After weeks of speculation, Nintendo has announced today that the Nintendo Switch console will launch worldwide on Friday, March 3.
The launch package will include the the main console, two Joy-Con controllers, a Joy-Con grip, a set of Joy-Con wrist straps, a Nintendo Switch dock, a HDMI cable and an AC adapter. Two versions of the console will be released: a version with a set of grey Joy-Con, and a version with one neon blue and one neon red Joy-Con.
The Switch will have a recommended retail price of £279.99 ($299.99), slightly higher than previously rumoured.
“Nintendo Switch is a brand-new kind of home gaming system that offers a wide variety of play modes,” said Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima. “We will introduce the world to new experiences made possible by the unique characteristics of the Nintendo Switch hardware and the Joy-Con.”
The Switch is unique in that it not only connects to a TV at home, but also transforms into an on-the-go handheld using its 6.2-inch screen – which includes capacitive multi-touch capabilities for compatible games. Nintendo assures players that battery life can last for more than six hours, but will vary depending on the game. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be played for roughly three hours on a single charge.
Two Joy-Con can be used independently in each hand, or together as one game controller when attached to the Joy-Con grip. They can also attach to the main console for use in handheld mode, or be shared with friends for multiplayer in supported games. Each Joy-Con has a full set of buttons and can act as a standalone controller, and each includes an accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensor, making independent left and right motion control possible.
Nintendo Switch also contains a number of built-in features that make it more interactive. The left Joy-Con has a capture button that players can press to take instant screenshots of gameplay to share with friends on social media. The right Joy-Con includes an NFC touchpoint for interaction with amiibo figures, as well as an IR motion camera that can detect the distance, shape and motion of nearby objects in specially designed games. For example, it can tell how far away a player’s hand is, and even if the hand is forming a rock, paper or scissors shape.
Both Joy-Con include a rumble function, which “can provide compatible games with subtle vibrations that are much more realistic than before”.
Up to eight Nintendo Switch consoles can be connected for local wireless play, while the console will support online multiplayer over wifi, although Nintendo confirmed that it will require a paid online subscription, similar to services offered by the PS4 and Xbox One.
The service, which will be available from launch as a free trial, includes a smartphone app available in summer 2017 that will let users invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with one another as they play compatible games. The fully featured paid service will be available in autumn.
Nintendo Switch will be supported by major third-party publishers including Activision, Bethesda, Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and major Japanese publishers. Nintendo teased that players “can look forward to major franchises on Nintendo Switch such as EA Sports FIFA, The Elder Scrolls, NBA 2K, Minecraft and more”.
Meanwhile, first-party launch titles include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1-2-Switch, while ARMS, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 have all been announced as releasing later in the year.
In a press release, Nintendo concluded: “The unique capabilities of the console and Joy-Con have combined with innovations from past systems to create Nintendo’s most flexible, feature-packed video game console ever.”