After a year and a half of rumors and speculation, Nintendo has finally let the cat out of the bag and revealed the NX, which is now officially called the Nintendo Switch. It turns out that most of the reports about the console are true, chiefly that it is a handheld/home console that hybrid that allows gamers to easily switch (heh, get it?) been gaming at home on a TV with a more traditional controller or on-the-go with a removable tablet screen and detachable controllers.
The teaser trailer that Nintendo used to make the announcement is definitely heavy on style and light on substance (who knew that rooftop gaming sessions with Brooklyn hipsters were so prevalent?) and at the moment, there are definitely more questions than answers when it comes to the actual features of the console. I will update this list as news is released but right now, here’s every important detail you need to know about the Nintendo Switch.
The Screen IS The Console
Judging by the Switch’s announcement trailer, you might think that the dock device that the removable LCD screen fits into is the console itself, but it turns out that main unit is actually the screen. As Nintendo tells IGN, the dock is simply there to make it easier to switch between playing games on a TV and going portable. “”The dock is not the main console unit of Nintendo Switch. The main unit of Nintendo Switch is the unit that has the LCD screen, which the two Joy-Con controllers can be attached to and detached from. The main function of the Nintendo Switch Dock is to provide an output to the TV, as well as charging and providing power to the system.”
It Uses Cartridges
One of the most surprising Nintendo Switch rumors was that it would be cartridge-based and while it does seem a bit unbelievable that a console in 2017 would use cartridges, the reveal trailer seems to confirm that this is indeed the case, as we see a player slot a new cartridge into the top of the tablet. Considering that flash memory is pretty cheap these days, this might actually be a good route for Nintendo to take, as it will lead to quicker load times, which will no doubt be essential for a mobile console such as this.
I’m assuming that Nintendo will also allow you to purchase games digitally, which raises the question of what kind of storage this thing is going to ship with; as we’ve seen with both the Xbox One and PS4, hard drives fill up quick. Assuming there’s no required install with these games, cartridges could end up being the way to go, especially if storage space is at a premium with the Switch. There’s also the tantalizing possibility that this will mean that the Switch is backwards compatible with the DS and 3DS!
The Controllers Are Called “Joy-Cons”
Perhaps the coolest Nintendo Switch feature besides the fact that it can be used on-the-go is that it features detachable controllers that are very dynamic in how they can be used. Dubbed “Joy-Cons,” these controllers typically sit cradled on the sides of the system when playing at home, although they can be assembled into a giant pad if you opt out of picking up one of the Switch Pro Controllers, which are similar to the Wii U’s Pro Controller in terms of design.
Things get interesting once you start using the Switch’s mobile features, as the Joy-Cons can be used in some truly cool ways. You can have them attached on either side of the tablet screen to play that way, or detach them and stand the screen up if you don’t want to hold onto the screen while you play. You can even play two-player local multiplayer with the Joy-Cons, as they can be turned on their sides and used that way (although they sure do look incredibly small).
Local Multiplayer Options
As mentioned above, the Switch allows you to easily play local multiplayer at home or on-the-go thanks to the versatility of the Joy-Con controllers, but it looks like you can actually expand the number of players if you have more than one Switch. As the reveal trailer shows, you can have a 4-player gaming session if someone else brings their Switch, with two players sharing a screen. It’s unclear at this time if you can link up more than two Switches at a time, which would theoretically allow the player count to increase, but if you could link up three or four of these, it would lead to some pretty epic Mario Kart races!
Nintendo’s Amiibo figures have been lucrative for the company, especially with the Wii U being a non-starter in terms of sales and revenue over the last few years. Understandably, the company would not want to abandon the Amiibo when it comes to its next console, which is probably why they made sure to include a shot of some Amiibo figures sitting next to a Switch. Although we haven’t yet seen Amiibo functionality in action on the Switch, the console does appear to support it.
Wii U Support
It’s still unclear whether the Nintendo Switch is actually backwards compatible [Update: Nintendo has confirmed that it won’t support Wii U discs. No word yet on whether digital versions are supported or not] but seeing as how both Splatoon and Mario Kart 8 were shown off in the reveal trailer, it’s clear that the company does have plans for bringing at least some Wii U games over. One interesting detail that IGN points out is that the Switch versions of both Splatoon and Mario Kart 8 show off additional content not available on the Wii U versions of these games.
For instance, King Boo is shown as a playable character in Mario Kart, while a new map can be glimpsed in Splatoon. One thing that may complicate matters is that the Switch doesn’t appear to have a disc drive of any sort (although this has yet to be confirmed), which would mean that physical copies of Wii U games wouldn’t work. However, Nintendo could always go the digital route and have backwards compatibility that way and really, they would be crazy not to.
ESports! It’s the gaming industry’s latest buzzword and everyone is trying to get in the lucrative competitive gaming market, including Nintendo. It looks like the Switch will be taking a pretty big leap into eSports, with Nintendo highlighting the potential for the Wii U muliplayer shooter Splatoon to become a big draw. The Switch’s controllers have seemingly been designed with competitive gaming in mind too, as the Pro controller has been given an overhaul compared to the Wii U version and looks to be better laid out for precise input.
This also brings up the question of whether Nintendo is ready to finally embrace the Smash Bros. competitive scene, as that series would be an obvious pick to headline the Switch’s eSports initiative. Still, it’s nice to see Nintendo picking up on current trends for a change and try and put their own unique spin on it.
Commitment To Third-Party Support
The Switch reveal trailer was a bit light on games overall, with Nintendo showing off The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Skyrim, NBA 2K17, Mario Kart, Splatoon, and a new untitled 3D Mario game. Of those titles, only two — Skyrim and NBA — are from third-party publishers, but Nintendo is adamant that the Switch will have significant support in this area. Nintendo consoles have historically suffered from terrible third-party support, with the Wii U in particular being abandoned quickly due to low sales expectations and inferior system specs compared to Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, but it looks like Nintendo has roped in many, if not all, of the biggest publishers.
Take-Two, Bethesda, Activision, EA, Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Warner Bros. are just a few of the big names supporting the Switch; however, it remains to be seen whether Nintendo will be able to hold onto this support. While the Switch’s system specs have not yet been released, it’s expected to be underpowered compared to the PS4, Xbox One, and especially PCs, and when you combine that with the system’s unique design, it may be difficult for Nintendo to keep third-party publishers happy if this thing doesn’t fly off the shelves.
It Won’t Be As Powerful As PS4 Or Xbox One
Nintendo has never been overly concerned with being at parity with its competitors when it comes to hardware specs, but you would think that the Switch, which will hit shelves over three years after the PS4 and Xbox One first made their debut, would at the very least be compatible to those systems in terms of power. While Nintendo has not yet published official system specs for the Switch, we do know that hardware uses a version of Nvidia’s Tegra X1 chip and although it’s expected that the X1 chipset in the Switch is more powerful than existing hardware that uses it, in terms of raw graphical capability, the Switch is expected to lean closer to the PS3/Xbox 360 generation than current-gen hardware.
On the brightside, the Switch should easily be the most powerful handheld gaming device on the market, which surely isn’t good news for Sony’s PlayStation Vita.