Nintendo on Friday priced its first console in about four years above market expectations. The firm said it will launch the Switch, a hybrid home console and handheld device, on March 3. It will be priced $299.99 in the United States.
With Switch- a tablet-sized device with wireless controllers that can be used anywhere but also connects to TVs - Nintendo hopes to revive its earnings which rely heavily on console sales.
Nintendo said more than 50 game software makers are developing 80 titles for the Switch. Of those, eight will be available at the time of launch in Japan, including "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
The system will include the main console, Joy-Con (L) and Joy-Con (R) controllers, a Joy-Con grip (to which two Joy-Con are attached and used as one controller), a set of Joy-Con wrist straps, a Nintendo Switch dock (which holds the main console and connects it to a TV), an HDMI cable and an AC adapter. Two versions of the system will be released: a version with a set of gray Joy-Con, and a version with one neon blue and one neon red Joy-Con. Both versions will be the same price.
Nintendo Switch not only connects to a TV at home, but it also instantly transforms into an on-the-go handheld using its 6.2-inch screen. The screen includes capacitive multi-touch capabilities for compatible games. Battery life can last for more than six hours, but will vary depending on the software and usage conditions. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be played for roughly three hours on a single charge. While away from home, Nintendo Switch can be charged by plugging the AC adapter into the console's USB Type-C connector.
The Joy-Con offer multiple new ways for players to have fun. Two Joy-Con can be used independently in each hand, or together as one game controller when attached to the Joy-Con grip. They can also attach to the main console for use in handheld mode, or be shared with friends to enjoy two-player action in supported games. Each Joy-Con has a full set of buttons and can act as a standalone controller, and each includes an accelerometer and gyro-sensor, making independent left and right motion control possible. A second set of Joy-Cons won't come cheap, with Nintendo listing the MSRP at $80.
Nintendo Switch also contains a number of built-in features that make it more interactive. The left Joy-Con has a Capture Button that players can press to take instant screenshots of gameplay to share with friends on social media. The right Joy-Con includes an NFC touchpoint for interaction with amiibo figures, as well as an IR Motion Camera that can detect the distance, shape and motion of nearby objects in specially designed games. For example, it can tell how far away a player's hand is, and even if the hand is forming a rock, paper or scissors shape. Both Joy-Con include advanced HD Rumble, which can provide compatible games with subtle vibrations that are much more realistic than before. The effect is so detailed that a player could, for example, feel the sensation of individual ice cubes colliding inside a glass when shaking a Joy-Con. With HD Rumble players can experience a level of realism not possible through sights and sounds alone.
Up to eight systems can be connected for local wireless play. The player can place the system upright anywhere by using the built-in stand, then easily share Joy-Con for multiplayer fun away from the TV. The system will support online Wi-Fi multiplayer gaming. Nintendo also unveiled a new online subscription service that will begin with a free trial at launch. The service includes a smart-device application available in Summer 2017 that will let users invite friends to play online, set play appointments and chat with one another as they play compatible games. The fully featured paid service will be available in the fall.