Finally answering fans’ plea for details, Nintendo held an online streamed presentation covering the specifics of their upcoming gaming console: Switch. This presentation was Nintendo’s first Switch event since the system’s original reveal trailer and it showcased some of the new technologies and games coming to the system. In case you missed the hour-long presentation, here’s the lowdown on what you need to know about the Switch’s hardware reveals.
Price Point, Release Date and What’s Included in the Kit
On the hardware side of things, the big reveal came as the presentation kicked off with the official confirmation of the device’s price and release date. The Switch will have a worldwide release of March 3rd and is already open for pre-orders online, although good luck trying to get one. The price got announced at the reveal: $299.99 or £279.99. No shocker there.
The Switch is set to come with the portable console, a docking station that lets you hook it up to your TV, a pair of the new left and right modular Joy-Con controllers, the Joy-Con Grip, a full set of chargers, hand straps, and an HDMI cable to hook up the dock up to your TV. The Switch will be outfitted with a relatively small 32 gigabytes of internal storage. If that’s not enough to hold your library of games, there’s a micro SDXC card slot that can expand the Switch’s storage with micro SDXC cards up to two terabytes in capacity. Taking all this into account, it seems to be a reasonable price for the kit.
As a side note, while the hardware for the core gaming console is reasonable, the price to purchase accessories and additional controllers is exuberant. Nintendo expects you to dish out $90 dollars for an extra dock if you want to be able to play the Switch on multiple TVs. The Switch Pro controller is also priced $70, twenty dollars more than the comparable controllers from Xbox or PlayStation.
Share the Play
One of the most appreciated additions in the latest generation of controllers from the PlayStation and Xbox has been the share button, allowing users to upload pictures and short videos from the game they’re playing to social media from a button on their controller without having to leave the game. Nintendo unveiled at the Switch presentation that the left Joy-Con will be outfitted with a small square button that allows players similar functionality. The button lets you share pictures to social media, with the ability to share videos coming in the future. A square button of the same shape and, presumably, function can also be spotted on the Switch Pro Controller. No specifics yet about the social networks supported and what, if any, this functionality will be effected by the new Nintendo Switch Online Service.
High Definition Haptics
The introduction of rumble or haptic feedback for a more visceral experience while gaming is certainly not new. Nintendo first included rumble as the Rumble Pak add-on to the original Nintendo 64 controller in 1997. The Switch’s new Joy-Con controllers are now confirmed as being outfitted with Nintendo’s new level of haptic accuracy titled “HD Rumble.” It’s just hard to say just how precise the new feedback is until a lot of people start getting their hands on the controllers.
The Switch’s new Ways to Play
The Switch is designed to be able to be used in a variety of different situations and environments. Obviously, you can play the Switch in handheld mode on the go, utilizing the Nvidia Tegra processor, 720p 6.2-inch touch screen and attached Joy-Con controllers. While on the go, expect to achieve three to six hours of battery life depending on what game you’re playing. You can could also slide the console into the dock and play on your TV, where extra cooling and power allows the Tegra processor to clock itself up to achieve higher resolutions and frame rates. Or if you’re on the go but don’t want to use Switch as a handheld, just flip out the kickstand, remove the Joy-Con controllers and place the tented Switch on any table, train or plane and kick back and play wherever you want, however you want.
A big part of the flexibility in play stems from the new aforementioned Joy-Con. These modular controllers can pop off the mobile switch unit and be used alone or with other accessories. Once you pop the Joy-Con off the Switch, you can use either of them individually or slide them into the plastic shell Joy-Con grip which is designed to simulate the ergonomics of a traditional controller. If that isn’t good enough for you, Nintendo is also releasing their new Switch Pro Controller. The Switch Pro Controller is the evolution of the Wii U Pro Controller, which was designed to produce the ergonomics and control scheme of a more traditional controller arrangement. No fundamental design changes have been made to the Switch Pro Controller, only a few subtle additions intended to improve your time using it. The Switch Pro Controller now seems to be outfitted with a share button similar to the one on the Joy-Con; it also appears to have adopted a textured palm grip and is listed online by Nintendo as having HD Rumble and Amiibo functionality built in.
Spread across the two Joy-Con controllers are a pair of clickable analog sticks, the classic A, B, X and Y buttons, a home button, ZL and ZR bumpers, L and R triggers, a set of start and select like buttons with the cherry on top being a new share button. The Switch is designed to be capable to host a two-player local multiplayer experience using just the pair of Joy-Con controllers. Just slide each Joy-Con off the Switch and rotate them horizontally as you might have done with a Wii Remote in order to effectively double the controllers available for local multiplayer. Though this conversion comes with a presumed ergonomic trade off, you still have access to four buttons, a joystick, A and Z button and dedicated L and R buttons tastefully included along the locking track that attaches the Joy-Con into the Switch. Nintendo also introduced the IR sensor on the right Joy-Con, capable of recognizing the shape, distance and objects.
With a lot of these new technologies like HD Rumble, an IR sensor and two-handed, single Joy-Con use, we’ll only really get a feel for the value of them once people start getting their hands on them and see the developers’ implementations.