The Nintendo Switch is the latest console from the creator of Mario. Here is everything you need to know, including what it is, the worldwide release date, UK price and what games will be available.
The second of two presentations on the latest Mario-based console has just been and gone, which means we now know a whole lot more about the Nintendo Switch. No longer is it a ‘March 2017’ release date, we have an actual date. And we now know what comes in the box and exactly how it works, although we had a good idea of that already, thanks to the original trailer.
So let Recombu educate you on the latest and potentially greatest console, complete with Mario, Pokemon and Zelda, in our Nintendo Switch guide.
Nintendo Switch: What is it?
It is Nintendo’s latest games console that was once known as the NX, before being officially revealed as the Switch. Twice. Combining both the elements of a home console and mobile gaming, the Switch is hoping to capitalise on both and make Nintendo pots of gold.
Originally there was only a marketing video of the Nintendo Switch to go on – that features props, not the actual games console and controllers – so we already had a fairly good idea of what to expect. But now Nintendo has fully spilled the beans.
As we had guessed, the GPU and other bits that run the games all live in the Switch tablet element of the device so you can carry it around, with the left and right Joy-Con controllers providing a tactile control method. The display is 6.2-inches in size and features multi-touch capabilities, much like your smartphone.
The Nintendo Switch Dock, designed for home use, only incorporates charging elements and television connectivity and offers no extra processing power of its own. But it does allow up to 1080p gaming, meaning full HD goodness as opposed to 720p.
Games come on small memory cards, in similar fashion to the Nintendo 3DS, so they will be portable. The downside is that means easier to lose down the back of the sofa or get eaten by younger gamers.
Nintendo Switch: What about battery life?
Nintendo says the Switch console has more than six hours of battery life, which can be recharged by plugging the AC adapter into the console’s USB Type-C connector. Nintendo says playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will drain a full charge in three or so hours so it will last a lengthy car journey, but certainly not a lengthy flight.
Nintendo Switch: What about multiplayer and online gaming?
Still thinking about the good-old days of Mario Kart on N64? Who can blame you. A new online gaming service will be offered as a free trial before buyers will have to cough up to keep it going. The fully featured paid service will be available in the Autumn of 2017. Local multiplayer gaming can be done by connecting up to eight consoles over a WiFi connection.
Nintendo Switch: What about the controllers?
The standard controller looks somewhat basic, with only one analogue stick and four buttons to use, but that is because two of them lock into place either side of the Switch console. Both feature an accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensor for independent left and right motion control.
The Joy-Con controllers feature various unique functions. For instance, the left Joy-Con has a capture button so you can capture screenshots of whatever you see on-screen, which can be shared over social media, while the right Joy-Con has an NFC touchpoint for interacting with Amiibo figures.
Not only that, the right Joy-Con has an IR Motion Camera and both controllers have advanced HD rumble, which is said to add to the realism of games.
For more complicated games, you also get a Joy-Con grip that holds the two Joy-Con controllers together as one unit to make one super controller with greater functionality.
A pair of Joy-Con controllers costs £74.99 on Amazon UK, which is steep if you plan to combine the two for one super controller but not so bad when you consider it will let two extra players join in if you keep them separate.
A steering wheel-esque controller holder is another accessory you could buy with the Nintendo Switch console, costing £13.99 for two from Amazon UK. As is the Joy-Con controller grip to keep it from flying into the television. It comes in two colours, both costing £4.99.
Nintendo Switch: What about the games?
Speaking of Pokemon, a Nintendo Switch version of Pokemon Moon and Sun, called Pokemon Stars, has been teased. That would be a first for any Nintendo home console and likely to sell substantially better than hot cakes.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is another big hitter and one that will actually launch with the console, going against rumours it was being delayed. It will cost £59.99 on the Nintendo Store. A Fancier version with a Zelda Master Sword of Resurrection figure and a Wild Sound Selection CD will cost £89.99.
Other games said to be on the way includes The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Splatoon 2, NBA 2K17, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Monster Hunter. Ariybd 50 publishers and developers are said to be onboard, including EA, Ubisoft, Sega, Level-5, Bethesda and Konami.
Though quality is better than quantity, the Wii U was meant to launch with 50 games and that ended up being 23. But then how many games does it take to keep everyone happy? The bigger concern is whether developers get onboard the Switch train at all, but it seems quite a few have.
The Nintendo Switch first-party and third-party games seen so far are as follows:
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (3rd March 2017, £59.99)
- 1-2-Switch (3rd March 2017, £39.99)
- Arms (3rd March 2017)
- Splatoon 2 (summer 2017)
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (28th April 2017, £49.99)
- Super Mario Odyssey (holiday season 2017)
- Snipperclips (March 2017)
Nintendo Switch: Backwards compatibility?
Sadly the lack of a disc means Wii U games will not work with the Nintendo Switch. 3DS games, which use a similar cartridge system, are also said to be unusuable, according to a report by entertainment website, IGN.
With that said, we can see digital download versions of certain games being available on the Switch, although given Nintendo’s reluctance to adopt smartphones we would expect it to be controlled. 3DS games? Maybe not, but Wii U games would be more likely. Only time will tell.
Update: Three Eurogamer sources claim the Nintendo Switch will feature Gamecube support via a Virtual Console service. Games mentioned include Luigi’s Mansion, Super Smash Bros Melee and Super Mario Sunshine.
Nintendo Switch: What about the graphics?
An Nvidia graphics processing unit (GPU) has been confirmed by various publications and, if true, would go against the grain of games consoles favouring AMD.
A custom Nvidia Tegra GPU is said to be at the heart of the Nintendo Switch and it uses the same architecture as the very best GPUs it makes for computers. The nitty gritty processing figures are currently unknown, but we doubt it will be a slouch.
Nintendo Switch: When is the release date?
The Nintendo Switch release date is the 3rd of March, 2017. That is a worldwide launch, meaning you should be able to trundle down to your nearest video game retailer to buy a Nintendo Switch on the Friday.
Counties included in the European launch include: Austria, Andorra, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Hungary, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Russia, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Vatican. It will also be available in South Africa at the same timing.
Nintendo Switch: What about the price?
Analysts originally believed a price of around US$250 up to US$350 made sense for the base unit. US$400 has been mentioned as a possibility, but this could have been referring to a pricier bundle that includes the fancier Switch Pro controller.
In actual fact, the Nintendo Switch UK price is £279.99. For that you get the console, a Joy-Con left controller, Joy-Con right controller, Joy-Con grip that lets you combine the two separate controllers to make one, Nintendo Switch Dock for connecting to the TV, HDMI cable, Joy-Con wrist straps and an AC adapter.
Two different versions of the console pack will be available. One has a set of grey Joy-Con controllers, while the other has one neon blue and one neon red Joy-Con controller for a touch of colour.
Nintendo Switch: How to preorder?
You can register interest on the Nintendo Switch website. Alternatively, pre-orders will be available from Amazon UK, Amazon.com, Game, Argos, Tesco Direct, ShopTo and potentially other supermarkets and retailers, depending on where you live.
Nintendo Switch: Is it region locked?
Nope, which means you should be able to buy and play games from anywhere, unlike the old days where games bought in Japan were region locked and therefore would not work on a UK console (without some modification, that is).
Nintendo Switch: Can it compete with the Xbox One and PS4?
Nintendo has always done things a little differently and the wave of nostalgia generated by the NES (and its new NES Classic sibling), SNES, N64 and its various gaming icons shows no sign of easing up. Just look at Pokemon Go for the power it still has over a casual audience.
We had hoped the Switch would be cheap enough to become a second console like the Wii. The one you drag out at family gatherings or with younger gamers. But at £280, that is a serious purchase that makes it more expensive than, for example, an Xbox One S with FIFA 17.
But then the Xbox One is hardly portable, whereas the Switch is also a gaming tablet and one with access to what should end up being some serious Nintendo classics. Who needs a Mario equivalent when you have the real deal?
Given the handheld element of the Nintendo Switch, it could overlap with sales of the more portable but somewhat similar 3DS and that makes sense because it is better for Nintendo to cannibalise its own sales than let someone else do it.
On the flip side, the fact it is powered by an Nvidia GPU suggests it will be considerably slower than its rival home consoles and graphics do matter to a lot of people. Plus how often will people actually take the Switch on the train? It is much larger than a smartphone, after all.
There is, of course, no denying the games catalogue is vitally important, especially as most people now have a smart TV, games console, smartphone or tablet that can connect to the web and do what the Xbox One and PS4 can already.
For Nintendo to really make a splash, it needs to bring out Mario, Zelda, Kirby, Smash Bros, Samus Aran, Harvest Moon, Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Conker and the thousands of characters Ninty fans love because that is why I would consider buying the Switch – and I am sure I am not alone in that thought.