Nintendo’s Switch reveal event on January 12 focused both on the console’s hardware specifications — yes, it has a touch screen — as well as a selection of games the console will be receiving within the first few months of release. The New York City event is expected to offer up more details on games and go even deeper into the Switch’s features, and will be the first opportunity for press to try it out. You can watch both shows on the livestream embedded above, as well as through Nintendo’s official site, Twitch, and YouTube. If you’re unable to stream the show, however, rest assured that Nintendo will post updates to its Twitter throughout the show.
Everything we have heard about the Switch up to this point can be found here, but this is what we know, think, and hope to hear during this week’s press bonanza.
The Nintendo Switch releases on March 3 worldwide for $300. It will be available in both a gray configuration, which you can see above, as well as a “red/blue” configuration, which includes colorful versions of the Joy-Con controllers. Unlike the Wii U, there is no “deluxe” version with increased storage capacity or extra features, and the console does not come bundled with any games.
System specifications and features
The last two generations of Nintendo platforms have toyed with conventional ways to play video games, and the Switch will continue this trend. As seen in the reveal trailer, the console is a hybrid platform — a home console for the living and a portable powerhouse on the go.
The transition between the portable display and television screens should be seamless, allowing users to simply detach each Joy-Con controller panels from each side of the Switch, attach them to the Joy-Con grip, and place the portable unit in the dock for console play. Nintendo will likely confirm that all of Switch’s system processing power is drawn from the portable unit, though this was not specifically mentioned during its most recent event.
Nintendo started utilizing touch screen functionality with its DS line of portable hardware, and carried that tradition to the Wii U. Both lines of hardware have single touch capabilities — the screens can only register one finger at a time. The Nintendo Switch changes that, introducing a multi-touch capacitive screen that falls more in line with contemporary phones and tablets.
The Nintendo Switch features a 6.2-inch, 720p display, and is capable of outputting to televisions at 1080p. Nintendo insider Emily Rogers said prior to Nintendo’s January 12 event that the console would be capable of upscaling to 4K in its “docked” mode, but Nintendo has not confirmed this.
Multiple control schemes
The Nintendo Switch features multiple control configurations for a wide variety of play. In addition to the standard portable configuration of the console, which features a Joy-Con controller attached to both sides, the console can be placed on a table using its included kickstand and the controllers can be removed. This allows two players to each hold on Joy-Con for use in multiplayer games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and 1-2 Switch, the latter of which makes minimal use of the console’s screen. To help with controlling games that make heavy use of the “L” and “R” buttons, an included strap device can be snapped onto individual Joy-Cons, providing more prominent buttons.
In its “docked” configuration, players also have a few choices for controlling games. The included “Joy-Con Grip” holds the two Joy-Cons on either side to mimic a traditional controller, and is the default setup for playing with a television out of the box. Also available is the Nintendo Switch “Pro” controller, which retails for $70 and closely resembles the Pro Controller seen on the Wii. It comes with a translucent, smokey plastic body.
The Joy-Con controllers feature both motion control and an IR sensor, which is capable of discerning hand shapes such as “rock” in a game of rock-paper-scissors.
Both the Pro controller and the left Joy-Con feature Nintendo’s new “capture” button. Currently, it allows users to take screenshots, but video support will arrive in the future. Joy-Con controllers also feature what Nintendo calls “HD Rumble,” which gives more accurate physical feedback to players — the presentation used the feeling of filling a glass with ice as an example.
In terms of raw power, the leading opinion is that the Switch harnesses a custom Nvidia Tegra X1 chipset, but the specifics have been argued since Nvidia released a statement shortly after the Switch’s official unveiling. This point of contention is perhaps the biggest question heading into launch — mostly because some still view the Switch as a competitor of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We don’t believe the Switch should be measured against those consoles in terms of power, because if we were to hold the Switch to the same standard, we would assuredly be let down (not including the inevitable disappointment when compared to the PS4 Pro and Scorpio).
All of the Switch’s system processing power appears to be drawn from the portable unit.
The enhanced Tegra X1 chip, if that is in fact what’s inside the unit, is similar to the one powering the Nvidia Shield console. However, don’t expect the Switch to simply mirror the graphical fidelity of the Shield, as it is custom, and will be tailored to the Nintendo aesthetic.
While there have been concerns that the Switch’s power as a portable unit will be inferior to its home console setting, the custom chip set coupled with the difference in resolution between portable and console play, will likely amount to a nearly identical experience from the dock to your hands.
Xbox One and PS4 users know how easily 500 GB or even 1 TB of hard drive space is depleted, but the Nintendo Switch will feature 32GB of internal storage. It’s important to remember, however, that the Switch will use game cartridges instead of discs, mitigating the need for a high capacity drive. For users who want to play digital games, and for larger patches, the console also supports microSDXC cards.
Emily Rogers reported that the Switch will have 4GB of RAM, twice that of the Wii U, though this was not confirmed at the January 12 event.
The Nintendo Switch’s battery will last between 2.5 and six hours, depending on what is being played. For launch title The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, users can expect to get about three hours out of the console.
Based on FCC filings for a near-final prototype, we know that the Switch’s battery is not replaceable, which means if the lithium ion battery dies, the portable unit will be rendered useless. It’s uncertain if Nintendo or a third-party could release an external battery solution for the Switch as well.
For the first time ever, Nintendo will introduce a paid online service with the Nintendo Switch. Dubbed, simply enough, “Nintendo Switch Online Service,” it will begin with a free trial on March 3 before transitioning to its paid model in the fall. In addition to multiplayer gaming, the service allows users to use an online lobby system through a smart devices app, set play appointments, and talk with friends. It’s unclear if there will be any way to chat with users without a smartphone — the free and “limited” version of the app will be out this summer.
Subscribing to the online service will also net users one free SNES or NES per month, some of which contain online play. It appears that the games will not “stack” each month, unlike PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold.
Games at the show
Six games were shown off in the Switch reveal trailer: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, an NBA 2K game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, and Super Mario Odyssey. Of these titles, only Breath of the Wild will launch alongside the system.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The flagship title from one of Nintendo’s most celebrated franchises, Breath of the Wild will release on March 3, along with the Switch. Like the majority of the Switch’s library, it will retail for $60.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
The sooner this releases, the better. Skyrim has been played to death by gamers across the world for over five years, through multiple iterations, and on two different console generations. It was confirmed by director Todd Howard during Nintendo’s January 12 event.
The draw here is portability, as it will be for a number of Switch games previously available on other home consoles. Ideally, it will sell for less than full retail.
Splatoon, like many stellar Wii U games, suffered because of its console of play. We’re hoping that its sequel, Splatoon 2, can correct this with its appearance on the Switch. It will feature local multiplayer “Turf War” in addition to the first game’s online options, both old and new characters, new weapons, and new fresh fashion trends. Splatoon 2 will support multiple controller configurations as well as the Nintendo Switch app, and launches this summer.
Just Dance 2017
Just Dance boomed on the Wii, but saw a significant downturn on the Wii U. Nintendo is hoping to bring Just Dance back with a vengeance on the Switch. With support for up to six players on the Switch — and three months of “Just Dance Unlimited” included for free — expect to see the series make a big comeback on the console. Including Just Dance Unlimited songs, you’ll have access to about 240 different tunes.
NBA 2K18will be making its way to the Nintendo Switch this September, and features the series’ signature “MyPlayer” and “MyTeam” mode, as well as “MyLeague and “MyGM.” More features are expected to be announced in the future.
Lego City Undercover
The closest the Wii U got to Grand Theft Auto, Lego City Undercover is being ported to the Switch. Currently, it’s unclear whether or not the game will be get the remaster treatment or just a straight port, but we expect Undercover to round out the family-friendly scene and be on display at the event.
Western fans of Earthbound have always wanted its sequel to be brought to the states, and a recent rumor suggests that Mother 3 is in the works for translation. Mother 3 could be shown in part as a love letter to its hardcore fans, but also as a way to introduce the Switch’s Virtual Console.
Gamecube Virtual Console games
While the launch lineup could be rather thin in terms of heavy hitters, we think that will be alleviated by the expected Gamecube Virtual Console. Eurogamer reported that Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Mario Sunshine, and Luigi’s Mansion have already been optimized for release. Nintendo also recently re-upped the trademark on the 2002 Gamecube horror hit Eternal Darkness, suggesting that the game may be revived on the Switch. It’s a safe bet that Nintendo plans to bring a whole bunch of Gamecube games to the Switch Virtual Console.
The first game Nintendo showed off during its January 12 presentation was the multiplayer-focused 1-2 Switch, which will be available alongside the console on March 3 for $50. With limited attention given to the console’s screen — or the TV — the game makes use of the two Joy-Con controllers to test players’ reflexes. The game features everything from an Old West duel to a dance-off, and it appears to be the system’s answer to Wii Sports, as it makes full use of the Joy-Con’s motion controls, HD rumble, and IR sensor.
If you’ve ever wanted to punch your friends without any consequences, Arms just might be the game for you. The wacky brawler makes use of crazy, spring-loaded fists and various power-ups to create a tense multiplayer game, and it utilizes a dual Joy-Con controls scheme so you can more closely replicate those hard left hooks. It will be available this spring and is limited to two players.
Fire Emblem Warriors
Nintendo did not announce a traditional Fire Emblem game during its presentation, but Fire Emblem Warriors, a Dynasty Warriors-style brawler, is in development for the Switch at Koei Tecmo. It’s expected that the game will feature gameplay similar to the Wii U and 3DS game Hyrule Warriors.
Shin Megami Tensei
An unnamed Shin Megami Tensei game, published by Atlus, was confirmed during Nintendo’s January 12 event. Very little concrete information was given during the event, but we do know that it will utilize Unreal Engine 4.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Though Xenoblade Chronicles X is still fresh in our minds, Monolith Soft will be be bringing us the next installment in the series, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, to the Switch. Its art style appears very similar to the previous games, though character design — by Masatsugu Saito — is slightly “cuter” than either Xenoblade Chronicles or X. No release date has been given yet.
Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey, which arrives this holiday season, is the first Mario title since Sunshine to give players an open “sandbox” world to explore. In addition to the more traditional Mushroom Kingdom levels, the game will send Mario into the “real” world, visiting famous cities and landmarks and interacting with realistically-proportioned humans.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Like Splatoon, Mario Kart 8 failed to reach as wide of an audience as Nintendo would have liked. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe features all original and DLC tracks from the original release, as well as a selection of new tracks. The game allows players to carry two items at the same time, adds a host of new Splatoon characters and vehicles, and features a revamped Battle mode that should more closely resemble what was offered in games like Mario Kart 64 and Double Dash.
Snipperlips – Cut it out, together!
Arriving with the Switch in March, Snipperclips is a $20 eShop title that tasks you and a friend with working cooperatively as you cut out paper shapes on the console’s screen and solve puzzles. The game features both basic and enhanced puzzles, and supports up to four players. Its graph paper-heavy art style and cute characters make it an early standout.
Disgaea 5 Complete
Featuring 100 hours of gameplay, eight extra scenarios, and all of the content available in the original PlayStation 4 release, Disgaea 5 Complete hits Nintendo Switch this spring. The colorful strategy-RPG also features “four fan-favorite characters” and three extra classes from the series.
It isn’t a new F-Zero, by Shin’en’s Fast RMX looks like a worthy substitute. The game features 30 tracks, four-player local play, eight-player online play, and intense anti-gravity racing that runs at 60 frames-per-second. Its more realistic art design and lightning-fast gameplay contrast it heavily with the console’s other big racer, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. No release date has been announced yet.
Available this March, Has-Been Heroes is a rogue-like that tasks players with controlling three separate characters and combining different spells to create “combo effects” against enemies. Both the game’s map and difficulty will expand as you play. It’s in development at Trine studio Frozenbtye.
Puyo Puyo Tetris
Combining the gameplay of the Tetris series with Sega’s Puyo Puyo, Puyo Puyo Tetris features several different game modes and 24 different characters to choose from. Its gameplay is a fast, brutal puzzle affair that seems like a perfect fit for the Switch’s local multiplayer, and it supports up to four players. The game doesn’t currently have a release date.
The latest entry in Activision’s Skylanders series, Skylanders Imaginators, is coming to the Nintendo Switch this March. The game gives players access to a “digital library” so they can still lose characters from past games on their new console, and this will also enable players to use multiple different Skylanders when they’re on the go.
Sonic Mania, which looks to be a massive return to form for Sega’s struggling platforming series, will hit the Nintendo Switch this spring. The game combines classic series favorite levels with brand new creations, and allows players to choose from Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. Sonic Mania support two-play gameplay and features classic 16-bit visuals to pull at your nostalgia heartstrings.
Super Bomberman R
Super Bomberman R, the latest installment in Konami’s classic series, launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch on March 3 and features both a single-player story mode an an eight-player “Battle.” The game also contains new 3D stages and an “all-star” cast of voice actors.
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers
Widely considered to be among the greatest fighting games of all time, Street Fighter II will hit the Switch with new characters like “Evil Ryu” and “Violent Ken.” In addition to the original pixel-art visual style, you can also choose a more modern look, and the game supports both competitive and cooperative play using individual Joy-Con controllers. A release date has not been announced.
Updated on 1-12-2017 by Gabe Gurwin: Added a wealth of new info from Nintendo’s January 12 show, including confirmed hardware features and games.
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