Nintendo used a three-minute video to reveal its latest hardware this morning, firing the starting gun on the ninth generation of video game consoles – and it turns out to be pretty much exactly what everyone thought it would be. As has long been rumored, the Nintendo Switch is a hybrid system that features a (fairly chunky) iPad Mini-like tablet that can either be plugged into a base station for TV gaming sessions or connected to its innovative controllers for on-the-go play. At first blush, it closely resembled Nvidia’s gaming tablet, the Shield – and in fact uses the same chipset to power its graphics.
The reveal video began with fan-favorite The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild and showed a seamless transition of play from couch to local park, with the player simply picking up the tablet from its base station by the TV and sliding it between the two parts of the controller that he had just neatly dismantled. The action then moved to a series of scenes that revealed more of the hardware features (kickstand for the tablet, second Xbox-style controller, headphone jack, local multiplayer) and – excitingly – more games, including Nintendo staple Mario Kart, a new Super Mario game, Splatoon, basketball game NBA 2K and the RPG blockbuster, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Here's the breakdown.
It's coming out in March 2017
It's confirmed, it's happening...you'll be able to play brand new Nintendo games early next year. No word on price yet.
It's a tablet that you can also plug into your TV
When you're playing at home, the Nintendo Switch sits in a docking station that plugs directly into your TV and lets you play games like a conventional game console. When you pull the Switch out of the dock, it immediately transforms into a handheld device that offers the exact same experience on a small screen. It even has a kickstand so it'll stand up on its own.
It has multiple controller options
It wouldn't be a modern Nintendo console without a funky controller configuration, and the Switch is no different. Nintendo has dubbed the pair of detachable mini-controllers that come with the Switch Joy-Con. "One player can use a Joy-Con controller in each hand; two players can each take one; or multiple Joy-Con can be employed by numerous people for a variety of gameplay options," Nintendo said in its press release. You can put the Joy-Con controllers back onto the system or into a "Grip" accessory that Nintendo says mirrors the configuration of a more traditional controller (although it looks enormous.) As with the Wii U, Nintendo will also offer an optional, more conventional-looking Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to use instead.
It's cartridge-based, just like the 3DS
The reveal video confirmed earlier rumors that games for the Nintendo Switch will come on small cartridges (Nintendo is calling them "Game Cards") that look very similar in size to those that you plug into your 3DS. In the video we get a brief glimpse of the game being plugged into a slot under a flap in the top right hand edge of the handheld device. No word yet on whether there'll be an online store for downloading games.
It's a handheld that'll boast graphics like a full console
While Nintendo remains very quiet when it comes to the specs of the new console, we do know that it's Nvidia's tech powering the Switch. The chip-maker posted a blog at the same time as Nintendo's announcement, confirming previous rumors that the new console is "powered by the performance of the custom Tegra processor. The high-efficiency scalable processor includes an Nvidia GPU based on the same architecture as the world's top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards." Based on the glimpses of games seen in Nintendo's video, this means we'll be playing games like Skyrim on the little handheld.
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