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The new Nintendo Switch – what we know so far

After two years of speculation Nintendo has finally revealed its next… console? Are we calling it that, even though its part handheld? Here’s what we know about the Nintendo Switch.

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nintendo-switch

After two years of speculation Nintendo has finally revealed its next… console? Are we calling it that, even though its part handheld? Anyway, here’s what we know about the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo’s website grumbled into life under intense user load at 3pm BST/10am EST/7am PST. This wasn’t a Nintendo Direct featuring Reggie’s relaxed patter or Satoru Shibata’s unique style, though; it was a to-the-point product demonstration of the Nintendo NX Switch, their forthcoming console/handheld crossover.

The three and a half minute video ran through the different play modes with the Nintendo Switch, and some example scenarios of when you might want to take advantage of it, including:

  • Dog wants to go for a walk, but you’re too busy playing Breath of the Wild? Take the Nintendo Switch with you in tablet mode with attached controller, and ignore your dog in the park.
  • Friends want you to come to their roof terrace party, but you’re too busy playing the new Mario? Take your Nintendo Switch over and make them do the activities you want to.
  • Need to go and catch a flight, but you’re too engrossed in Skyrim? Then undock the Nintendo Switch and take it with you on the flight, and – holy shit – was that really Skyrim?

 

There’s no doubt Breath of the Wild is going to be lovely and the new Mario is going to be as great as every other Mario, but to see one of the major third party publishers, Bethesda Softworks, bringing a game like Skyrim to the Nintendo Switch? That’s encouraging to say the least, even if we don’t know at this stage whether that’s original, 2011 Skyrim, or the 2016 remaster.

Here’s what else we know about the Nintendo NX Switch:

Nintendo Switch Hardware

The Nintendo Switch is the very definition of a multi-mode platform. The design is simple and clean, with lots of flexibility for how to play. It also features cartridges instead of optical disks, for the sake of portability, which has been widely reported on prior to the release.

Based on the video, we observed the following different ways to play:

  • With the Nintendo Switch docked to a TV, using the removable Joy-Con controllers joined together as a gamepad via the Joy-Con Grip.
  • With the Nintendo Switch docked to a TV, using a ‘proper’ Switch Pro gamepad.
  • With the Nintendo Switch docked to a giant monitor in a stadium for eSports (though that’s largely the same as TV/gamepad, just on a larger scale).
  • With the Nintendo Switch undocked, with the removable Joy-Con controllers attached to the sides of the chassis, as an all in one handheld setup.
  • With the Nintendo Switch undocked, sat on a table with the attached kick-stand, using the removable Joy-Con controllers joined together as a gamepad via the Joy-Con Grip.
  • With the Nintendo Switch undocked, sat on a table with the attached kick-stand, using a removable Joy-Con controller in each hand.
  • With the Nintendo Switch undocked, sat on a table with the attached kick-stand, being played by multiple players each using one of the Joy-Con removable controllers.
  • With the Nintendo Switch undocked, attached to a car’s headrest, being played by multiple players each using one of the Joy-Con removable controllers.
  • With two Nintendo Switch (Switches?) undocked, playing some kind of local/NFC multiplayer, by two players each with the removable Joy-Con controllers attached to the sides of the chassis as an all in one handheld setup.
  • With two Nintendo Switch (Switches?) undocked,sat on a table with the attached kick-stand, playing some kind of local/NFC multiplayer, by four players each using one of the removable Joy-Con controllers.

The Nintendo Switch seems to take one of the best feature of the Wii U – the ability to play a game in full on the controller’s second screen – and allow you to leave the house with it, which is a massive step forward. It also potentially allows Nintendo to do away with their dual console/handheld architecture, and in future only concentrate all their efforts on the Nintendo Switch. That could be a potential money saver, but would mark a massive change from Nintendo’s past.

Additionally, there are a few key features that look to be missing from the Nintendo Switch that we’re used to in Nintendo’s previous console and handheld hardware:

  • The second screen. This has been put to fantastic use for puzzles/maps/inventory on the Nintendo DS/3DS (with somewhat mixed results on the Wii U) but if Nintendo are streamlining their handhelds into the main console line this feature would be missed.
  • Second screen multiplayer. The Wii U has a great (and oft-overlooked) feature, where player one can use the Wii U’s controller screen while another uses the TV output, for full screen multiplayer without the split screen. If you’re taking the guts of the console away from the dock when you remove the screen, then this won’t be an option anymore.
  • 3D. This is probably less important than the bountiful functionality of the second screen, but people may miss this feature from Nintendo’s handhelds, especially if the Nintendo Switch becomes the one and only unit going forward.
  • Motion controls. There’s no indication that any motion control technology exists in any of the Switch’s controllers – and that’s not to say they won’t be included – and you could argue that this has been on the wane for years, but it was the making of the Wii, but some people would still be sorry to see it go.

Nintendo Switch – First-party games

There was very little to speak of in terms of first-party games in the Switch reveal, other than the obvious:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, already known to be a launch title.
  • A 3D Mario game of some description.
  • A Mario Kart game of some description.
  • A Splatoon game of some description.

We’ll let you know more as it becomes clear, but it’s to be expected that at least Breath of the Wild and that 3D Mario title will be launch releases for the Switch.

nintendo-switch-new-mario

Nintendo Switch – Third-party publishers

In addition to that glorious peek at Skyrim on the move, Nintendo have confirmed an impressive roster of third-party publishers (and other technology, software and media providers) for the Nintendo Switch, including:

  • 505 Games
  • Activision Publishing, Inc.
  • ARC SYSTEM WORKS Co.,Ltd.
  • ATLUS CO.,LTD.
  • Audiokinetic Inc.
  • Autodesk, Inc
  • BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
  • Bethesda
  • CAPCOM CO., LTD.
  • Codemasters®
  • CRI Middleware Co., Ltd.
  • DeNA Co., Ltd.
  • Electronic Arts
  • Epic Games Inc.
  • Firelight Technologies
  • FromSoftware, Inc.
  • Frozenbyte
  • GameTrust
  • GRASSHOPPER MANUFACTURE INC.
  • Gungho Online Entertainment,Inc
  • HAMSTER Corporation
  • Havok
  • INTI CREATES CO., LTD.
  • KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.
  • Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.
  • LEVEL-5 Inc.
  • Marvelous Inc.
  • Maximum Games, LLC
  • Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
  • Parity Bit Inc.
  • PlatinumGames Inc.
  • RAD Game Tools, Inc.
  • RecoChoku Co.,Ltd.
  • SEGA Games Co., Ltd.
  • Silicon Studio Corporation
  • Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd.
  • SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD.
  • Starbreeze Studios
  • Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
  • Telltale Games
  • THQ Nordic
  • Tokyo RPG Factory Co., Ltd.
  • TT Games
  • UBISOFT
  • Ubitus Inc.
  • Unity Technologies, Inc.
  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
  • Web Technology Corp.

Interestingly, neither of the world’s biggest graphics chip manufacturers – Nvidia Corporation or AMD – are currently in the supplied list. That could mean that Nintendo are developing hardware in-house for the Switch or using another third-party graphics technology, but more likely, they’re wanting to keep the internals of the system under wraps until closer to launch.

Nintendo Switch – Release details

We know very little about the release of the Nintendo Switch at present, other than it’s coming in March 2017, and we’re expecting The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to be a launch title.

Other than that? The team here at Thumbsticks thinks the Switch was a strong showing from Nintendo, with their trademark innovation and outside-the-box thinking combined with a more grown up and desirable grey styling – white, chunky plastic begone! – paired with a visibly less childish clientele, and even a nod towards the growth of eSports, in the reveal video.

Nintendo Switch GIF

There will be some obvious questions that Nintendo will need to answer about the Switch: What’s the horsepower of the unit? What will the display resolutions in console vs. handheld be? Is it even touchscreen? Will the battery life of the handheld be any good? That’s a lot of snapping together of parts; how robust are those connectors? Will Nintendo warranty swap failing batteries or broken peripherals? Will Nintendo offer a decent back catalogue or even a subscription service?

We’ll have to wait a while to have these questions answered, but we’re damned excited to find out.

Well played, Nintendo. Well played.


Buy Splatoon – Nintendo’s standout game of the Wii U generation – from Amazon.

Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.