Highlights from the Nintendo Switch Presentation

Nintendo’s next console, the Switch, has generated a great deal of fanfare. From the months of rumours and speculation over the NX (as it was codenamed), to the sense of cautious optimism following its unveiling, gamers and Nintendo fans seem interested in what the console can offer. The Big N held a Switch Presentation last night, which answered many questions, and showed off a selection of the games coming to the system.

The Presentation kicked off strong, revealing that the Switch will launch worldwide on 3 March 2017, at a suggested retail price of $299.99 (roughly R4,055 locally). The European price has yet to be announced, and will vary between retailers. This is important to note, because South Africa is considered a European region in the gaming market.

Next came some news about Nintendo Online Services, which will enable online multiplayer. Much like PlayStation Plus or Xbox Gold, this will be a paid service, and more details about pricing will be revealed soon. In a similar vein to those other online services, Nintendo subscribers will also be able to download and play an NES or SNES title each month, according to the company’s website. Whether you get to keep the games hasn’t been revealed, but some SNES titles will have online multiplayer added in. The Switch is also doing away with region locking, allowing games from any region to work on the system. Nice move, Nintendo.

The presentation then explained the Switch, and how its different modes work. It was nothing new, just detailing how the system allows you to play on your TV, or on the go. The only really important reveal was the battery life, ranging from three to six hours, depending on the game. The system can be played while charging, and is powered through a USB Type C port. Also, up to eight Switch systems can connect for local multiplayer via Wi-Fi.

Next came a detailed look at the Joycon controllers. If you didn’t know, the controllers exist as two pieces, and can be either attached to the touch screen (seen above), attached to a grip to act as a typical controller, or used separately in each hand. The Joycons are actually incredibly impressive, packing in features like infrared cameras, NFC readers, and advanced rumble technology.

The first gameplay presentation was for 1-2 Switch, a casual party game featuring a bunch of motion-controlled minigames. The games are played primarily played face-to-face, and essentially pit players in a game of reflexes. 1-2 Switch will launch alongside the console on 3 March.

The next game was a competitive fighting game called ARMS. It looks wacky, and casts players as fighters with really long, extendable arms. The game is played through motion controls, and is basically a mix of boxing and shooting. It’s also Nintendo’s first new IP since Splatoon.

Speaking of Splatoon, the hit competitive shooter is getting a sequel on the Switch. Creatively titled Splatoon 2, it will feature familiar ink-spewing gameplay, with the addition of new weapons, stages, and supermoves. Splatoon 2 will launch sometime in mid-2017, and both post-launch content and ongoing events are planned.

Following this was the next big title for gaming’s foremost mascot: Super Mario Odyssey. The game will be a 3D platformer, and features some locations completely new to the Mario universe, such as a scale version of New York City. The trailer shows off new traversal methods, and new gameplay mechanics featuring Mario’s hat. Super Mario Odyssey is planned for release in late 2017.

The game announcements started coming through quickly from this point, beginning with the surprise reveal of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Following that was a teaser for Fire Emblem Warriors, a hack-and-slash brawler from the team behind Dynasty Warriors, and the recent Hyrule Warriors.

Moving on, Nintendo revealed that over 80 third-party games are in development for the Switch. Two brief teaser trailers played, announcing the next Shin Megami Tensei, and a highly stylised RPG called Project Octopath Traveler. A video then played, showing Tod Howard, director of Bethesda Game Studios, officially announcing Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch. Suda 51, from Grasshopper Manufacture, announced that the star of No More Heroes would be coming to the Switch. There were no other details, but fans of Travis Touchdown should be happy to see his return.

Following this, EA’s Patrick Söderlund took to the stage, and announced that FIFA would be coming to the Switch. He promised more details would follow, and that it would be “the most immersive, social, authentic sports game, ever created for Nintendo players”. After this, a sizzle reel of Switch games played, showing off a slice of the console’s lineup.

The presentation then detailed what the Switch would be sold with, and its different varieties. Each system ships with the screen, dock, Joycon controllers, the Joycon grip, and all the necessary cables. Two options will be available at launch – one with grey controllers, and one with red and blue. Both options will sell for the same price.

The presentation ended strongly, having saved all its Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild news for last. After a truly spectacular trailer (seriously, I still have goosebumps), it was revealed that the game will be a launch title for the Switch, hitting shelves on 3 March.

And that brought the presentation to a close. All in all, the Nintendo Switch is looking promising. Its price point is fairly low, its controllers are impressive and innovative, and its portable battery life is similar to that of a New 3DS. Also, it appears that third-party developers are keen to work with the system, which may save the Switch from the slow death that befell the Wii U. The entire presentation is below if you want to watch it, skip to the 33:31 mark for the actual start.

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