Nintendo showed off their new Switch console in preparation for its upcoming release, set for March 3 and debuting at $299.99.
The Switch feels like a natural evolution of the Wii U, being a standard connect-to-TV console while docked but transforming into a grab and go system with the portability of a modern handheld. Its two Joy-Con controllers operate in a similar fashion to WiiMotes, operated either one or two handed, as well as able to combine with a grip to form a full size controller.
Multiple new games were displayed, most of which are standard fare for Nintendo.
1-2-Switch seems like an entry-level game designed to minimise barriers to play as much as possible, not even requiring players to look at a screen to play.
While it’s a little tricky to ascertain exactly how it works from the goofing around in the demonstration, it looks like 1-2-Switch will include a number of minigames such as cowboy duelling — where you need to be the fastest draw to win — and presumably uses the enhanced rumble features of the Joy-Cons to provide tactile feedback to players about winning and losing.
Other minigames seem to include cow milking, katana fighting, and… eating a sub.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
While a new Mario Kart game is always welcome, it’s a little disappointing to see just a revamped version of (the admittedly fantastic) Mario Kart 8, rather than a brand new installment for the Switch. Deluxe includes MK8 and all of its prior DLC, as well as expanding its lackluster battle mode to be closer to the original battle modes.
The racer roster grows thanks to King Boo, Dry Bones, Bowser Jr., and inklings from Splatoon, and old favorite items are making a comeback — the feather enabling a high jump, and boo stealing another racer’s item. Another nice feature is the “Smart Steering”, which seems to be some form of automatic driving assist for players who aren’t quite Kart masters yet, easing the way for new players to hop into the game and immediately start having fun with friends.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe feels like Nintendo have grabbed some of the best parts of Super Mario Kart and spliced them into MK8, and it’ll be fun to experience the game with the extra enhancements, though it’s no must-have if you already own MK8.
ARMS is one of the early titles designed to showcase the uses of the new Joy-Con controllers — here, you’ll be grabbing a Joy-Con in each hand and getting ready to box your opponent.
ARMS is essentially a boxing game with a few key differences, such as everyone having very long springy arms.
Super Mario Odyssey
Easily the standout from the announcement, Super Mario Odyssey feels like the initial reveal of Super Mario 64 all over again; the game seems to be capturing the fun, sandbox exploration of unique landscapes that SM64 did so well, with Odyssey bringing Mario out from the Mushroom Kingdom and into a number of completely new worlds to explore.
Armed with a new living hat that he can throw chakram style and use as a floating platform, Mario will be exploring an array of great looking new worlds in what looks to be Switch’s most fun new game by far.
Unfortunately, it was unveiled with a “Holiday 2017” release date, pushing back the Switch’s must-have game to the Christmas season. While this makes for a great Christmas period for Nintendo, launching without a killer Mario title is going to hurt.
Which, of course, brings us to their final announcement:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Surprising no-one, the newest Zelda title was shown to be launching alongside Switch on March 3rd. Nintendo know they need a must-have game, and without an original Mario launch title, Zelda absolutely had to be it — while Splatoon and ARMS are a fun diversion, they’re far from being a killer app.
Breath of the Wild expands further the beloved lands of Hyrule and the things Link can do within its borders; hunting, crafting and mountain climbing join the roster of horse riding, hang gliding and sailing, all of which you’ll be doing across the land as you explore the fantastic world in order to save the day.
Lots of familiar faces pop up in this showcase, so it looks Breath of the Wild is (at least loosely) connected with fan favorite Ocarina of Time.