Video game company Nintendo released their sixth home video game console, the Wii U, in 2012. While it provided some very unique gaming experiences that were not available on other platforms, the console had an incredibly difficult time finding a mainstream audience. As a result, Nintendo reported several periods of financial losses across the four years since the console’s debut. Rumors of a new console, codenamed NX, started to reach the surface. These rumors gradually intensified in 2015 when Nintendo’s then-president Satoru Iwata confirmed the existence of this new console in a press conference. After a long period of waiting for a reveal, the company’s seventh console was finally unveiled last week.
Dubbed the “Nintendo Switch,” the console is advertised as a hybrid console, meaning that the hardware can be used as both a portable and traditional stationary console. The main unit comprises of a large LCD touch screen, with a game slot on top. For the first time since the Nintendo 64’s launch in 1996, Nintendo will release a console that primarily uses cartridges for its games. The cartridges themselves are very similar to the ones used for Nintendo’s DS and 3DS handheld systems. As a result, backward compatibility with the disc-based Wii and Wii U has been rendered impossible. However, it has been confirmed that the Switch will still support the popular line of Amiibo figurines.
The console will come with a dock that transfers the game image from the tablet to the television when it is connected. The controllers, known as “Joy-Cons,” are made up of two detachable halves that either attach to the tablet in portable mode, or attach on a grip in dock mode in order to provide the feel of a gamepad controller. In keeping with the Wii and Wii U, a separate “Pro” controller will be released, giving gamers the feel of a traditional console controller. Despite all of these features, Nintendo has made it clear that they do not plan on discontinuing support for the 3DS and that the Nintendo Switch is primarily meant to be a home console. Instead, the company plans to gradually slow down support for the Wii U in the months leading up to the Switch’s release.
While exact technical specifications have yet to be fully released, it has been confirmed that Nintendo has developed the system in conjunction with Nvidia. An issue that gamers have had with the Wii U’s GamePad was its unfortunately short battery life. Both Unity Technologies and Epic Games have confirmed that they are working on bringing their graphics engines, Unity and Unreal Engine 4, to the Switch platform. The two companies seek to entice developers to port more triple-A multi-platform games to the Switch.
Nintendo is attempting to win back publishers that seldom supported the Wii U. It has announced that Activision, Bethesda, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Sega, Square Enix and Ubisoft have all agreed to provide software for the Switch. In the case of Square Enix and Sega, both have confirmed, respectively, that Dragon Quest and Sonic the Hedgehog games would be among the upcoming titles for the Switch console. Various independent developers have also either confirmed or expressed interest in creating games for the system. The only major first party Nintendo game that has been confirmed for release for the Switch is the latest game in The Legend of Zelda series, Breath of the Wild, which will also be released concurrently with the Wii U.
The Nintendo Switch will hit retail shelves next March. An exact date, launch price and a full list of launch titles will be announced within the coming months.