Jan. 22, 2017

After years of speculation, Nintendo has finally pulled back the curtain on their next piece of hardware, the portable/console hybrid Switch, with a livestream earlier this week.

The unveiling followed an official announcement of the device at the tail end of last year, and included specific details on the hardware specifications, a first look at some of the games that in development, and the device’s pricing for various regions

When in portable mode, the Switch has an estimated battery life of between 2.5 and 6 hours, and the device will charge when docked, even if in use. Details on how games will scale down for portability have not been announced, but a Digital Foundry report from late 2016 that the GPU will be severely hampered when the system is undocked, meaning that visual quality will be impacted, while the underlying systems powering the games will not.

Nintendo also provided more information about the detachable JoyCon controllers. Like the Wii, motion control is an in-built feature of the Switch, and these capabilities are married to force feedback. Furthermore, the right-hand JoyCon will also incorporate an NFC reader for Amiibos and an IR camera. Also, following in the footsteps of the DualShock 4, the JoyCon will feature a bespoke share button.

In terms of games, Nintendo seems to be doubling down on the core market, while continuing to appeal to a wider audience. Of the eighty games said to be in development, five games will launch alongside the Switch: Just Dance 2017, Skylanders Imaginators, Super Bomberman R, 1-2 Switch (a minigame compilation in the vein of Wii Sports), and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

A number of other games took centre stage throughout Nintendo’s presentation, including

  • Super Mario Odyssey, a new entry in Nintendo’s staple franchise that sees the plumber transplanted from the Mushroom Kingdom to something resembling the real world,
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2, a sequel to Monolith Software’s original game in 2010, and a successor to 2015’s Xenoblade Chronicles X,
  • Dragon Quest X and XI, as well as Dragon Quest Heroes and its sequel,
  • A new RPG from Square-Enix’s Bravely Default team, currently titled Project Octopath Traveler,
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which was confirmed following its showing at the previous reveal event,
  • And new entries for the Shin Megami Tensei, No More Heroes, SteamWorld, and Tales of series.

Like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Gold, access to the Switch online capabilities will be paid for, and will also provide the user with free games. Those games will be drawn from the libraries of the NES and SNES consoles, and will only be available for a month. While this seems less competitive than Sony’s and Microsoft’s offerings, the price point for Nintendo’s has not yet been announced.

Finally, the Nintendo Switch will be available in all of the major regions beginning from March 3, 2017. The device will cost $300 in the US, £280 in the UK, and $470 in Australia.

OnlySP’s Gareth Newnham was present at one of the preview events and will have his impressions up in the next few days.

Damien Lawardorn
Damien Lawardorn is an aspiring novelist, journalist, and essayist. His goal in writing is to inspire readers to engage and think, rather than simply consume and enjoy. With broad interests ranging from literature and video games to fringe science and social movements, his work tends to touch on the unexpected. Damien is the former Editor-in-Chief of OnlySP. More of his work can be found at https://open.abc.net.au/people/21767

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