It's a tablet, a console and a portable multiplayer tabletop game system all-in-one... and it looks pretty darn awesome. The Nintendo Switch is the latest hot item to come from Nintendo. The transforming handheld game console follows the NES Classic and Super Mario Run in a line of products that have titillated gamers most recently.
You're probably dying to get your hands on one. Well, hold up. Here's what you need to know about snagging the magically versatile $300 gaming system.
Where to get it
As of right now, the only place to get a Switch is the Nintendo Store in New York City. Nintendo tweeted that a limited quantity of preorders will be available Friday, January 13 at 9 a.m. ET.
Yep, that's right. They said preorder. You won't be able to get your hands on a Switch until March. The official release date is March 3, 2017. It will come in grey or a more colorful option that comes with neon blue and neon red Joy-Con controllers.
What it will cost
The Switch unit will officially cost $299.99 in the US and £279.99 in the UK. Pricing around the world is still being announced. If Nintendo restricts production like it did with the NES Classic you may see the Switch's price jacked up hundreds of dollars by third-party sellers when it is finally released.
Nintendo says that online gaming services will be free for a trial period after the console is released, but will become a subscription service in fall, 2017. The unit will come with a Switch console, two Joy-Con joysticks, two Joy-Con wrist straps, a Joy-Con Grip, the Nintendo Switch Dock, an HDMI cable and an AC adapter.
The Nintendo Pro controller will be sold separately for $70. Additional Joy-Con controllers will be sold for $80.
Here's more information about the new Joy-Con controllers.
Nintendo has partnered with a lot of companies like Activision, EA, Capcom, Sega, Konami and many more, so there is going to be a great selection of games for the Switch. We know that the new console will have a Splatoon 2, which will launch in summer 2017. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be a launch title. Super Mario Odyssey will release during the holiday season of 2017. There will also be a Mario Kart Deluxe.
Over 80 third party games are currently in development, such as Dragon Quest Heroes 1 and 2, and Project Octopath Traveler. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, FIFA, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors are also games that will be on the Switch.
During the Nintendo Switch Presentation two new games designed to highlight the HD Rumble feature in the Joy-Con joysticks. 1-2-Switch is a party game that gets you to interact with other players and Arms is a boxing game. 1-2-Switch releases on the same day as the console and Arms releases in spring 2017.
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The 5 biggest reveals from Nintendo's Switch event
On Thursday, Nintendo finally offered an in-depth look at the Nintendo Switch, its next video game console launching in two months.
The Switch is a home console with a tablet at the center. It can attach to a docking station connected to a home TV, or travel with players by connecting two remote-like controllers called "Joy-Cons."
In case you missed Nintendo's event Thursday night in Tokyo, here were the five biggest announcements:
1. We know the price and the release date.
It will launch on March 3 worldwide for $299.99. Consumers will have two options: one with all-grey controllers, or one with neon red and blue controllers. Both versions will carry the same price tag. Game not included.
2. The Legend of Zelda joins the launch party.
Don't think for one second Nintendo fans weren't watching this event thinking the house of Mario was going to delay the next chapter of the beloved fantasy game until this holiday, or beyond. When Nintendo confirmed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild would launch March 3, right along with Switch, it was arguably the biggest news of the night.
3. Oh, we're getting a new Super Mario game, too.
It's called Super Mario Odyssey, and it's open world, which means Mario can explore wherever he wants and complete events in any order the player chooses. Plus, he's got an awesome hat now.
4. Nintendo will finally host its own online service.
The subscription service is Nintendo's take on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Switch owners get a free trial before it flips to a paid service this fall. It grants users the ability to play competitively online, and offers a free classic game from the Nintendo Entertainment System or Super Nintendo Entertainment System library.
5. They are really trying to leverage what made the Wii amazing.
Can you blame them? The Wii is their best-selling home video game console, topping 100 million. The Joy-Con controllers resemble mini Wii remotes, and include most of the functionality including motion control. There's also the game 1-2 Switch, a launch title featuring mini-games very similar to Wii Sports.
For families and kids, this is promising. Here's the more interesting angle Nintendo has regarding veteran video game players. There is solid third-party support right out the gate, with publishers including Electronic Arts and Bethesda Softworks, confirming its epic game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will launch for Switch. Get enough of those third-party games available on PlayStation and Xbox, along with an already powerful Nintendo roster, and you essentially have a home console in your pocket.
Playing Nintendo Switch Feels New and Classic at the Same Time
One of the stranger moments of my life occurred this morning, when I competed at virtually milk a cow against a total stranger (hi Garrett!). Using the Nintendo Switch’s new Joy-Con controllers and moving it up and down and alternating pressing shoulder buttons, I fought to fill up cups of milk as quickly as possible.
The experience was a mini-game inside the upcoming 1, 2, Switch, one of the titles that will launch alongside the Nintendo Switch on March 3. As utterly bizarre as milking a virtual utter with a controller was, I have to admit, it was a hell of a lot of fun.
In fact, the big takeaway I have after I spent a few hours playing various games with the Nintendo Switch is that this is a really, really fun console. In my time playing different games and in different settings—both connected to the TV and in portable mode—I found myself reminiscing about the fun I used to have playing the Nintendo Wii back in the mid-aughts.
The center of the Nintendo Switch experience isn’t the screen—which can be docked or used as a portable—it’s the Joy-Con controllers.
The pair of controllers are what makes the system tick. When docked in the Joy-Con Grip, the controller feels like a typical gamepad. Nintendo will also sell a Pro Controller—which feels very, very similar to the Pro Controller for the Wii U—but the Joy-Con is how most users will interact with the system.
Like I said, when docked on the Grip, the Joy-Con controller is instantly intuitive and comfortable. But the trick is that you can undock those controllers and use them in each hand—Wii Nunchuk style. I found the controller to be extremely comfortable when docked in the grip or on the side of the Switch’s screen.
You can also remove the to controller piece from the grip, and use a single one flipped in a horizontal orientation. I used this method when playing the 2D scroller, Sonic Mania. I have to say, in my hands (which are extremely small), the horizontal gamepad still felt downright tiny. Moreover, after prolonged playing in that mode, my left thumb started to feel sore. Still, the Joy-Con was totally serviceable, which in and of itself was a bit of a surprise.
Single Joy-Con controller usage is more fun in games like 1, 2, Switch, where each person holds a Joy-Con half and aims it at each other—not the screen—to complete actions such as playing a game of Draw or milking a cow. The right Joy-Con controller has a motion sensor built-in and it can apparently tell the difference between hand-gestures such as rock, paper, or scissors. Nintendo didn’t show off the sensors in action, but the vibration—known as HD Rumble—-was very, very rad.
For instance, one of the mini-games in 1,2 Switch asks you to guess how many marbles are in a box. You move the controller left to right in your palm and the vibrations simulate what it would feel like to roll a box of marbles. The sensation, while bizarre, totally did feel like what would happen if you rolled a closed-box of marbles back and forth between your hands.
The vibration was strong in other games too. Playing Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, the vibrations kicked in at the right times when getting hit or when picking up bonus items. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the vibrations on the controller added to the sense of climbing up a hill or getting hit by a bad guy.
When you remove the Switch from its dock and use it as a portable, it’s still quite easy to use. Nintendo put security locks on the dock to prevent theft, but even that added cable didn’t make the process of moving the Joy-Con controller from the Grip to the Dock any more complex.
When docked, it’s easy to slide each half of a Joy-Con into the rails built-into the side of the Switch. They easily lock into place and you can then lift the Switch out of the dock.
I never found the process of moving from the Wii U on the TV to the game controller to be particularly seamless. But on the Switch, it really is. While playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind, I was able to move in the middle of my game without any problem. Removing the Joy-Con controller from the Grip paused the game and as soon as I slid the Switch out of its dock, playback resumed exactly where it was before.
When used as a portable, the Switch was lighter than I expected it to be. With the Joy-Con controllers attached, the Switch is large—it feels longer than the Wii U’s gamepad—but it’s not bulky. The weight is definitely heavier than your phone or a 3DS, but it’s not something I could see myself having a problem playing for a few hours.
The screen quality is sharp and the graphical response time was fantastic. I played multi-player Super Mario Kart 8: Deluxe in portable mode and it was a blast. The size of the screen (6.2 inches) is just big enough to keep you immersed, while still small enough to not make lugging it around a total pain-in-the ass. Still, I wonder about battery life. Nintendo promises two-and-a-half to six hours.
When it comes to the games themselves, nothing other than Zelda necessarily blew me away (though the upcoming Super Mario Odyssey looks amazing), but the games I did play were FUN. Splatoon 2 docked or in portable mode was a total jam, especially when competing against other people.
Even classic games such as Ultra Street Fighter—which is available in an HD mode and with retro graphics—felt newer than it should have.
The bottom line is that I had a ton of fun playing games and those Joy-Con controllers are an absolute delight. It’s too soon to say whether the ideas Nintendo is trying with the Switch will work and if this console is enough to right the wrongs of the Wii U. It will take more than just Nintendo games to make a platform. Moreover, the number of titles available at launch is less than overwhelming. Still, my first impression is that this is much more “hit” than miss.