By Craig Taylor | Staff Writer
Nintendo has revealed a ton of new information about their home console/portable console/handheld hybrid, the Switch. The company hosted a press conference last Thursday detailing the specifics of their upcoming system, including its price, functionality and some of the major titles expected to ship within the first year.
The Switch will launch on March 3 at $299 with two versions available to purchase. One bundle comes with gray left and right joy-con controllers, while the other features them in blue and red. Both Switch variants come with a built-in 32 GB hard drive.
The Nintendo Switch can be played in three different modes: TV Mode, which plugs into a television like a traditional video game system, Tabletop Mode, where the touch screen can be used as a portable monitor and played anywhere and Handheld Mode, where the two joy-con controllers plug into the sides of the touch screen, resembling a Wii U gamepad.
The joy-cons themselves are mirrored controllers mapped similarly to one of Nintendo’s previous console’s controllers, the Wii remotes. In Tabletop Mode, they can be used as the player one and two controllers, and can also work together to provide single-player motion controls in the console’s other modes. They also feature an IR sensor and HD rumble functionality, which promises high-clarity vibration feedback.
Up to eight Switches can be connected wirelessly for local multiplayer as well. Battery life will be between two and a half and six and a half hours, depending on the game.
Online multiplayer will be free for a limited time, and then transition to a paid service at a nonspecific Fall 2017 date. Also, Nintendo will be giving away a free classic game every month for subscribers. However, this complementary game will only remain playable for that month.
Finally, an integrated smart phone app, game-capture sharing and Amiibo support were all announced for The Switch.
Besides hardware specifications, Nintendo gave viewers a look at what software people can expect to play within the Switch’s first year.
“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” will be a launch title for the Switch, also releasing on March 3. Accompanying the announcement was a new trailer as well.
A new Mario title, “Super Mario Odyssey,” puts Mario into a sandbox, real-world city that acts as a hub to other exotic locales the player can also explore. Its release window is holiday of 2017.
“Splatoon 2,” a sequel to the unconventional multiplayer Wii U shooter, was announced, with a scheduled summer 2017 release.
“Xenoblade Chronicles 2” and “Fire Emblem Warriors” were also revealed, with summer 2017 and holiday 2017 release windows respectively. “Xenoblade Chronicles 2” is an open-world role-playing game in the acclaimed “Xenoblade Chronicles” sub-series. In “Fire Emblem Warriors,” the “Fire Emblem” franchise is getting the “Warriors” game treatment; that is, an action game mash-up of the series’ characters where taking down tens of thousands of enemies per level is the premise.
“1-2 Switch” is a party game that takes advantage of the Switch’s tabletop mode, and features mini-games which force players to look into the eyes of their opponents rather than at the screen. It will launch alongside the Switch on March 3.
“Arms” is a cartoony boxing game where players fight one another with extendable arms by utilizing the joy-con’s motion controls. “Arms” has an unspecified Spring 2017 release date.
Finally, Nintendo promised that more than 50 companies are currently developing for the Switch, and more than 80 games are in the works.
Some of these titles are ports of previously released games, including “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” and “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.”
Other games shown off at the end of the presentation but not explicitly confirmed for the console include “Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2,” “Minecraft: Story Mode” and “Steep.”
The Switch is currently available for pre-order at all major retailers.