Ever since Reggie Fils-Aime plucked a DS out of his jacket pocket at E3 2004, Nintendo has focused on dual screen gaming. The DS was the best selling portable system of all time, so inevitably the same broad design was carried across to the 3DS. The WIi U was the grand experiment in bringing dual screen gaming to the living room, but has fallen well short.
While the DS brought touchscreens into the mainstream, the 3DS has achieved impressive sales despite competing in an incredibly difficult market. The Wii U concept, which tried to focus on asynchronous gameplay, failed to capture the public’s imagination; it didn’t take long for the GamePad to become largely ignored and reserved for off-TV play. This even happened relatively early with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, a first-party title developed by Retro Studios. Early on the controller was unevenly implemented, and right up to recent experiments like Star Fox Zero opinions have been sharply divided.
It seemed clear in the reveal video that the Nintendo Switch is a single-screen concept, but now it’s official, and is a clear indication of why backward compatibility with Wii U and / or 3DS titles is unlikely; it’s already confirmed to not support last gen cartridges or discs in any way. It seemed likely after discovering that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild barely uses the GamePad on Wii U, and now we know that with Switch we’ll be playing on the console or the TV; not both.
Of course, past rumours and mutterings suggest that Switch is the Wii U home console successor, with some of the belief that 3DS will have its own follow-up. It’s possible, and some are buying into reports via Twitter today supposedly reaffirming that idea, though frankly that source is vague and unsubstantiated. For now, the next system is Switch, and it won’t be maintaining the dual-screen features we’ve seen in the past generation.
So, the end of an era. How do you feel about that? Are you going to miss dual screen gaming, or is the concept past its best? Share your thoughts in the polls and comments below.