Game on: Nintendo Switch launches on March 3 for $299.99 - here's what you need to know

It seems like an eternity since Nintendo's unveiling of the Switch console back in October, when it wowed the world with its vision of a portable gaming device that also connects to a TV docking station for a home gaming experience. But that announcement was really only a teaser, leaving many questions unanswered.

Today, Nintendo filled in the important gaps in that knowledge, revealing a ton of juicy new details about its exciting new device.

Pricing and availability

There's loads of stuff you want to know about the Switch - but let's face it: how much it costs and when you can get your paws on it are probably the most important questions on your mind right now.

Nintendo says that the Switch will launch around the world on March 3. Exact pricing will obviously vary by market - so resist the urge to rely on direct conversions to other currencies - but the company announced that the device will be priced at $299.99 in the United States, £279.99 in the UK, and just under ¥30,000 in the company's home market of Japan.

Specs

The Switch has a 6.2-inch multitouch display with HD (1280x720px) resolution - but when connected to the TV dock, games can be played at Full HD (1920x1080px).

It has just 32GB of integrated storage, but this can be expanded thanks to its microSD card slot. The games you'll play on the Switch will come on proprietary 'game cards', which should help to reduce the problem of the device's limited onboard storage.

Nintendo didn't say much about the Switch's graphics hardware; indeed, it only refers to the device as having a 'custom' Nvidia Tegra GPU. Predictably, Nvidia's CEO talked up the Switch earlier this week, saying that "people are going to be blown away" by the new console when they see it in action, although he can hardly be described as an impartial observer on the matter.

The Switch also supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, including the ability to connect up to eight of the consoles over a local network for multiplayer gaming.

But given that the Switch will spend much of its time in your hands - and away from power sockets - you'll obviously want to know about how long the good times will last before it runs out of juice. Nintendo says that gamers can expect between 2.5 and 6.5 hours of battery life, depending on the games they play. Those disappointed by the console's 720p display should understand that a higher-resolution screen would have reduced that battery life further.

The Switch is charged via a USB Type-C port, doing away with the notion of proprietary power cables. That's a very sensible choice given the growing popularity of USB-C on all sorts of devices, which means that many users will have to carry one less cable around with them - and they'll have a greater chance of being able to borrow one if they leave theirs at home.

Controllers

While the Switch has a touchscreen, you'll spend most of your time using the controls on either side of the display.

But those controls can be detached from the main handheld unit, giving users two Joy-Con controllers. In addition to the standard grey color scheme, these will also be available in cheerful blue and red hues.

There are two core 'modes' for the Joy-Con controllers. They can be attached in tandem to the Joy-Con Grip, creating one super-controller to play games when the console is docked to a TV. But they can also be used independently in some multiplayer games, so that you can share the fun with a friend.

Both Joy-Con controllers have control sticks, along with directional and ABXY buttons, along with L+R shoulder buttons. They also offer built in haptic feedback - which Nintendo refers to as 'HD Rumble' - along with gyroscopic sensors and accelerometers. The right controller features an integrated infrared camera that can sense the shape, distance and motion of objects.

Online services

Nintendo has offered only a handful of details about its online services for the Switch so far, including the fact that they'll be offered at no charge... initially.

"Users will be able to try out the Nintendo Switch online services for free during a trial period after launch," the company said during its announcement today. "It will become a paid service beginning in the fall of 2017. We will provide additional details on this paid service and its features on our home page at a later date."

What we do know so far is this. As part of the subscription, members will get a free NES or SNES game to download every month, along with exclusive deals and discounts on various products. There will also be voice chat functionality, as well as some social aspects to the service provided through a mobile app, which will be released this summer. This will include chat, game invitations, and the ability to set appointments for future gaming sessions.

Accessories

When you buy the Switch, you'll get the console itself, including the left and right Joy-Con controllers, the Joy-Con Grip, additional Joy-Con straps (which connect to the top of the controllers, and feature chunkier shoulder buttons), and the TV docking station, as well as the power adapter and a HDMI cable.

Other accessories will be available to purchase:

  • Individual left/right Joy-Con Controllers: $49.99
  • Joy-Con Charging Grip: $29.99
  • Joy-Con Controller Set: $79.99
  • Joy-Con Wheel (set of 2): $14.99
  • Switch Dock Set: $89.99
  • Switch Pro Controller: $69.99

Games

You can check out a full list of the launch games that have been confirmed for the Switch so far here.


So, what do you think of the Nintendo Switch now that you know a lot more about it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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