After the initial reveal of their latest console in October last year, Nintendo have been pretty tight-lipped in the months since. Well folks, the Nintendo Switch has finally had its full unveiling. Let’s remind ourselves what we already know, and then take a more in-depth look at the new developments from Nintendo’s January 13th presentation.
What did we already know about this ambitious console? The Nintendo Switch is a handheld system with a 6.2” 720p 10-point multitouch display bookended by two controllers – named Joy-Cons – that can be attached and detached as required. A built-in stand allows the device to stand upright like a little television, so the controllers can be used to play games on the move. The console can be hooked up to a TV for big-screen gaming, and at this point the two controllers can be attached to a central module – the Joy-Con Grip – and used as a singular controller, or a dedicated Xbox-style pad named the Switch Pro Controller can be used. The Switch will run games, such as Legend Of Zelda: The Breath of the Wind, from cartridges rather than discs (unsurprisingly, considering the handheld nature). It’s powered by an Nvidia Tegra processor, and it launches in March.
Some analysts believed the Switch could be Nintendo’s “last shot”, after the Wii U flopped and the Wii itself is a distant memory. So, what have we learned from Nintendo’s new presentation? Are Nintendo going to go out with a bang, a whimper, or are they going to stay around a while yet?
The Nintendo Switch will be released on the 3rd of March. At launch, there will be two versions of the Switch to choose from – one with two grey Joy-Con controllers, and one with multi-coloured (a blue and a red). We know now that you can hook it up to a television via a dock at any time and immediately resume playing whatever game you’re playing, and we also know that the console supports local wi-fi multiplayer in handheld mode with support for up to 8 players. Battery life will vary depending on the software and usage condition, but Nintendo claim the Switch can get up to 6 hours. As an example of varying time, big games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can only be played for 3 before a charge is required – which can be done while playing, when in handheld mode. On-board memory is a pretty small 32GB but this can be expanded with microSDXC cards. Incidentally, the console is hooked up to a TV with a dock – and if you want another for a different TV in the house, you can expect to pay a retail price of around £75-80 for that.
The detachable Joy-Con controllers had some pretty big surprises in store during Nintendo’s event. They can both be used by a singular player – one in each hand, or connected as a singular device – or shared between two players. Each Joy-Con has a little joystick, four face buttons, an accelerometer and two shoulder buttons – so games like Mario Kart can be enjoyed in split-screen like the good old days. The right Joy-Con has an AR camera that can tell how far your hand is away from it for minigames like rock, paper, scissors – and also has an NFC reader/writer for Amiibo. The left controller has a ‘capture’ button which will allow the player to take screenshots and, at some point in the future, video. Both controllers also have vibration support, known as ‘HD Rumble’. Wrist straps – creatively named Joy-Con Straps – will be available and encouraged, since those dark days of slinging Wii Remotes into televisions. The traditional console controller, the Switch Pro, will be available for individual purchase as well as additional Joy-Con controllers.
THE ONLINE SERVICE
When the Switch launches, it’ll come along with a new online service. This will be free at launch but you can expect to start paying for it towards the end of the year. Subscribers will get to download and play a NES or Super Nintendo game “for free for a month”, and the games will have newly-added online features. “For free for a month” is a troubling choice of words, unlike Microsoft’s Games with Gold that allows you to keep the game. We’ll find out exactly what that means in the fullness of time. The Switch online support also includes the ability to invite friends to play online, set play appointments and chat with one another as they play ‘compatible’ games – but this won’t be launching until summer.
Nintendo have revealed a roster of exciting new games, and we can start off by confirming that the Nintendo Switch will not have software region locking! Firstly, 1 2 Switch is a collection of minigames which players can play with the two Joy-Cons away from the screen. Think Wii Play, as this is purely a fun party game – while facing each other, two players will be able to engage in wild-west quickdraws, sword-fighting and magic spellcasting.
Aside from 1 2 Switch, we were shown a lot of traditional albeit exciting games. Nintendo have confirmed over 80 are currently in development, but only showed us a handful. For starters, Arms is a Switch exclusive over-the-top boxing game where players shoot enormous stretchy boxing gloves at each other, with precision punches controller by tilting and twisting your Joy-Con. Looks like vintage Nintendo shenanigans! Splatoon 2 got a lot of love at Nintendo’s launch, which supports Joy-Con or the Switch Pro Controller. It’ll also support online multiplayer, as well as local wi-fi multiplayer. Short teasers for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Fire Emblem: Warriors and a Shin Megami Tensei game were shown briefly, and then a sizzle reel of another 15 or so games was shown. We’ll also be getting Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which will be a Switch port of the Wii U game with local multiplayer support and new characters.
But the two big games at this stage are of course, launch-title The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (which we saw a new trailer for, and it’s gorgeous) and the highly-anticipated and suspected return of a certain Italian plumber. Super Mario Odyssey is – wait for it – an open-world sandbox, in which Mario leaves the Mushroom Kingdom for the real world. Mario will be engaging in some hardcore parkour as he scales New York City buildings, and fights a pimp-like metal-boot-wearing Bowser. As long as you don’t have to put up with constant phone calls while you’re in the city (“Mario, it’s your brother, Luigi! Let’s go bowling!”) then this could be Mario’s finest hour yet.
So in conclusion, how does this change our excitement for the Switch? The potential high-price was certainly a shock, but the idea of an open-world Mario adventure is enough to remedy any worries, surely? On March 3rd, Nintendo will either reassert themselves as console kings – or they won’t. Time will tell. Still, let us know what you think about all of these reveals, and check out the full presentation below.
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