Nintendo held a press event in Tokyo on January 12th, 2017 where they announced all of the pertinent details for their upcoming console, the Nintendo Switch. We learned several of the broad strokes about the console in a video that Nintendo released in the fall.
We knew that the Switch hardware consisted of a tablet that could be played on the go using a pair of detachable Joy-Con controllers or docked using a special cradle and played on a TV. They left a lot out of the initial video, and while we still don’t know everything, we now know a heck of a lot more.
Here is what we know now:
The Release Date
The Nintendo Switch will launch on March 3rd, 2017. It was available for preorder at several retailers initially, but quickly sold out.
The Nintendo Switch will sell, in North America, for a suggested retail price of $299.99. Nintendo will also sell a suite of accessories like additional controllers, cords, and docks separately.
The Modes of Play
The Nintendo Switch can be played in three different ways.
First, you can play in home console mode. This is where the console is docked and you play the game using either the Joy-Cons in the special Joy-Con grip or with a Switch Pro Controller.
Second, you can play in tabletop mode. This is where the console is not docked by is propped up using a built in kickstand. Players can then play games using the Joy-Cons or the Pro controller.
Lastly, you can play in handheld mode. This is where the console is not docked and players attach the two Joy-Cons to either side of the tablet and play it similarly to a 3DS or a PlayStation Vita.
The Battery Life
The console will charge while docked, but while being used undocked in either tabletop mode or in handheld mode the battery will last between two and a half to six hours depending on the game being played and its hardware requirements. (Put simply, that means that more graphically intense games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Skyrim will drain the battery faster than simple puzzle games.)
Nintendo will be offering a premium service for online play in its games. The service will work using a separate smart-phone or tablet device and will allow for friend-finding, matchmaking, and voice chat. The premium service will also grant players access to one virtual console game per month from either the NES or the SNES. We do not know the price for this premium service at this time, but it is worth noting that the service will be free initially.
The two controllers that come with the console are far more advanced than we thought they would be when the console was first announced.
They include a feature called HD Rumble which is intended to help players feel more specific sensations than just shaking. For example, you will be able to feel ice cubes rattling around in a glass, or the pressure of objects as your grip them. Each Joy-Con also functions as a game controller that can be used for multiplayer games as well. They even come with a wrist strap that slides on and not only helps with motion controls, but also makes the Joy-Con larger and easier to wrap your hands around.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the Nintendo Switch as we get closer to launch!