Courtesy of Nintendo

Biggest news out of the Nintendo Switch conference

Nintendo announced new information about their newest console, the Nintendo Switch, including a March 3 release date and a $299.99 price during an event Thursday night. The company also gave a closer look at the hardware and the various games coming to it. Here are the biggest stories to come out of the event.

Hardware Details

The Nintendo Switch is a TV/handheld hybrid system that allows players the option of playing a game on the couch or taking it on the go. The Switch will come packaged with two Joy-Con controllers that can connect together to make a single-player controller, or be broken apart in order for two people to play at once. One of the surprises of the show was the reveal that the Joy-Con controllers will have built-in cameras and sensors, allowing for motion-controlled gameplay like Nintendo once pioneered with the Wii. The Joy-Cons were shown off in “1-2-Switch,” a party game that is meant to be played while looking at your opponent rather than the screen. The primary section of the game shown off in the presentation was a western shoot-out where each player would draw the controllers like a gun.

The complete package for the Switch will include the left and right Joy-Con controllers with attachable wrist straps and grips, an HDMI cable, an AC adapter, the console itself and a dock that, when the console is place inside, will move the display to the TV. A more expansive pro controller will be available separately for $69.99.

Battery Life

One of the largest questions leading up to the Switch event was the battery life of the console when in handheld mode. Now that the event is past, the question is still valid. Nintendo gave the broad range of 2.5 to 6.5 hours for the device but didn’t go into specifics about what sort of battery life to expect from certain types of games.

Online services

During the conference, Nintendo revealed a new online gaming service that will allow players to play online with friends and use party chat using a smart device. Like other online gaming services like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live, Nintendo’s service will cost money, however it will temporarily be free until it becomes a paid subscription service in the fall. Nintendo updated their website later to include more details on the service including the ability to download and play a free Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) game each month as well as exclusive discounts for subscribers. This breaks from Nintendo’s previous free model for online play in favor of the paid model taken by their console competitors. It is not yet clear what the cost will be for the service, but if it follows PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live, it will be $60 a year. During the show, Tatsumi Kimishima, the president of Nintendo, also revealed that the Switch won’t be region-locked, meaning that players will be able to play games from other countries, which they couldn’t do on the Wii U.

New 3D "Mario" Game

After going through the technical details of the Switch, Nintendo revealed a brand new Mario game, “Super Mario Odyssey,” and it’s a 3D platformer in the vein of “Super Mario 64” or “Super Mario Galaxy.” The trailer showed strange new settings not typically in Mario games such as a busy, New York style city and a dense forest but also showed familiar elements like Bowser, Hammer Bro, Peach and many more. “Super Mario Odyssey” is set to come out during the 2017 holiday season.

Splatoon 2 announcement

“Splatoon” gameplay was in the original trailer for the Switch with new features and weapons, causing people to speculate over whether it was an enhanced port of the 2015 hit or an entirely new game. During the event, this question was answered as we got the first official announcement of “Splatoon 2.” The conference showed off new weapons and maps, announced a summer release window for the game and revealed that the game can be player in TV mode, tabletop mode and handheld mode.

"Legend of Zelda" is a launch title

“Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is one of, if not the most heavily anticipated game on 2017, and it looks like it might finally be here. The grand finale to the Switch event was a heavily cinematic and action-packed trailer followed by a March 3 release date reveal, which is the same day the Switch hits shelves.

The March 3 release date for the Switch is slightly earlier than expected (and only seven weeks away) and the $299.99 price is slightly higher than expected, and about even with the PS4 Slim and Xbox One S. Check in on this semester for more details and impressions on the Switch and its games and features as they come out.

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