It took us a long, long time to get here, but we finally can speak with confidence about the Nintendo Switch. The new home console is unique in that it’s not just a home console: It’s also a handheld. The Switch can either sit in a dock and connect to a TV for some traditional play, or players can take it on the go and use the tablet-like system’s own screen as their main display.
Need to catch up on all the Switch facts quickly? Follow along for everything we now know about the console. Be sure to check out our review of the hardware for more on what it’s actually like to use the Switch. From there, you can make an informed decision on whether it’s worth buying.
Nintendo Switch will launch on March 3
Nintendo revealed that the system hits stores on March 3, 2017. That gives us a little less than two months to prep for the next generation of Nintendo games.
Nintendo Switch costs $299.99 and comes in two different bundles
For $299.99, you’ll get a console with 32 GB of memory on board. One bundle includes two gray Joy-Con controllers; the other comes with one red and one blue controller. That set is referred to as “neon.”
Nintendo Switch supports three gameplay modes
The Switch can be played while in TV mode, which means it’s seated in the dock and games are played while looking at the TV. It also can be played as a handheld, like a standard portable system. Finally, there’s tabletop mode, where players can flip out the tablet’s kickstand and rest it on a table, detaching the controllers for some solo or even multiplayer action.
Launch titles include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, 1-2 Switch and Skylanders
Other launch titles include the minigame collection 1-2-Switch, Just Dance 2017 and Skylanders Imaginators. There’s also Super Bomberman R, as well as a collection of all existing Shovel Knight content.
On the eShop front is Snipperclips, an adorable multiplayer game. World of Goo, which launched on Wii back in 2008, will also be available come March 3. Since the Switch is region-free, it’s possible to even buy some Japanese games digitally, further expanding the launch lineup.
The next Mario game is Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey will be out this winter. It features Mario running around a sandbox-style world full of different landscapes — including a human-populated metropolis. While the settings may look wildly different than those of past Mario games, expect the goal to be saving Princess Peach as always.
The Switch will also get Mario Kart, Skyrim, FIFA and more
There are new games in the works too, of course
Totally new games include Arms, a fighting game where the combatants have expanding limbs; Fire Emblem Warriors, a collaboration between Nintendo and Koei Tecmo, as well as a completely new Fire Emblem game in 2018; a new Shin Megami Tensei game from Atlus; and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which is due later this year.
For the first time, Nintendo is widely expanding its relationship with third-party developers. Big indie titles like Stardew Valley, Overcooked and 62 others are confirmed to launch on the Switch.
Also exciting is Splatoon 2, a sequel to the Wii U title, will also be available this summer.
Nintendo Switch games will cost $59.99
Switch games, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2, will be sold for $59.99. That’s the same price that Wii U games are sold at right now. We also got to see the box art for some upcoming games, and we’re pretty big fans so far.
Some titles, including 1-2-Switch and Super Bomberman R, will be sold at a cheaper price point: $49.99. Expect eShop exclusives to retail for much less.
Nintendo Switch has up to six hours of battery life
The Switch can hook up to a TV, but it can also be played on the go. When it’s not plugged in, players can expect between two and a half and six hours of gameplay at the highest brightness setting. Games like Breath of the Wild can run for about three hours on battery alone before needing a charge.
The Switch’s dock charges the console
Although the dock serves as the main charging port, the console can also be charged over a USB-C connection. The whole process will take three hours.
There’s a capacitive, multitouch touchscreen
Nintendo Switch has a touchscreen, although it can do more than the Wii U and 3DS’ touchscreens could. The Switch has a capacitive display, which allows for multitouch input, like most modern smartphone and tablet screens. Don’t expect any Nintendo games to make great use of it at launch, though.
Switch games run at a lower resolution undocked
In handheld or tabletop mode, the Switch is capable of outputting games at 720p resolution. When docked, games run at up to 1080p resolution. Not all games hit 1080p when docked, however. Nintendo confirmed that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild runs at 900p when it’s connected to a TV.
Nintendo eShop arrives in a patch
In order to access the Nintendo eShop, where owners can download demoes and digital copies of games, the Switch requires all owners to update the system on launch day. The patch brings online features like linking Nintendo Accounts, online multiplayer, sharing images to social networks and more. Thankfully, it doesn’t take too long to download; it also adds in all other online functionality — or, that is, what little of it the Switch has on day one. If you’re looking for that catchy Wii shop music though, you might be disappointed with the sounds of silence in the eShop.
Online features come at a price
Nintendo is catching up to Sony and Microsoft with its new online service. In order to play multiplayer games online, users will have to pay a fee. While online gaming will initially be free, Nintendo will start charging for that service sometime this fall. Nintendo’s online service will include features like voice chat, discounts and a free monthly classic game download. Nintendo plans to release a dedicated app for smart devices that will handle features like voice chat and multiplayer game invites.
At this point, there are so many Nintendo account logins you’ll need to remember that it’s best to revisit all the different types of Nintendo accounts the Switch might require.
Virtual Console won’t be available at launch
While the Nintendo eShop will arrive on launch day as part of a day-one patch, the Virtual Console will not. No word on whether or not it’ll even come to the Switch or if existing Virtual Console purchases will carry over.
That free classic game download is only playable for a month
Here’s a big catch about the paid online service: Those monthly game downloads don’t work like the free games for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold members. Nintendo confirmed that players will only be able to try them out for one month, making them for like rentals than full downloads to keep.
The Switch doesn’t have Miiverse or StreetPass
Nintendo first launched Miiverse on the Wii U, but the platform is now available on both that console and 3DS as well. The online community won popularity with fans as a place to chat about different games, ask for tips and discuss other topics. The application’s best feature, though, was that it allowed users to create and upload original artwork based on whatever they wanted, leading to some creative illustrations and fanart for the biggest Nintendo franchises.
StreetPass, on the other hand, remains a 3DS-exclusive feature. The social app works when players take their system on the go with them in rest mode. As they pass other 3DS owners along their travels, each user will collect the other’s StreetPass data, which includes name, location and most recently played game. Other than that, users can play minigames and exchange puzzle pieces with the Miis of the 3DS owners they’ve passed by while each one had their systems tucked away.
All of this is to say that the Switch won’t have either of these applications. Nintendo seems to be pushing for the Switch as predominantly a home console, even if it has a portable mode. That may explain why StreetPass is going by the wayside. It’s unclear as to why Nintendo isn’t continuing its popular Miiverse feature, however.
The Switch does use friend codes, though
There are several ways to connect with friends on the Switch. One option is to draw from Nintendo’s recent mobile games, namely Super Mario Run and Miitomo ... but more disturbing is that the Switch preserves the dreaded friend code system. Despite the new Nintendo Account ID and the pre-existing Nintendo Network ID system, the Switch is going with 12-digit numerical codes as one of the main ways to add friends on launch day.
The Joy-Con controllers have motion sensors, precision feedback and more
Nintendo detailed what the detachable Joy-Con controllers can do during the presentation. These include motion, an infrared sensor on the right controller and “HD rumble” for some precise force feedback.
Games like Arms and 1-2-Switch will make ample use of these features to show off just what these unique controllers can do. Arms has players tilting the Joy-Con controllers to move fighters and throwing punches to, well, throw punches, while 1-2-Switch relies heavily on the rumble sensations.
Check out all the buttons for a sense of the breadth of these little gamepads:
The Joy-Con runs for up to 20 hours
The Joy-Con controllers won’t need to be plugged back in as often as the console does. The detachable peripherals will run for upward of 20 hours. The controllers need three and a half hours to charge fully. There are a couple of different methods for charging the Joy-Con — but note that the charging grip Nintendo showed off, which allows players to continue using them unplugged, is sold separately.
Joy-Con controllers and other accessories can be purchased separately
The new, unique Joy-Con controllers will be available to buy separately. These come in several different color configurations: gray, red, blue or both red and blue in one package. They’ll cost $49.99 individually or $79.99 for a bundle, which also has straps thrown in. But be careful how you put those on — they can be easily jammed if you’re not paying attention.
Also going on sale are other peripherals and accessories, like the Pro Controller ($59.99), a charging grip ($29.99) and an extra dock for the Switch unit ($89.99). There’s even a Joy-Con wheel available for racing games, like the deluxe Mario Kart 8. The plastic shell comes in a set of two for $14.99.
The hefty cost of some of these peripherals, especially the controllers, has many customers already up in arms. That’s not even taking into consideration the various other accessories on sale for the Switch, like carrying cases and microSDHC cards.
Another note: Some accessories just don’t work, like wireless bluetooth headsets.
The Joy-Con has some other issues
Alongside the wrist strap problem, there are reports that the controller often has trouble syncing to the console. The left Joy-Con in particular has given reviewers problems during gameplay, and it’s not yet clear if launch day updates will fix the problem.
Wiimotes won’t work on the Switch
You can ditch your old Wii and Wii U controllers. None of them will work with the Switch, according to Nintendo.
The Switch has expandable storage
The Switch supports microSDHC and microSDXC cards to supplement the 32 GB of system storage it has available. These cards can go all the way up to 512 GB in volume. That’s good to know, considering games like Breath of the Wild use 13.4 GB of space alone.
The Switch doesn’t support external hard drives quite yet, however, Nintendo confirmed to Polygon.
You can still use your amiibos
The Switch supports amiibos, those collectible figures based on Nintendo characters. The right Joy-Con has a sensor directly under its thumbstick that can read amiibo. Players just need to press the bottom of the figure to the top of the thumbstick to scan them into their games.
The Switch is region-free
Nintendo Switch will be region-free, unlike the Wii U and other past Nintendo home consoles. That means players can import games from other territories and play the to their liking; no more having to buy games from the same country that your console came from! You can change your system language settings at any time; we tested this with Breath of the Wild and the changes actually carry over to in-game audio and captions.
Nintendo Switch will allow players to take and share screenshots
A share button on the left Joy-Con controller is used to capture screens from games. Nintendo says players will also be able to save and share gameplay video in the future.
The Switch has a pretty svelte UI
We’ve taken a look at the user interface of the home menu very, very briefly. It’s sleek! It comes in at least two themes! Take a look:
The Switch won’t have Netflix or other streaming services at launch
That’s not to say the console will never have Netflix, but Nintendo confirmed that it won’t have streaming platforms available when the Switch launches. That’s because the system is meant to be a gaming platform first, according to Nintendo reps.
The Switch is available to pre-order now
Target, GameStop, Best Buy, Walmart and other retailers have limited stock, so if you want the console on launch day, you’d better run out and put your money down to pre-order the Switch now. If you missed out on the pre-order window though, here are your options for purchasing one on launch day and beyond.
We still don’t know everything about the Switch
Nintendo answered a lot of our biggest Switch questions, but there are plenty more we have now that the presentation has wrapped. For example: What’s the deal with Virtual Console? How much will online cost? We’ll be sure to continue finding as many answers to our lingering inquiries as possible.