The Nintendo NX is dead, long live the Nintendo Switch. The highly-anticipated (and now, officially named) Nintendo Switch will be a home/handheld hybrid with detachable controllers - as many had predicted it would be and as Nintendo itself had vaguely teased.
In a hurry? Check out the official reveal video below, and read on for the confirmed Nintendo Switch release date.
The release date is literally at the end of the above video. However, we already had a rough idea of when Switch was coming. An investor call and a follow-up email confirmation seems like a very boring way to announce the release date of one of the most anticipated consoles in years, but that's exactly what Nintendo did. On April 27, Nintendo revealed the Nintendo Switch release date , with the news that the console will arrive in stores worldwide sometime in March 2017.
In addition to this news, Nintendo also confirmed that the next entry in the Zelda franchise - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - has been delayed to next year, and will release simultaneously on Wii U and Nintendo Switch. Both versions have been developed concurrently.
Don't get too worried about Nintendo, though. This push into 2017 might actually be the smartest thing the company has done in a long time.
Nintendo Switch has a screen inside the console itself. You can remove the handheld part from its cradle (the screen part looks a bit like a smaller Wii U pad) and continue your game on the move. So, you can switch (yes, the clue is in the name) from playing on the sofa to playing while you're out and about. But there's more...
The sides of the Switch pad can be removed, and used as two tiny controllers, which really opens up the potential for social play. The reveal also shows off a game pad which looks more like a traditional console controller. Here's a handy breakdown of the various controller configurations.
This patent, filed by Nintendo and dug up by NeoGAF user Disorientator, depicts is a system whereby a series of infrared cameras - those little squares on the side of the main device - detect the movements of the buttons in the attached side-unit, relaying button-press inputs via visual signals rather than a direct, digital connection. It's a similar technology as used by the New 3DS to detect the player's eye position in order to smooth out its 3D display.
It makes sense for the Switch to utilize this technology, because as the reveal trailer showed, convenience and portability are its ultimate features. You don't want to worry about connecting or clicking in your controllers every time you want to go somewhere with your fancy new toy.
We hypothesised a long time ago that Nintendo’s next console has to bring the two sides of the company’s business together, and learn the lessons of the Wii U's mistakes. For too long, Nintendo’s game development resources have been split between home console and handheld, too stretched to make up for the continued lack of third-party support suffered by the former. Nintendo’s portable machines have done brilliantly since the original Game Boy; that side of the company’s output is entirely trusted. But the big old TV box end of the business needs a significant shot of goodwill and developmental support. Folding Nintendo’s handheld wing into it would (probably) fix that, and we know that the two development teams have now been merged.
Then came the rumors that this would indeed be happening. Storied leaker Geno – who has previously blown details regarding Pokemon X & Y and Microsoft’s Illumiroom technology - reckoned that the Nintendo Switch would be a (very powerful) handheld that streams to a TV via a pop-out HMDI dongle. Eurogamer likewise indicated that the Switch would be a portable machine with a TV base unit for playing on the big screen at home and with two detachable controllers. Sounds slightly odd, but there is precedent for such a design.
Historically, several of Nintendo’s more successful hardware ideas have iterated on concepts from its past – the Wii Remote was born of the Power Glove, as the 3DS was born of the LCD Game & Watch series and the Virtual Boy – and there is something rather similar in the company’s archives. The Micro Vs. variation of the Game & Watch hardware actually came with two wired controllers attached, stored within a clamshell case when not in use. Sounds like a suspiciously good fit for a retroactive prototype, does it not?
Forget the woeful third-party support of the Wii U - looks like Ninty has brought all kinds of partners in to create games for Switch. There's a collection of them in the screenshot above. Highlights? Activision, the home of COD and Destiny, Bethesda (Skyrim and Fallout), and FromSoftware, who make the Dark Souls games.
We've also seen several new Nintendo games, including a brand-new 3D Mario, Zelda, and either enhanced or fresh versions of Splatoon and Mario Kart.
The video obviously doesn't deal with the spec of the console, however, the rumors above point us to some sensible conclusions. If true, and Switch is as powerful as an Xbox One - as is speculated here - that’s enough to finally put Nintendo back on a par with the current-gen competition. And if Nintendo hopes to recover any of the third-party support it has lost since the Wii, that’s going to be vital. Yes, such specs might see the Nintendo Switch being a little pricey for ‘a handheld’, but considering that you might only need to buy one Nintendo console this time around, perhaps the potential cost balances out.
Another part of the Eurogamer rumor relates a slightly different version of the Nintendo Switch specs, and potentially contradicts Geno’s version of the news, though. The EG source says that the Switch development kits are powered by an Nvidia Tegra X1, a mobile-focused chip capable of churning out performance a tad better than a last-gen home console, but not powerful enough to keep pace with Microsoft and Sony. Though it’s entirely possible that the final retail version will get an upgrade to the X2, bringing it more or less up to current-gen standards.
The other interesting bit is that the Nintendo Switch will be a cartridge-based console. Cartridges actually make sense given the portable nature of the machine, though they do raise questions over game size. Apparently Nintendo is ‘recommending’ a cartridge size of 32Gb, which is pretty healthy, though not big enough to handle certain high-profile current-gen games on rival formats. Remember how much fuss was kicked up when current-gen launch game Call of Duty: Ghosts immediately ate up 50GB of the Xbox One and PS4?
But the Nintendo Switch might have another trick up their collective sleeve..
The specifics of this one are rather vague, but they do at least come from a more official source: a patent filing, actually made by Nintendo. According to the patent application, Nintendo is looking to design hardware that can "couple to a supplemental computing device" for increased speed and performance. Details on exactly how that might work aren’t entirely clear. It’s entirely possible that Nintendo is planning something akin to Microsoft’s cloud computing tech, but within the patent there are also references to using remote computing devices "from the user community".
That last part sounds like we might be looking at network tech that allows multiple Nintendo Switch consoles to link up in order to power each other up – presumably when the supplemental machines aren’t otherwise active – though if that’s the case it would surely be logistically prohibitive to design games that absolutely required the tech, given the reliance on other players’ variable behaviors. Perhaps we’re looking at a scaling performance situation, where games can ship with uniform minimum specs, but play in an upgraded state when additional processing support is available. Either way, it’s an interesting and unexpected move from the recently horsepower-shy Nintendo. But then, when is any Nintendo console design not?
But what games will we be playing on the Nintendo Switch? Well in addition to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild…
According to a tweet by Dr. Serkan Toto, a game industry consultant in Japan, Smash Bros. is planned to be a Nintendo Switch launch game. If this news is true, it’s unknown – by Toto’s own admission – whether the game will be a brand new Smash sequel, or a port of an existing game. According to the same tweet, several games by Bandai-Namco are also in the mix. The console's reveal trailer also prominently featured the much-loved Skyrim, so it looks like third-party developers are at least giving the system a chance.
But there may be another, weirder surprise game in the works too.
Now there’s every chance this is just the usual pie-in-the-sky rumor flinging we get every year, but word has it that Beyond Good & Evil 2 - recently confirmed to be in pre-production - will be a Nintendo Switch exclusive. Curious though that may sound, there is an odd sort of precedent for this kind of thing: Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U.
That was another case of Nintendo stepping in to fund development of the sequel to a neglected cult favorite game – as is rumored to be the business situation here – effectively paying for the kudos that comes with being the savior of such a project. Yes, there’s every chance that the Bayonetta scenario has simply opened up the plausibility of a whole new avenue of rumor fabrication – Sony’s promotion of the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter last year would add it further credence - but at the same time there’s nothing ruling this news out yet.
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