This morning, Nintendo finally put to rest months of rumors and unconfirmed technical specs related to its NX console, officially named the Nintendo Switch. Playable both at home through a conventional television and standalone as a high definition portable, the Switch supports both solo and local multiplayer and is intended less as a replacement and more as a supplement to Nintendo’s existing hardware catalog.
At home, the Switch slips into a charging stand/connecting dock (I’m going ahead and calling it the “Power Bottom” until Nintendo sends its lawyers after me) that is then hooked up to your TV, enabling typical couch play. You can then remove the device and use it as a handheld, with a letterbox digital display and two detachable side controllers. You and a buddy can each use the little Joy-Con half-controllers to play against each other, or you can stick both halves into a controller dock to use them as something resembling a more traditional controller, or you can use a “Pro” controller, presumably sold separately.
The Switch tablet also comes with its own stand to prop itself up independently, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Note that while it’s described as a high definition console, the technical specs point to a device that is lower-powered than either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, although the gap in performance capability seems to be smaller than, say, the original Wii versus its competitors. As previously reported, it runs on NVIDIA, making it comparable to NVIDIA’s own HD handheld, the Shield.
Note also that while I’ve been calling the Switch’s main screen a tablet, it’s only for lack of a better word — it doesn’t, by all appearances, seem to be touch-sensitive, meaning it’s not quite a one-stop-shop replacement for the Wii U. It also doesn’t quite corner the niche of Nintendo’s existing handheld devices, all of which are dual screen with a lower touch screen, so it remains to be seen just how this device actually performs versus its siblings. Most of the announced roster of titles appear to be either ports or first-party titles like Mario and Zelda, and while that will probably be enough to hit the ground running when the Switch launches next year, we’ll need to see additional third-party support to ensure the console’s long-term health.
Fortunately, Nintendo has its third-party roster (above) all lined up as well, promising titles from studios including Activision, Electronic Arts (which infamously gave the Wii U a pass), Ubisoft, and smaller studios like Bethesda and Dark Souls developer From Software. Though again, it’s unknown at this time whether these will be new titles or ports of existing games.
The Nintendo Switch is targeted for a March 2017 release date. No price or version specifications, if any, have yet been mentioned.
Below: a few more images of the Switch, via Kotaku.
EDITED (10/25/2016): A previous version of this article misattributed a quote regarding the device’s audio jack to Nintendo’s official Switch documentation.