The Nintendo Switch hybrid portable and home console was revealed in more detail Thursday night during a livestream on YouTube and Twitch. Pricing, release date, and features were all announced. The biggest feature might just be the Joy-Con controllers which manage to combine the motion controls of the Wii with more traditional controls and the range of games announced, including the launch date for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Nintendo wasted no time announcing the release date and price for the Nintendo Switch. The new console will launch March 3, 2017, for the United States, Japan, and Europe. The launch price is locked in at $299.99 in the United States. The European price was not announced and Nintendo referred those interested to their local retailers for the conversion price.
Each Nintendo Switch package will come with the console, two Joy-Con controllers and grip, the docking station, an HDMI cable, AC adapter, and wrist straps. Nintendo will offer two different versions of the console, one with colored controllers and one without.
Interestingly, the Nintendo Switch online service will start out as free until the fall of 2017. It will then become a paid service. Details on pricing and service will be announced at a later date, but smartphone compatibility was announced. What that means for the console is unclear.
For those not interested in online play, owners can connect with up to seven other Nintendo Switch consoles for local play.
In another surprising move, Nintendo announced the Switch will be region free. This means owners in the United States or Europe can purchase games released in Japan and vice versa.
Perhaps the one disappointing aspect of the Nintendo Switch is the battery life. Nintendo announced a battery life range of 2.5 to six hours for the portable console. The range of life will depend on the game being played and how much it pushes the hardware.
Despite the ranging battery life, Nintendo smartly went with a USB-C connection for the power adapter. This allows owners to charge on the go with USB backup battery packs and more.
Nintendo spent quite a bit of time on the Joy-Con controllers, the controllers that attach to either side of the Switch. They are packed with a number of features, such as a NFC card reader, plus the gyro and motion controls similar to the original Wii controllers. It also features “HD Rumble” to provide haptic feedback.
The Joy-Con controllers manage to squeeze in all the necessary buttons as well. There’s the two thumbsticks, buttons that serve as the D-pad, four face buttons, plus two shoulder and trigger-style bumpers. It also features a “Capture” button for screenshots and a home button. There’s even an IR camera at the bottom of the right Joy-Con that is capable of picking different hand and finger positions, like in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Of course, each Joy-Con can function as its own separate controller, complete with two shoulder buttons. Alternatively, Nintendo Switch owners can use a controller like the Wii U Pro controller.
Each Joy-Con is powered by a Lithium-Ion battery and will charge when attached to the Nintendo Switch. While there was no mention of how long these batteries will last, Nintendo is offering different colors and wrist straps.
When playing in handheld mode, the Nintendo Switch’s capacitive screen supports multi-touch. Obviously, this can be used for menu navigation, but gameplay uses were not shown during the presentation.
On the game front, Nintendo revealed a number of first-party games. 1-2 Switch is a party game designed to make use of the Joy-Con controllers. ARMS is a fighting game that also uses the motion-controllers of the Switch for two players to punch and dodge at each other in the arena.
Following that, Nintendo began announcing its more traditional games such as Splatoon 2 this summer, plus Marios’s first open-world adventure, Super Mario Odyssey, coming holiday, 2017. There were also entries for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and a new Fire Emblem Warriors.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was saved for the very end of the Nintendo Switch presentation. The highly-anticipated game received a new trailer plus a confirmation that it will be a launch title for the console. This gives the new hardware a much needed big draw at launch.
Third-party support includes Dragon Quest X and Dragon Quest XI from Square Enix. Dragon Quest Heroes I and II will also eventually make its way on to the Switch. The publisher also revealed a stylish 2D side-scrolling role-playing title called Project Octopath Traveler.
Atlus made perhaps one of the more important announcements with a new Shen Megami Tensei title. The game will use the Unreal Engine 4, signaling broader support than the Wii U.
Sega also made an appearance on stage, but did not announce any games. Instead, the publisher promised support for the Nintendo Switch.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition was also confirmed for the Switch. Todd Howard called the console something “classically Nintendo, but something all new.”
Grasshopper’s Suda 51 revealed Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes will return. There’s no title yet, but the iconoclastic developer spoke of how the Switch makes game development easy for independent studios.
Perhaps the biggest publisher appearance was made on stage by Electronic Arts’ Patrick Soderlund. The next FIFA title will appear on the Nintendo Switch with features customized for the console. No other titles were announced from EA, but it is a necessary first step for one of the big three gaming publishers to show.
Nintendo promises over 80 titles are in development and showed a highlight reel of everything from Sonic games to classic Street Fighter 2 to Minecraft to NBA 2K18 and much more. Third-party developer support will be critical to the success of the Switch.
[Featured Image by Nintendo]