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Our biggest Nintendo Switch questions (update)

Knowing the name just isn't enough

Nintendo finally showcased its next system today: Nintendo Switch, a tablet-style device that's both portable and prepped for traditional home console-style play. But name, controller details and appearance aside, there's still plenty we don't know about the device. We're still asking plenty of questions about the new system, and we've compiled some of the most pressing below.

Is there a touchscreen?

Nintendo's most recent handheld systems are touch-based, from Nintendo DS onward. Its previous home console has one too, and touch functionality has become a core component of many Wii U and 3DS games. Based on what we've learned about Nintendo Switch today, though, we can't say whether or not it will carry on the touchscreen tradition. We didn't see anyone tapping on the tablet's screen, instead using the new Joy-Con controllers in various ways.

Recent patent filings suggest that there is some sort of touchscreen, however, along with other unannounced features. Nintendo will reveal more specs in the coming months.

Is there a stylus?

We didn't see a stylus during the reveal trailer. We'd guess that there's only a need for one if the Switch has a touchscreen, so the answer to this is dependent on how Nintendo answers our previous question.

Will Nintendo Switch be backward compatible?

There's no backward compatibility for Nintendo 3DS or Wii U games, Nintendo confirmed to Polygon — not in terms of using your old physical media on the new system, anyway.

It's understandable why people would think it might be. Nintendo Switch uses cartridges called GameCards for its games. That initially left room to speculate on whether you can play your old DS and 3DS games on the new console, since those handhelds also use cartridges. There's some obvious physical differences between each set of cartridges, though; the Switch's cards appear to be larger and longer than those used by the DS and 3DS.

It's important to note that not every Nintendo home console has been able to play the games of its predecessor, especially when the new system delivers games on a different format than the previous one. The Wii U can play Wii games, for example, as both use discs. The GameCube could only play GameCube games, as it dropped the cartridges used by Nintendo 64 in favor of small optical discs.

There is the Virtual Console for some backward compatibility, however. The Wii, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS each have a library of older Nintendo systems' titles available for download, thanks to the Virtual Console. It's unclear if the Nintendo Switch will boast a similar Virtual Console selection of its own.

Can you stream video on it?

Although we're not 100 percent positive of Nintendo Switch's streaming capabilities, it stands to reason that it should be able to use apps like Netflix and Hulu. Both Wii and Wii U allow users to download and watch content from those services, and it would be surprising for Switch to not do the same.

How much internal storage does it have?

We aren't sure what Nintendo Switch's storage capacity is like. The Wii U tops out at 32 GB of flash memory right now, but no clue if Nintendo will go bigger with the Switch.

Okay, so what's the price?

The Nintendo Switch still is without a price. For reference, Wii U cost $349.99 at launch for its deluxe edition; the Wii cost $249.99. Both of those included a single game packed in.

When's the Nintendo Switch coming out, even?

Nintendo Switch hits stores in March 2017. We don't know what exact day yet.

What games are coming to Nintendo Switch?

We know The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is arriving at (or near) launch. As for Nintendo Switch's other launch titles, Nintendo says more details are coming at a later time.

Nintendo also revealed a ton of the publishers and developers working to bring games to the system, from Activision to Ubisoft. In the reveal trailer, we saw several other games including a new Mario, versions of Splatoon, Mario Kart 8 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, and a basketball game.

Rumor has it that there's a Pokémon game in the works too, and Square Enix confirmed that Dragon Quest 11 will launch on the console. Ubisoft also has Just Dance 2017 in the works for Nintendo Switch.

What accessories are available for Nintendo Switch?

Here's a list of the accessories we know Nintendo Switch has: a dock for the portable, tablet-style handheld device; the Joy-Con Grip for the detachable controllers; and the Joy-Con Pro Controller, which is more traditional in design. We also saw a contraption in the reveal trailer that seemed to let players mount the Switch's screen to a car seat headrest. Take a look at them all below:

nintendo switch collage

We have no idea when any of these will be available, or if the car mount is even an official accessory, however. It would also be surprising if the controllers didn't arrive at launch.

Can you buy additional docks?

We're not sure if you can buy the Nintendo Switch's dock separately. That would be convenient for setting up the system in different rooms, however.

Does Nintendo Switch have cellular service?

The Nintendo 3DS and DS don't use cellular data, although the beefier PlayStation Vita handheld does. Since the Switch appears to be a portable console first and foremost, data would certainly be useful. We saw the console in a variety of locations during the trailer, and though we don't know the specifics of its internet functionality, a consistent data connection would be great.

What's the battery life?

We don't know how long the Nintendo Switch's battery will last. We're going to hope it lasts awhile, what with all that handheld gaming action. We'd imagine a Mario game that looks this pretty would take up a lot of battery power. As for charging the system, Nintendo confirmed to us that the dock charges the main tablet unit.

Is it region-free?

There are reports suggesting that Nintendo Switch will be a region-free console, unlike Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. That would be great for people who love importing games, but Nintendo hasn't confirmed whether the Switch is region-locked yet.

Does it have motion control like the Wii and Wii U?

We didn't see anything in the way of motion-based controls during the reveal trailer. We suppose it's possible that the Joy-Con controllers offer similar tech, but Nintendo seems to be moving away from the novelties that defined its last two home consoles.

Can you use the Nintendo Switch tablet as a second screen when playing on your TV?

Nope. Nintendo told Polygon that the Switch is a "single-screen experience." This is likely due to the fact that the main Switch unit sits inside the dock while it's hooked up to the TV, making the screen inaccessible.

It's a shame, as that was a Wii U feature we really liked: the GamePad tablet controller's ability to function as a map, menu or other feature while playing a game on the big screen.

Ugh. When will we know more?

Nintendo has vaguely said that full details are coming ... eventually. When, we don't know, but presumably ahead of Nintendo Switch's March 2017 launch. Nintendo is holding a meeting for investors on Oct. 26, so it's possible that we'll hear more from about the console then.

Update: We've added another question that's on our minds above, and we'll continue to do so until we get more answers about Nintendo Switch.

Update 2: We have a few answers, which we've updated to include above. We've also got a few more questions about how the Switch work, which you'll find in our round-up.

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