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What is The Nintendo Switch? Everything We Know About Nintendo's Next

All the news, rumors, and speculation surrounding the newest thing from Nintendo.

This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.

Nintendo is ever moving forward. The Wii U hasn't seen the financial success executives wanted and the 3DS is still selling great, but getting a bit long in the tooth. Enter the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo's next console, which still has aspects shrouded in mystery. Let's dig into what we know, what's been reported, what's been rumored, and what's been speculated.

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What Nintendo Has Confirmed

The Nintendo Switch is a portable and home console hybrid. How does the 'hybrid' work? It's a tablet-like device with two detachable controllers on either side of the unit. These controllers, called Joy-Con L and Joy-Con R, are normally attached to the unit in portable mode. When you slide the Switch into the dock connected to your television, the system begins charging and switches to television output mode. Then you detach the Joy-Cons from the tablet and either hold them in each hand, or slide them into the Joy-Con Grip. Once in the Joy-Con Grip, the Joy-Cons look like any other standard controller. Alternatively, you can pick up the Pro Controller.

Nintendo also seems to be focused on local multiplayer with the Switch, even in portable mode. The main device as a kickstand, so it can be propped up on a table or other flat surface. Then players can detach the Joy-Cons for more comfortable play. For a multiplayer title with two players, each player can use one of the JoyCons as a single controller. According to the teaser trailer, multiple Switch devices can be linked to expand multiplayer play.

Like the 3DS before it, the Nintendo Switch is a cartidge-based system. GameCards slide into the top of the unit.

Nintendo has declined to get specific on the Switch's specifications, but the portable is powered by a custom Nvidia Tegra processor.

"Nintendo Switch 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," said Nvidia in the announcement.

Despite some rumors, the television dock does not provide any additional processing power. Nintendo has confirmed that the Nintendo Switch Dock is purely for charging the system and television output. There's a possibility that the dock allows the system to run in a high-power mode, but Nintendo has yet to mention such a feature. Nintendo has declined to say whether the system has touch-screen support, but it has said that the Switch will continue to support Amiibo.

No release date outside of March 2017 was given.

Digging Into The History

Late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata first revealed the Switch as "the Nintendo NX" at a joint press conference in March of 2015 with mobile operator DeNA. The DeNA partnership was meant to bring Nintendo's IP to mobile platforms and the announcement of NX was meant to assure fans that Nintendo was not leaving behind the dedicated console market.

"As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business, let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept under the development codename 'NX.' It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project, but we hope to share more information with you next year," Iwata said at the time.

Nintendo stayed radio silent on the topic of the NX until April of 2016, when the company quelled expectations that the system would make an appearance at E3 2016. It was also announced that the next Legend of Zelda title, later named as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, would be launching simultaneously on Wii U and NX some time in 2017.

Breath of the Wild was pushed back to facilitate the NX version.

"Nintendo previously announced that it would release more information about its next system, code-named NX, this year," said the company in a press release. "As the first announcement of any NX information, Nintendo confirmed that NX is scheduled to launch in March 2017. NX will not make an appearance at the upcoming E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles in June and will be unveiled later this year."

Following the death of Satoru Iwata, Tatsumi Kimishima took up the mantle as president of Nintendo. Alongside the above statement, Kimishima gave Japanese newspaper Nikkei an expanded quote on the NX (translated via Kotaku).

"However, it's not merely the successor to the handheld 3DS or stationary console Wii U. This will be hardware that's been made with a new way of thinking. I'd like to announce more particulars regarding its specs and how it works another time this year," said Kimishima.

Onto the rumors then.

Detailing The Controllers - Share Button and Motion Controls

This brings us to a run of reports from Let's Play Video Games, diving into a few more the Switch specifics. The LP report details a system with a width of 281 mm (around 11 inches) and height 92 mm with the controllers attached, dropping the width down to 205 mm (around 8 inches) for the system san controllers. The base system includes a TV connector, SD card slot, cartridge slot, headphone jack, and power adapter port. Avid Nintendo blogger Emily Rogers went a step further, saying the system's screen would be 6.2 inches at 720p in resolution.

LP also reported on additional controller features: Wii Remote-style motion control with advanced force feedback, and a new Share button allowing players to send pictures and video to Miiverse, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. The Share button would be on the right controller, opposite a Home button on the left. Nintendo Life confirmed the Share button with its own sources.

Again, we have no hardware specifics on the Switch and there was no mention of a share button in the three-minute teaser.

What About the Games?

There's only a few confirmed games for the Nintendo Switch at this point. Nintendo itself confirmed that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was coming to the Switch and that was the first game shown in the trailer. Additional Nintendo titles included either enhanced ports or sequels for Splatoon and Mario Kart, and an all-new Mario title. Nintendo has stated to the Wall Street Journal's Takashi Mochizuki that it won't be confirming any game titles in 2016.

A version of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was briefly shown, but Bethesda later stated that it has yet to confirm such a title.

"We're happy to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Nintendo on the video. While we are not confirming any specific titles at this time, we are pleased to announce our partnership with Nintendo and support of the Switch. We look forward to revealing specific games and details in the future," a spokesperson told Gamesindustry.biz.

Nintendo has released a list of development partners for the Switch, but again, we lack confirmed games.

Square Enix announced that Dragon Quest XI was coming to Switch back in July of 2015, only to backtrack and then re-announce the Switch version again last month. Ubisoft has confirmed Just Dance 2017 for the Switch, continuing the family-friendly music series' strong home on Nintendo platforms. Sega also announced Project Sonic for the Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2017.

Various developers have commented on the Nintendo Switch, given that prototype and dev kit hardware are probably out in the wild at this point.

"What we have seen is really great," said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot in response to a question about the Switch. "We think having a new machine coming is going to help the industry to continue to grow, and to take lots more casual players back to the industry."

"It will be fantastic," CD Projekt Red communications manager Fabian Mario Döehla told Rocket Beans TV (translated via VG247). "As developer [CD Projekt] you get access to the hardware and everybody [at CD Projekt] is looking forward. We know things."

Is Smash ready for an Switch debut?

As for rumored titles, MCV reported that Breath of the Wild will be joined by a Mario title and a Pokemon game from Game Freak within the first six months of the Switch's lifespan. Japanese analyst Dr. Serkan Toto also reported that Bandai Namco is already working on "several NX titles", including Smash Bros for launch.

One of the Let's Play Video Games reports above also mentions that the prototype Switch hardware is region-free, ending one of Nintendo's biggest holdovers for earlier console generations.

And that's it. Small list of rumored titles, I know. Nintendo hasn't been strong in the third-party department for a few generations now, but the NX represents new hope. A single platform means Nintendo's efforts are focused in one direction, while the NX's lower graphical power represents a space for developers and publishers in-between mobile gaming and the holy triumvirate of PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

Nintendo wants things to be like this again.

How Much Will It Cost?

Well, Like I said before, Nintendo is playing its cards real close to the vest. Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima has already said that the system won't be sold at a loss.

"It's true there is a certain expectation for the prices of Nintendo consoles. Our developers put a lot into them, but we can not sell at a loss," Kimishima told Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun (translated via Perfectly Nintendo). "The final price is determined by balancing these two conflicting ideas. I don't believe it's as simple as 'because this is a new platform, we can make it more expensive.'"

It's worth noting that the device described in the above rumors vaguely resembles Nvidia's own Shield Tablet K1 (shown above), which costs $199.99 alone. The added controller is $59.99, bringing us to a $260 price point, which would be great for a Nintendo system. The Wii U is currently $299 and the 3DS XL is $199. Landing somewhere in-between those two is the sweet spot for Nintendo, especially given that the market-leading PlayStation 4 is currently $350 with a potentially-cheaper Slim model on the way.


As we get more details on the Nintendo Switch - like the final name of the system - we'll be updating this article. Hook us up with a bookmark and we'll keep you up-to-date on everything Switch!

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About the Author
Mike Williams avatar

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor, USgamer

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.
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