We haven’t heard much about the Nintendo Switch since the company tossed the reveal trailer onto YouTube over two months ago, choosing radio silence and a short appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Rumors and supposed leaks remained common, but in late January 12th, Nintendo officially unveiled the console.
Details are still incoming, so information included before may change. I intend to keep updating it throughout the coming days.
LAUNCH and HARDWARE
Nintendo Switch is planned for a worldwide launch on March 3, 2017 for a price of $299 without a pack-in game. Switch supports online multiplayer, as expected, but will become a paid service come sometime in fall 2017. The product consists of the Switch hardware and the left and right Joy-Con controllers (as gray or neon red/blue), along with the dock that connects to televisions, straps for the Joy-Con, and HDMI/power cords. The Switch comes with 32GB of memory with the ability to add more through microSDXC cards (up to 2 terabytes, which doesn’t currently exist), and the screen is touch-sensitive. Battery life varies on the game, ranging from 3 hours (with Zelda) to upwards of 6.
Nintendo also revealed that the Switch wouldn’t be region-locked, although to what extent is uncertain. Most likely, game cartridges will work on any Switch from any country, but the eShop will remain exclusive to your region. I can’t imagine being able to jump onto the Japanese eShop and purchasing the older Fire Emblem games that the rest of the world never saw, although that would be awesome.
As rumored, the Joy-Con controllers are capable of motion-sensing and contains an IR motion camera. Two additional buttons (SL and SR) are located on the controller’s side, while the left Joy-Con contains a button for capturing in-game screenshots, similar to the PS4’s Capture button. Given that Switch is able to wirelessly connect with seven other Switch consoles, and each Switch is capable of two-person multiplayer through the two Joy-Con controllers, could we theoretically get 16-person multiplayer?
The launch day line-up currently consists of five games: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild; 1,2, Switch; Super Bomberman R; Skylanders Imaginators; and Just Dance 2017.
As I wrote above, online multiplayer will only be free through a portion of 2017, eventually becoming a paid service. Although Nintendo barely touched upon Virtual Console, they did mention that subscribers can download NES/SNES games (the latter with some form of online support) for a month, likely similar to getting free games from PlayStation Plus, except you don’t get to keep the games past that month. Speaking of PS Plus, subscribers also get “exclusive deals.”
Curiously, creating online lobbies and communicating over voice chat requires a mobile application, which begs the question of what happens to communication if I get a phone call? It’s an odd solution.
Exploring the eShop, dealing with friends, sharing screenshots, and accessing parental controls are available to everyone, but online multiplayer requires paying. The monthly NES/SNES games, deals, and creating lobbies/communicating via the mobile app also require the paid service. We don’t yet know the price of subscribing, although I imagine it’ll be comparable to the competition.
We also know that StreetPassing and Miiverse services will not extend to Switch.
For a look at every Nintendo Switch game, check Nintendo’s official list.
1, 2, Switch // March 3, 2017
The game that Nintendo showed first during their presentation doesn’t require watching a television, but instead involves using the Joy-Con’s motion-sensing tech to emulate swinging a sword, eating a hot dog, or making weird motions. It’s an unusual title that forces me to wonder whether it’ll be worth the price (Amazon currently lists 1, 2, Switch for $50), but that determination will require knowing exactly how much of the little games are included and if there’s any single-player component.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild // March 3, 2017
I can’t say how many times I’ve watched the recent Breath of the Wild trailer, but it’s upwards of a dozen, if not more. What impressed me wasn’t the open-world gameplay — that looks largely similar to everything Nintendo showed since last E3, and still looks awesome — but the bits of story peppered throughout. (Rumors regarding the story sound promising.) Details paint the Switch version as the stronger of the two, with somewhat better textures, lighting, and frame-rate compared to the Wii U version, but I imagine it’ll be amazing regardless of the console it’s played on.
Breath of the Wild also comes in two deluxe editions — Special Edition and Master Edition. Both come with a map, coin, Switch carrying case (modeled after the in-game Sheikah Slate), and 24-song soundtrack, but the Master Edition includes a Master Sword statue. Good luck finding these.
Super Bomberman R // March 3, 2017
Developed by former Hudson members who worked on previous Bomberman games (hopefully not Act Zero), and conceived in part thanks to Nintendo, Super Bomberman R is a surprise from a game publisher (Konami) who doesn’t seem all that interested in making games anymore. Hey, 8-player Bomberman sounds swell, especially since we probably won’t get another unless Nintendo gets personally involved again.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe // April 28, 2017
A version of Mario Kart 8 developed for the Switch, Deluxe includes the Wii U DLC, adds characters from Splatoon, and revives classic Battle mode (including a Splatoon stage). It’s rumored that no new courses will be added, which does make for a less exciting offer for those (such as myself) who already own Mario Kart 8 on Wii U. Still, this is an amazing game, so the opportunity to play it portable is exciting.
Splatoon 2 // Summer 2017
Visuals alone, I expected to get a port of the original Splatoon, but we’re getting a full sequel. Beyond new stages and weaponry, Nintendo added a dodge mechanic for increased movement, although I expect most fans were on-board by the concept of portable Splatoon. Sounds like Nintendo is ramping up for another “season” of content updates similar to the first Splatoon.
Super Mario Odyssey // Holiday 2017
Mario returns to Brooklyn! Wait, what? Tossing Mario into a somewhat realistic city environment is a strange decision, but it was a joy to witness the plumber jumping around buildings, using his own hat as a platform. And the trailer did contain more colorful, Mario-like locations, fortunately. Regardless of the locations, Mario Odyssey looks like a blast.
Minecraft and Minecraft: Story Mode // 2017
“Best portable Minecraft” isn’t a high bar, and I expect Switch to claim that title easily. The bigger question is whether the Switch version will contain the smaller landmass of the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 versions or the larger worlds on the newer consoles.
Unsurprisingly, the Telltale-developed Story Mode is also hitting the console.
Project Sonic 2017 and Sonic Mania // 2017
When did Sonic gracing a Nintendo platform become expected? Regardless, the two announced Sonic games are coming to the Switch. With only a CG teaser depicting modern Sonic and classic Sonic, there’s a lot that we’ve yet to learn about Project Sonic 2017, including the final name.
Sonic Mania is less of a mystery, although the trailer released after the Switch reveal is the same trailer that Sega showed months ago. Regardless, Mania is the more exciting of the two projects, showcasing 2D gameplay reminiscent of the Genesis games. More importantly, Sonic Team isn’t involved with the development of this one.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 // 2017
At least we can reliably count on Monolith Soft to craft incredible visuals, although I’ve no idea where Xenoblade Chronicles 2 fits in the series. Reports claim that it’s a direct sequel to the original game, but the only part of the trailer I’m able to ascertain is the shift to a less realistic character design, non-mech mounts, and a flying town. We didn’t see any combat, and the handful of quotes remained vague enough to keep me guessing.
Despite Nintendo’s claims, I’m not expecting a 2017 release for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, especially outside Japan.
Fire Emblem Warriors // TBD
Like Dragon Quest Heroes and Hyrule Warriors, Fire Emblem Warriors is a musou game featuring characters from Intelligent Systems’ strategy/RPG franchise. We only got a teaser (expect more info from the upcoming Fire Emblem Direct on January 18), but it doesn’t take a big imagination to figure that it won’t differ much from other musou games. The bigger question is what characters will be added. The teaser featured swords from Awakening, Fates, and the original Fire Emblem, but hopefully the cast includes heroes from the entire series.
Shin Megami Tensei // TBD
When did Nintendo became the home to a series focused on recruiting demons? Outside of Persona, Shin Megami Tensei almost exclusively roosted on Nintendo consoles for years (alongside Etrian Odyssey, another Atlus property). Regardless, SMT continues with an untitled sequel using the Unreal Engine, although progress is early. Will this become Shin Megami Tensei V or something else?