After years of waiting, Nintendo finally has a new video game console on the way. It’s called the Nintendo Switch.
Here, look at it!
It’s a hybrid console – you can play it at home on your living room television (left), or you can take it on the go (right). Here’s what we know about the console thus far:
- It’s called Nintendo Switch. It’s scheduled to launch in March 2017. Nintendo has a gaggle of games starring its most prominent creations in the works.
There is, of course, much more to the Switch than that, but Nintendo isn’t offering explicit details just yet. Nintendo has an event scheduled for January 12 – that’s tonight! – where we expect to learn much more about Switch. Like what? Like the price of the system, the actual day it’s planned to launch, and what games will launch alongside the Switch.
But you wanna know right now, don’t you? Sure you do. We’ve rounded up the most credible rumors about Switch, from the price of the console to the games you can expect to find when it hits store shelves this March.
Alex Perry contributed to an earlier version of this story.
It should be less expensive at launch than Nintendo’s latest console, the Wii U.
The Wii U launched in 2012 with two models: a $300 base edition and a $350 deluxe edition that came with more storage. That was way too much for a console that was seriously underpowered compared with the competition from Microsoft and Sony.
It sounds like the Nintendo Switch won’t repeat that mistake.
Laura Kate Dale of Let’s Play Video Games has been the most reliable reporter when it comes to verifying Switch rumors, and her sources say Switch is launching with a $250 base model and a $300 deluxe bundle that comes with more storage space and an included game.
That would put the Switch’s price right in line with the base models of Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
But it sounds like the Switch isn’t as powerful as the aging competition.
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched in 2013 at $500 and $400, respectively. Expensive consoles, no doubt, but that’s with good reason: These are devices that were built to last for several years. Even still, new versions of both consoles either already exist (Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Pro) or are in the works (Microsoft’s Project Scorpio).
In the case of the Switch, it sounds like Nintendo’s aiming for affordability over horsepower. Without getting too technical, sources tell Eurogamer that the hardware inside the Switch is less powerful than the Xbox One, to say nothing of the PS4. (The PS4 is slightly more powerful than the Xbox One.)
That’s good and bad. It means Nintendo can keep the console affordable for consumers, but it constrains what developers are capable of doing with the system. It also means you’re unlikely to see multiplatform games on the Switch – stuff like “Call of Duty” or “Grand Theft Auto,” for instance.
The home version of Switch is reportedly more capable than the mobile version.
Unsurprisingly, the same report from Eurogamer says Nintendo Switch will be more capable when plugged in at home than in mobile form.
There’s a simple reason for that: power. As in electricity.
Mobile gaming platforms – the original Game Boy straight through to the Nintendo 3DS and your iPhone, too – are limited tremendously by their reliance on batteries. Spend an afternoon playing “Minecraft” on your iPhone and see what happens to your phone’s battery.
As a result, the companies that make mobile hardware – Apple, Nintendo, Sony, etc. – intentionally build to balance horsepower with power usage. You could make a super powerful phone, for instance, but the battery required to power it would be massive. So instead of doing that, they sacrifice horsepower for battery constraints. That constraint is removed, though, when you’re plugged in to a “limitless” power supply.
All of which is to say: When you dock the Nintendo Switch at home, it can “turn on” horsepower that it otherwise doesn’t use – to save battery life when you’re on the go. It’s up to game developers to choose how to use that extra horsepower, of course.
It will reportedly allow you to use SD cards up to 128 GB in size.
This one also comes from Dale, who says the Switch will have a slot in which you can insert SD cards all the way up to 128 GB. This is a pretty major bit of information, as storage on the Xbox One and PS4 is, to put it lightly, a tremendous hassle. Games for both of the consoles are outrageously large – up to 60 GB for the initial download, sometimes more with patches and add-on content – and the base models offer a measly 500 GB of storage.
It may sound like a lot, but it fills up ridiculously quickly if you play a decent number of games. Worse, the problem can’t be overcome by buying games on disc – every game on the Xbox One and PS4 requires installation to the hard drive. Both consoles allow for users to expand the storage capacity, but neither has a solution as simple as what’s rumored for the Nintendo Switch. SD cards are inexpensive and easy to use. Here’s hoping this rumor is bang on.
About that packed-in game …
In a report about the games available at the Switch’s launch, Dale said the more expensive version of the console will come bundled with a new version of “Splatoon,” the color-based classic shooter that debuted on Wii U.
Notably, the reveal video for Nintendo Switch featured footage of people playing “Splatoon” on the console, with new in-game outfits and hairstyles. If this report is true, that new version of the game will launch with Switch and be packed in with the deluxe bundle.
Also of note: “Splatoon” is excellent. It’s the best new franchise from Nintendo in years and a notable push into a genre that Nintendo’s been absent from since the days of “GoldenEye 007.”
A new Mario game, in the same vein as “Super Mario 64,” is said to launch with Switch.
That same report has more details about the still unnamed 3-D “Super Mario” game that is briefly seen in the Switch reveal video. Most importantly, it will apparently launch alongside Switch in March. Eurogamer called the game “effectively complete” in a recent report.
The game is said to follow in the footsteps of “Super Mario 64” and “Super Mario Galaxy,” with a central hub area to explore that contains several levels to choose from. Those levels will apparently have multiple objectives to complete, rather than being purely linear.
It’s also said to have some kind of cooperative multiplayer component so players can work together to complete objectives.
“Skyrim” may also be a launch game.
“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” just got an upgraded re-release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and that same version may also launch alongside Nintendo Switch. This comes as no surprise, as the game is prominently featured in the Switch reveal video.
“It’s the same game on the TV and on the other screen,” the game’s director, Todd Howard, told Glixel. He also lavished some praise on the Switch: “I love it. I got to play it. I will tell you … one of the best demos I’ve ever seen. Probably the best demo I’ve ever seen at E3,” the game industry’s annual trade show.
It’s unclear whether the new “Legend of Zelda” game will be ready for launch, but the most recent rumor says it will.
“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” has been something of a poster child for Nintendo Switch in the console’s marketing. It’s gorgeous, it features an iconic Nintendo character, and it’s a highly anticipated game.
It’s not totally clear, but the latest report from Eurogamer suggests the game will be available alongside the Switch at launch in March.
Of note: Several sources reported that the game will miss the console’s launch date. Popular Nintendo tipster Emily Rogers says the game’s testing process is going to take so long that it will instead launch later in 2017, probably during the summer.
This would be a huge blow if not for a major new “Super Mario” game coming out alongside the console. “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is still planned to come out on Wii U as well.
A couple of other major Wii U games are coming to Switch.
The Wii U was a major flop for Nintendo. Around 13 million were sold – about one-tenth of the Wii’s lifetime hardware sales number. Even still, the console has a fantastic library of games, and most of those fantastic games were made by Nintendo itself. Games like “Splatoon,” “Super Mario Maker,” and “Mario Kart 8” are all fantastic, but few people played them because of the Wii U’s poor sales.
It sounds like Nintendo’s going to give some of those fantastic games a second chance at life on Switch.
Dale’s sources tell her that 2014’s “Super Smash Bros.” game for Wii U will get a re-release on Switch, but not on launch day. It would make sense for that version to come with all of the downloadable extras that were eventually released for the Wii U game – and maybe some new characters or stages, perhaps?
Meanwhile, the “Mario Kart” game that was briefly showcased when Switch was revealed is apparently an enhanced version of “Mario Kart 8” for Wii U. It will feature new tracks, new characters and a retooled version of the terrible Battle Mode that was in the original game, according to Rogers. That makes a lot of sense – you can see costumes in that trailer that aren’t in the current game, though it’s clearly close in looks to the most recent “Mario Kart” game.
One of EA’s “bigger games” will come out on Switch.
This one is especially thin, but Electronic Arts – one of the biggest video game publishers in the world – is going to release one of its “bigger games” on Switch, according to CFO Blake Jorgensen.
What does that mean? We don’t know just yet, but EA is responsible for all sorts of massive games, from “Madden” to “Battlefield.”
Most notably, however, is that EA is the creator and publisher of the “FIFA” series. And “FIFA” is the biggest sports game on the planet. It’s a logical fit – EA has traditionally released its major sports games on any console available, from the iPhone to the PlayStation 4.
Let’s take this another step further: EA will almost certainly release the next “Madden” game on the Switch as well. Let’s not kid ourselves.
You could cross your fingers and hope it’s “Mass Effect: Andromeda.” The next entry in the excellent series of sci-fi role-playing games launches in the same month as Switch, March 2017. But also it’s probably not “Mass Effect: Andromeda.”
Nintendo is streaming an event with more information about Switch on January 12, and we’re attending a hands-on event in New York City the following day. Stay tuned!
You can watch the stream on Nintendo’s site on the evening of January 12.