Feature: Everything You Need to Know About the Nintendo Switch, So Far

Get clued in ahead of the big presentation

It's Nintendo Switch week, at long last. In a matter of days we'll have seen a lot more of Nintendo's next-gen system and will have a good idea of what it'll have to offer at launch. The arrival of a new console generation is always exciting, and there's the sense that Nintendo aims to go all-in with its new release.

This feature is a bit of a refresh from a previous Nintendo Switch guide, taking into account additional information that's surfaced, the timings of the upcoming Presentation and even some prominent rumours. Any rumours included here relate to reports in which we have some trust, either from corroborating sources or in an understanding that they're on relatively solid ground. Facts and rumours will be clearly marked, however, so you'll know what's locked and what isn't.

So, let's get right into it.

What Official Switch Footage is Available?

Not much, actually - below is the preview trailer, and an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. We've also thrown in the latest trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild from The Game Awards; based on the somewhat choppy performance in the live demo of the Wii U version in that show, our suspicion is the official gameplay trailers are based off the Switch version.

When is the Nintendo Switch Presentation?

The full presentation, live from Tokyo, will take place at the following times.

8pm Pacific / 11pm Eastern on 12th January, which is 4am UK / 5am CET / 1pm Tokyo / 3pm AEDT on 13th January.

In addition there'll be a Nintendo Treehouse stream from the US that will go 'in depth' with the games, times below.

6:30am Pacific / 9:30am Eastern / 2:30pm UK / 3:30pm CET on 13th January, 1:30am on 14th January in the AEDT timezone.

We'll host both streams with a live blog / chat here on Nintendo Life.

What's the Nintendo Switch Release Date?

This one's easy, sort of - in the regional variations of the reveal video for North America, Europe and Japan, all had a March 2017 release window. A precise date and pricing are likely to emerge during or immediately after the main presentation - 17th March is strongly rumoured.

How Much Will It Cost?

It's still unconfirmed, but there's a weight of rumours, early retail listings and a recent Nikkei report pointing at about 25,000 Yen (likely pre-tax) in Japan. Some sensible speculation pegs this at around $250, with a close price in Euros and perhaps between £200-230 in the UK. Whether that would be a core system with Joy-Cons alone or whether a game will be included is anyone's guess (and based on some shoddy fake leaks, plenty are guessing).

That's all unconfirmed, but it would be a mistake for Nintendo to price its system much higher than those rumoured points.

Details on the Nintendo Switch System

Most of these impressions are taken from the reveal trailer or snippets of information since - rumours included are clearly marked and, as made clear at the top of the page, are only listed if we believe there's a decent likelihood of accuracy.

Nintendo Switch Dock - For TV Play

  • The docking unit is used to deliver the system's image onto a TV screen.
  • It appears to have 2x USB sockets on the side.
  • Includes a charging/power indicator light and is confirmed to charge the console when docked.
  • RUMOUR - When docked the console system operates quicker, essentially utilising the GPU at a higher capacity. A Eurogamer / Digital Foundry breakdown paints a stark picture of performance difference and goes into rumoured clock speeds; all games that work in the dock will also work in 'portable' form.

Nintendo Switch Console

  • A key point to know is that the 'console' is the tablet-like portable, it holds all the power. As stated above, reports with respectable sources suggest improved performance when docked for TV play. This is likely to relate to both framerate and smoothness of gameplay and also resolution, both potentially better (depending on the game etc) when docked.
  • Has a "Game Card" slot, with physical game media not too dissimilar from 3DS carts.
  • Headphone port at the top.
  • A clear cooling vent / fan at the top.
  • Power button is located top left.
  • Volume up/down buttons are next to the power button.
  • Includes a flip-down stand on the right hand side.
  • Nintendo describes the portable's screen as a "bright high-definition display". Rumours from some reputable outlets disagree on its resolution; some suggest the screen supports a 720p output, others suggest 1080p.
  • A patent for the hardware, logic and reports point to the display also being a multi-touch screen.
  • Motion capabilities also seem to be a factor within the console, as reinforced by the patent. This also seems likely due to gyroscopic and motion capabilities previously seen in the likes of the 3DS and Wii U GamePad.
  • The system does not support backward compatibility of physical media for Wii U or 3DS games.
  • RUMOUR - will utilise USB-C for quick charging and connectivity performance.
  • RUMOUR - Micro-SD cards supported for external storage, up to 128GB.
  • Speculation on battery life suggests about 3-4 hours, but it's all rather loose right now.

Joy-Con Controller

  • This consists of two detachable controller parts, which can clip in either side of a special 'Grip' or the Switch Console itself.
  • These two parts are expected to be included with the core system.
  • Each includes 1x Analogue stick + 4 face buttons (ABXY/UDLR).
  • Each includes a Trigger button + Shoulder button.
  • RUMOUR - Back triggers to be analogue, which would certainly cater to some Virtual Console support, outlined further down this article.
  • Very small "release" button for the detachable mechanism.
  • Due to games confirmed, a patent for the system and related reports it is extremely likely that there is support for motion controls in these controllers.
  • Home button is found on the right.
  • Non-descript circle button found on the left - rumours suggest it is a 'social' button.
  • Plus button to the right, Minus button to the left.
  • Joy-Con looks perfect for selling in different colours / limited edition designs.

Joy-Con Grip

  • Left and Right controllers slide on to create a traditional controller form-factor.
  • Charging or playing indicator lights are visible.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

  • We believe there may be motion support (from the concept Splatoon footage in the teaser trailer), but we are not 100% certain.
  • Dual Analogue controls.
  • D-Pad.
  • ABXY face buttons.
  • Shoulder buttons + Triggers seen, same as the Wii U equivalent.

Features (and some Assumptions)

  • Four people can play on two consoles. The basketball segment shows four people playing on two screens.
  • The patent demonstrates up to four players on one system, each using an individual Joy-Con part. Different configurations possible for different numbers of players.
  • Standardised car mount - a preview trailer section in a van showed the device clipped to a front seat.
  • We do not believe there's a camera on the device, based on available information.
  • No 3D effect on the screen, at least no indication that's a feature.
  • No suggestion of 3G / 4G connectivity, with document filings in the US reinforcing that point.
  • No mention of GPS (for titles such as Pokémon GO).
  • amiibo support is confirmed.

Powered by Nvidia

Nvidia is supplying the GPU capabilities for the Nintendo Switch; the following is from an official announcement:

Nintendo Switch is powered by the performance of the custom Tegra processor. The high-efficiency scalable processor includes an NVIDIA GPU based on the same architecture as the world's top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards.

The Nintendo Switch's gaming experience is also supported by fully custom software, including a revamped physics engine, new libraries, advanced game tools and libraries. NVIDIA additionally created new gaming APIs to fully harness this performance. The newest API, NVN, was built specifically to bring lightweight, fast gaming to the masses.

Gameplay is further enhanced by hardware-accelerated video playback and custom software for audio effects and rendering.

We've optimized the full suite of hardware and software for gaming and mobile use cases. This includes custom operating system integration with the GPU to increase both performance and efficiency.

NVIDIA gaming technology is integrated into all aspects of the new Nintendo Switch home gaming system, which promises to deliver a great experience to gamers.

A Selection of Confirmed Development Partners

  • 505 Games
  • LEVEL-5 Inc.
  • Activision Publishing, Inc.
  • Marvelous Inc.
  • ARC SYSTEM WORKS Co., Ltd.
  • Maximum Games, LLC
  • ATLUS CO., LTD.
  • Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
  • Audiokinetic Inc.
  • Parity Bit Inc.
  • Autodesk, Inc.
  • PlatinumGames Inc.
  • BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
  • RAD Game Tools, Inc.
  • Bethesda
  • RecoChoku Co., Ltd.
  • CAPCOM CO., LTD.
  • SEGA Games Co., Ltd.
  • Codemasters®
  • Silicon Studio Corporation
  • CRI Middleware Co., Ltd.
  • Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd.
  • DeNA Co., Ltd.
  • SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD.
  • Electronic Arts
  • Starbreeze Studios
  • Epic Games Inc.
  • Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
  • Firelight Technologies
  • Telltale Games
  • FromSoftware, Inc.
  • THQ Nordic
  • Frozenbyte
  • Tokyo RPG Factory Co., Ltd.
  • GameTrust
  • TT Games
  • GRASSHOPPER MANUFACTURE INC.
  • UBISOFT
  • Gungho Online Entertainment, Inc.
  • Ubitus Inc.
  • HAMSTER Corporation
  • Unity Technologies, Inc.
  • Havok
  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
  • INTI CREATES CO., LTD.
  • Web Technology Corp
  • KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.
  • Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.
  • Image & Form

What Engines Does Switch Support?

Unity and Unreal seem like prominent and well-known examples that are driving some confirmed and rumoured game releases. In utilising a GPU with a basis in NVIDIA's Tegra technology, the Switch's architecture will seemingly have less of a 'bespoke' structure as seen in the Wii U and particularly the 3DS. This should prove useful not only with licensed engines such as those outlined above, but with some major custom engines that publishers have previously utilised on NVIDIA technology.

Confirmed Nintendo Switch Games

Rumoured Nintendo Switch Games

  • Mario Kart 8 / Switch ('concept' footage in trailer + rumours)
  • Splatoon ('concept' footage in trailer + rumours)
  • Pokémon Stars (third game as follow-up in Sun / Moon generation)
  • 3D Mario Game ('concept' footage in trailer + rumours)
  • Super Smash Bros. (rumoured to be 'director's cut' of Smash 4)
  • Pikmin 4 (rumours, may not be named '4')
  • Super Mario Maker (rumoured port)
  • Mother 3 (Virtual Console, rumours)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X (port)
  • Monolith Soft game
  • Yooka-Laylee (Playtonic Games 'working very closely' with Nintendo)
  • Beyond Good & Evil 2 / Reboot
  • Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Mario tie-in)
  • Rayman Legends
  • Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
  • 2K Basketball Game / Port
  • New Assassin's Creed
  • Dark Souls 3 / Dark Souls Trilogy
  • Telltale Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Koei Tecmo 'Warriors' Crossover (not Zelda or Mario)
  • Earthlock: Festival of Magic (developer intent to port, not yet finalised)

Additional Rumoured Features


Those are some key details around the Nintendo Switch, either confirmed or with a strong likelihood of being announced in the future. Let us know of anything we've missed in the comments, and let us know what you think of how the system's shaping up ahead of its major presentation later this week.