What is the Nintendo Switch? It’s a gaming console and a portable all in one. With the full release only six months away, planned for March 2017, we’ve finally got details (and in-game action) showing off what this device is capable of. This isn’t just another Nintendo 3DS, this is a single-screen, fully portable console that can play current-generation games on-the-fly. Mario Kart is a given, but you’ll also get a chance to take massive RPGs like Skyrim, or fast-paced online shooters like Splatoon anywhere you’ve got to be. How does it all work?
We’re going to discuss everything shown in the new Nintedo Switch trailer right here. Give it a watch — just check out the embed below for a visual presentation. This confirms many of the rumors, and raises many more questions. We don’t have all the answers yet — no word on price, battery life, storage capacity, etc. But we can speculate on the announcement. Here are 10 new Nintendo Switch features, and why they’re so awesome.
Check out the reveal trailer below, then continue scrolling for all our insights.
#1: It’s a Console / Portable Hybrid
Let’s start with the most obvious feature here — you can play this thing on your TV, or take the portable tablet screen with you. The tablet screen comes with a dock, presumably where it can be recharged for handheld play. The dock may also provide a processing boost; HD screens are, naturally, going to be bigger than the handheld, after all. That’s just speculation on our part. The real meat of the console lies in how you can enjoy it almost anywhere.
As shown in the trailer, there’s no limits to where you can play. Unlike the WiiU screen, this can go far outside the main console’s range — we’d venture to guess that the screen is the “console” — the main source of processing power on the unit. You are no longer tethered to a television screen.
#2: The Controller Is Detachable
Just like rumors suggested, there are two “fins”– tiny detachable controllers called “Joy-con” — two halves that can snap onto the sides of the portable tablet-like flatscreen. Once snapped on, they become the primary method for controlling the Nintendo Switch. Naturally, there are more control options available, and we’ll totally cover those options below, but the Joy-con looks like the standard packed-in controller.
Let’s take a closer look at the controller — the controller looks to resemble a Pro or WiiU controller. There are two thumbsticks, four face buttons, a directional pad (D-Pad), two shoulder buttons, and two triggers. Then there’s the Home button, and a return of the “+” and “-” buttons from the Wii gamepad.
The two removeable Joy-con controllers feature their own dock — called the “Joy Grip” and designed for a more traditional controller experience. The wireless Joy Grip is where both controller halves plug in, and then be used in a configuration very similar to the WiiU Pro controller. The new Pro-like controller, called the Switch Pro, is sold separately.
There’s another awesome feature we saw in the trailer — both “fins” can be used by separate players. We’ll go into that later.
#3: It Has a Kickstand
This is basic, but reveals more about the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities. You do not have to plug the “fin” controllers into the Switch handheld screen. You can use the bundled-in “fin” controllers, or you can use a Pro-like controller. Like a tablet, it can be set down in a room and enjoyed just like a small flatscreen. You don’t actually have to carry this thing around — you can take it where you need to go and set it up for everyone to see.
That sets it far apart from the locked-in, personal nature of the 3DS. The Nintendo Switch seems to be built for sharing experiences with friends, and that aspect of the design gleams through with the modular controller.
#4: The ‘Fins’ Can Be Used For 2-Player Action
The tiny “fins” — the two removable halves of the controller — can be removed and used separately. In the trailer, we see two players enjoying Mario Kart on the Switch. That means you can enjoy multiplayer or cooperative action with two players anywhere in the world. We might even seen four-player coop on the small screen. Right now, only two players are confirmed for the handheld side of the Nintendo Switch.
That also reveals another aspect — the “fins” are wireless controllers all on their own. Think of it like the Wii’s Nunchuk attachment. What if you could remove the nunchuck and share with your friends? You’re essentially carrying around TWO controllers, all the time. That’s going to make impromptu games of Smash Bros so much easier.
#5: Play Multiplayer With Friends Anywhere
Online multiplayer is a given. What’s new and special about the Nintendo Switch is how you can play multiplayer. Like the 3DS, it appears local players can connect their Nintendo Switch devices to battle it out in Splatoon, Mario Kart, and more.
Of course, to make this happen, you’ll need friends with their own Nintendo Switch devices. Really, that isn’t so different from the past, but being able to get together, setup the Switch on a desk / table, and start playing without a lot of fuss is pretty fun. And, if the Nintendo Switch is anything like the WiiU, you might be able to play two-player coop on the same screen, online — basically, the perfect (and easy to setup) party game platform.
If you look carefully at the Nintendo Switch controller, you can also see 4 LED lights on the “fin” controllers. We’ll go ahead and take that as confirmation that you can play with up to four friends locally on the same screen, just like the WiiU and Wii consoles.
#6: The Nintendo Switch Uses Cartridges
Yes, just as we all suspected, tiny cartridges are back for the Nintendo Switch. We don’t actually get a good view of the Switch’s screen after the cartridge is inserted, so there’s no way to know exactly which types of games are going to be cartridge based — will we see a divide between downloadable and cartridge-based games?
At the top of the portable screen, there is a cover labeled “Game Card” — this is where you’ll insert games.
Downloadable games don’t need confirmation. The WiiU and 3DS all feature downloadable games, so it’s only natural those will also be an option on the Nintendo Switch. The biggest question is — will large titles like Skyrim or Legend of Zelda also appear on tiny cartridges?
#7: Enough Power For Third-Party Support… We Hope
Not exactly a glamorous new feature, but the WiiU proved it couldn’t quite keep up with the other current-gen consoles in the graphics department. Both the PS4 and the Xbox One are getting their own upgrades, and it’s doubtful the Nintendo Switch will match the raw power of those machines (or a PC for that matter) — but the extra power of the Nintendo Switch just might be enough to get those third-party developers back.
First of all, we can see Skyrim running on the portable screen, so we can infer that a version of Bethesda’s open-RPG will appear in the Nintendo Switch launch line-up. Speaking of…
#8: The Launch Line-Up — New Splatoon, Mario Platformer & Mario Kart
Only glimpsed for short bursts, we did get lots of looks at the latest, maybe greatest, new first-party Nintendo-developed IPs. Those include; a new Splatoon, a new Mario platformer, and a new Mario Kart. In the quick view of Mario Kart, played cooperatively on the same screen, we can see a Boo driver. That’s totally new.
As for Mario, we can see him rushing through an urban town with brownstone-style buildings (Or maybe it’s a Wild West town?) on the left and right. Maybe the Mushroom Kingdom has finally gentrified. Splatoon looks just like the messy online shooter we love, so more of that is always a good thing. The current Splatoon requires a second screen to play, so some changes are incoming.
Already announced Nintendo titles like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild were always rumored to appear on Nintendo’s next console, and that’s now been confirmed. There’s still a WiiU version slated for release. Hopefully the graphical gap between the two versions won’t be too wide.
We still have lots of questions concerning the Nintendo Switch. Does it have a touch screen? Will we see motion controls? Is it backwards compatible? Lots of features remain to be seen, so check back here once we learn more about the next big (little) machine from Nintendo.