|Developer(s)||PyroPhantom Inc., Nintendo IRD, NTD|
|Manufacturer(s)||Nintendo, Foxconn, PyroPhantom Inc.|
|Console Type||Home video game console|
|Storage||2 TB (Basic Set) / 4 TB (Deluxe Set)|
|Online Connectivity||Wi-Fi / Ethernet (Deluxe only)|
|WW: November 5, 2021|
|Media|| 4K Ultra HD|
| 1080p, 60 fps |
The Nintendo Surge (known in development as Change) is a home video game console developed by Nintendo and PyroPhantom Inc., serving as the successor to the Nintendo Switch. The console was released in November 2021 as part of the ninth-generation of consoles, as it competes with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X (which were both released a year earlier). Despite being the Switch's successor, the Surge uses optical discs and thus is not backward compatible with Nintendo Switch titles. However, Nintendo would continue to support the Switch for another year and a half following the Surge's release.
The Nintendo Surge is unique compared to the previous three home consoles from Nintendo, as it doesn't rely on gimmicks and is instead a traditional console similar to the likes of PlayStation and Xbox. After its reveal in January 2021, the Surge was met with worldwide acclaim from critics and fans alike, praising Nintendo for going back to their roots and truly catching up with the competition. The console gained even more positive attention at E3 2021, where it was praised for its hardware, improved online, standard features, and lineup of launch titles. The console launched worldwide in November 2021 and had sold 23 million units by the end of its first year on the market, making it the fastest-selling console of all time.
Following the poor sales of the Wii U and the lukewarm sales of the Nintendo Switch after the announcement of the ninth-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo's stock was on a rapid decline and needed to increase ASAP in order for them to remain in the home console market. PyroPhantom Inc., who at the time was a growing electronics company, reached out to Nintendo and offered them a deal. They would help Nintendo develop a true next-gen console as long as they would receive half of the profit Nintendo makes off of the console's hardware sales. Additionally, PyroPhantom president and CEO BC, strictly told Nintendo they would have to change their "shady" business practices (i.e. Nintendo Creators Program, issuing DMCA takedowns on fan-games, etc.). Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima was not enthusiastic about this approach and refused the offer after telling BC, "We would rather go third-party." BC respected Kimishima's opinion but sarcastically laughed saying, "Don't jinx yourself." The following day, Nintendo's investors caught wind of Kimishima turning down the deal and Nintendo's stock fell by more than 15%; Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé then contacted BC and explicitly said that they would come up with "some kind of deal".In April 2020, rumors began to surface that Nintendo had begun development on a new next-gen console and that details surrounding it would be revealed at that year's E3. While the rumors of this new console debuting at E3 2020 turned out to be inaccurate, Reggie Fils-Aimé did confirm at the event that Nintendo had partnered with PyroPhantom Inc. to begin development on a new piece of hardware under the codename: Change. Following this announcement, Nintendo's stock decreased by 3% as Nintendo's investors believed that it was too early to be considering another home console as the Nintendo Switch was only three years old. The stock increased by 6% the following day after Fils-Aimé and PyroPhantom vice president and spokesperson BH confirmed that the Switch would continue to be supported for at least another year after the launch of the Change. Nintendo and PyroPhantom were very secretive about the nature of the Change and did not reveal any details regarding it other than the console's release date of Fall 2021. However, PyroPhantom's CMO, Poseidon, did mention that the Change "won't be another gimmick".
On January 29, 2021, Nintendo officially announced the console as the Nintendo Surge, alongside a four minute trailer showing off the console itself. The Surge itself resembles a traditional modern-day gaming console and comes with a standard controller that the company refers to as the Spark. Nintendo announced the console's worldwide release date of November 5, 2021 and held a Nintendo Treehouse Event on February 1, 2021 to demonstrate the functions of the Surge. Fils-Aimé commented that the reason Nintendo chose to name their newest console "Surge" was because, "The team at PyroPhantom helped us create a beast of a console unlike anything we've ever seen at Nintendo. With the help of their development team, we've created a gaming machine that's a real power surge; this enormous amount of power will not only give us strong third-party support, but it will take our first-party exclusives to a whole new level."
The Nintendo Surge was present at E3 2021 and Nintendo had twelve playable units available for players to use, along with four playable games. One of the playable titles was Mario Kart 9, which demonstrated the console's improved online functions compared to its predecessors. The second playable title was Super Mario Galaxy 3, which Nintendo announced would be bundled with the deluxe version of the console at launch. The third game revealed at the event was Bayonetta 4, which was announced as an exclusive launch title for the Surge. The fourth and final game revealed at the presentation was Metroid: Annihilation, which was preceded by a ten minute short starring Charlotte McKinney as Samus Aran on a solo mission to hunt down and eliminate rogue Galactic Federation officers in an attempt to rescue an injured Madeline and a crippled Anthony from the wrath of a resurrected Ridley.
Nintendo also announced several other first-party games coming to the Surge in the near future that weren't available for play at the event. These games included: Splatoon 3, Super Smash Bros. Surge, F-Zero: Hyperdrive, Luigi's Mansion: Phantom City, Peach and Daisy, Snipperclips: Make the Cut, Pokémon Stadium: The Remastered Duology, Pikmin 4, and Just Dance 2022. Additionally, Nintendo announced that retail copies of Mario Kart 9 would include a free download code for Mario Kart 7: Anniversary Edition for a limited time. In addition, it was also revealed that Nintendo and PyroPhantom were working closely with third-party developers and publishers to ensure that the console has a strong library and a long shelf life. For starters, Nintendo bought Sega for US$2.1 billion, thus making future Sega games exclusive to Nintendo consoles. Nintendo also purchased and revived Capcom after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the year before; as a result, all of Capcom's IPs (i.e. Street Fighter, Mega Man, Resident Evil, etc.) will now remain exclusive to the Surge and any future Nintendo consoles. Lastly, Nintendo made a deal with Activision to release their multi-billion dollar franchise Skylanders exclusively on Nintendo consoles, seeing as how Activision originally offered Nintendo a similar deal when Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure was still in development.
Marketing and promotions
Nintendo intended to market the Surge as good as they marketed the Wii and the Switch, and did not want to repeat the mistakes they made with the Wii U's marketing. Poseidon, CMO of PyroPhantom, commented to IGN, "It is literally impossible for them to pull a Wii U, seeing as how the Surge is a completely new piece of tech and in no way is truly connected to any of Nintendo's previous consoles. That being said, Nintendo can still drop the ball big time if they fail to market the console properly. They need to let the general consumer know that they have a new console on the market that everyone will enjoy." However, Poseidon did mention that Nintendo would have to market the Surge primarily at the hardcore gamers and limit the number of casual games they showed in their commercials.
A few weeks after the first trailer for the Surge debuted on Nintendo's YouTube channel, advertisements for the console began to appear on billboards in major cities across the United States along with promotional banners and flyers. The Nintendo Surge was featured in a 45 second commercial during Super Bowl LV showing a man playing what seems to be a new Metroid game on the console, depicting Samus Aran in a post-apocalyptic environment fighting a demonic version of Ridley. The man then starts playing the game in online mode with three other players before the commercial ends.
In addition to advertising, Nintendo held special events in over 30 U.S. cities from February to May of 2021 to showcase the Nintendo Surge and give people the opportunity to test the console. Nintendo filmed the events at select locations of unpaid people giving their opinions about the Nintendo Surge. Nintendo also invited a few famous celebrities to be recorded playing the console's launch title exclusives. Justin Timberlake was shown playing Super Mario Galaxy 3, Dwayne Johnson was shown playing F-Zero: Hyperdrive, Kate Upton and Charlotte McKinney playing Super Smash Bros. Surge, and Ozzy Osbourne playing Bayonetta 4.
The Nintendo Surge was released in two models at launch: the Basic bundle and the Deluxe bundle. The Basic bundle contains a Nintendo Surge with 2 TB of internal storage, a Spark controller, and an HDMI cable; the Deluxe bundle contains a Nintendo Surge with 4 TB of internal storage, two Spark controllers, an HDMI cable, an Ethernet port, a Nintendo Network Plus Premium subscription, stands for the console, a $100 eShop Plus gift card, and a physical copy of Super Mario Galaxy 3. The Basic bundle was priced at US$400, while the Deluxe bundle was priced at US$450. The Basic bundle currently consists of two colors: red and neon blue; the Deluxe bundle also consists of two colors for the time being: black and white.
The Nintendo Surge contains 21 GB of RAM, making it Nintendo's fastest console to date. The console includes either 2 TB (Basic) or 4 TB (Deluxe) of internal storage, expandable via SD memory cards up to 3 TB and USB external hard disk drives up to 10 TB.
The Nintendo Surge features wireless connectivity for use with the console's online features. An Ethernet port is also available for the Deluxe version of the console, should the user choose not to rely on a Wi-Fi connection. The console also features support with Bluetooth 6.0, a total of four USB 4.0 ports, and an SD/SDHC memory card slot.
The Nintendo Surge supports 4K resolution and 8.1 surround sound. The console also outputs games in 1080p should the player not own a 4K television. Unlike its predecessors, the Surge can not play games in standard-definition. Nintendo announced that a future patch will allow the console to support stereoscopic 3D images and videos, as well as support for VR headsets.
The console can monitor its internal temperature and adjust accordingly to prevent overheating; alongside increasing fan speed, additional measures can be taken, including forcing the hardware to run in a lower power state - a feature that was not present in any of Nintendo's previous home consoles. Restricting power consumption lowers maximum performance, but the setting would be intended as a last resort to prevent permanent hardware damage.
The Spark is the console's primary controller. The Spark resembles a traditional gaming controller, making it Nintendo's first standard primary controller since the GameCube controller. The controller is designed to appeal to the hardcore gaming market, and has an 80-hour battery life similar to the Wii U Pro Controller. Up to four Sparks can be synced up to the Surge at a time. Like more traditional controllers, it features standard analog sticks and face buttons. Similar to the DualShock 5 and Xbox Series X Controller, the Spark uses analog triggers rather than digital triggers. A speaker is present in the center of the controller to deliver real-time feedback from the game to the player, similar to the speakers of the Wii Remote. The Spark also contains a near-field communication reader for use with Amiibo. Immersion Corporation returned to develop HD rumble in order to "give games a realistic touch on the Surge". Another notable feature is that the Spark includes a "SHARE" button. A headphone jack is present at the top of the Spark to allow players to plug wired headsets into the controller for use with online gaming. PyroPhantom Inc. announced that the Spark would be able to connect to and be used with other Bluetooth-enabled personal computers and mobile devices. A single Spark controller is priced at $60.
Special edition Mario, Luigi, Pikachu, Samus, and Bayonetta Spark controllers were released exclusively to GameStop after the launch of the Surge. PyroPhantom also confirmed that wired USB controllers will be made available at a later date.
First-party Nintendo Surge headsets were released to major retailers on the day of the Surge's launch. The Surge headsets give players the ability to chat with each other in select online games, replacing the voice chat app of the Nintendo Switch.
The Surge's user interface features tile-based access to games and apps; the tiles feature the logo of said game or app and are surrounded by color-shifting bolts of electricity. Similar to the Switch, it includes quick access buttons for a News feed from Nintendo, eShop Plus access, a photo album for screenshots captured during gameplay, and an achievements list for the games that the active user has played. A single Surge console supports up to twenty user profiles, and all of the accounts must be tied to a Nintendo Account user ID.
Pressing the "Home" button suspends the current game or app and opens the Home Menu: it shows basic information (i.e. current time, controller battery percentages, notifications, etc.), and allows access to several multitasking functions, including the Nintendo eShop Plus, Miiverse 2.0, download manager, web browser, the active user's friends list, and a Medallion Room showcasing the medals the active user has achieved in the suspended game.
The Nintendo Surge uses the all-new Nintendo Network Plus platform for online services, enabling online multiplayer, downloading and purchasing games or apps via Nintendo eShop Plus, and other services. Up to twenty accounts can be created per console.
A social networking service known as Miiverse 2.0 is integrated into the Surge's system software; it allows players to interact and share content in game-specific communities using their Mii as an avatar. Miiverse 2.0 allows users to share accomplishments, screenshots, and medals. Select games are integrated with Miiverse 2.0, where social interaction can also occur within the game. Miiverse 2.0 is moderated through software filtering as well as a human resource team in order to ensure that the content shared by users is appropriate and that no potential spoilers are shared.
The Nintendo Surge system software supports 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD playback. Playing a CD is unsupported, but custom music and video files can be played from USB drives using the Media Player app. The Surge supports online video services through apps such as Amazon Video, Crunchyroll, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Dailymotion, and Twitch.
PyroPhantom encouraged Nintendo to take "a more social approach" with the Surge. Although the Surge has improved online features compared to its predecessors, the features are optional and can easily be disabled.
The Spark controller includes a "SHARE" button, allowing the player to cycle through the last 180 minutes of recorded gameplay to select a screenshot or video clip appropriate for sharing. Media is uploaded seamlessly from the console to other Miiverse Plus users or social networking sites such as YouTube, Twitch, Dailymotion, Facebook, and Twitter, or else users can copy media to a USB flash drive and upload to a social network or website of their preference. Players can also use a free first-party video editing application called 1UPVid to cut and assemble their favorite video clips, add custom music or voice commentary with green screen effects. Nintendo announced that the ability to create photo collages, memes, and animated GIFs will be added at a later date.
Surge owners can either watch live gameplay of titles which their friends are playing through the Surge interface or broadcast their own gameplay live via Dailymotion, Ustream, Twitch, or YouTube Gaming, allowing for friends and members of the public to view and comment upon them from other web browsers and devices. If a user is not screencasting, a friend can send them a "Request to Watch" notification.
Nintendo Surge games can be downloaded digitally through Nintendo eShop Plus, or purchased at retail on physical media. Retail copies of Surge games are distributed on Surge Optical Disc, a proprietary high-density optical disc format co-developed with PyroPhantom. The discs are customized variations of 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays discs. Game manuals are only available digitally. Like the other ninth-generation consoles, the Surge is not region locked, allowing players to use discs or download content from any part of the world.
New games in Nintendo's flagship franchises (including Super Mario, Metroid, and Pokémon) are scheduled for release, in addition to many original titles and third-party developed games. PyroPhantom assisted Nintendo in receiving third-party support from companies such as Ubisoft, Sega, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Activision Blizzard, Capcom, Bethesda, Electronic Arts, Take-Two, and Square Enix.
The Nintendo Surge launched with 26 games worldwide, this includes a handful of download-only games available on the Nintendo eShop Plus. An additional amount of games were announced for release during the system's launch window, which included the three months after the system's launch date.
The following games were released for the Surge on launch day:
- Super Mario Galaxy 3 (timed exclusive; released on the Switch a month later)
- F-Zero Hyperdrive (timed exclusive; released on the Switch a month later)
- Metroid: Annihilation
- Snipperclips: Make the Cut (digital download only; also on Switch)
- Mario Kart 9
- Mario Kart 7: Anniversary Edition (digital download only; free of charge with a physical copy of Mario Kart 9 for a limited time)
- Bayonetta 4
- Skylanders: Time Keepers
- Spyro: A Skylander's Story (DLC)
- Lost Reavers 2 (digital download only; free-to-play)
- Sonic the Hedgehog (2021)
- Shovel Knight (digital download only)
- Call of Duty: Armageddon
- Assassin's Creed: Cold Blood
- Red Dead Redemption 4
- Darksiders IV
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse: The Complete Trilogy
- NBA 2K22
- Madden NFL 22
- Just Dance 2022
- Crash Bandicoot: Wumpa Mayhem
- Grand Theft Auto VI
- Lego Racers: The Video Game
- Tetris (digital download only)
- The Elder Scrolls VI: Eternity
- Need for Speed: Renegade
- The Surge has the fastest processing memory of all the ninth-generation home consoles, with 21 GB of RAM. Its competitors, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X have 16 and 18 GB of RAM, respectively.
- This makes the Surge the first mainstream console from Nintendo since the N64 to be more powerful than its competitors.
- The Surge currently has the highest amount of first-party launch titles than any Nintendo console to date. Granted that some of these games are cross-platform with the Switch.
- This marks the first Nintendo console to be co-developed by Nintendo and a western company.
- The Surge marks Nintendo's first step into 4K gaming development.
- The Surge is Nintendo's first home console since the GameCube not to rely on gimmicks as its selling point. (i.e. Wii focused heavily on motion control gaming, Wii U focused on the features of the Wii U GamePad, and Switch focused on its hybrid functionality).