After months of teasing silence, Nintendo revealed its mysterious NX project this morning as its next home console / handheld hybrid system, the Nintendo Switch. Shown off with a lifestyle video and paired with an informative press release, the Switch is shown to have modular components and is designed to be played at home attached to a television or on the go with controller pieces that snap off of the base unit and connect to a single hub to form a traditional game controller or can be played with one in each hand or can be shared with friends for multiplayer gaming or, or, or... yes, there are many variations of possible ways to play here. Let's dive into the press release.
At home, Nintendo Switch rests in the Nintendo Switch Dock that connects the system to the TV and lets you play with family and friends in the comfort of your living room. By simply lifting Nintendo Switch from the dock, the system will instantly transition to portable mode, and the same great gaming experience that was being enjoyed at home now travels with you. The portability of Nintendo Switch is enhanced by its bright high-definition display. It brings the full home gaming system experience with you to the park, on an airplane, in a car, or to a friend’s apartment.
Gaming springs into action by removing detachable Joy-Con controllers from either side of Nintendo Switch. One player can use a Joy-Con controller in each hand; two players can each take one; or multiple Joy-Con can be employed by numerous people for a variety of gameplay options. They can easily click back into place or be slipped into a Joy-Con Grip accessory, mirroring a more traditional controller. Or, if preferred, the gamer can select an optional Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to use instead of the Joy-Con controllers. Furthermore, it is possible for numerous people to bring their Nintendo Switch systems together to enjoy local multiplayer face-to-face competition.
We've heard that the new hardware would include this kind of functionality as Nintendo brings its home and handheld hardware into a single unit, and sure enough this convergence fulfills the prophecy. No actual games have been announced beyond The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which was said to be coming to the Switch along with the Wii U earlier this year, but the lifestyle video shows us teased of Super Mario, Skyrim, Splatoon, and Mario Kart gameplay. Actual games in development or basic concept showcases? You be the judge. Moreover, Nintendo is happy to boast that a wide selection of developers and publishers are on board with the Switch including Activision, Electronic Arts, Capcom, Sega, Square-Enix, and Ubisoft, so the heavy hitters are definitely interested at the moment. More information on pricing and launch specifics will be announced later, but the Switch is still on track for a March 2017 release.
I'm excited about the Switch and the way that it merges handheld and home console gaming. Nintendo seems to have come up with multiple ways to play Switch games, so there's plenty of control options to suit all kinds of needs. I'll show up anywhere for a new Super Mario game, of course, but I'm poised to buy a Switch and look forward to being able to take games around with me around the house like a 3DS but also be able to play them on my nice television. Best of both worlds! I don't expect any main Wii U or 3DS backward compatibility with the Switch, but it would be the best thing ever to reward Virtual Console owners with the ability to transfer those purchases over to the Switch. There are still lots of unknowns here, but my first impression is impressed with a side order of anticipation.
Just as a side note anecdote, I wonder how often I'll take my Switch out of the house. I have a mental block on carrying around handheld gaming systems that I perceive to be expensive and/or vulnerable. I paid $300 for a Nintendo 3DS at launch in 2011 and had no issue tossing it into my pocket when I went outside because the compact size and clamshell design make it feel like a robust system, but on the other hand, I paid $180 for a Sony PlayStation Vita in November 2012 and have only taken it outside once because its exposed screen makes it feel especially fragile. The Switch has an exposed screen when it's a handheld device. Will I be comfortable taking it out? I suppose I'll find out.