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Nintendo Switch Arrives

Here are all the key launch details

We have gone a little Nintendo Switch mad recently. Between my early piece about the history that led up to the Switch reveal (Switching Gears) and Sasha’s recent discussion about NX vs Switch, there’s been a lot to talk about — and that’s before today’s Nintendo press conference in Tokyo, where a ton of additional information was revealed.

I have to admit that I find some of the coverage today a little frustrating though; many of the larger media outlets split their stories up into bite-size pieces for commercial reasons, and it can be hard to wade through all that to come away with the key pieces of information — especially if you’re thinking about whether or not to pre-order a Switch. I’ve already noticed that some really key details have been missed in the flurry of reporting, so I thought it might be a good time to sit down and sketch out the key takeaways.

I’ll have a go at breaking this into simple categories related to common questions I’m seeing on social media right now. Let’s go!

Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017

Let’s kick things off with the official presentation video:

The video runs for just over an hour, so you may want to revisit it when you have some time to fully digest it. Even with a presentation this long, there’s a ton of stuff that wasn’t mentioned — including a number of now-confirmed games, system features, and specifications.

Launch details

Let’s start with the basics.

LAUNCH DATE
March 2rd, 2017.

REGIONS
This is a global launch, which (for now) means North America, Japan, Europe, and Hong Kong. Nintendo referred to “other regions” as well — presumably this includes Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of Asia, South America, and so on. Those details will likely emerge in the coming days from Nintendo’s various local subsidiaries/distributors.

Update: Nintendo Switch will also launch in Australia and New Zealand on 3rd March 2017.

PRICE
US$299/A$469.95/¥29,980. Prices in other territories are yet to be confirmed.

Nintendo Switch with Neon Red and Blue Joy-Con

SKUs/BUNDLES
There will be two bundles on launch. The only difference between them is that one will include standard grey Joy-Con controllers, while the other will include neon green and neon red Joy-Con.

When you buy a Switch, here’s what’s included in the box:

  • Nintendo Switch console
  • Nintendo Switch dock
  • Joy-Con [L]
  • Joy-Con [R]
  • Joy-Con Wrist Straps [set of two]
  • Joy-Con Grip
  • HDMI cable
  • Nintendo Switch AC adapter

ACCESSORIES
There’s quite a bit to cover here, actually. But here’s a brief overview (all prices are in USD):

  • Nintendo Switch Pro Controller ($69.99)
  • Joy-Con Controllers [set of two] ($79.99)
  • Joy-Con[L]/Joy-Con[R] ($49.99)
  • Joy-Con Charging Grip ($29.9)
  • Nintendo Switch Dock Set [includes a dock, AC adapter, and HDMI cable] ($89.99)
  • Joy-Con Wheel [set of two] ($14.99)
Switch Dock Set

These controllers are relatively expensive, although not too far off the prices you’d pay for Xbox One or PS4 controllers at the moment (at least here in Australia). That said, it looks like you’ll get a much better deal if you buy the Joy-Cons in pairs rather than on their own. Thankfully, when you buy a Switch console, you get two Joy-Cons included.

Launch games

I’ll talk a little more about some specific games below, but for now, here’s a confirmed list of the launch titles. It’s very likely that this list will grow as specific dates are confirmed for other games.

1–2-SWITCH (3rd March)
This looks like a really interesting launch title, where the object of the game isn’t actually to look at the screen, but to look at the other player. It’s a really simple concept that looks as unique and immediately accessible (if not more so) than WiiSports.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD (3rd March)
There isn’t much more I can say about this game that hasn’t been widely covered already; it’s the biggest game Nintendo has ever made (and the most ambitious Zelda game to date). Today, Nintendo showed off a brand new trailer which looks incredible. The voice acting seems pretty high-quality, too!

It’s also worth noting that there will be three versions of this game at launch: the standard edition, Special Edition, and Master Edition.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Master Edition)

Here’s what’s included in the Master Edition (above). The Special Edition includes everything here except for the Master Sword statue. To confirm, the pack includes:

  • Game
  • Zelda-themed Switch carry case
  • Hyrule map
  • Official soundtrack
  • Master Sword statue
  • Collectable coin

At the moment, these are the only two games that are confirmed to launch alongside the console on the 3rd of March. That said, there are a number of games launching in the month of March:

  • Super Bomberman R
  • Has Been Heroes
  • Snipperclips
  • I am Setsuna
  • Just Dance 2017

So, within the first month of launch, we’ve got at least 7 confirmed titles. On April 28th, we’ll see Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as well.

Beyond this, Nintendo have confirmed a number of other titles to be released in Spring 2017 (in other words, what some might call “launch window” titles):

  • Arms
  • Sonic Mania
  • Lego City Undercover

This takes the launch window up to 10 titles. Beyond that, the following games have been confirmed:

  • FIFA
  • Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers
  • Super Mario Odyssey (late 2017)
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (fall 2017)
  • Splatoon 2 (summer 2017)
  • Arcade Archives
  • Disgaea 5 Complete
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
  • Farming Simulator
  • Fast RMX
  • Fire Emblem Warriors
  • Minecraft Story Mode: The Complete Adventure
  • Minecraft: Switch Edition
  • Puyo Puyo Tetris
  • Rayman Legends Definitive Edition
  • RIME
  • Shin Megami Tensei
  • Skylanders Imaginators
  • Syberia 3
  • Steep
  • Project Sonic 2017
  • NBA 2K18

It’s also worth noting that many of these names are not finalised; they are working titles and are subject to change. So far though, there’s a fairly good mix of genres going on here. It’ll be interesting to see what else is uncovered at E3 in June.

Update: Various outlets are reporting that Skylanders Imaginators and Just Dance 2017 will also be released on 3rd March 2017. At the time of publishing, this is unconfirmed — Nintendo currently lists these releases as “TBD”. I will update this list as further information is confirmed directly by Nintendo.

Hardware specifications

Here’s where things get interesting. We’ve seen a lot of rumours and comments from various sources over the last month or so, but this is the first time Nintendo had the opportunity to provide further details about the hardware itself.

Needless to say, if you’ve followed Nintendo console launches in the past, you’ll know that they don’t talk about hardware power as such. But there are other important pieces of information that have finally been revealed.

BATTERY LIFE
This is a big one. The idea of playing full console titles on the go is awesome, but if the Switch can’t last long enough on the road, then what’s the point?

Well, it appears that battery life will vary significantly depending on the game you’re playing. In some cases, the console will last for more than 7 hours on battery. But when playing particularly intensive titles (like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), it’s reasonable to expect about 3 hours. Personally, I think this pretty much sits within the desirable ballpark, given the need to balance performance with efficiency.

It’s also somewhat relieving that the console includes a standard USB Type-C connection, enabling it to be plugged into the wall (or another device) to charge on the go. This means that you do not need the dock to charge the console. Good news.

SCREEN RESOLUTION & TOUCH CAPABILITY
This was another major question — what will the games look like when undocked, in terms of resolution? And is the screen touchable?

It turns out that the screen resolution on the device itself is 1280 x 720 pixels, which equates to a 720p output. The screen itself is 6.2 inch and, importantly, it is a multi-touch capacative display.

That last point is a big one, because a lot of people were concerned that Nintendo would opt for a single-touch resistive display as we’ve seen on the Wii U GamePad and DS/3DS consoles.

HARDWARE POWER
As I said earlier, Nintendo hasn’t officially revealed anything specific about the hardware power of the Switch. That said, you may remember the fairly in-depth Eurogamer analysis which claimed that the Switch would run much faster when docked.

Although that isn’t confirmed, one piece of speculation was that the key difference in clock speed may impact the display resolution of games (as opposed to, say, frame rate or graphics effects). I believe this is correct, because Nintendo’s own Switch web site claims that you can “play games in HD when docked” — perhaps the machine throttles down to save battery when undocked and displays games at 720p resolution, but then throttles up to display games at 1080p resolution when connected to a TV screen.

At this point, it’s difficult to say exactly what this means. And certainly, we don’t know about the development standards here — for example, are developers free to modify any elements of a game they like in order to run in both docked and undocked mode? Who knows, but I’m sure we’ll find out more between now and E3.

ONBOARD STORAGE
The Nintendo Switch features 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded through the use of microSD cards. Presumably games installed on the microSD cards can be run directly from them.

We also don’t yet know anything about cloud storage options that may arise from the paid online services that Nintendo will roll out later in the year.

A closer look at the console

Let’s zoom in a little bit and have a closer look at the hardware.

This is the Nintendo Switch console. Note that this is the first time we’ve seen a clear image of the Game Card. We’ve also to stereo speakers and a brightness sensor, the latter being a fairly nice touch (aside from saving battery, this feature might make a difference when playing indoors/outside, for example).

On the back of the machine, we’ve got the kickstand and the USB Type-C connector. We can also see the aforementioned microSD card slot.

Then there’s the dock.

Nothing too remarkable on the front — there are two USB 2.0 ports and a LED indicator for TV output.

Interestingly, the back cover of the dock can be opened. There’s a connection for the AC adapter, another USB port, and the HDMI port.

Now that we’ve looked at the console, there are a few other important things to cover off before we get to the games in more detail.

Online services

For years, online services have been an Achilles’ heel for Nintendo. The combination of an opaque and frustrating Friend Code system combined with a lack of features for online gaming (voice chat, ability to create lobbies and online games easily on the platform itself), as well as a lack of consistency (no standard way of playing online for all games, but a piecemeal, per-game approach) were all factors that clearly harmed Nintendo in this space.

At this stage, we still don’t know a lot about what the Nintendo Switch will offer in this area, but there are some really important, enticing details to share.

NEW SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE
Firstly, Nintendo will be providing a paid online service for the first time (at least, outside their earlier experiments in Japan many years ago). Although some may be dismayed by this, I think it’s a positive indication: it demonstrates that Nintendo may be investing in some serious online infrastructure and services to bolster the online gameplay and social experience (and perhaps to bring it up to speed with competition from PS4 and Xbox One).

Online services for Switch will be free between launch in March and sometime in fall 2017, when the company will roll out the paid service. It’s worth noting that the new paid service will not apply to Wii, Wii U, or 3DS platforms according to Nintendo.

SMART DEVICE COMPANION APP
As part of the Switch’s online services, Nintendo will introduce a free companion app for smart devices.

What’s interesting is that you’ll be using this to manage your friend list, invite players to a game session, set play appointments, and chat during online matches.

FREE GAMES EACH MONTH
This is a really big piece of news that Nintendo didn’t discuss in their presentation, and which hasn’t yet been reported widely — but it’s very significant.

If you subscribe to Nintendo’s online services for Switch, you’ll be able to download one free NES or SNES game each month, similar to the service offered by Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus memberships. This is a first for Nintendo, and I think it’s actually a big drawcard if they really promote it. One thing we don’t know is whether or not you’ll be able to keep the downloaded games if your subscription lapses. Hopefully we’ll discover that soon.

Another really important — and unique to Switch — element is that Nintendo will be adding online play to NES and SNES multiplayer games, at least those which you receive for free as part of the online subscription. That’s pretty awesome: it’d be heaps of fun to play Super Mario Kart online for the first time.

Finally, and like other similar services, Nintendo will offer subscriber discounts. It appears that this system effectively replaces their previous Nintendo Club loyalty program. Nintendo have also previously said that interacting with their properties in other domains (such as theme parks or smart apps) will confer some sort of loyalty benefit — Nintendo could really set up a very unique system here.

A new way to play

One of the more significant elements of the Switch has been floating under the radar since the original reveal last year: the controllers. Sure, the Joy-Con controllers attach and de-attach from the console itself, enabling multiple configurations. Aside from the novel idea of being able to detach the controllers and hand one to a friend for local multiplayer, we didn’t know much about the technology hidden under the hood — until now, at least.

Joy-Con controllers

To start with, each Joy-Con is definitely unique; there’s a left and a right controller and the two are not interchangeable. When you watch gameplay videos where people are actually using these things, it makes sense.

Beyond that, it’s worth noting the presence of the Capture Button on the left Joy-Con. Nintendo claims you’ll initially be able to take screenshots by pressing this button, which you’ll then be able to share via social media. Down the track, the Capture Button will enable players to capture and share video as well.

I’m really hopeful that we’ll see some kind of streaming (whether Twitch or otherwise) integrated directly into the Nintendo Switch at some point as well. Streaming games is a huge business now, and the ability to stream Nintendo content — especially Splatoon matches or Nintendo classics — could really be a big deal.

The Joy-Con controllers can slide into a central Joy-Con Grip for more traditional gameplay

There’s a lot more hiding under the surface though.

HD RUMBLE
Nintendo used an oddly specific (yet fairly effective) analogy to describe the concept of “HD Rumble” in the Joy-Con controllers: a glass filled with ice cubes.

According to Nintendo, if the Joy-Con were an empty glass, you’d be able to actually feel one, two, or three ice cubes as they fill it. If the glass were being filled with water, you could also feel the water rising (and therefore physically feel how “full” the glass is). If the controller’s force-feedback capability is this precise, then it could lead to some truly wonderful and immersive game experiences.

IR MOTION CAMERA
A really cool feature, which had actually been discussed to a degree in at least one previous patent, is the IR Motion Camera.

Basically, this sensor detects distance as well as the shape of physical objects. Games like 1–2-Switch will heavily utilise this capability. The ability to point at other players or to move your hands in front of the controller and have it correctly interpret what you are doing, is an entirely new concept for game interfaces.

The trailer for 1–2-Switch clearly demonstrates the concept in action:

GYROSCOPIC SENSORS
The Joy-Cons — much like the Wii Remote — also contain gyroscopic sensors, enabling the kind of motion control we’ve seen on the Wii and Wii U. That said, it’s important to remember that every Switch comes with two Joy-Cons. In the Nintendo presentation today, Yoshiaki Koizumi briefly discussed the idea of playing a game using a Joy-Con in each hand. It’s true that you could do this on Wii and Wii U as well, although it was a much more cumbersome (and arguably expensive) setup.

NFC
The Joy-Con controllers also contain NFC chips, which enables Amiibo support. Given the success of Amiibo so far, it’s no surprise that Nintendo is continuing to support the collectibles with Switch.

JOY-CON STRAP
Adding a strap may at first seem logical but not terribly unique, given that the Wii Remote also had the option to add a strap, which prevented the player from accidentally flinging their controller into the TV screen.

The Joy-Con strap is just a little different though, because it also contains two shoulder buttons (these buttons are also present on the Joy-Con themselves, but when you add the strap, it effectively raises the buttons to make them more prominent).

Where to go from here?

Stick with us at Super Jump for continuing coverage of the Nintendo Switch. There are plenty of things left to dive into in greater detail before the March launch, including the games themselves and the people behind the product.

For now though, I highly recommend checking out Nintendo’s YouTube channel, which contains additional gameplay videos that I haven’t shown here.

Thanks for stopping by, and if you like our work, please share our articles and like our Facebook page.

© Copyright 2017 Super Jump. Made with love.

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