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Nintendo Switch

Here's What You Need to Know About the New Nintendo Switch

Nintendo's much-speculated-about next console has had its official reveal—so we can all stop making shit up now.

Mike Diver

Mike Diver

The Nintendo Switch in all its portable glory, showing off the new Zelda game (screencaps via YouTube)

Nintendo has finally put to bed months, if not years, of rumours surrounding its next home console, previously codenamed the NX, by formally revealing, with a three-minute preliminary announcement, what the Switch is all about. Which is this, basically:

Under the proverbial hood, the system has... Actually, the video tells us nothing about the tech specs of this thing, although it does seem to show cartridges are used, rather than discs (see 0:52 of the video). And that's OK, for now – full specifics will be revealed before March 2017.

UPDATE: NVIDIA has posted a blog outlining how its Tegra processor is under the Switch's proverbial hood. The post concludes: "NVIDIA gaming technology is integrated into all aspects of the new Nintendo Switch home gaming system, which promises to deliver a great experience to gamers."

Here's the footage that Nintendo has released, showing off the console's unique look and functionality:

Regarding new games seen in today's video, the known factor of Zelda aside, that might be an updated Mario Kart 8, and there's previously unseen footage of both Splatoon and Mario titles, albeit without the context necessary to know for certain if they're Switch-exclusive projects. (We know a new Mario is on the way.) But one thing is for sure: that is Skyrim, on Nintendo.

Look, see: that is 'Skyrim'

The much-discussed play at home, and on the move aspect of the machine – "Interact with your game on the go" was the leaked marketing messaging at the start of October – has manifested as a rather nifty little slot and slide system which features detachable controller parts, a portable, tablet-sized screen, and a plugged-into-the-TV dock. (We don't see anyone touch the screen in the reveal, but that doesn't mean it's not a touch screen.) Meaning you're getting, essentially, the Wii U GamePad and Pro Controller with the same components. This is the "Joy-Con" controller, to use the official Nintendo name for it.

Reads an official statement on the controllers, from Nintendo:

"One player can use a Joy-Con controller in each hand; two players can each take one; or multiple Joy-Con controllers 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 consoles together to enjoy local multiplayer face-to-face competition."

Which sounds great, but perhaps more likely to break than a traditional pad? Build quality is going to be so essential with this kind of controller, if it's being repeatedly taken apart and put together in different ways. Also, those "single" pads are tiny: I don't have massive hands, but they're already cramping up in anticipation.

Of the new footage, Nintendo of Europe President Satoru Shibata says (via a timely press release):

"With this first look at Nintendo Switch, I hope fans are already imagining the possibilities of having the freedom to play when, where, and how they want to. Our teams at Nintendo, and many other developers, are all working hard to create new and unique experiences, and we look forward to showing you more."

Several developers are confirmed as working on projects for the Switch, including Bandai Namco, Telltale Games, Electronic Arts, Bethesda, Codemasters, Grasshopper Manufacture, PlatinumGames, Epic Games, Ubisoft, Warner Bros., FromSoftware, Sega, Capcom, Square Enix and Konami. That's some solid third-party support, right there.

The logo for the Nintendo Switch (image courtesy of Nintendo)

The famous Japanese company will be looking to the Switch to turn around its commercial performance in the home gaming market. While the 2006-introduced Wii sold in excess of 100 million units globally, placing it third behind the PlayStation and PS2 in terms of under-the-telly machines across history, the Wii U's 13 million units shifted since 2012 has been a painful thorn in Nintendo's side for too long. Its comparatively poor performance, affected by muddled pre-launch messaging (was this a new console, or a Wii peripheral?), has resulted in countless articles regarding Nintendo's future fortunes, and just how long it could be before the company, founded in 1889, crumbles and just makes games for its console competitors, Sega-style.

The Switch offers fresh hope that this oldest of video game industry pillars isn't close to collapsing. For one thing, even before the Switch's reveal we knew there was a beautiful-looking new Legend of Zelda on the way, scheduled as a then-NX launch title. Courtesy of Nintendo Japan, just drink in the delicious visuals of today's (perhaps accidentally, perhaps not) "leaked" footage from Breath of the Wild, and tell me you don't want to spend an age in that world.

That's just "in development" code, and apparently for the Wii U no less – but I want to go there now, to be quite honest. And just imagine how much more beautiful it'll be on Nintendo's new hardware. But I have to wait until March 2017, when the Switch is released to the public. Bummer. Still, until then there's the NES Mini to occupy my time – they told me that the classics never go out of style, and they don't, they don't.

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