Nintendo doesn’t do consoles like everyone else. Microsoft and Sony are competing with each other using traditional high-power gaming boxes that have essentially become small form factor PCs. Nintendo’s new Switch console appeals to a different kind of gamer. After announcing the Switch in October, we now have all the details on this 6.2-inch tablet with a game console inside.
The first big reveal was the price — $ 299.99. That’s a little higher than the more optimistic projections, which pegged a $ 250 starting price. That said, there’s plenty in the box. The Switch comes with the main tablet/console hardware, a dock, a left and right “Joy-Con” controller half, controller grip, controller straps, an HDMI cable, and the power adapter. Each half of the controller can actually be used as a separate controller for multiplayer in certain games, so Nintendo points out it’s almost like including two controllers, just like the old days.
The core of the Switch is this odd little tablet device. It has a 6.2-inch LCD with capacitive multitouch. The resolution is only 720p, but that should look alright as long as you don’t get your face right up against it, and the lower resolution will save a great deal of power compared with rendering at 1080p. The Switch is powered by a custom Nvidia chipset based on Maxwell GPU tech, and there’s no optical drive — Nintendo is going back to cartridges. The upshot is the carts will include internal storage for game files, so those won’t clutter up your 32GB of internal storage.
The Switch will operate in three modes: TV, Tabletop, and Handheld. In TV mode, the console is in the dock and outputting to the TV at 1080p. You take a seat on the couch and plug your controller halves into the grip to make them into something that looks vaguely normal. In Tabletop mode, you set the Switch tablet down on a surface and use the controller wirelessly. You can also give one half of the controller to someone else to use as player two in either of these first two modes. In Handheld mode, you pick up the tablet, attach your two Joy-Con halves, and you’ve got a very powerful handheld gaming device. The controller halves also have built-in motion control and NFC.
A full game console that operates untethered from power is something new, and the question of battery life is of great interest. Nintendo didn’t offer a ton of detail here except to say the Switch will get between 2.5 and 6.5 hours of battery life, depending on what you’re playing. As for what you get to play, the launch lineup is mostly first-party Nintendo content. There’s a new Zelda game called Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Super Mario Odyssey. The Switch will also get games like Xenoblade 2 and Skyrim (yes, that Skyrim) later in 2017.
The Switch is up for pre-order right now at various retailers, and it will ship on March 3rd in Japan, the US, Canada, and Europe. The console is also not region-locked.