Nintendo let the world know that a new console was in the works back in the spring of 2015. Developed under the codename NX, few details were available so the Internet ran wild with speculation until earlier this summer, when a rumor about it being some kind of combination mobile/home console surfaced. This morning Nintendo made the official unveiling through a well-produced commercial and it looks like that rumor was true as they showed off the Switch, which will indeed allow gamers to play on their big screen TVs and on the road. Nintendo Switch is scheduled to hit stores in March of 2017.
Details are still somewhat scarce, but based on the trailer it looks like the Switch will operate out of a docking station called the Switch Dock when you're playing at home. It's a beautiful machine, simple with clean lines and colored in what appears to be a deep charcoal with the console's slick logo in white. The aesthetics are definitely an upgrade over both the Wii U and the Wii, the Switch would look great in your entertainment center. Two separate controllers were featured in the trailer, one that is utilized for mobile mode and another that looks to be more of a traditional game pad.
The Switch operating as a traditional home console.
When it comes time to game on the go the sides of the Switch's controller, which are known as "Joy-Cons", slide off and attach to a tablet that has been resting in the docking station, which I assume acts as its charger. As of now the tablet dimensions haven't been released, but it's clearly bigger than the PlayStation Vita and if I had to guess it will be a little smaller than a 7" Kindle Fire. No word yet on if it is a touchscreen, but I don't see how Nintendo could get away with it not being one. The tablet features some cool kickstands that allow it to be propped up to provide a TV-like experience while playing. The two Joy-Cons can be broken off from the tablet and used as individual controllers if you feel like playing some local multiplayer with a friend.
It appears that the games will be delivered on mini-cartridges that look similar to the ones used on Nintendo's DS line. The trailer featured footage from Bethesda's mega-hit Skyrim and 2K Sports' NBA 2K17, as well as games in the successful Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, and Mario Kart franchises that have been Nintendo staples for decades.
No detailed hardware specs have been released as of this writing, but it was confirmed that the machine will be powered by a custom Nvidia Tegra processor, which will hopefully equal or come close to the performance of the Sony and Microsoft consoles.
The Switch goes mobile by snapping two parts of the controller onto a portable screen.
Perhaps as important as the console announcement itself was the list of software developers that have committed to supporting the Nintendo Switch. Activision, Bandai Namco, Bethesda, Capcom, Sega, WB Games, Square Enix, Codemasters, EA, From Software, and many others were announced as Nintendo Switch Partners, offering hope that 3rd party support will finally be a major part of the Nintendo experience.
The Switch isn't what I wanted out of Nintendo's next console, but the company is obviously not going to abandon their gimmicky side after the success they found with the Wii. While the Switch is certainly a nice-looking machine I wonder how Nintendo plans to succeed where past cool devices like the PlayStation Vita failed. A big part of Vita's demise was the fact that people would rather game on their phones instead of lugging an additional device, the device's case, and a charger along for the ride. The Switch's tablet is pretty big and doesn't appear to have any kind of cover so a case will be required when out and about. When you consider that people are already carrying their phone and likely an iPad or Kindle adding a dedicated gaming tablet might be a deal-breaker for some. That's what makes the DS/3DS so convenient, with its flip-down cover it can be safely stashed away in your pocket or purse. The Vita couldn't overcome this inconvenience, I'm not sure the Switch can either.
But clearly not enough details are known at this point to make predictions about how Nintendo Switch will perform in today's gaming climate. It definitely looks like an upgrade over the Wii U, which remains the worst-selling console in Nintendo's history. The key remains good software support, and the above list of 3rd party develops is cause for optimism.