Its 11 PM on the East Coast and game journalists everywhere are struggling not to fall asleep to Nintendo’s odd choice of a downbeat DJ and laser light show as an opening act to their latest Nintendo Switch event. Those of us who were lucky enough to stay awake through their planetarium-esque preamble were met with a ton of new news consisting of answers to many of our numerous questions.
What will the Switch cost? When will it release? How long will the battery last? We got all the answers we had been hoping for from Nintendo.
Release Date and Pricing
The Switch finally has a release date, and it’s sooner than you think. It will launch simultaneously in the US, Canada, major European countries, Hong Kong, and selected other territories on March 3, 2017.
The suggested retail price for the switch is $299.99 USD or 29,980 yen. This is about fifty dollars more than most analysts predicted, putting it outside of a comfortable impulse buy range. That being said, it still manages to severely undercut all other consoles on the market, which will be a heavy draw for the money-conscious crowd.
The Nintendo Switch will offer online services, much like the PS4 and Xbox One does. However, to manage these online services, you will have to connect the Switch up to an existing smart device, such as a phone, laptop, or computer. You can manage buddy lists, invite friends, setup games, and run tournaments from these devices, much as you would on any PC.
As for multiplayer gaming, players who wish to play Nintendo games online will have to subscribe to a multiplayer gaming service. The service will be free from the system’s launch up until Fall of 2017, at which point it will become a paid service. No pricing for this service has been given at this time.
As we have seen before, the Nintendo Switch is made to be converted into several different playstyles. TV mode utilizes the Nintendo Switch Dock to broadcast your image to a TV via direct hookup by a HDMI cable. The video output switches immediately when you plug the console into the dock.
Tabletop mode has you setting up the Nintendo Switch via its kickstand and connecting multiple controllers to it remotely. It can basically be used as a portable TV.
Finally, Handheld mode lets you connect the Nintendo Joy-con controllers to the sides of the console, allowing you to use it like you would a DS or other portable system.
The Nintendo Switch’s battery life will differ depending on the game you are playing, but Nintendo puts the console’s battery life somewhere between 2.5 and 6.5 hours. That’s not a lot, but the console can be charged while playing, especially in TV mode. The Switch’s power adapter will use a USB-C connector (this contradicts with earlier reports that said it would use a Micro USB connector) however it is confirmed that it will work with any USB –C charging wire, and will be compatible with external batteries.
Up to eight Nintendo Switch systems can be connected to one another in order to play locally. It’s unclear how many controllers can be hooked up to the Switch at once, however video showed several Joy-con and Joy-con Pro controllers hooked up one switch.
Finally, the Switch will be 100% region free. All Switch games will be available to be purchased and played in all regions, even if they aren’t localized.
The Joy-con L and Joy-con R are the main controllers for the Switch. They include four face buttons each (lettered buttons on R and arrowed buttons on L), an analog stick (which can be depressed as yet another button press), two triggers, and two SR and SL buttons on their top edge. These buttons are usually hidden and depressed while attached to the main Switch console.
The Joy-con controllers both include accelerometer and gyroscope controls, allowing for motion control similar to the Wii and Wii U. When using the Joy-con controllers as motion controllers, a “Joy-con Grip” can be slid onto the edge. This makes the SR and SL buttons more prominent, increases the controller’s size and weight so it fits more naturally into your hand, and includes a wrist strap so you don’t end up throwing your controller through your TV.
The Joy-con controllers also include a new type of force feedback technology called HD rumble. This allows the rumbling of the controllers to respond to specific player movement. So, for example, it could simulate an ice-cube rattling around in a glass, if the controller was a glass. It could also simulate several independent ice-cubes and even add “weight” to the controller as water is filled up inside. This is done by coordinating several independently moving devices inside the controller, though specifics were not given.
Each Joy-con also has its own unique features. The Joy-con R, for example, sports the console’s home button. It also has an NFC reader which can read and write amiibo data, as well as data for other NFC games such as Skylanders. Finally, it has an IR camera which works kind of like a mini-Kinect. It can sense an object’s distance from itself, its movement, and the shape of that object. The example used was a hand playing Rock-paper-scissors. The IR camera can also be used as a sensor to determine the controller’s relative position in regards to a screen, just like the Wiimote pointer.
The Joy-con L has far fewer features, although it does sport the mysterious “square” button that everyone has been talking about. This has been revealed as the “share” button which will allow you to take screenshots, capture video, and even stream your gameplay to social media.
Joy-con controllers will come in a variety of colors. Currently three are available, red, blue, and grey, though more colors will be designed in the future. Players can mix and match Joy-con controllers however they like when using the Nintendo Switch.
Finally, the Switch tablet itself will feature a capacitive touch screen for touch based gameplay. However, the Switch tablet cannot be used along with a TV for dual screen gameplay.
What’s In the Box?
The Nintendo Switch system will include the following in box: The Switch Console, Switch Dock, Joy-con L, Joycon R, Joycon Grip, HDMI Cable, AC Adapter, and two Joy-con Grips with wrist straps. The Joy-con Pro controller will be sold separately. Two versions of the Nintendo Switch console will be available at launch, one with two grey Joy-con controllers and one with one red and one blue Joy-con controller. They will both retail at the same price.
The majority of Nintendo’s presentation focused on the games that will be available for the Switch in the upcoming year.
The first was called 1-2-Switch, which is the Switch’s resident mini-game compilation. It plays much like Warioware, taking advantage of the Switch’s tabletop mode. Players will be given commands and will be forced to complete those commands before the other player can. Mini-games include sword fighting, boxing, ping pong, and even an HD version of Hogan’s Alley. Nintendo stressed that the game is not played by looking at a screen, but rather by looking directly into your opponent’s eyes. It’s an “audio” game, meant specifically for parties, and it will be available at launch.
There were only a few games slated for availability at the Switch’s launch. Alongside 1-2-Switch, Skylanders Imaginators and Just Dance 2017 will also be available. However the real gem of this collection is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which will also be a launch title and will likely be the Switch’s killer app. The new trailer we were shown showcased a variety of new items, new methods to solve puzzles, and new characters. It appears as if Zelda will actually accompany Link at points in his adventure this time around. The trailer also gave a distinct feeling of being a “who’s who” of popular Zelda characters of the past. Perhaps this will be the game that finally ties the timeline together.
The rest of the games were slated to come out some time after the Switch’s initial launch. The newest Nintendo property, Arms, is an attempt to make a hardcore fighting game with motion controls. Arms puts you in control of a combatant that uses what appears to be a robot suit with stretchy spring arms. You control the game from a behind-the-back perspective, much like Pokken Tournament, and it’s your goal to punch, grapple, and combo the opponent into submission. Emphasis is put on movement, blocking, and combo mechanics, much like you would find in any serious 3D fighter.
However, characters aim their punches by tilting the Joy-con and punches are thrown by, you guessed it, waggling them. By tilting both Joy-cons you can dodge, block, or dash, and higher level techniques, like projectiles, jumping, and hovering, are done with the face buttons. There are a lot of interesting parallels with hardcore fighting games here, from combos, to throws, to frame-traps, but I’m still skeptical that any motion controlled game can make it on the hardcore circuit. Arms is set to launch in Spring of 2017.
Another major title announcement was Splatoon 2. Yes, the Splatoon we saw in trailers was not a port, but a full-fledged sequel. The sequel will bring us new maps, new weapons, and new special attacks that are usable once you have painted enough territory. One of these new weapons, the dual ink pistols, was shown off at the presentation. These rapid fire pistols may not give you the most coverage, but their small size gives you a huge boost to movement.
We also got to see a new special maneuver, the “super jump” which allows you to instantly teleport across the map to an ally’s location. Splatoon 2 can be played in traditional FPS style using dual analog sticks, or by using the gyroscopes for aiming, like you did with the Wii U gamepad. Players will be able to play online or face to face by connecting their Switches locally. Nintendo plans to support Splatoon 2 with a series of special events and tournaments and it will likely launch in Summer 2017.
And of course it wouldn’t be a Nintendo console without a new Mario game. Titled Super Mario Odyssey, this new adventure takes Mario out of the Mushroom Kingdom into vast and varying worlds, one of which was practically a copy of New York City. Mario will get on an airship to visit dense forests populated by robots, deserts inhabited by vegetable people, and of course classic-styled levels inhabited by spineys and Hammer Bros.
The trailer showed Mario swimming in multiple ways, picking up turnips, running and climbing on growing vines, collecting purple triangles, riding on tigers, rolling into a ball like Sonic the Hedgehog, and fighting gangster bunnies and robot centipedes. However, Mario’s newest move is throwing his cap, which has apparently obtained sentience. He can not only throw it as an attack, but also throw it to create a platform which he can then jump off of as a puzzle solving tool. This new Odyssey will release in the holiday season of 2017.
The rest of the games were announced quickly, with little in the way of details and no release dates.
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will be coming from Monolith Soft. Unlike Xenoblade Chronicles X, this will be a more traditional JRPG story linked to the Xeno chronology.
- Fire Emblem Warriors by Tecmo Koei will allow you to take control of your favorite FE heroes in a Dynasty Warriors Hack and Slash showcase.
- Square-Enix will be bringing Dragon Quest X, Dragon Quest XI, and Dragon Quest Heroes 1 and II to the Switch.
- Square-Enix will also be creating a new game under the codename Project Octopath Traveler. It combines sprite style graphics with 3D environments, and it appears to be a love letter to fans of classic sprite based RPGs.
- Atlus will be bringing the next game in their core Shin Megami Tensei line to the switch. It’s unclear if this will be Shin Megami Tensei Five as the game has not yet been titled.
- Sega is working on… something. They didn’t actually say what it was, but later trailers revealed Sonic the Hedgehog’s upcoming 2017 project.
- Bethesda has confirmed that Skyrim will be ported to the Switch, along with all DLC.
- Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture announced the return of No More Heroes and Travis Touchdown!
- EA will be bringing FIFA to the Switch along with other sports franchises.
- Finally, the press conference ended with a trailer roll where we saw Minecraft, Skylanders, Rayman, Lego, Dragonball Z, Disgaea, I Am Setsuna, Street Fighter, Bomberman, Tetris, Mario Kart (with battle mode and DLC), NBA2k, a variety of the Street Pass mini-games from the 3DS, and more.
That’s about all Nintendo had to show this time around. Did they hook you? Will you be purchasing a Switch in a few months?