[Updated with confirmed titles available at launch and beyond - 2/23/17]
Nintendo revealed a number of details on their upcoming console, the Nintendo Switch, late last night. The company revealed the price, release date, and a number of games over the course of their livestreamed event, which you can watch online.
The night's information dump began with the reveal of the Nintendo Switch release date: March 3. That means the next generation of Nintendo's console line is less than two months away from hitting brick and mortar stores and that's certainly hard not to get at least a little excited about. Moreover, the Switch will retail for $300 making it roughly competitive with the consoles from Microsoft and Sony.
Nintendo also revealed some scant details on how Nintendo will alter its approach to online with the Switch. Their plan is for players to be able to link a smart device, presumably a smart phone or tablet, to the Switch via an app. This app will allow players to invite friends to games and interact in various ways with the digital environment of the Switch. The online services will be free when the console initially launches, but sometime during Fall 2017 online services will change over to a paid subscription.
In order to more fully embrace the new digital age, Nintendo will be doing away with region locked hardware with the Switch. The company stated that this would be a general approach, so that still leaves open the possibility that some select things could still be region locked.
Nintendo began to get more into how the console will actually function. Players can enjoy it in TV Mode, which functions like a traditional console. Tabletop Mode transforms the console into a portable screen that can be placed on a table while gaming outside the home in a party or travel situation. Handheld Mode slips the left and right Joy-Con controllers onto their respective sides of the Switch console and turn it into a portable gaming device.
One of the most talked about aspects of the Switch prior to Nintendo's reveal event was how long the battery would last when gaming on the go with the Switch. Nintendo estimates that the Switch contains 2.5-6.5 hours of battery life depending on what game is being played. While it can be played while it is being charged, the short battery life almost certainly limits the amount of usable time the console can be in use away from a power outlet.
Nintendo dedicated a significant portion of time to explaining the rather strange Joy-Con controllers. Each console will come packaged with two Joy-Con controllers, left and right, that can be clicked together inside the Joy-Con grip to form the basic Switch controller. Each of these functions separately, enabling the console to support a two-player co-op experience right out of the box. Both controllers house a light sensor that is capable of distinguishing shapes and movement; the example used highlighted its ability to recognize the symbols for Rock, Paper, Scissors. The two controllers also make use of Nintendo has dubbed "HD rumble" - a high-precision internal rumble pack that can deliver very specific rumble sensations. On top of all that, the controllers include gyroscopes and motion sensing technology that allow them to incorporate movement into some games. The Joy-Con controllers will be available in different colors at launch: grey, neon red, and neon blue. It will also come with a wrist strap accessory called the Joy-Con Grip that seems to make the individual Joy-Con controllers more ergonomic and hand-friendly.
The right Joy-Con includes an NFC reader, and the left Joy-Con houses a button that can take screenshots and capture in-game video. The video capture function doesn't seem like it will be functional when the console launches in March, but that function will come eventually, according to Nintendo. Screenshots and recorded video can be shared on social media, which raises a question about how Nintendo will be handling YouTube and Twitch monetization with the Switch, given their past policies regarding Nintendo IPs and Let's Players/streamers.
All of these features come with a price, though. The base cost of the system, $300, seems pretty reasonable for a console launch, but Nintendo aims to make a killing on the cost of standalone accessories. If you are thinking of perhaps getting a second dock for another location in your home for the Switch, the $90 price for a single docking unit might put you off. Want to pick up two extra Joy-Con controllers to have four individual/two traditional controllers on launch day? That will cost you another $80 - more if you buy the Joy-Con controllers separately for $50 each. If you opt for the Pro controller, which is only sold separately, it isn't that much cheaper at $70. Anything beyond the base system will significantly increase the cost of buying into Nintendo's next generation. Just one extra controller nudges the cost of the system close to $400, a number the console will easily break as games are being sold separately at launch.
Nintendo envisions the Switch as a party-friendly device. Up to eight Switch consoles can wirelessly connect for local multiplayer games. Titled 1-2 Switch and slated to be available at launch, the first game shown during the conference highlighted the company's focus. 1-2 Switch consists of a number of minigames that involve person-to-person interaction with friends and family. The one highlighted most, a Western-style quick draw game, pits two players face-to-face and determines who can draw their Joy-Con the fastest. Other games briefly shown included sword duels, boxing, yoga, and more. As far as we know right now, there are no plans to bundle 1-2 Switch with the console, making it a separate purchase on launch day.
The second game shown for Nintendo's impending console packs a punch. Arms looks to be a combination of Overwatch and Punch-Out!! pitting players against one another or the computer in the boxing arena. The major distinction between Arms and a typical boxing title seems to be that every character has extendable arms and a number of unique abilities to get the better of their opponent. The game's producer described it as a mixture of shooting and boxing. Arms makes use of the motion control elements of the Joy-Con to simulate boxing in a way that feels very reminiscent of Wii Sports' boxing, albeit highly refined. With a roster of colorful characters and a truly endearing aesthetic, Arms definitely catches the eye and should be one to watch as we inch closer to its release date. Unfortunately it will not be available when the Switch launches on March 3, but it will be coming sometime this spring.
Splatoon 2 made a splash with a new trailer showing new, inky gameplay. New special weapons can be activated when enough ink has covered the stage and players can use the Joy-Con motion controls to aim their tools of colorful destruction. Splatoon 2 turned out to be another game we will have to wait a while to see, launching sometime this summer. Much like the first Splatoon, Nintendo will support it post-launch with new stages, weapons, and ongoing, in-game events.
Hand it to Nintendo, they paced the reveals during their Switch presentation just right. Just as it began to seem odd that no major franchise names had yet made an appearance, they blew open the lid on a brand new Mario title. Super Mario Odyssey might just be one of the weirdest Mario games ever made, and that is saying a lot of a franchise that includes some of the most fever-dream worlds in gaming. Nintendo wanted to convey the idea that Mario was journeying to unknown lands and the trailer certainly establishes that, showing obscure and never-before seen enemies and locations - including what looks to be New York City, complete with realistically proportioned humans. I cannot stress enough how jarring the juxtaposition between a realistic human and a cartoon Mario appears. Oh, and Mario's hat seems to be alive now? Outside of the real-world areas, the game looks incredibly gorgeous and inviting. Bowser makes an appearance in a dapper white suit having kidnapped Princess Peach yet again. I don't know how any of this fits together, but the sheer oddity of it all has me on board, even if the ride could end up being a bumpy one. Super Mario Odyssey won't release until the 2017 holidays, so more details will almost certainly be shared during E3.
Monolithsoft is back with a sequel to their Xenoblade JRPG titled... Xenoblade 2. It might have been the stream, but some of the in-game footage seemed to be stuttering. Details on the game were practically nonexistent and Nintendo did not provide a release date.
Koei Tecmo appears to be continuing their relationship with Nintendo by creating another hack-and-slash fighting game. However, instead of adapting The Legend of Zelda, this time the developers of Dynasty Warriors will be tackling the venerable Fire Emblem series. The teaser was pretty short and didn't display any gameplay, but color Fire Emblem fans intrigued by such a strange marriage of genres in Fire Emblem Warriors.
From this point on, Nintendo adopted a more rapid-fire approach toward unveiling upcoming titles. Nintendo claims that, between their studios and third-parties, over 80 games are in development for the Switch at this point in time.
Dragon Quest X and XI are slated for a Switch release in Japan, while Dragon Quest Heroes I and II will also be coming to the Switch. A new Shin Megami Tensei has just gone into development for the fledgling console, though nothing beyond that and a short teaser were shared. Square Enix unveiled a new IP called Project Octopath Traveler, a game that appears to update the old-school 16-bit aesthetic with a few modern twists. Todd Howard from Bethesda to confirm that Skyrim will be coming to the Nintendo Switch, laying to rest the rumors that Skyrim's appearance might have simply been for the promotional trailer. Suda 51 from Grasshopper Manufacture, the studio behind the recent free-to-play game Let It Die, took the stage to let everyone know that he would be resurrecting Travis Touchdown for an as yet unnamed title for the Switch. People might remember the name Travis Touchdown from his protagonist role in the game No More Heroes. EA confirmed that FIFA would be coming to the Switch, too. Presumably we could also expect to see other EA Sports titles like Madden on the console, but so far only FIFA has been confirmed.
A montage of games revealed and hinted at a number of other titles that Nintendo will be bringing to the Switch. Glimpses could be seen of Minecraft, a few Telltale titles, Farming Simulator, Rime, a Sonic title, Bomberman, and a flash of a futuristic racing game that might just be the first F-Zero game since the GameCube.
The Switch will come in two different packages when it hits shelves on March 3. Both will be the same price of $300 with the only difference being the color of the Joy-Con controllers. One system will be packaged with grey controllers and the other will have Joy-Con in red and blue. The system will come with the left and right Joy-Con, a Joy-Con Grip, the system dock, console, an HDMI cable, and an AC adapter.
The final announcement was one that many were hoping for: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be a launch title for the Nintendo Switch and available on March 3. This was accompanied by what might just be one of the biggest hype-inducing trailers in gaming history. The game includes voiced dialogue! It has weird sci-fi elements! Epic scope in both landscape and story! Some nods to timeline continuity for the fans! A very impressive trailer that might have single-handedly ensured that the Switch sells out of stores on day one.
Now, that was a lot of information to digest. Overall, this conference succeeded in fostering significant excitement for the Nintendo Switch, which had previously been a mystery. While there were certainly some tantalizing looks at future Switch titles, only two were confirmed to be launch titles, though one of those being a Zelda game pretty much guarantees a large number of people buying into the hardware. And that buy in could make Nintendo a tidy profit. I'd wager that they are selling the Switch at a loss to make that attractive $300 price point, but they will more than make up for that in software and accessory sales. That probably contributes to the seemingly inflated costs of the Switch's accessories.
Below you can find the full release list of games that have been confirmed for the Nintendo Switch so far. Nintendo has announced a special indie game stream on February 28 at 9am PT that will likely finalize the day one launch line-up of the Switch with a handful of additional indie titles, but these games are what have been confirmed so far. We've had some hands-on time with several of the upcoming games, so be sure to check those pieces out for some more information!
Additional games have been added from the Nindie showcase.
Available Day One (March 3):
- Fast RMX - eShop only
- Human Resource Machine - eShop only
- I Am Setsuna - eShop only
- Just Dance 2017
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Little Inferno - eShop only
- Shovel Knight - eShop only
- Skylanders: Imaginators
- Super Bomberman R
World of Goo - eShop only
- Arms (Spring 2017)
- Blaster Master Zero (March 9) - Exclusive to Switch and 3DS
- Graceful Explosion Machine (April) - Timed exclusive
- Has-Been Heroes (March)
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (April 28)
- Mr. Shifty (April) - Timed exclusive
- Pocket Rumble (March) - Exclusive
- Puyo Puyo Tetris (Spring 2017) - eShop only
- Shakedown: Hawaii (April) - Timed exclusive
- Snipperclips, Cut It Out Together (March) - eShop only
- TumbleSeed (Spring 2017)
- Splatoon 2
- Stardew Valley - Timed exclusive features
SteamWorld Dig 2
- The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ (TBD) - eShop only
- Disgaea 5 Complete (TBD)
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (2017)
- The Escapists 2 (2017)
- FIFA (2017)
- Fire Emblem Warriors (TBD)
- Flipping Death (2017)
- GoNNER (2017) - Timed exclusive
- Kingdom: Two Crowns (2017)
- Minecraft (2017)
- Minecraft: Story Mode (TBD)
- NBA 2K (2017)
- New Shin Megami Tensei (TBD)
- Overcooked! Special Edition (2017)
- Rayman Legends (TBD)
- Runner3 - (Fall 2017)
- Skyrim (Fall 2017)
- Sonic Mania (2017)
- Steep (2017)
- Super Mario Odyssey (Holiday 2017)
- Syberia 3 (TBD)
- Ultra Street Fighter II (2017)
- WarGroove (2017)
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017)