Nintendo announced today that its next-generation Switch game console will ship on March 3 and will cost $300.
I’m still curiously excited by, and interested in, this console, which as you may recall will transform between in-home console and portable form factors. And I say this despite my general lack of interest in mobile gaming or Nintendo’s Disney-like approach to gaming.
Anyway. You can view the Nintendo Switch presentation on YouTube, but here are my key take-aways.
Nintendo entertainment DNA. As noted above, Nintendo certainly has its own style, and it’s clear there are millions of people around the world who just gravitate to this sort of thing. Helping matters, the Switch pulls in key features from literally all previous Nintendo consoles dating back to the original NES. It’s a pretty impressive legacy.
Pricing. The $300 price tag is only a bit higher than I expected—I was thinking something closer to $250, given how Microsoft and Sony priced their own more powerful consoles over the holidays—but not a deal-breaker. And since this console will not be limited by region locking as with previous Nintendo hardware, it’s even more appealing.
Availability. The Switch will be available on March 3 in Japan, the United States, Canada, major European countries, Hong Kong, and other territories, Nintendo says. So it’s not a staggered launch where certain key markets have to wait.
Online services. While details are still vague, Nintendo will augment the Switch with online services that include all the expected features like online multiplayer, matchmaking, chat, and so it. These services will become paid in Fall 2017, but there will be a free trial period before then. (Switch also supports local multiplayer over Wi-Fi.)
Diversity of play styles. The key to this console, I think, is the diversity of play styles it affords, thanks to its modular design. It can be played while connected to your television, but it is also a system you can bring with you, to share the fun wherever you go, as Nintendo said. Beyond that, it supports multiple control (and controller styles) as well.
Nintendo Switch Console. The Nintendo Switch Console is essentially a tablet computer with a capacitive touch screen. It can be used with the Switch Dock (below) and various controller types as a home system. Or, you can use it on its own by connecting two Joy-Con controllers (one on each side) as a standalone mobile gaming machine. But you can also use those controllers wirelessly (one in each hand) and prop up the console with its built-in kickstand; this is called Table Top mode.
Nintendo Switch Dock. When you combine the Switch Console with the Switch Dock, you arrive at what Nintendo says is just the “Nintendo Switch,” a traditional TV-based video game console, and is used in what Nintendo calls “TV mode.” It can be used with a variety of controller types (see below).
Joy-Con Controllers. The Nintendo Switch includes two Joy-Con controllers—left and right—which look a lot like the left and right sides, respectively, of a traditional controller. They can be used with the Joy-Con Grip (below) to create a wireless controller, can attach to the Switch Console and used directly, or can be used independently. When the Joy-Cons are connected to the Switch Console, this is called Handheld mode.
Joy-Con Grip. This special part connects two Joy-Con controllers to create a more gamepad-like experience.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. This more traditional game controller works much like an Xbox or PlayStation controller.
Battery life. When used in Handheld mode, Nintendo Switch will get 2.5 hours to 6.5 hours of battery life, depending on the game. The system charges via USB-C (nice), and can be played while charging, of course.
So that’s the hardware, or at least most of it. I’ll be looking at the software and games, as well, but we’ll see if that warrants its own write-up.