS: Number two?
Number two, I’m going to say Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment.
It’s this throwback, retro, NES, 8-bit game and it’s just really, really lovingly crafted.
KS: You like that.
And those people deserve attention and money.
LG: You had to have seen Kara’s face right now when you just said that.
KS: Nick has been super helpful. You’ve been very nice to play along with us.
KS: This is really nice.
Thank you for putting up with the 30 minutes of video game talk.
KS: No. It’s fine.
LG: Kara loves 8-bit, retro games.
KS: I know.
LG: Don’t listen to anything she says.
KS: At least the instant. When you start plugging into HDMI cables, I was like, “Mm-hmm, okay.”
You love USBC talk.
KS: Yeah, I do. I love it. It’s so exciting.
LG: She has a collection. She collects USBC like some people collect ... I don’t know what.
KS: I’m going to have my sons watch Car Boys and see if they like it, and then I will give you a grade.
There is some cussing. There is some foul language. I don’t know where you land on that.
KS: Please. Are you kidding? I took my kids to see “Deadpool,” for goodness sake. Oops. I shouldn’t have said that out loud.
Okay. We are the “Deadpool” of YouTube, so that’s perfect.
LG: “Deadpool” was good.
KS: I took my kids to one movie I should not have taken them to.
LG: Which one?
KS: “Sausage Party.” That was a mistake.
KS: Like right then, both he and I knew I was a bad parent. It was really bad. We were both like, “Oh, this is bad parenting, Kara.” I was like, “I know.” There was nothing to be done. We just stayed and watched it.
You could always just claim like you thought it was a Pixar movie.
KS: No. It was so bad on ... we’ll remember it for the rest of our lives. It was a very bad parenting moment.
That’s okay. That’s a good family memory.
KS: Yeah. In any case, I will have them watch your show. And this has been another great episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. Nick, thank you so much for joining us.
LG: Yes. It’s been great having you on, Nick. We’ll have to compare notes on Space Station when Kara’s not around.
LG: So she doesn’t make fun of you.
LG: Yeah. Fall asleep on us.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.