NINTENDO'S NEXT CONSOLE is almost here. Nintendo Switch, previously codenamed NX and announced this morning, is on track to release in March 2017. When it's out, your home and portable play will be combined into one unit: Switch is a tablet with detachable controllers that can dock with your TV, playing its games anywhere.
The hanafuda maker is still playing its hand close to its chest, however, only unveiling a short, three-minute concept video of the Switch, plus a little bit of information in follow-up press releases. Nintendo promises to unveil more information later, including lists of games, system specs, and the all-important price.
For now, here's everything we know about Nintendo Switch.
It combines home and portable into a single unit.
You can play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on your big-screen TV at home, but why stop there? Pull the Switch out of the docking station next to your TV, and you can take that game on the go. This means more than just convenience: It means that Nintendo's home and portable game libraries will now be combined into one single platform. No more having to support both the home Wii U and the portable 3DS with separate Mario Kart games—Nintendo can just create one game that's played by everyone. And you don't have to buy two pieces of Nintendo hardware to enjoy all the company's games, anymore.
It has many different control options.
You'll notice joysticks and buttons on the sides of the Switch. These will let you play Zelda when used in tandem. But you can also break those controllers off, like so many pieces of a Kit Kat bar, hand one to a friend, and play a round of competitive, portable Mario Kart anywhere you like. This will of course mean that each player's control option is limited to one joystick and a handful of buttons. But many Nintendo games already control just fine with such a setup. You can also play local multiplayer games using two or more Switch consoles.
You also have the option of controlling a game with one controller in each hand, like playing an old-school Wii game with the remote and nunchuk attachment. These controllers are known as Joy-Cons, and you can put them into an accessory called the Joy-Con Grip to create a single controller that's sort of shaped like a standard gamepad. And if you truly want a standard gamepad experience for hardcore gamin', you can just buy the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.
But the teaser trailer does leave some questions unanswered. Is the screen on the Switch a touch screen? We assume it must be, but we didn't see anyone touching it. Do the Joy-Cons have motion sensors? I give that about a 50 percent chance, but again, we didn't see it. Can you use the Joy-Cons to point and click at the TV screen, like a Wii remote? Not sure!
Nintendo Switch will indeed have videogames from Nintendo and other software makers.
Phew! Here's a list of every single game we can see in the video.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The only game we definitely knew was coming to NX prior to this announcement, so not a surprise. If you want to read all about it, we played the Wii U version at E3, which Nintendo says will be identical to the Switch version.
- Skyrim. Bethesda's medieval RPG epic is coming to Switch, if you wished Zelda had more murders.
- Mario Kart 8. From what we're seeing in the video, it seems like the Wii U version of Nintendo's racing game will be ported to the Switch. Not sure what changes might be made.
- An unnamed basketball game that is probably NBA 2K17.1
- Super Mario. Switch is getting what Wii U never did: a new single-player Mario game in the style of Super Mario 64. About time.
- Splatoon. In this case, it doesn't look like a straight port of Nintendo's Wii U paint-splattering shooter game, since the characters have customizable hairstyles, which isn't possible in the current-gen version. An upgrade, or a true sequel? Still not sure.
Ubisoft, back at this year's E3, also announced that Just Dance would come to Switch. We didn't see it in the video. Speculation time: Is it because Nintendo isn't ready to announce that the Joy-Cons have motion controls? Maybe we'll see Ubisoft's dance game at that time.
Nintendo Switch is powered by a version of Nvidia's Tegra mobile processor.
Nintendo usually doesn't like talking up what's inside its hardware (which got it into some trouble with Wii U when many people weren't even aware that it had announced a new piece of hardware). That changes with Nintendo Switch, as it's publicly touting the fact that inside the unit is an Nvidia Tegra, the high-performance mobile gaming chip.
"The high-efficiency scalable processor includes an Nvidia GPU based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards," Nvidia wrote on its blog. But the company isn't just providing the chips, it says, noting that it was involved in the creation of the "algorithms, computer architecture, system design, system software, APIs, game engines and peripherals."
Many different publishers and developers have pledged involvement (but that doesn't mean much).
As usual with the launch of a new game platform, Nintendo has a massive list of major game developers and publishers that are publicly announcing support for the Switch. Just take all this with a grain of salt, because none of this means they'll definitely release games on the platform—just that they're looking into it.
Games will be sold on small SD card-sized memory cards.
While you will surely be able to buy games digitally on Switch, physical game retailers aren't being left out of the equation. You'll be able to buy your games on tiny cards about the size of a 3DS game cart, if you're into that sort of thing. No promise that every game will get such a physical release, of course. And no details on how big those cards are.
It has a kickstand.