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

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. Nintendo confirmed that up to eight Switches can be networked together locally.

Nintendo detailed a dedicated Share button, which will let you take screenshots at launch and video not long after.

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.

Nintendo announced that they will have a paid online service that will be free for everyone until Fall 2017. They will also allow subscribers to play an NES or SNES game for free for a month as an incentive, and each game will have online multiplayer added where appropriate.

Nintendo confirmed that the Nintendo Switch will release worldwide March 3.

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

Nintendo has released a list of development partners for the Switch.

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.

1-2-Switch is a party game from Nintendo that relies on the JoyCon controllers, but is played away from the screen, with your focus on other players, such as the demonstrated Wild West shootout. The emphasis on the controler and players over the screen reminds of Johann Sebastian Joust, an indie game that used PlayStation Move controlers and the speakers on them to play a blind game of tag of sorts. It looks like it suits the compact controllers well.

ARMS is a local multiplayer arena battling game from Nintendo where you have to punch each other using your stretchy spring arms. This game also uses JoyCons, but with motion controls where you're punching in the air to punch in the game. This immediately brings to mind countless games that used Wii Remotes in a very similar manner. It seems Nintendo is far from done with this input method for games.

Nintendo announced Splatoon 2, the sequel to the successful squid-kid Wii U multiplayer shooter. Adding potential portability to the rock-solid Splatoon core gameplay is an exciting prospect.

Super Mario Odyssey is the newest Mario platforming game from Nintendo, and it looks to put Mario in more realistic locales such as New Donk City (complete with realistic-looking people!), lush forests, a Day of the Dead-themed world, and more as you attempt to crash Bowser's wedding. Mario also seems to rely on throwing his hat like a yo-yo, suggesting that much of the game will revolve around hat throwing.

Xenoblade 2 was announced for the Switch from Monolith Soft, and looks to be a continuation of the original Xenoblade Chronicles, with no apparent relation to Xenoblade Chronicles X. Giant flying monsters and a giant tree mark the landscape, as well as a lovely graphical style with saturated colors.

Koei Tecmo is putting out two Musou-style games for the Nintendo Switch: Fire Emblem Warriors and Dragon Quest Heroes 1+2, the latter of which will be a collection with the first Dragon Quest Heroes and a new sequel.

A teaser for a new Shin Megami Tensei game for Switch was shown at the Switch Nintendo Direct. It will use Unreal Engine and will feature familiar demons like Pixie, Jack Frost, Thor, and Odin.

Project Octopath Traveler is the newest game from the developers of Bravely Default, and features a striking graphical style that sort of looks like a diorama of a 16-bit JRPG.

Suda51 is bringing Travis Touchdown to the Nintendo Switch in the form of a new No More Heroes game. Suda talked about incorporating more wrestling influences into the game as well as inspiration from various indie devs.

EA announced they're bringing the popular soccer series FIFA to the Ninendo Switch.

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. Nintendo confirmed this at their Switch Nintendo Direct.

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?

Nintendo confirmed that the Nintendo Switch will retail for $299.99.

"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.'"

In-Depth Analysis

Reaction: This Was Pretty Much the Switch's Worst Case Scenario

Kat reacts to the thin Switch launch lineup and $300 price point and wonders if Zelda can sustain it until more games start rolling in.

Starting Screen: How the Switch Can Keep its Momentum at This Week's Event

Kat kicks off a new Monday column talking about the big Nintendo Switch event this Friday and how Nintendo needs a competitive price point and a ton of quality launch games.

Nintendo Switch's Hybrid Nature: Some of the Strengths, All of the Weaknesses?

Mike discusses the potential challenges that the Switch faces in attempting to bridge the gap between portable and home consoles.

The Nintendo Switch's Lonely Niche

Kat wonders if the Switch will end up being trapped between traditional consoles and tablets and ultimately appeal to only a small subset of gamers.

How Will the Nintendo Switch Change Our Favorite Games?

Nintendo's next system will play host to lots of familiar series. We speculate how they'll take advantage of the unconventional hardware.

Is the Nintendo Switch the Last Bastion of the Mid-budget Game?

Why the Switch may be the console market's last hope to prevent what was once its core product from migrating entirely to Steam and mobile.

USgamer Reacts: Are We Excited About the Nintendo Switch

The USgamer staff sounds off on whether the Switch sounds appealing.

Nintendo Switch Won't Retain Third Party Support Without an Epic Launch Lineup

Nadia argues that a killer launch lineup is essential to attracting third-party publishers to Nintendo's new platform.

Opinion: The Switch's Success Doesn't Hinge on Zelda Being Available at Launch

Kat, in the same vein, posits that getting The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild out for launch isn't as important as providing a wide array of quality launch games that people want to play.

How Japan is Taking Back Console Gaming in 2017

Japanese console games are experiencing a resurgence in 2017, and Jeremy Signor looks at, among other things, how the Nintendo Switch figures into all that.

Nintendo's Switch and Microsoft's Scorpio Quietly Herald a New Console Generation in 2017

It doesn't seem like a transitional year, but with Nintendo's Switch and Microsoft's Scorpio, changes are afoot in consoles. Kat takes a look at what it all means.

Thirteen Intriguing Games for 2017

The staff picks 13 games releasing in 2017 that intrigue them, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Switch are among them.

USGamer's RPG Podcast Has All of the Teraflops

This episode of Axe of the Blood God features a discussion on whether the lack of power under the Switch's hood will ultimately matter.

As we get more details on the Nintendo Switch, 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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