During a press conference in Japan, Nintendo revealed a variety of information about its upcoming handheld-console hybrid video game system, the Switch, including its $399 CAD price tag.
Other details include the fact that the console will feature a paid online multiplayer service that includes access to free games, similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation Network (though it will include a free trial), and the fact that the system will not be region-locked, allowing it to play titles from any geographical area around the world, a first for the Japanese gaming giant.
Here’s how the Switch works
Towards the start of the press conference, Nintendo showed a detailed explanation of exactly how the Nintendo Switch’s unique hybrid nature actually works. The system can be played on a television via its dock, but also on the go with its Joy-Con controllers. The company says that the Switch offers three distinct methods of using the console: Play Mode, the ability to use the system while connected to a television; Tabletop Mode, a form of play that allows players to use the system’s Joy-Con controllers wirelessly with the Switch sitting upright via its Kickstand; and handheld mode, a play style that allows users to game on the go with both Joy-Con controllers attached to the console.
The Switch tablet’s battery life is set to come in at somewhere between three and six hours and can be charged while games are still being played. The tablet also features a capacitive touch screen. Beyond these facts, however, Nintendo didn’t discuss specific technical specs or other details regarding the tablet portion of the Nintendo Switch.
Say hello to the Joy-Con gamepads
Each Joy-Con controller features accelerometers and gyroscopes, as well as a dedicated social media button. Similar to most modern gamepads, the joysticks on each controller have the ability to click inwards. The gamepad’s connectors act as “L” and “R” buttons, giving Switch owners two fully functional independent controllers with every Switch, making playing multiplayer titles significantly easier because an additional controller does not need to be purchased.
Along with the standard Grey colour, Joy-Con gamepads will be available in Neon Blue and Neon Red, along with a wrist strap that makes the gamepad’s L and R buttons more pronounced. These controller straps are included with the Nintendo Switch. The right controller also features a motion sensitive IR blaster, though little detail regarding how games will take advantage of the feature was revealed during the presentation.
Our first glimpse at actual games
During a demonstration, a representative from Nintendo showed off the controller’s ability to emulate the sensation of ice cubes in a glass, as well as water being poured, via technology Nintendo calls HD Rumble.
In terms of games, Nintendo showed off a game called ‘1 2 Switch,’ a reflex-based title that required face-to-face interaction. The game is played with the system’s Joy-Con controllers and doesn’t require players to look at the system’s screen. 1 2 Switch is set to release on March 3rd alongside the console.
Another title shown off during the press conference called ‘Arms’ is described as a “fighting sports game.” In order to play the title, players hold one Joy-Con in each hand in a thumbs up pose. Since the controllers sense the player’s motions, when they punch, their in-game player punches its fist forward. A demonstration displayed on stage showed how players are able to guard and perform punches at a distance, as well as battle with special moves. Players are able to play alone against computer players or against friends, either online or locally in Arms.
Nintendo then moved on to show off Splatoon 2 for the Switch, a third-person action title centred on allowing the player to paint their play space in a competitive arena, rather than rack up kills like in most shooters. The original Splatoon was released for the company’s struggling Wii U console. This new entry in the series will feature new weapons, though little was said about the title beyond that fact. The game is set to release in Spring 2017 and will not be a Switch launch title.
Mario enters the real world
Nintendo also revealed a new Mario title called Super Mario Odyssey that’s set to launch this coming holiday season. Little is known about the game so far, but it seems to feature the series trademark bright, colourful style.
During the keynote presentation, the game’s producer revealed that Mario has “jumped out of the mushroom kingdom,” with Super Mario Odyssey and that some of the title’s stages take place in the real world, a significant shift for the series, as well as the fact that it will take place in an open world similar to Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. In a strange twist, the real world stage shown off during the presentation seems to resemble Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast Sonic Adventure series in an uncanny way.
Other titles revealed during the press conference include JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and a new entry in the iconic Fire Emblem series. Todd Howard, the head of Bethesda, also officially announced that Skyrim is coming to Nintendo’s Switch.
“The real world stage shown off during the presentation seems to resemble Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast Sonic Adventure series in an uncanny way”
Iconic Japanese developer, Goichi Suda, was also on hand to pledge that his studio, Grasshopper Studios, will be developing games for the Switch. Electronic Arts (EA), one of the industry’s biggest video game developers, also announced support for the Nintendo Switch, specifically pointing out that FIFA is coming to the console, though the company says it has various projects in the works for Nintendo’s new system. Finally and perhaps most importantly, Nintendo revealed that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, will be released on March 3rd alongside the Nintendo Switch.
In terms of third-party support, Nintendo claims that in total there are over 80 games currently in development for the console.
Nintendo says that the system’s Pro Controller will be sold separately. The pre-order date for the Nintendo Switch in Canada is still unknown, but we’ve reached out to Nintendo Canada for clarification.