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Nintendo Switch is the final name of the Nintendo NX

Detachable controllers make it a console/portable hybrid

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Nintendo’s next video game console will be called the Nintendo Switch, the company announced today.

The system, which was known by the code name "NX" until now, is scheduled to be released in March 2017, confirming the window Nintendo previously gave.

The Nintendo Switch will be a hybrid gaming system. It will connect to a television when resting in the Nintendo Switch Dock, and when lifted out of the dock, will "instantly transition to portable mode," according to Nintendo. The unit offers a "high-definition display," and features two detachable Joy-Con controllers, one on either side.

Each Joy-Con controller can be slotted into an accessory called the Joy-Con Grip to "[mirror] a more traditional controller." The console will also support a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to be used instead of the detachable Joy-Con units.

Nintendo Switch hardware Image: Nintendo

As both a console and a portable device, the Nintendo Switch will use cartridges known as GameCards. The portability is one of the system's most important features; the trailer showed people using the Switch in handheld mode on a plane, in a car and on a city rooftop. Nintendo said that people can bring multiple Switch units into the same place for "local multiplayer face-to-face competition."

"Nintendo Switch allows gamers the freedom to play however they like," said Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America. "It gives game developers new abilities to bring their creative visions to life by opening up the concept of gaming without boundaries."

While Nintendo did not provide any technical specifications for the Nintendo Switch today, Nvidia did confirm that the console runs on Nvidia hardware — specifically, a custom system-on-a-chip based on the company's Tegra line of mobile processors. There's no word on whether the Switch will be backward-compatible with the Wii U or other Nintendo systems. The trailer included glimpses of games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a Mario Kart title, a Super Mario game, the Wii U title Splatoon and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. But Nintendo said it will announce the launch lineup and show game demos "prior to the March launch."

Nintendo Switch collage Nintendo

Nintendo announced in March 2015 — less than two and a half years after releasing its latest console, the Wii U — that it was developing new gaming hardware with the code name of "NX." Then-president Satoru Iwata described the NX in the announcement as a "dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept." Since then, Nintendo has divulged little about the NX.

This past April, the company said it would not discuss the NX at E3 2016, but announced that it planned to launch the console worldwide in March 2017. Nintendo also announced at the time that the next Zelda game — revealed at E3 as Breath of the Wild — will be released simultaneously on Wii U and NX sometime in 2017. In September, The Pokémon Co. said it would develop games for the NX.

Reports from anonymous sources had indicated that the system could use cartridges instead of discs, do away with region locking, and take the form of a hybrid unit that serves as both a console and a portable gaming system. Fans had been so starved for official details about the NX that they had taken to bombarding social media feeds for Nintendo and even companies like Papa John's.

While developing the NX, Nintendo has also been getting into the mobile gaming market for the first time by teaming up with publisher DeNA. The first project from the partnership was Miitomo, a free-to-play social app that debuted in March 2016. The companies are now developing Super Mario Run, a mobile game due out this December on iOS and later on Android. Nintendo and DeNA have said they plan to release Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing titles on mobile platforms by the end of March.

First Look at the Nintendo Switch

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