Tonight is the night Nintendo fans have been waiting for, as Nintendo will share its first detailed online presentation all about the Nintendo Switch (11 PM ET/8 PM PT). The presentation will stream in Japanese with an English translation for those of us who do not know Japanese, and Nintendo of America will hold a follow-up Treehouse event Friday morning for more context and information for those who miss the presentation tonight. So, what are we to expect from this presentation?
Let’s start with what we know already because this information will more than likely be repeated and perhaps expanded on.
We know this is designed to serve as a home and a mobile console, and we’ve been given hints at some of the specs involved. For example, we know this sucker is powered by an Nvidia Tegra processor, which will likely be customized specifically for the Switch. It is speculated the Switch will output in 1080p, but that is officially unconfirmed at this point. Regardless, it should be more powerful and visually pleasing than the WiiU. We also know the system will utilize a cartridge-based system for games seemingly similar to the cartridges used on the Nintendo 3DS. We know here are different controller configurations and options, and the tablet portion of the system has a kickstand and can be placed in the base unit or taken with you. The system will also hit stores sometime in March. And well, that’s really pretty much all we know for sure.
How much and when can I buy it?
Tonight’s presentation should address many of the questions we are left to ask. The two big ones right off the bat are how much will this puppy cost and when is the exact release date.
The first of those questions appears to have been making the rounds lately as stores prepare inventory and prices in advance. The general consensus appears to be the Switch will cost consumers $250, which would start at $50 cheaper than the WiiU when Nintendo last released a home console. What comes in that $250 package is unknown though, and for those who want to get started right away, the price to prepare for may be closer to about $350 when you throw in a game and a second controller (assuming the Switch comes with just one controller — how I long for the days of Nintendo packaging each NES and SNES with two controllers in the box). Expect Nintendo to share details on what comes in the standard package.
Another factor to consider will be storage options or limitations. The WiiU launched with an 8 GB basic model and a 32 GB pro model. You can always add on your own external hard drive, of course, but the big question these days is how much space the console will come with. Will there be multiple options, or is this a one-size-fits-all model, like the Wii? We should find out the answer to how much storage space the unit comes with and whether or not there will be other storage options by console or if external storage will be an option. For the sake of comparison, the Sony PlayStation 4 Pro Console released in November comes with 1 TB of built-in storage, and the Microsoft Xbox One S consoles released in October are available in 500 GB and 1 TB models. Then again, Nintendo doesn’t always do what Sony and Microsoft do when it comes to the internal gear, so we’ll see.
Prices for the pro controller, any additional peripherals, storage options, and perhaps average cost of a game (I’m expecting around $50 up to $60) would be nice to hear.
We know about Zelda, but what other games can we expect?
The headlining game for the Nintendo Switch launch will clearly be the latest in the Legend of Zelda franchise; The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.The long-awaited Zelda title has been pushed back for a while and was supposed to be a hit on the WiiU, but as delays continued, Nintendo decided to push the game back to be able to launch on the Switch alongside the WiiU version (similar to how Nintendo handled The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on Wii and GameCube). Nintendo has been showing glimpses of the new Zelda title in the public when discussing the Switch, including on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show on NBC recently. This will be a new strategy for Nintendo to launch a system focusing on a Zelda game, but we should absolutely expect to see a brand new Super Mario game coming quickly.
I would not count on seeing a Mario adventure or platforming game right out of the gates just yet though. Despite getting a glimpse at what looks to be a brand new Mario adventure in the previous Switch promotional video tease, the lack of any discussion of a new Mario title feels to me as though this is still something to come. There may be some sort of Mario-themed game at the launch, but do not be surprised if Nintendo pushes back the Switch debut for a full-scale Mario franchise title.
But what else will the Switch launch with? It’s a secret to everybody it seems.
There are a number of games that have been confirmed for a release on the Switch, but exact release dates are not confirmed and a number of the third-party games supposedly confirmed are not scheduled for a release until later in the year. A polished-up version of LEGO City Undercover (a WiiU launch title) is coming in the spring. Nintendo will have Pokemon Stars in “Late 2017”, and SEGA will have a Sonic game out in Late 2017 as well. Nintendo is excited about the potential for third-party support (again) and games like Just Dance 2017 (Ubisoft) and Shovel Knight are scheduled to hit the Switch. Those could be possible launch titles. Nintendo fans will also get a brand new Dragon Warrior title at some point.
There are a few titles and franchises that should be expected to be seen on the Switch fairly early on, if not right at the launch. Surprising WiiU hits like Splatoon and Super Mario Maker would be nice to see with expanded and updated features to maximize the potential of each on the new platform. Of the two, Splatoon would be more likely to be seen and pushed early on by Nintendo. Previous Switch footage has also teased a possible Mario Kart, which will obviously make the jump to the Switch at some point, as will Super Smash Brothers.
There have been thoughts that maybe Nintendo could port its first mobile title, Super Mario Run, to the Switch, but that may be unlikely to happen.
What about Nintendo’s Virtual Console?
Yes, with the release of a new system comes concern about a brand new Virtual Console. Will Nintendo fans have to once again pay a few bucks to download their favorite games from Nintendo’s all-time games library or will Nintendo finally cut you a break and allow you to transfer your previous purchases to your new console. While it would be so nice of Nintendo to cut their loyal customers some slack, expect to have to purchase some games once again. That’s just my guess. Just as I’m guessing we’ll hear about a Virtual Console for the Switch. It is a feature that each company has some version of though, so it stands to reason Nintendo will provide it in some form. And the rumors have suggested that will be the case, even going so far as to suggest there will be GameCube titles available on the virtual console.
This is just a hunch, but I’d expect Nintendo to confirm some Virtual Console details and once again disappoint you by saying previous purchases will not carry over. Prove me wrong, Nintendo!
This is also a chance to explore the whole idea of a cloud-based account system. Nintendo’s Network ID system has been a nice step in the right direction for Nintendo but there is still room for improvement. I wouldn’t necessarily count on it given Nintendo’s history compared to Sony and Microsoft. But with mobile apps like Miitomo and now Super Mario Run, finding some way to bring a customer’s entire online presence under one cloud-based system would make sense. And if Nintendo does have a restructured online system in place, then the possibility of transferring purchases from previous systems could be a possibility.