Nintendo Switch combines the best of a console and a handheld

ICYMI, Nintendo’s upcoming gaming system looks amazing.
Nintendo’s new gaming console, the Nintendo Switch. Courtesy of BagoGames flickr

Everyone’s favorite completely kooky-yet-somehow-predictable gaming company, Nintendo, kicked off the new year with a live-streamed press conference dedicated to its upcoming game system, the Nintendo Switch, which releases on March 3. The stream, which was held on Thursday, Jan. 12, and the subsequent Fire Emblem Direct stream on Wednesday, Jan. 18, both revealed all sorts of juicy info on what the Switch has in store. Whether you’re a hardcore Nintendo nerd like I am, looking for all the hot takes you can get, or someone who enjoys the periodic round of Mario Kart but doesn’t want to watch a whole press release to see what’s up in the world of video games, worry not. I’m going to do my best to summarize what I think are the coolest bits of info we have about this system.

Console? Handheld? ¿Por qué no los dos?

Nintendo has established, more than any other major gaming company, a strategy of splitting the focus between console and handheld gaming systems. (Microsoft has never pursued a handheld, and Sony has been turning a shoulder to theirs as of late.) The GameCube was separate from the Game Boy Advance, the Wii separate from the DS, the Wii U separate from the 3DS and so on.

But Nintendo has decided to try smushing them together into what will hopefully be a successful mix of the two. In a process that is easier to understand by watching than reading, the Switch becomes a TV-connected console when plugged into a dock, and a handheld when taken out. There are even more configurations than just those two, as the controllers that attach to the sides of the Switch, called “Joy-Cons,” can be used for local multiplayer or a more laid-back playing setup. The original announcement trailer shows it better than I could ever explain it, and it’s also a really nice ad:

What’s to love about this? Well, for a $299 system, it functions both as a TV console system for your apartment Mario Kart matches and a handheld that you can throw in your backpack and play during your between-classes lunch break. Compare that to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4’s debut prices of $499 and $399, respectively (both of which you couldn’t just carry to the park).

A system that is both portable and part of an apartment entertainment system, while staying relatively affordable, definitely sounds great to a college student like me. The ad’s implied target audience would suggest that Nintendo was hoping for that reaction.

Of course, the system is likely to have some problems down the line, like if the quality of gameplay is lowered to make both gameplay styles possible or if the battery life isn’t as long as the 3DS’. (Speaking of which, if you’re just looking for a handheld, the 3DS is already much cheaper.) Like any game system, it’s going to be a mix of pros and cons (Joy-Cons, that is).

Some pretty sick games (though you might have to wait for them)

Nintendo has a tendency to make stuff that looks great but release it at weird times. This tendency definitely reared its ugly head during the Switch press conference. That Mario game with beautiful graphics and an intriguing world? Yeah, you’ll have to wait until “Holiday 2017” to play it, even though the Switch releases in March. Rude, Nintendo. Just rude.

Nevertheless, here are some of the games you have to look forward to (or not).

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is also coming out for the Wii U and has been promoted by Nintendo since the Switch was still known by its code name “NX.” It’s a sandbox Zelda game with beautiful graphics that drops on the Switch’s release day. This is the first non-spinoff, non-remake and non-sequel Zelda game since Skyward Sword on the Wii. Between that and the gorgeous open world, I’m considering dropping out and pursuing a full-time career in exploring this game (I’m sure it would pay well).

Super Mario Odyssey (Holiday 2017) and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (April) will be coming later in the year for fans of Nintendo’s most recognizable protag. The former features beautiful graphics and made me, someone who actually isn’t that much of a Mario player, hope Santa will deliver it to me at the end of the year. I do wish these titles were dropping closer to the Switch’s release, though.

As anyone who’s spent a little too much time with me knows, I’m a fool for Nintendo’s JRPG/fantasy strategy series Fire Emblem. A whopping four games from the series were announced this week, two of which are for the Switch. One is a game we know nothing about besides that it has the imaginative working title Fire Emblem for Nintendo Switch (2018). The other is a crossover between the series and Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors series, called Fire Emblem Warriors (Fall 2017). A previous crossover was Hyrule Warriors, featuring Legend of Zelda characters, and that game was great, so I’m quite excited. Let’s hope that Nintendo will soon show us more than two seconds of gameplay.

One of Nintendo’s newest and quirkiest IPs, Splatoon, is getting a sequel (Summer 2017). Color me excited, as Splatoon is one of the best games to come out of Nintendo trying something unprecedented. To continue this trend of weird, new things, the company announced ARMS, another launch title for the Switch. Its graphics look sharp with interesting gameplay, but it definitely has a few doses of the classic Nintendo, “What the hell am I looking at?”

I could go on forever, but here are some more first- and third-party games to keep your eyes on: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017), Skyrim (Fall 2017; This announcement had mixed reactions, but I, for one, am thanking Todd Howard for my life), a Shin Megami Tensei game (no release window announced), Octopath Traveler from Square Enix (no release window announced; I saw the trailer for it and my JRPG-loving heart was immediately enamored) and Stardew Valley (2017; The incredibly lovable, addicting and successful farming simulator).

It kind of looks like an adorable puppy
It gives a whole new meaning to Nintendogs. Thanks for listening to my hot takes, and if you’d like to mark your calendars, the Nintendo Switch will be released on March 3, 2017.

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