I’ve owned a Wii U for over four years, for my sins, and I’ve spent a few hours with the Nintendo Switch, so you might not expect me to find a picture of the two next to each other especially revelatory. But just look at this image — taken from an enlightening GameXplain video made with Shovel Knight developers Yacht Club Games — and think about what it signifies.
Both the Switch and the Wii U GamePad have 6.2-inch screens, but the newer system is dramatically thinner and more portable. This is despite the fact that the Switch screen unit actually contains the entire console hardware; to play it on the TV, you plug it into a dock with simple video-out capabilities, whereas the Wii U GamePad gets its images wirelessly beamed from a separate console.
The GamePad’s dramatic bulkiness isn’t a huge problem in use — you can’t take it outside of the house anyway, so Nintendo could focus on making it more comfortable to hold. But today, next to the Switch, it looks pretty embarrassing. There’s so much wasted space, the screen’s viewing angles are visibly much worse, and the glossy black plastic was a bad idea from the start.
Knowing that the Switch includes more powerful hardware in a more portable and versatile design, this image puts a strong case forward for how far Nintendo’s come in the past few years. I’m still not convinced that the Switch will be a broad success — CEO Tatsumi Kimishima told the Nikkei Shimbun this week that he expects it to sell as well as the original Wii, which seems hugely optimistic — but I am pretty convinced that its fundamental concept makes a lot more sense than the Wii U.