Well, Nintendo's Switch event in Tokyo has come and gone. You're probably doing OK if you're a Zelda fan, and if you're a wrist strap manufacturer, you're likely beside yourself. Everyone else might be a little bit surprised about just vague Nintendo was when it came to the Switch's lineup of launch games. One the bright side, at least the new Joy-Con controllers have sophisticated enough haptic technology to replicate the feeling of ice-cubes falling into a glass.
If you didn't catch the event or fell asleep because it was streaming so late at night, worry not: we have the tl;dr breakdown, complete with all the need to know details. If you want to see famed Japanese game developer Suda51 awkwardly mucking about on stage, though, you'll have to watch the presentation for yourself. We can't recreate that moment with words.
Price and Release Date
Nintendo swiftly answered the two biggest questions we had about the Switch: its price, and release date. The Nintendo Switch will be available on March 3 in North America, Europe, and Japan, and it'll retail for $299.99. It'll include two Joy-Con controllers, the Joy-Con Grip (the thing that joins the Joy-Cons into a conventional gamepad configuration), a pair of Joy-Con wrist straps, and the dock for plugging the system into your TV. Unlike all previous Nintendo consoles, it won't be region locked, so games bought anywhere in the world will play on any Switch console.
Wow. Despite announcing that 50 companies were working on 80 games, only two were that were shown during the presentation were actually confirmed to release at the system's March 3 launch. At least one of them was Zelda. (There's a third confirmed launch game, a Nintendo eShop exclusive titled Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!, that has also been confirmed by Nintendo following the event). Highlights include:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They made us wait until the final seconds for a glimpse, and it was excruciating, but at least the presentation ended on a high note. Yes, it looks gorgeous, and yes, it's out on March 3. If you're buying the Switch, this is why. Watch the trailer, and bask in its beauty.
Super Mario Odyssey is basically the Mario you know and love, this time in what appears to be the real world, and with a magic hat. Nintendo promised a sandbox-style game in the spirit of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. If you were wondering why "New Donk City" was trending on Twitter, this is why. We don't know much, but there are planes, rideable dogs, and a sentient red cap that "plays an important role in Mario's journey." It's not a launch game, unfortunately – you'll have to wait until Holiday 2017.
In 1,2, Switch, each player holds one Joy-Con for simple face-to-face competitive mini-games that involve watching each other, not a screen. We saw a few different games: a western-style shootout, a competitive phone answering game, and a tennis game. The game launches March 3 with the Switch.
Arms is head-to-head fighting game where, as the title suggests, the combatants have giant extendable arms. "Like boxing, but also like shooting" is how Nintendo describes it. Players hold one Joy-Con in each hand and punch like a drunk sailor. There's online play and the game is getting a Spring release.
Splatoon 2 boasts new stages and new weapons (including one that you can dual wield), online play, and local multiplayer. It's coming in Summer 2017 with the promise of downloadable content and online in-game events. Oh, and you can play with the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is dubbed as a "definitive edition" of Mario Kart 8 that runs at 1080p in TV mode and features every track from the Wii U version, including all the DLC goodies. The Inklings from Splatoon appear as all-new guest characters, along with returning favorites King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr. The game has a revamped Battle mode, complete with Balloon Battle and Bob-omb Blast, and new courses Urchin Underpass and Battle Stadium. If you're out and about, you can connect up to eight Switches through local wireless for multiplayer Mario Kart away from a wi-fi network, or you can play split-screen. It'll be in stores on April 28.
We also saw teasers for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Fire Emblem Warriors, Dragon Quest 10, Dragon Quest 11, Dragon Quest Heroes 1 and 2, Disgaea 5 Complete, and a new 2D game from Square Enix titled Project Octopath Traveler. EA was on hand to announce a new FIFA in the most corporate and soulless way it could possibly muster and Bethesda's Todd Howard confirmed the existence of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Switch, surprising absolutely no one. Sega designer Toshihiro Nagoshi, best known for the Yakuza series, said he would be producing games for Switch, but nothing was announced, and Grasshopper Manufacture's Suda51 also made an appearance to more or less announce a new No More Heroes game, although this wasn't actually confirmed. Expect to wait a while for that one. Other rumored Nintendo games, like some kind of Pokémon flavor or a new Super Smash Bros., didn't show up in any form.
Below is a list of all the games Nintendo has confirmed for release in the U.S.
- 1, 2, Switch (March 3)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (March 3)
- Snipperclips – Cut it out, together! (March 3)
- Has Been Heroes (March)
- I am Setsuna (March)
- Just Dance 2017 (March)
- Super Bomberman R (March)
- Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (April 28)
- Arms (Spring 2017)
- Sonic Mania (Spring 2017)
- Splatoon 2 (Summer 2017)
- NBA 2K18 (September 2017)
- Skyrim (Fall 2017)
- Super Mario Odyssey (Holiday 2017)
- Project Sonic 2017 (2017)
- Lego City Undercover (2017)
- Arcade Archives (TBD)
- Disgaea 5 Complete (TBD)
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (Working Title) TBD
- Farming Simulator (TBD)
- Fast RMX (TBD)
- FIFA (TBD)
- Fire Emblem Warriors (TBD)
- Minecraft Story Mode — The Complete Adventure (TBD)
- Minecraft: Switch Edition (TBD)
- Puyo Puyo Tetris (TBD)
- Rayman Legends Definitive Edition (TBD)
- RIME (TBD)
- Shin Megami Tensei: Brand New Title (TBD)
- Skylanders Imaginators (TBD)
- Steep (TBD)
- Syberia 3 (TBD)
- Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers (TBD)
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (TBD)
Hardware & System Features
Nintendo kept it light when it came to talking technical specifications, but here's what we know.
The battery lasts from 2.5 hours to 6 hours – but Nintendo assures us you can play Breath of the Wild for 3 hours on a single charge – and it has an AC adaptor included for charging while playing. The 6.2" screen is a capacitive touch panel just like your phone, and the display is 720p as previously suspected. When you dock the Switch and have it playing in TV mode, it can run games at 1080p resolution. It has a fairly puny 32GB of internal storage which you're going to need to expand with microSDXC or microSDHC cards if you're downloading anything. Speaking of which, it uses wi-fi for connectivity by default as you'd expect and up to eight Switch systems can be connected wirelessly anywhere for multiplayer "face-to-face" gaming away from a wi-fi hotspot.
The real innovation comes in those teeny-weeny little Joy-Con controllers. Each Joy-Con is a fully functional controller so players can share them – they even have shoulder buttons hidden along the edges. The right controller has an infra-red motion camera that can read hand gestures – it's sensitive enough to tell the difference between rock, paper, scissors when you wave your hands in front of it – and it can also judge distance. It has haptic feedback just like your new iPhone (Nintendo calls it "HD Rumble") plus an accelerometer and gyro-sensors in each Joy-Con mean it can be used just like the old Wii controllers. It comes in two pretty colors pretty apart from the standard gray: neon blue and neon red.
The Joy-Con can read Amiibo data, so that money machine will keep on grinding for Nintendo, and there's a capture button for screenshots, and in the future, video, that can be shared over social media.
There are two different versions of the hardware: one with gray Joy-Cons, and one that come with a neon red and a neon blue Joy-Con. Both will include wrist straps so you don't fling them out of the window or at a loved one. The Joy-Con Grip is also included in the box, but the Pro Controller is available separately for $69.99.
Yes, it has it, but the details were super vague. We do know that there'll be a smartphone application that will connect to your Switch for social functions that will let you invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with friends during online matches in compatible games. Yup, you read that right. Voice chat is through an app on your phone. A free, limited version of this app will be available for download in summer 2017, so don't expect any of this stuff before Splatoon 2 ships. Online services will be free at first, but will start charging in Fall 2017 – but there's no word on price. Subscribers will get to download and play NES or Super NES game (with newly-added online play) for free for a month. After the free-trial period, most games will require a paid online service subscription from Nintendo in order to play online, just like on your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.