Explained: Here’s What You Need To Know About The Nintendo Switch

7 min read

It’s a new year, and that means that it’s finally time for some new info on the Nintendo Switch. With the system launching in March, two months seems like very little time to build up hype. Still, the Switch Presentation did quite a few things to pique my interest, especially with the Switch itself.

Like everyone else expected when tuning in, the first big reveal for the Nintendo Switch was the release date and price. The console/handheld hybrid will launch worldwide on March 3rd, 2017 for $299 (or the regional equivalent).

Instead of providing separate SKUs with different specs, there will be two color variants; one with grey Joy-Cons and one with red/blue Joy-Cons. The full package will include the console, dock, Joy-Cons, Joy-Con Grip, wrist straps, HDMI cable, and AC Adapter.

Now we’ve finally got a full picture of the Switch’s features (aside from specifications) and there’s a lot to dig through. Let’s start with the console itself. The Switch features a 6.2” multi-touch capacitive touchscreen with 720p resolution and has a battery life of 2½ – 6½ hours depending on the application. For context, according to Nintendo the Switch can last for 3 hours on a single charge while running The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The console also uses USB-C for charging and docking, includes a microSD card slot to add to the internal 32 GB of memory, and other nice perks like a brightness sensor and headphone jack for portable comfort. The dock has an internal housing for USB, HDMI, and USB-C, as well as 2 USB ports on the side.

The most unexpected hardware details lie in the Joy-Con controllers. Interestingly, L and R buttons for each Joy-Con are seated inside the rail that slides into the console itself. With this, each Joy-Con has the range of buttons that a SNES controller does. Other smaller features include a capture button for screenshots and built-in accelerometers for motion control. The right Joy-Con also has an IR camera for more robust spacial detection features, but its usefulness remains to be seen.

These also make use of a new rumble design reminiscent of the enhanced rumble added to the Xbox One controller. Dubbed HD Rumble, this will enable for more precise vibration simulation.

If you’re looking to get more accessories for your Switch after that price point, you’d best be saving your money. Additional Joy-Cons will cost $49 each or $79 for two, the Pro Controller will be $69, and additional docks cost $89. Nintendo may be using their enhanced features to justify the cost, but that’s still very steep for hardware! Especially for the dock, which is essentially an HDMI output/USB hub with USB-C pass-through.

As for non-hardware features of the console, a premium online service will be available for free at launch. As with Sony and Microsoft, however, this will transition to a paid service. Besides a hopefully more stable and reliable experience, there’s still too little to know whether or not it’s worth it.

The Switch will also feature smart device integration, presumably for social activities like the Miiverse equivalent. Another nice detail I didn’t expect was that this console will be region free. Instead of games bought in North America being locked to North American consoles, any game bought anywhere can be played on any Switch!

Really though, what would a console be without games to play on it? There were several shown and at least 80 are confirmed to be in development, but what’ll be available at launch?

First off, this generation’s Wii Sports; 1 2 Switch. This party title will primarily make use of the Joy-Cons in multiplayer games. The main gimmick appears to be not necessarily needing a TV screen to play, as was demoed with a Wild-West style shootout. This will be a launch title alongside the Switch on March 3rd.

The other title is one that was held until the very end of the show. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is indeed a launch title, contrary to rumors popping up of a potential delay to June. The Wii U version will also be launching on the same day. This will no doubt be the system seller for the Switch at launch!

For right now, no other titles are confirmed for a March 3rd release. For the remainder, let’s break it down by soonest to latest, starting with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This enhanced port of Mario Kart 8 will include all previous DLC, as well as new tracks, characters, and a revamped Battle Mode (a move the game desperately needed). This will be releasing April 28th, 2017.

A brand-new Nintendo IP was also shown, and that is the 3D fighting game ARMS. This title makes use of the Joy-Cons for Wii Punch-Out!!-style brawling with more complex control. This game has a Spring 2017 launch window.

The supposed Splatoon port was also shown, but revealed to be Splatoon 2. As expected of a sequel, this game will include new maps, new weapons, and new characters. Thankfully, the ability to use gyro controls for aiming remains intact, with the only control change being a button prompt for launching to teammates instead of using a touch screen. Like the first, Splatoon 2 will receive a constant stream of updates. This title will be coming in Summer 2017.

Another interesting treat was the announcement of the next Mario game titled Super Mario Odyssey. Falling more in line with Super Mario 64 and Sunshine, Odyssey will feature sandbox gameplay designs in bizzare environments. The new mechanic added this time around is a throwable hat, allowing you to hit enemies or jump off of it to greater heights. This game needs quite a bit more time in the oven with its Holiday 2017 release date.

From here we get into games with no set release date. The Switch will be getting some major ports in the near future as well as brand new titles. The ports announced were Dragon Quest X and XI (Japan only for now), Dragon Quest Heroes 1 and 2, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and FIFA 18. Some titles shown in sizzle reels include I am Setsuna, NBA 2K18, Super Bomberman R, and Ultra Street Fighter 2.

For brand new titles, we got a bunch of teases. Instead of the Xenoblade Chronicles X port that was rumored, MonolithSoft is actually working on Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the sequel to the Wii title.

Hot off the heels of Hyrule Warriors, Tecmo Koei got their hands on another Nintendo property, namely Fire Emblem. Thus, Fire Emblem Warriors is in the works and it makes perfect sense for a Warriors title considering the sheer amount of characters at their disposal.

The Shin Megami Tensei 25th anniversary title is also in the works, presumably Shin Megami Tensei V if I could read kanji. The team behind the Bravely games is also working on Project Octopath Traveller, and that’s as much as the announcement told us. A new No More Heroes game will also be coming, with no real info besides the director Suda 51’s appearance.

While Zelda hype does a lot to lift my spirits, the amount of games shown was disappointing. There will surely be more that two games at launch, but the stilted presentation killed some of my enthusiasm.

Still, the hardware showing and $299 price point are enough to keep me interested. I’ll be sure to pick one up at launch (if I can pre-order one in time). With less than 7 weeks to go, the Nintendo Switch is shaping up to be something special.

There is still more to see, as a special Nintendo Treehouse will be covering upcoming Nintendo Switch games starting today, January 13th at 9:30am EST.

Nintendo Switch Official Site