Two years after it was first announced with the codename Nintendo NX, the latest video game console from Mario creators and gaming pioneers Nintendo has gone on sale worldwide following months of build-up and anticipation.
Nintendo Switch is the follow-up to 2012's Wii U and 2011's Nintendo 3DS. It is a console capable of both home and handheld play thanks to an innovative design that allows users to instantly switch between the two modes of play.
What is Nintendo Switch and how much does
The bulk of Nintendo Switch's power is in the handheld screen that slots into the console's dock when players would prefer to play on a television set. When in handheld mode, two controllers called Joy Con attach to either side to create the best handheld gaming experience currently on the market.
Those Joy Con also function separately as individual mini controllers for local multiplayer, either held on their side or used as motion controllers. With games that support that feature, a kickstand on the back of the Switch screen can be used to prop up the screen as two players use the Joy-Con, or a Pro Controller if they have one, to play.
These Joy Con also fit into a grip to create a more conventional gaming controller when Switch is in its TV mode.
Nintendo Switch retails at £279.99.
How does it work in practice?
In IBTimes UK's review of Nintendo Switch, which you can read in full at that link, we say: "The audacious idea that came to be Nintendo Switch has paid off. It's Nintendo's most impressively well-designed home console ever; a tight, light package brimming with ideas and built to support all manners of play.
"The mark of a console is how well it supports a wide variety of games, and Switch does that through its hardware and, it seems, through the efforts Nintendo has made to make it easier than ever for third parties to develop software for a Nintendo console.
"Nintendo Switch is primed to eclipse the disappointing sales of Wii U, and though we don't know yet if this will be the case, it certainly deserves to."
What games are available at launch?
The biggest launch game is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which we awarded a rare five stars in our glowing review. In that review we say: "In reinvigorating the Zelda series, Nintendo has rediscovered what gave it life all those years ago, capturing a spirit of adventure that flows through Breath of the Wild like the breeze on Hyrule's fields.
"Link and Princess Zelda's battle to save Hyrule has rarely felt like such a personal journey, thanks to a masterful game defined by its peerless, charming and truly beautiful setting. A masterpiece."
Nintendo's other two first party launch titles are multiplayer mini-game collection 1-2 Switch – read our ranking of all 28 of its mini-games here – and Snipperclips, a delightful indie puzzle game.
There are 15 additional titles available today (3 March), which we've listed below with their UK price.
- Super Bomberman R (£49.99)
- Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (£22.49)
- Shovel Knight: Spectre of Torment (£8.99)
- Just Dance 2017 (£49.99)
- Fast RMX (£16.99)
- I Am Setsuna (£29.99)
- Neo Geo Shock Troopers (£6.29)
- Neo Geo World Heroes Perfect (£6.29)
- Neo Geo King of Fighters '98 (£6.29)
- Neo Geo Waku Waku 7 (£6.29)
- Neo Geo Metal Slug 3 (£6.29)
- Othello (£4.49)
- Voez (£18.99)
- New Frontier Days: Founding Pioneers (£8.99)
- Vroom in the Night Sky (£7.99)
What does Nintendo have in store for the future?
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a port of the Wii U title packaged with all its post-release DLC and new racers, tracks and the long-awaited Battle Mode. It launches on 28 April, and could be huge given the audience that bought Mario Kart on Wii in their droves but didn't buy a Wii U.
Arms is a bizarre fighter that makes use of Switch's motion control Joy Con controllers (it also supports other control methods) which players use to take swings at each other in unique boxing matches between characters with OTT abilities. Arms arrives sometime in Spring.
Splatoon 2 is a full sequel, but one largely based on the Wii U original. A massive hit on that console, Splatoon is a unique, family friendly shooter about two teams competing to spray as much of their ink over the surface of a map as they can. The sequel launches in the summer, but from 24-26 March a free Global Test Fire (beta test) event will take place, allowing all Switch users to sample the fun.
Fire Emblem Warriors applies the Fire Emblem series to Koemi Tecmo's hack-n-slash Dynasty Warriors series in much the same way it did with The Legend of Zelda series with Hyrule Warriors on Wii U and 3DS. That success is likely to translate well to the Fire Emblem franchise.
Super Mario Odyssey is the big one. A brand new 3D Mario platformer following in the footsteps of seminal N64 title Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, offering huge open levels rather than the authored ones seen in titles like Super Mario Galaxy (still one of the best games ever made) and Super Mario 3D World, the last major Mario platformer for consoles.
What third-party games are coming to the system?
Major third parties are always sceptical about jumping on board with Nintendo consoles unless they first prove popular. That said, Bethesda will be bringing Skyrim to the console in autumn, EA's Fifa series will be coming to Switch and 2K Games' NBA series is heading over as well. There's also Lego City Undercover, Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers,
Where Switch appears to be primed to shine is with its indie titles. The recent Nindies event showcased a ton of titles, including crowd-funded platformer Yooka-Laylee, adventure game Rime, multiplayer favourite Overcooked, SteamWorld Dig 2, Snake Pass and much more.