Nintendo Switch - price, release date, specs, and everything you need to know

Fast Facts: 

  • Nintendo Switch release date: March 3, 2017
  • Developer: Nintendo PTD
  • Price: $299.99 / £279.99

At last, Nintendo is combining its home console and handheld strengths into one hybridized platform: Nintendo Switch. The console formerly known as Nintendo NX was finally shown for the first time late last year, and it'll be on store shelves real soon - March 3, 2017 to be exact, with a retail price of $299/£279. 

If you've only heard about Switch in passing, no problem - we're here to get you caught up on everything you need to know about Nintendo's newest console, which can be enjoyed at home or on the go with multiple configurations for play. In anticipation of all the fresh info incoming, here's a roundup of all the finer details and reasonable rumors related to Nintendo Switch. 

Nintendo Switch release date is March 3, 2017

Nintendo's January 12 livestream from Tokyo - which you can check out a full recap of here - finally revealed the official Switch launch date: March 3, 2017. Pre-orders are already available, so you better act fast if you want your Switch on launch day.

Nintendo Switch adapts to in-home or on-the-go gaming with multiple configurations 

Nintendo Switch has a screen inside the console itself. You can remove the handheld part from its cradle (the screen part looks a bit like a smaller Wii U pad) and continue your game on the move. So, you can switch (yes, the clue is in the name) from playing on the sofa to playing while you're out and about. And there are a multitude of ways to set up your Switch, whether you're letting it stay put or holding it in your hands.

We've chronicled all these Switch setup methods from the debut trailer and the brief showcase on The Tonight Show (where Jimmy Fallon got to put his mitts all over the device), and those visual aides go a long way to understanding how Switch works. But here's a semi-condensed rundown: you can play with the Switch docked into its base station to play on your TV (with the option to use a Pro Controller), snap the two included Joy-Con controllers to the sides and treat it like a Wii U GamePad on the go, stand the screen up with the built-in kickstand and use the Joy-Con controllers wirelessly, or do the same and use the Joy-Con controllers sideways like Wii Remotes for instant two-player action. Essentially, it's a go-anywhere device that should accommodate whatever way you want to play your Switch games.

Nintendo Switch price is $299.99 / £279.99 

Though rumors pointed to a slightly cheaper price, we now know that Nintendo Switch will cost you $299.99 / £279.99 at launch, which isn't too far off from prior estimates. We got a look at everything that comes in the Nintendo Switch box, with your choice of a plain grey JoyCon pair to go with your Switch, or the colorful, neon blue and red JoyCons to snap onto your Switch.

Nintendo Switch specs show that it trades graphical power for portability 

Put simply, the Switch will not be as powerful as the Xbox One or PS4. But if you're familiar with Nintendo, you've probably come to expect consoles that opt for innovative designs over pure graphical muscle. In terms of nitty-gritty specs, Switch uses a custom Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, and its multitouch screen is a 720p resolution display (with rumors of 1080p output to your TV when docked). We've done an extensive deep-dive into what the Switch's CPU and GPU speeds mean in layman's terms, but the bottom line is that the Switch is well behind the competition when it comes to graphics, and it has to go into a constrained low-power mode when taken out of the TV-connected dock and made portable. And the battery life will last 2.5 to 6.5 hours, depending on the game you're playing

Unless you're dead-set on 4K gaming and more pixels than the human eye can perceive, don't let that deter you - Nintendo has proven that it doesn't need cutting-edge visual tech to produce incredibly fun, gorgeous-looking games, like the brilliant, 60fps Super Mario 3D World. If anything, Nintendo Switch should prove that 'good enough' is good enough when it comes to graphics, and the gameplay will do the rest. 

There are loads of third-party Switch games on the way

Nintendo previously teased us with a simple screenshot of the many developers actively working on Switch projects, but now we've seen a hot, hot sizzle reel of the games headed to Switch from third-party companies. Some highlights include Ultra Street Fighter 2, a new Shin Megami Tensei RPG, the previously seen Skyrim port, and the further adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and No More Heroes' Travis Touchdown. We'll have a complete list of the upcoming Switch games shortly, along with their planned release windows.

Nintendo Switch launch title highlights are The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1-2 Switch

Nintendo made us extremely happy campers by confirming that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will launch alongside the Switch, but besides Link's next grand adventure, the Switch launch lineup is looking a bit slim. If you're looking for the perfect party game to show off your new Switch, you'll want 1-2 Switch, a minigame collection that plays off the instant two-player action of the twin JoyCons and has players gazing at one another instead of the screen. Besides that, we know of Skylanders Imaginators and Just Dance 2017, which aren't exactly system-sellers.

But when you look a bit beyond launch day, things start looking up. Super Bomberman R is guaranteed to be fun with a group of friends, and the enhanced port of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is right around the corner in April. Those should tide you over until...

Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 hit Switch later this year

Not to be outdone by The Legend of Zelda's outstanding Switch showing, Mario is back in a new 3D platformer that sees him warping between worlds of varying outlandish, including the bizarre sight of seeing the portly plumber running alongside the 'normies' of a bustling metropolis. We'll have to wait until the holiday season to play Super Mario Odyssey, but that new cap-throwing mechanic (and the mere fact that Mario's hat is seemingly alive now) has us stoked already.

Meanwhile, Splatoon 2 will be making a splash on Switch this summer, retaining the core multiplayer-focused gameplay of the first - cover everything in your team's ink - and expanding it with additional weaponry that plays off the dual-wielding sensation of the JoyCons. Expect it to be just as colorful and chaotic as the first. 

Nintendo Switch may allow for Virtual Console GameCube games 

We're not saying it's a sure thing, but you should probably prepare to enjoy classics like Super Mario Sunshine, Luigi's Mansion, Animal Crossing, and Super Smash Bros. Melee on your Switch. Eurogamer sources report that Switch will support GameCube games on Virtual Console, emulating the original hardware in the same manner as other Virtual Console titles. This would make total sense, given that the Virtual Console library on Wii U only goes up to the N64; a new console ought to mean more new (and old) games you can enjoy.

Nintendo Switch has amiibo support 

If you've been collecting loads of Nintendo's plastic, feature-unlocking figures for the past few years, and shuddered at the thought of them becoming obsolete on the newest console, fear not. Switch is confirmed to have amiibo support, which should function with the same 'tap the figure base to the controller' activation as the Wii U GamePad and New Nintendo 3DS XL (what a mouthful). As ever, you can expect figure compatibility and the bonuses they provide to work on a per-game basis, where character figures from the same franchise as the game in question are typically supported. 

VR on Nintendo Switch is possible, but not a priority 

In a translated interview, company president Tatsumi Kimishima stated that Nintendo isn't ruling out VR support on Switch, but it'll be a long while before the console goes down that route, if at all. "In terms of how it can be used for gaming, it's something we must consider... I can't say that we have no interest in VR because VR offers new ways of playing, but that depends on what kind of software can be played," said Kimishima. Even with Oculus, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR all currently on the market, VR gaming still hasn't taken root with the mainstream, and it looks like Nintendo isn't keen on rushing out its own version before the platform has proven its long-term worth. Also, we could really do without a Virtual Boy 2 situation. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam has a soft spot for MOBAs, MMOs, and emo music. Forever a farm boy, forever a '90s kid.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lucas likes his games like he likes his music: eclectic. With all the weird and wonderful stuff he's played over the years, the two of you are bound to feel the same way about something!
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