For Nintendo fans the world over, today is going to be a very big day.
It stands to be the first real, definitive look at Switch, the Wii U’s successor, and the console many a diehard hopes can propel Nintendo back into living room relevance.
We have you covered in terms of the when and where to watch the presentation, and it’s definitely something you don’t want to miss. With the console’s launch still scheduled for a March release window, expect Nintendo to use this opportunity to hype up the console and generate buzz in the lead-up to its release.
While we already know plenty about the device, there are a lot of questions to still be answered. So let’s do a rundown of the basics ahead of today’s big presentation.
What We Already Know
How It works
The Nintendo Switch is a console that Nintendo hopes will service all niches: the personal, single-player living room player, the on-the-go mobile player, and the party player. The reveal trailer, which you can watch down below, does a great job of showcasing each of these uses.
The home console version of the Switch works just as any other traditional console: you have a console dock, you sit on your couch with your controller, and you play the game on your TV. The element of differentiation here is that if you wish to get up off the couch, you can connect the analog and buttons from your controller to the primary console, and then lift it up to become a portable device.
Once you’ve lifted it up and “switched” it, you can take it with you and continue your game on the go.
The back stand makes it easy to play during bumpy rides, or perhaps in areas where you’d rather sit back and treat it as a small, portable screen. The console uses cartridges, so you don’t need a wireless internet connection to stream your game.
Nintendo is also pushing the console as an appealing party-game and multiplayer device.
The Nintendo Switch controller is called the Joy-Con. Well, each “small” controller is called a Joy-Con specifically. These controllers have an analog stick, as well as four face button. They can be used together when connected to the primary controller, or on the tablet, or separately in each hand.
There’s also an optional Pro controller, similar to the one we could get for the Wii U. Nintendo seems to want a stronger eSports presence for the console, showcasing it being played at a Splatoon esports competition.
Nintendo has ditched discs and will instead use DS-like cartridges that slot into the back of the device.
We know that we’ll definitely be getting the price during today’s Switch broadcast. We’ve known for a while that it will hit store shelves in March, but the price stands to be a very heated point of discussion.
Back in September, industry analyst MichaelPachter said that the Switch could be dead in the water if it were priced too high. The $399 USD price, common for higher-end consoles of the Xbox and PlayStation variety, is a price point Nintendo can’t compete with, according to Pachter.
It’s hard to disagree: Nintendo has to find that pricing sweet spot, or the Switch could struggle right out of the gates.
Interestingly, the Switch’s launch price might sit nicely in that appealing affordability bracket. Rumours are pointing to a US$250 price point with a $300 version, which could see it at around the $350-$450 mark in Australia.
March stands to be a huge month for Nintendo fans, and it’s probably a good decision by the company to release Switch around that time.
It will lead into the busy E3 and Gamescom periods, with plenty of hype and preparation ahead of the Christmas Holiday season in late-2017. The launch date is not of massive importance because we already know it’ll hit in March.
My call? The weekend of March 25-26.
The debate lingers as to whether Nintendo actually needs (or wants) third-party support. It will definitely get it at launch from the likes of EA, Ubisoft, and probably Bethesda if the reveal trailer is to be believed.
We will get a look at the games from the console’s first few months, which is exciting to the say the least. Dragon Quest XI is known to be in the works, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a given.
It’s said to be a launch title in Japan and North America, but PAL regions will need to wait, likely until the second half of 2017. That would be a big hit to the console’s launch appeal in those regions.
These were the games shown in the trailer:
- The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
- NBA 2K
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Mario Kart 8
Nintendo admitted that the footage in the trailer didn’t represent actual gameplay on the console, but it seems fairly clear that Skyrim, NBA 2K17, a Mario Kart game, and a new 3D Mario game are on the way.
What is actually available at launch is the question. The Wii U launch was filled with third-party releases that had released on other consoles. That may be appealing to gamers without other consoles, but that’s a shrinking market. The likelihood of a new third-party game such as Mass Effect: Andromeda coming to the console is close to zero, which is interesting considering how close together both the Switch and Bioware’s blockbuster are on the release schedule.
We’ll of course end up with a launch lineup, but it needs more than just rehashed remasters and third-party games that released in 2016.
will be powered by Nvidia graphics hardware, specifically the custom Tegra processor. The Tegra is a system-on-a-chip that includes an Nvidia processing unit. It features multiple processors, and can be found in a number of smartphones and, of course, Nvidia’s Shield set-top-box.
Nvidia says that the groundbreaking console took “500 man-years” of effort to create: all of the complex algorithms, computer architecture, system designs, system software, APIs, game engines and peripherals dictated countless hours of experimentation and innovation.
In order to get its processor working within the confines of Nintendo’s vision, Nvidia build a custom API called the “NVN”. This was created in order for Nvidia to craft an experience that could bring lightweight, fast gaming to the masses.
Nintendo rarely if ever talks about specs, instead letting the hardware do the talking. Don’t expect much in the way of technical know-how outside of some press releases and such, which may not arrive until after the presentation.
Other Important Details
Nintendo’s online system isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great, either. The company’s never been massive on online multiplayer, although the likes of Mario Kart, Super Mario Maker and Splatoon have changed that.
The Switch certainly needs a cleaner online interface and friends system, so hopefully we get one. The online infrastructure of gaming hardware is certainly one of the most important selling points, so it’ll be interesting to see how — if at all — Nintendo presents this.
The Super Smash Bros franchise has had a thriving eSports scene for a number of years, so it was surprising to see Splatoon get the pro gaming treatment in the reveal trailer. That suggests to me that Nintendo is pushing into other areas of eSports, and may be looking to create more competitive, team-based titles that fit into professional circuits.
Further, sources tell me that Nintendo has extended a number of invites to prominent streamers and pro gamers, namely in the CS:GO, Call Of Duty and Overwatch crowds, to hands-on events this weekend. That could just be a matter of trying to get as much exposure as possible, but it’s hard to ignore the coincidence of their invite alongside a random appearance of eSports in the reveal trailer.
Gamecube & Backwards Compatibility
Reports backs in December claimed Nintendo has been working to bring GameCube games to the console via Virtual Console.
Sources say that GameCube playback has been tested and is working on the console, with three games already prepared and ready to hit the console in time for launch. Those games are Super Mario Sunshine, Luigi’s Mansion and Super Smash Bros. Melee.
The Virtual Console is nothing new to Nintendo gamers, having serviced Wii, Wii U and 3DS owners for many years with Nintendo classics.
Interestingly, the NES Classic Edition, which people have gone crazy for and is sold out pretty much across the world, was made by the same people who engineered the Switch’s Virtual Console, which makes sense considering the digital nature of the emulation.
Further, if you haven’t been lucky enough to snag that retro console re-release, the GameCube version of Animal Crossing could service your cravings for some retro Nintendo gaming, with the title reportedly tested and working on Switch.
What’s interesting about that is that the game included in-game, playable versions of Donkey Kong, Mario and Zelda, all of which are reportedly working on Switch from within Animal Crossing.
What are you most excited to see and learn about today during the Nintendo Switch presentation? Sound off in the comments below!