At 11pm EST last night, Nintendo finally pulled the lid off of its newest handheld/console hybrid, the Switch. Here’s a summary of everything we learned at that presentation and today’s various events.
The Switch will release worldwide on March 3, 2017, at a price of $299.99 USD, 29,980 yen, 279.99 GBP, and variable prices in Europe. That purchase will get you the Switch console, dock, right and left Joy-Cons (either in gray or neon red/blue), the Joy-Con wrist straps, Joy-Con Grip, and an HDMI cable and AC adapter. Pre-orders have gone live at most major retailers. In addition, the Switch will be region-free.
The console itself features a 6.2″ 720p capacitive touchscreen which can scale up to 1080p when attached to a TV through the dock (which basically seems to serve as an HDMI/USB pass-through). Players can expect 2.5 to 6 hours of playtime from the Switch’s 4,310 mAh battery, depending on the game; Nintendo says that, for example, the battery should last about 3 hours while playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It charges using USB-C, and takes about 3 hours to fully charge. The Switch will come with 32GB of internal memory with some of that reserved for the OS. Memory can be expanded using MicroSD.
The system features two detachable Joy-Con grips, which include a new feature Nintendo is calling HD Rumble. This allows various degrees/locations of haptic feedback for a more immersive experience: the metaphor used during the presentation was that you’d be able to feel a glass being filled up with ice and then water. Both Joy-Cons will include gyro sensors for Wii-like motion gaming, and the right Joy-Con also features an infrared camera for depth perception and an NFC reader for scanning Amiibo. The Joy-Cons can be inserted into the Joy-Con Grip for a traditional controller experience.
Players can purchase a number of optional accessories for the Switch. The Pro Controller provides a more traditional gaming experience (and features an NFC reader) at a price of $69.99 USD, and additional Joy-Cons can be purchased for $49.99 each or $79.99 for a set of two. The Joy-Con Charging Dock can be purchased separately for $24.99. Finally, for those who want more flexibility, additional Docks can be purchased for $89.99.
Switch will feature a Nintendo Account based online service which will require a paid subscription for online play starting this fall; a “free trial” period will be offered until then. This paid service will include online lobbies and voice chat, which will be provided through a smartphone app included with the subscription. It’s unclear as to whether or not these features can be used on the system itself or if the smart device app will be required. Finally, paid subscribers will gain access to one NES or SNES game per month, which can be played for free for the duration of the month. After the month is over, the game must be purchased in order to maintain access to it. SNES games will have added online play as a bonus. As far as local multiplayer goes, up to eight Switch systems can play together.