Nintendo held its press event to announce its new video game console, the Nintendo Switch on 3 March this year. The presentation, which you can watch in its entirety here, is about an hour long. But we watched it so you don’t have to, and here are the highlights of what you can take away from it.

What is it?

The Nintendo Switch will be a hyrid home and portable console with a built-in screen and detachable controllers. The system comes with a dock that you can use to play games on your TV, but allows you to easily take the console with you when you want to play elsewhere. The packaged box comes with the Nintendo Switch console, the left and right Joy-Con controllers, the dock, a Joy-Con controller grip, an AC adapter, Joy-Con straps, and an HDMI cable.

Comments: This is pretty much what we expected to see packaged with the system, and also in line with what we saw in the Teaser trailer.

Price

The console will be launching at a recommended price of USD299, which equates roughly to R4000, but expect this price to be higher here in ZA at launch. We will update with the price when the info becomes available.

Comment: Ouch, but not unexpected. It will be pricey to be owning more than one for multiplayer purposes.

Controllers

The system comes with new controllers called the Joy-Con controllers. They’re essentially mini Wii Remotes with added functionality. The sensor on the front, for example, can sense your hand and even sense how your hand is posed. It’s sensitive enough to distinguish whether you’re holding your hand in a rock, paper, or scissors pose. The Joy-Con controllers (I am not fond of the name, by the way!) also have enhanced rumble features, allowing you feel very subtle movements. The Joy-Cons also support Amiibo, so you can continue to collect these figurines.

Aside from the Joy-Cons, Nintendo will also have available a Pro-Controller that looks suspiciously similar to the Wii U’s pro controller.

Comment: I will say that I’m fairly impressed at how much technology is being squished into such a small controller. And given my large hands, I’m sceptical about the comfort of using a controller that size, but only an actual hands-on (ha ha!) will tell. Regarding Amiibo support, let’s hope that if the Nintendo Switch does well, that Amiibo will also be more readily available here.

Region locking

Nintendo announced that there will be no region locking for the console, so feel free to import games from around the world at will. This is exciting for people who like to experience those quirky Japanese games that never make it this side.

Comment: We never liked region locking, so this is good news.

Battery life

The battery on the Nintendo Switch is expected to last between 2 and 6 hours depending on what you’re playing. The console can be charged while playing, and uses a USB-C cable instead of some proprietary jack.

Comment: Ouchies on the lifespan. Not great, but at least this will last you the plane ride between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Yay on the use of USB-C, though!

Online and Networking

The Nintendo Switch will support 8-player local wireless multiplayer with other Switch consoles. On top of that, it looks like you’ll be able to pair 8 Joy-Con controllers with a single Nintendo Switch. On top of that, the console naturally supports online play against opponents around the globe.

In terms of the Nintendo Network, it looks like online multiplayer will start being a paid service in the same vein as the PSN and Xbox Live. And like those services, Nintendo will be offering “free” games with the service.

Comment: Now I’m not saying that a 64-player local multiplayer match is possible with the Switch (8 Switch consoles each paired to 8 Joy-Cons), but no one has ruled it out yet! Regarding the paid network, I’m frankly surprised that it’s taken Nintendo this long to do it, given how PSN and XBL have been doing with the subscription services. I’m not certain what it will cost here in South Africa, but we will update as we get more info. Let’s hope that Nintendo does something similar to what Sony does with the PSN and offer games across consoles instead of just on the Nintendo Switch, because that would make it very worth the cash.

Games

I’m going to plunk down some videos here because you have to watch these if you are interested in the Switch. The only games confirmed for launch are Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1 2 Switch. Super Mario Odyssey will be hitting at the end of the year, and Splatoon 2 will be coming in the middle of the year. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe launches on 28 April and is an updated version of the Wii U’s superb Mario Kart 8 (which we reviewed here, and also reviewed it’s DLC packs here and here). Arms, a bizarre fighting game that looks a lot like Punch-Out with springs (See vid below and tell me if I’m lying) launches in autumn here. Also announced (but no launch window mentioned) are Snipperclips, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (the NN3DS version of Xenoblade was reviewed by us here, and the Wii U’s Xenoblade Chronicles X review can be found here), Arms, Fire Emblem, Shin Megami Tensei, FIFA, Skyrim, Super Bomberman R, Puyo Puyo Tetris, Sonic Mania, and a bunch of others that you can see in the video below.

Comment: The launch lineup has me worried, because 3 March is around the corner, so let’s hope more launch games are forthcoming. Also, it’s a travesty that they didn’t name the game Splat2n.

And for completeness sakes, here’s the press release from Nintendo South Africa:

Nintendo reveals upcoming games, new hardware features

13th January, 2016 – Nintendo announced today that the new Nintendo Switch console will launch worldwide* on Friday 3rd March.

The package will include the main console, Joy-Con (L) and Joy-Con (R) controllers, a Joy-Con grip (to which two Joy-Con are attached and used as one controller), a set of Joy-Con wrist straps, a Nintendo Switch dock (which holds the main console and connects it to a TV), a HDMI cable and an AC adapter. Two stylish versions of the console will be released: a version with a set of grey Joy-Con, and a version with one neon blue and one neon red Joy-Con.
“Nintendo Switch is a brand-new kind of home gaming system that offers a wide variety of play modes,” said Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima. “We will introduce the world to new experiences made possible by the unique characteristics of the Nintendo Switch hardware and the Joy-Con.”

Nintendo Switch is a breakthrough home video game console. It not only connects to a TV at home, but it also instantly transforms into an on-the-go handheld using its 6.2-inch screen. For the first time, players can enjoy a full home-console experience anytime, anywhere. The screen includes capacitive multi-touch capabilities for compatible games. Battery life can last for more than six hours, but will vary depending on the software and usage conditions.. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be played for roughly three hours on a single charge. While away from home, Nintendo Switch can be charged by plugging the AC adapter into the console’s USB Type-C connector.

The versatile Joy-Con offer multiple surprising new ways for players to have fun. Two Joy-Con can be used independently in each hand, or together as one game controller when attached to the Joy-Con grip. They can also attach to the main console for use in handheld mode, or be shared with friends to enjoy two-player action in supported games. Each Joy-Con has a full set of buttons and can act as a standalone controller, and each includes an accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensor, making independent left and right motion control possible.
Nintendo Switch also contains a number of built-in features that make it more interactive. The left Joy-Con has a Capture Button that players can press to take instant screenshots of gameplay to share with friends on social media. The right Joy-Con includes an NFC touchpoint for interaction with amiibo figures, as well as an IR Motion Camera that can detect the distance, shape and motion of nearby objects in specially designed games. For example, it can tell how far away a player’s hand is, and even if the hand is forming a rock, paper or scissors shape. Both Joy-Con include advanced HD rumble, which can provide compatible games with subtle vibrations that are much more realistic than before. The effect is so detailed that a player could, for example, feel the vibration of individual ice cubes colliding inside a glass when shaking a Joy-Con. With HD rumble you can experience a level of realism not possible through sights and sounds alone.
Nintendo Switch makes it easy for players to stay connected. Up to 8 consoles can be connected for local wireless play. The player can place the console upright anywhere by using the built-in stand, then easily share Joy-Con for multiplayer fun away from the TV. The console will support online Wi-Fi multiplayer gaming. Nintendo also unveiled a new online subscription service that will begin with a free trial at launch. The service includes a smart-device application available in summer 2017 that will let users invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with one another as the play compatible games. The fully featured paid service will be available in autumn.

Nintendo Switch will be supported by world-class third-party publishers including Activision Publishing Inc., Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and major Japanese publishers. Some publishers, such as Bethesda Softworks, are joining Nintendo for the first time. Players can look forward to major franchises on Nintendo Switch such as EA Sports FIFA, The Elder Scrolls, NBA 2K, Minecraft and more. Nintendo Switch software will not be region locked.
The unique capabilities of the console and Joy-Con have combined with innovations from past systems to create Nintendo’s most flexible, feature-packed video game console ever. This is demonstrated by the wide variety of unique games that were announced for launch day, the summer, and into the 2017 holiday season, from both Nintendo and its third-party partners. From the engrossing open-air experience of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to the party fun of 1-2-Switch, Nintendo Switch offers something for everyone.