Nintendo Switch release date, news and features

Nintendo's first tablet hybrid is due in March 2017

The Nintendo Switch could be one of the most revolutionary consoles ever released – similar to the Nintendo DS handheld or the Nintendo 64.  

We say that because Nintendo is taking a strange twist on traditional form factors:The NX is a hybrid between a traditional console and a handheld, meaning that you can use it while out and about like you would a Nintendo 3DS or a PS Vita and then 'dock' it while in your home to play games on the big screen.

This means you'll easily be able to seamlessly continue your gaming when you leave the house, and should also make it much easier to play multiplayer games in person with friends. 

Everything we officially know about the console so far has come from its announcement trailer (which you can watch below), and it will likely stay that way until Nintendo's first official hands on experience that it's holding in New York City on January 13, 2017, one day after its January 12 livestream event.  

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Nintendo's newest console
  • When is it out? Officially March 2017, but unofficially March 17 has been rumored as a release date.
  • What will it cost? It's not official yet, but a price point of $249 (£200/ around AU$330) is looking likely

Nintendo Switch release date

The Switch's debut trailer revealed that the console will launch in March 2017, which agrees with what Nintendo had previously announced in its earnings call earlier this year.

A European release date of Friday March 17 is currently being rumored for the console, which would tally with Nintendo's history of releasing consoles on Friday in the territory. 

This rumor was corroborated by a listing by GameSeek, which listed March 17 as a release date. 

Based on this, we'd guess that the console will probably be released on the 5th or the 12th of March in North America, but we'll probably receive a more exact release date on January 12 when Nintendo will live-stream a presentation about the new console. 

Nintendo Switch Price

Nintendo has yet to officially announce the price of its new console, but we've collected together all of the most promising price rumors around. 

A recent report from LetsPlayVideoGames based on the word of two reliable sources from UK retailer Game has suggested that when it's launched, the Nintendo Switch price in the UK will be £199.99. The report also suggests that we'll see a premium model with more memory and a game released at the same time for £249.99. 

Apparently Nintendo's intention is to price the consoles using direct currency conversion which would mean that the launch price in the US would be $249/ $299 and in Australia it would be $330/ $415.

This super tempting price point is backed up by another recent leak from the Canadian Toys R Us site which listed the Canadian launch price as $329.99. If the direct conversion pricing rumor is accurate, this would mean the UK launch price would indeed be £199, substantiating the claims in LetsPlayVideoGames' report.  

The most recent news, though, comes from UK retailer GameSeek which has listed the Switch with a price of £198.50 (US $246.79/ AU $330). More significantly, it's not just taking pre-orders for the console at this price, it's placing a price guarantee on it. This guarantee states that if the price increases between now and the console's release pre-order customers won't have to pay anymore. 

Of course, if the price decreases then you're also locked into this pre-order price but let's face it, if Nintendo lowers the cost of the Switch below this they're basically giving it away. 

Before you run to GameSeek and pre-order the console for yourself, though, it should be noted that a customer has reported on the store's Facebook page that they were told by their local GameSeek store that all customers who have placed a pre-order have received a full refund. So perhaps it's not quite as guaranteed as we thought. 

None of these rumors have been confirmed or denied by Nintendo, so it looks like we'll have to wait for exact pricing details to be revealed on Nintendo's January 12 live-stream

In the past, high initial price tags were the biggest roadblock for Nintendo's most recent portable and home consoles, and we're hoping that the Switch isn't prohibitively expensive. 

Nintendo's previous generation of consoles, the DS and Wii, gained traction by launching at $150 and $250 (£99.99 and £179.99) respectively, so whether it's focused on dominating your living room or your public transportation commute, Nintendo knows where the sweet spot lays for pricing its consoles.

Nintendo Switch games

As well as giving us our first look at the console, the new trailer also gave us a great look at a number of the console's games. 

We saw a version of what appeared to be Skyrim, a basketball game, the new Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, and an all new Mario game in the style of classic Mario 64. 

Interestingly a couple of these games, including Mario Kart, appear to be ports of Wii U games. In the weeks that followed the launch, further reports backed up the suggestion that Wii U ports would feature heavily in the console's catalogue. Reliable Switch leaker Laura Kate Dale revealed that fan favorite Super Smash Bros. would make the jump to the new console within six months of the console's launch, along with the game's remaining associated Amiibo.

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Another point is how prominently the trailer showed off Skyrim, which is the kind of adult game that Nintendo has tended not to make a priority on its consoles, although after company subsequently failed to confirm whether the game is actually coming to the console, it now appears as though they have something in the works for it, even if they won't confirm exactly what it is. 

Perhaps most excitingly, we've also had rumors that a full Pokémon RPG will be making its way to the Switch in what is a first for home consoles. Allegedly this will be an enhanced version of the excellent Pokémon Sun and Moon, and we couldn't be more excited. 

We also saw games being played competitively in a multiplayer setting, which may indicate Nintendo's intention to make eSports a focus of the console. 

In addition to the trailer, Nintendo has also sent out a list of all the developers and publishers who are planning to support the Switch. 

There are a lot of companies on the list that we're not surprised to see such as Activision, EA and Ubisoft, but it's more surprising to see a company like FromSoftware, developers of the Dark Souls series, on the list, due to its focus on more adult games. 

Nintendo Switch features

Nintendo has always been a company willing to do its own thing. While Sony and Microsoft have fought over having the more powerful machines, Nintendo has focussed its attention on interesting controllers and 3D displays. 

The Switch looks like a very unique console indeed. 

In recent years Nintendo has developed a bit of a problem with its attention being split across its consoles and its handhelds. The Nintendo Switch console will be a hybrid between the two, and might just solve this problem.

In other words what the console will be able to do is allow you to take it on the go, and then 'dock' it when you're back home in order to seamlessly transition to using it like a traditional console.

Nintendo should have just one piece of hardware to focus its attention on, and this should help it maintain a better level of focus.

When played as a handheld, you attach two controller portions to the side of the 6.2" 720p multi-touch screen, which feature a 'split' d-pad as previously rumored. 

These can then be detached when your dock the console, at which point you can either play the console with a more traditional controller, which features a more traditional Nintendo d-pad, or reassemble the detached controller handles into a gamepad. 

You can also detach the controller handles to use with the console while it's in tablet mode. 

Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima has confirmed that the console will see a wide array of accessories, which some have taken to mean that we'll see multiple detachable controller types. 

Nintendo has confirmed that you won't be able to use the tablet to create a dual-screen gaming experience similar to the Gamepad with the Wii U. Instead, the Switch will be an completely single-screen experience "on whatever screen you might choose."

From the looks of this controller it might be equipped with detachable  handles, but this wasn't made explicit in the trailer. 

The trailer also confirmed the fact that the console will feature games sold on a cartridge rather than a disc.

Unfortunately this means that the console won't be physically backwards compatible

The trailer didn't mention a major rumor that was doing the rounds about the console supporting VR after the company admitted it was "researching" VR technology, according to someone who was present.

Twitter's NStyles attended the meeting in Kyoto and claims Nintendo's Shigeru Minamoto said Nintendo was researching VR but has concerns about users playing for long periods of time.

Rumors about the console being powered by an Nvidia chip appear to be correct. The graphics card company has revealed in a blog post that the console is powered by a custom Tegra chip. 

Nintendo Switch specs

Thanks to a Nvidia blog post we know the console is powered by a custom Tegra chip, which was also found in the Nvidia Shield, but unfortunately neither Nvidia nor Nintendo have provided any further details on how powerful the chip is. 

The blog post does mention that the chip has been optimised for "mobile use cases" which we hope means that it's not too battery hungry, but there are rumors circulating that the console only has a battery life of three hours when used as a handheld

In terms of RAM, the Switch is rumored to have 4GB, which puts it in line with most major smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Motorola Moto Z, and is more than both the iPhone 7 (2GB) and iPhone 7 Plus (3GB). 

Unfortunately this is half the amount of both the PS4 and Xbox One, which suggests the Switch might sit behind the current generation in terms of graphical fidelity. 

The screen is rumored to have a resolution of 720p and be capable of multi-touch in a first for the company which has focussed on single-touch screens up until now. 

The tablet will also reportedly feature a USB-C port for charging, as well as supporting up to 128GB Micro SDXC Cards.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Porter is Techradar's UK Home Technology Writer covering everything from TVs to Hi-Fi, gaming and home automation. He's also super into keyboards, and I think we can all agree that the obsession has gone a little too far at this point.