What is it?
The Nintendo Switch is the gaming giant’s upcoming hybrid console. It is a mix of previous Nintendo systems to varying degrees, from the Game Boy to the more recent Wii U. It will launch with a new online service, where subscribers will be able to play a NES or Super Nintendo game with added online features for free for a month. It won’t support the 3DS’ Streetpass feature and Miiverse social network.
The Switch has three components: the fully portable tablet, which sports a 6.2-inch, 720 touchscreen and a custom Nvidia Tegra processor with 32GB of expandable storage (don’t worry because all games come on cartridges); the dock hardware for charging and TV output (the visuals are bumped up to 1080p on the bigger screen); and two detachable controllers you can keep on the console or remove and play with with another person.
First look at the Nintendo Switch
The controllers — Joy-Cons, Nintendo calls them — are tiny and designed to work sideways and fit in the palm of your hand. Each has an analog stick that can be pressed, as well as four buttons arranged in a diamond pattern. Both gamepads also include motion sensors and vibration feedback, allowing them to function like the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controls of old.
Nintendo says the console has over 80 titles from 50 different companies currently in development. Among them:
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Super Mario Oddysey
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Dragon Quest X and XI
- Fire Emblem Warriors
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2
- Splatoon 2
- A new Sonic game
- A new Shin Megami Tensei game
How is the Nintendo Switch different?
The Switch, unlike traditional consoles, like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, is more like a big Nintendo 3DS because you can take it with you and play on the go.
Battery life lasts between 2.5 and 6 hours (graphics-intensive games will drain the battery faster), though the system can be plugged in via USB Type-C or docked at home for uninterrupted play.
The Nintendo Switch’s hybrid nature and functional controllers also allow for different play styles:
- TV mode;
- Tabletop mode, which turns the console into a mini TV when you prop it up on a table or another flat surface using the kickstand on the back of the unit; and
- Handheld mode, the one we’re most excited about, which will hopefully let us play console-quality games away from a TV or monitor (untethered Skyrim for the win).
Price and availability
Nintendo’s newest video game system is priced at $299 (approximately P14,900) — neither too cheap nor too expensive (which reportedly has investors worried). It is confirmed for a March 3rd release worldwide. Pre-orders are now live.
Why you should care
Nintendo has had massive hits with portable and home consoles in the past, and the Switch arguably combines the best of both worlds. It’s priced competitively, too — $100 (P5,000) less than the PlayStation 4 when it launched. It’s a pity we can’t say the same about the accessories (one Joy-Con costs $50 or P2,500; an extra dock set will run you $90, almost P4,500). Seriously, Nintendo?
Of course, the big question is whether third-party game developers will continue to support the Nintendo Switch after the honeymoon phase ends. Because if they don’t, if nobody besides Nintendo produces AAA titles for the console, we may be looking at another Wii U, which has tanked for most of its existence.
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