When other companies announce their consoles they go deep into the numbers, focusing on sales figures, subscribers and teraflops. Nintendo was never one to conform with its fellow console makers, a tradition which continued when we found out the hybrid home/handheld nature of the Switch — and Friday’s full reveal was no different.
Let’s get straight into the important details. The Switch will launch worldwide on 3rd March 2017 and will cost $US299 (as at writing, EB Games has the console listed for $AU469). The Switch will feature a capacitive touchscreen (more akin to a smartphone than the Wii U Gamepad) and will have an expected out-of-dock battery life of 2.5 – 6.5 hours, depending on the game. The Switch will use Wi-Fi to connect to the internet for online play, and to connect with up to seven additional Switch units for local multiplayer.
Unlike recent Nintendo consoles, the Switch will be region free; a godsend for those who want to import titles. Also unlike Nintendo consoles of past, consumers will have to pay for online multiplayer; though like Xbox Live and Playstation Plus, the service will come with additional perks including a free monthly game and voice chat.
The Joycon controllers that come with the Switch are more feature-packed than we expected. Attached to the Switch screen, the controllers include a NFC reader for your Amiibo collection and a capture button to share video with your friends. They can also act as controllers in their own right, thanks to SL and SR buttons located at the top. Aside from that, they are comparable to a tiny Wii Remote thanks to gyroscopic sensors, an IR blaster and a haptic feedback system that Nintendo is calling HD Rumble.
And in a move which comes much earlier than Nintendo precedent, the Joycons will launch in multiple colours; of the two SKUs available at launch, one will feature grey Joycons whilst the other will feature red and blue controllers.
Nintendo debuted a pair of titles designed to show off the Joycon’s functionality.
1-2-Switch is a minigame collection which will take the action off screen and encourage direct player-to-player interaction; one minigame will see players wielding their Joycons as pistols and duelling. It looks like it is attempting to capture the magic of the similarly off-screen Johann Sebastian Joust. 1-2-Switch will launch with the new console.
Nintendo also showed off Arms, a arm-stretching fighting game. Like the boxing minigame from Wii Sports, each Joycon will control one arm of your fighter. However, Nintendo hopes to add depth to the arm-swinging action. Arms will be released around Autumn.
For more competitive fans, Splatoon 2 is also coming to the Switch. As you would hope, Splatoon 2 will introduce new weapons, maps and fashion. It can be played with all of the Switch’s control configurations (in TV, on tabletop, and handheld) and will utilise the wireless local multiplayer, which would align with Nintendo’s esports aspirations for the title.
Speaking of sequels, Nintendo also detailed the 3D Mario title alluded to in the original Switch teaser. Super Mario Odyssey will see Mario entering a strange new dimension — one that looks very similar to our world. Mario will platform around Ninterpretations of New York and Egypt as well as the more fantastical environments we’re used to. It will also bring Mario’s cap to life, acting as a weapon and portable platform. Mario will come into our world, in every sense of the word, this coming Holidays.
The event served also served as a strong introduction for what Japanese developers, both first and third party, have planned for the Nintendo Switch. Sega’s Toshihiro Nagoshi affirmed his company’s support for the Switch, but Sega’s lone new game announcement, Puyo Puyo Tetris S, was relegated to a cameo in a sizzle reel. Koei Tecmo, not content with making just Zelda into a Warriors game, revealed work on a Fire Emblem Warriors game, developed by Team Ninja.
Square Enix announced that Dragon Quest Heroes I and II are coming to the console, and took the opportunity to debut Project Octopath Traveller, an RPG with classic 2D sprites and 3D backgrounds. Atlus brought us their first project in their 25th anniversary celebration of the Shin Megami Tensei series, an Unreal Engine 4 powered Shin Megami Tensei title with a short teaser. Not to let the others steal its thunder, Monolith Soft surprised everyone with a reveal for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Finally, Suda51 brought a gigantic surprise: No More Heroes is making a comeback! The game had no title, or nothing to really show, but Suda did tease that Pro Wrestling might be a strong influence over the game.
Closing out the event, after what felt like an endless series of teases, was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The four minute trailer gave us the biggest look at the game to date; showing off not just environments and open world shenanigans, but also the first bits of the game’s story, characters and voice acting (a series first). But the biggest announcement was reserved right for the very end: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be releasing on March 3rd 2017 — worldwide.
It was telling that Nintendo didn’t delve into the technical specifications, or even the resolution, of the Switch; but watching this presentation, one would almost believe that these numbers don’t matter. Sony and Microsoft have frequently espoused the 4K power of their current and upcoming products, but have failed to make the case on why this figure is so important. Nintendo, instead, focussed on the experiences it hopes to deliver; from wonder and awe in its epic RPGs to the direct contact with friends and competitors in its multiplayer offerings. One hopes that the ideas in this console really do Switch things up (by the way, there were exactly 9 ‘switch’ puns made during this event).