At 3:00 pm AEST on Friday, January 13th Nintendo finally blew the doors wide open on their next console, the Nintendo Switch. Not only did we learn that the Switch will release worldwide on March 3rd at an RRP of $469 AUD, we also got a glimpse at what we’d be playing on the darn thing later this year and into 2018.
But before we get into the games there are a couple of other tidbits to go over. Firstly, the Switch will see the debut of Nintendo’s first paid online subscription service. After a free trial period, most games will require players to pay a subscription fee in order to enjoy online multiplayer. This subscription will also enable you to download a NES or SNES games for free for that month. Unlike PS+, it would appear that once that month is up, you will no longer be able to play that game. In addition, this online service will allow you to download a new smart device app which will have voice chat capabilities. It seems Nintendo’s logic here is that if you’re taking the Switch out and about, you won’t want to take your bulky gaming headset as well. It remains unclear whether this app is the only way to use voice chat on the Switch.
Moving onto something a little more pleasing and a lot less confusing, Nintendo announced that the Switch will be region-free. This means you can buy a game from overseas and play it on your Australian-bought Switch. It should also do away with staggered release dates. In the past, America or Japan would get certain games months before PAL regions, but no more! Even if this does happen, we now have the option to import from overseas.
The Nintendo Switch’s battery life in handheld mode will range from 2.5-6.5 hours, with games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild lasting no more than three hours. Given the 3DS’ battery life is around 3.5 hours at the best of times, this isn’t as concerning as it may first appear, especially when considering the complexity of a game like Breath of the Wild. Allegedly the Switch will take three whole hours to fully charge, which is a long damn time, but again similar to that of the 3DS.
Up to eight Switch units can connect locally for multiplayer.
We were then treated to a lengthy presentation on the Joy-Con controllers. They’re equipped with the brand-new HD Rumble technology, which they claimed would, through precise vibrations in the Joy-Con controllers, allow you to feel distinct ice cubes shifting in a glass. You can read my hands-on impressions with this tech here), but for now, rest assured that the technology is quite impressive.
The Joy-Cons have an NFC reader for Amiibo functionality, a capture button that will no doubt work similarly to the PS4 Share button, both Joy-Con will have motion and gyro sensors, you’ll be able to choose from two charcoal grey or one neon blue, one neon red, every Switch will also include straps for the Joy-Con, which also provide more tactile L and R buttons, and the right Joy-Con has an IR camera, giving it the functionality of a Wiimote.
Nintendo then began announcing games. First to be revealed was 1 2 Switch, a collection of at least 20 mini-games, designed to show off the versatility of the Joy-Con controllers. The game has been designed to bring people together, forcing them to interact with each other instead of the screen. Releasing alongside the Nintendo Switch on March 3rd.
Next up was ARMS, a gorgeous one-vs-one fighting game playable with motion controls. By doing a punching action while holding the Joy-Con, you have to try and knock-out your opponent while also dodging their attacks. Releasing Autumn 2017.
Splatoon 2 was next, this sequel to Nintendo’s colourful 2015 debut promises new weapons, special attacks, maps, music, customisations and more. No word on singleplayer yet but further details are coming soon. Releasing Winter 2017.
The first heavy-hitter of the event, Super Mario Odyssey was announced with an absolutely dazzling trailer that showed Mario exploring a more grounded, realistic world. Odyssey seems to be more in the vein of Super Mario 64 and Sunshine, with far larger, more open worlds to explore as opposed to segmented levels. While Mario’s hat has been the source of newfound power in past games, in Odyssey the hat itself will be playing a role! Releasing Holiday 2017.
Keeping the trend of exploration games going, up next was MonolithSoft’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the sequel to one of the best RPGs ever made. Beautiful colours, amazing scope and intense music. Everything that made the original on the Wii so impressive seems to be back in spades. No date was given on the trailer but it would appear they intend to release this game in 2017, if that actually happens I’ll eat Mario’s hat.
The Nintendo Switch’s third party offerings were up next, with a few exciting albeit mysterious new titles being the highlights. Presumably from the team who brought us Hyrule Warriors, Fire Emblem Warriors was announced with a very scant trailer, no release date. More information will be revealed in a Fire Emblem Direct set for January 18th (9:00 AM on the 19th here in Australia).
Dragon Quest X and XI were announced to both be coming to the Switch, so will Dragon Quest Heroes I and II.
Atlus have begun development on a new Shin Megami Tensei. The teaser trailer was short, but it did reveal that the game will utilise Unreal Engine 4. No release window was given.
Square Enix was up next with a brand new game with a gorgeous art style and an utterly ridiculous title, Project Octopath Traveler looks like a classic SNES-era RPG brought into three dimensions. No release window was given.
Moving away from Japan for a moment Todd Howard himself confirmed a Switch port of The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim was on the way, releasing Spring 2017. Patrick Soderlund from EA’s Worldwide Studios turned up next, promising that FIFA was on its way to the Switch too. No further details nor release window was given.
Wrapping up the Nintendo Switch Presentation was, of course, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This absolutely jaw-dropping trailer showed off Zelda, Zora, Koroks, Gorons, the Deku Tree, animals of all kinds, the Master Sword, towns, giant mechanical beasts… I could go on. And the cherry on top: we at long last got a solid release date, the same day as the launch of the Switch, March 3rd, 2017.