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The launch of a new console is always an exciting time for gamers, with the run up to launch filled with anticipation and speculation. With that said, there’s always an extra degree of mystery surrounding a Nintendo machine, with the company being infamous for keeping their cards close to their chest for as long as possible. The Nintendo Switch was officially unveiled to the world in October with a teaser video showing off the basic concept of the machine, but now we finally have a lot more confirmed information and the rumours can be put to rest. It’s no secret that I’m a big Nintendo fan so I’m pretty much bursting with excitement at this point! This morning Nintendo livestreamed the latest facts and Smyths Toys are at the Nintendo Switch event in London to bring you our first impressions!
What exactly is a Switch?

For the uninitiated, The Nintendo Switch is Nintendo’s next video game console. What sets it apart from previous systems (as well as the competition) is the ability to remove the console from the dock that connects it to the television and continue playing on the go. While the Wii U introduced us to the idea of “Off TV Play” with the Wii U Gamepad, you still had to remain in range of the console to do it. The Nintendo Switch on the other hand is truly portable which opens up a world of possibilities, particularly for gamers like myself who split their play time between home, travel and lunchtime at work. The seamless transition between portable and docked modes is a joy to behold, and makes me want all future machines to go down a similar route. Nintendo haven’t blurred the line between home console and portable here, they’ve erased it.

 
 
When, when, WHEN?!

The biggest question people have been asking is when the Switch will launch. Well good news, there isn’t long to wait with the machine launching worldwide on 3rd March! There are two options available, one with a standard grey Joy-Con Controller, and one with a neon red and neon blue Joy-Con. Anyone looking to prebook their console can do so through our website - Nintendo Switch ) or by visiting your local Smyths Toys Superstore and putting down a €20/£20 deposit, with all orders being fulfilled in the order they were taken so get in fast!

How much?

Nintendo have always been known for launching their consoles at competitive prices, and luckily that hasn’t changed this time around with the Switch coming in at a wallet friendly £279.99/€329.99. Considering there isn’t another machine like it on the market, this is well worth it and frees up some of your hard earned cash for more games!

The hardware

When docked, the Nintendo Switch resembles the form factor of the original Wii with its vertical design. When in portable mode the machine is more like a tablet, sporting a 6.2 inch touchscreen. The machine has two external speakers for stereo sound, or if you prefer not to annoy those around you, a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s also a handy kickstand if you’d rather set the machine down to play in tabletop mode. You can then either detach the Joy-Con Controller and use that, or use a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (details on both below).

Accessorise!

The reveal video back in October showed off some of the accessories and attachments we can expect from the Switch and today we got to look at them in more detail.

  • Joy-Con Controller – the standard controller for the system, which can be detached from its base (known as the Joy-Con Grip) and attached to the Switch itself in portable mode, or split into two separate controllers (Joy-Con L and Joy-Con R) for compatible games. The two separate pieces can also be used as one controller, similar to the old Wii Remote/Nunchuck combo. While detached, the individual Joy-Cons have two extra buttons that are usually hidden. It also features “HD Rumble” which allows for extra sensitive feedback and can be used to good effect in games. It’s quite comfortable to hold and light enough without feeling cheap.
  • Wrist Straps – these handy straps prevent you from accidentally sending the controllers flying during a heated game of Arms! Essential for saving TVs from certain destruction.
  • Switch Pro Controller – a more traditional controller design, perfect for anyone who’s more used to playing on PlayStation or Xbox. Bulkier than the standard Joy-Con, I would expect the Pro Controller to be popular among first person shooter fans. Definitely one for the hardcore gamers!
  • Dock – not exactly an accessory as such since every machine includes one, putting the Switch into the dock changes the action from displaying on the machine’s own screen, to the TV. While connected to the TV the Switch displays games in 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) whereas the tablet alone displays in 720p (1280 x 720 pixels)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The launch line up and beyond

It’s no good to launch an impressive piece of hardware without the games to show off the system, and the Switch will have plenty to choose from, coming from both Nintendo and its third party partners. Unlike the past three Nintendo home consoles, the Nintendo Switch’s games come on GameCards similar to those found on 3DS. This is much more suited to the portable nature of the machine, as traditional optical discs would require a constantly spinning motor to read the game, reducing battery life (which is confirmed to be between 2.5 and 6.5 hours depending on usage). There are over 80 games currently in development by more than 50 companies so we can expect a steady flow of games for the system. Some of the games we sampled are listed below:

The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild: This is a game that needs no introduction. The long running series is finally getting it’s latest instalment after years of waiting, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Anything you can see in the game’s landscape can be visited, and the whole thing looks amazing whether it’s on a 55 inch TV or the Switch’s own screen. Launches alongside the Switch on 3rd March.

Ultra Street Fighter II – The Final Challengers: The nostalgia is strong in this one! An updated version of the old classic, I confidently marched over to the stand only to swiftly be put in my place by three different people…
Sonic Mania: Keeping that old school feeling going is the latest Sonic, which looks and feels just like all the Mega Drive games we know and love. Featuring Sonic, Tails and Knuckles as playable characters, this game can be picked up and played by anybody and is sure to make you feel like you’re back in 1991… with much prettier graphics that is!
Arms: Part boxing game, part shooter, Arms puts you in control of a fighter with super extendable arms (see what they did there?) which are controlled using the motion controls of the Joy-Con. Easy to pick up but with depth and strategy not normally associated with motion based games, Arms will keep you coming back time and again to improve your skills. Releasing Spring 2017.
1-2-Switch: This is designed to be the “Wii Sports” of the Nintendo Switch, a game anybody can pick up and play with next to no explanation needed. This two player game has an interesting feature in that you play it by looking into your opponent’s eyes rather than at the screen. Activities are predictably weird and wonderful from using the HD Rumble to crack a safe, to milking a cow! This will launch on 3rd March.
Splatoon 2: The original Splatoon was one of the best games on Wii U and now we get a chance to experience the frantic action on Nintendo Switch! Somehow this game is even more action packed than its predecessor with all new weapons and stages, including the new dual wielded Splat Dualies. We can look forward to both local and online multiplayer with this one. Launching Summer 2017.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: The Wii U smash hit returns in this Deluxe Edition for Switch, complete with all previous downloadable content and some all new characters and stages from Splatoon! The game supports up to 8 players in local multiplayer which is a laugh a minute and even more hectic than the 4 player mayhem seen on the Wii U. Coming 28th April.
Aside from these great titles, we’ve got loads of other big name games coming to the system including Super Mario Odyssey, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Skyrim, Just Dance 2017, Skylanders Imaginators, Minecraft and after few years absence on Nintendo platforms, Fifa is making its triumphant return! This is just a taste of what’s to come, and there are many games that haven’t even been announced yet too!
Make the Switch now!

As with the Nintendo Classic Mini before Christmas, the Nintendo Switch is expected to be a big hit when it lands on our shelves 3rd March, we strongly advise you prebook now to avoid disappointment! Consoles can be prebooked through our website, or in your local Smyths Toys Superstore by placing a €20/£20 deposit. I’ve got mine booked!