Nintendo has been one of the biggest names in the video game industry since the release of their first game console in the 1980s. The Nintendo Entertainment System, with its 8-bit graphics and midi soundtracks changed the face of gaming.

The Nintendo Switch will be the gaming giant’s first new console since the less-than-successful WiiU. What sets the Switch apart from other consoles, however, and what should you know before you buy one?

What Is the Switch?

The Nintendo Switch is essentially a tablet that comes with attached controllers on either side of the screen that can either be played as a mobile device or, when docked, played on your television like a regular console.

You can use the controllers together if you’re playing a single-player, as they join into one solid piece, but each controller piece can be used individually as well. That means if you have a gaming partner, they won’t be left out of the fun.

While the design is vaguely reminiscent of the WiiU’s tablet controller, instead of being restricted to a relatively small area around the controller’s home console, the Switch is set up to provide a truly mobile gaming experience. The tablet even has a kickstand, so you don’t need to worry about your screen falling over while you play.

What Games Can You Play on the Switch?

While there will eventually be a full catalog of games for the Switch, if you pick a console up on Day 1 you’ll have five games to choose from, including new entries in the Skylanders, Legend of Zelda and Just Dance franchises as well as a new Bomberman game and a two-player entry called 1-2-Switch.

Other games, including Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and even a full port of Bethesda’s hit game Skyrim will be released throughout 2017.

What Sort of Specs Does the Switch Have?

Nintendo still hasn’t released any details on the hardware specifications that the final version of the Switch will have, but sources all over the web have found enough information to get hardcore gamers salivating.

According to a spec leak from graphics card company Nvidia, the chipset inside the Switch will likely be based on their Tegra X1 Chipset. The X1 by itself has a 256-core GPU — Graphics Processing Unit, for those who aren’t tech savvy — and a quad-core primary processor.

That means theoretically, the Switch will be capable of 4K video when docked. However, if the report about the Switch using HDMI 1.4 when docked is correct, that will limit 4K game play to 30 frames per second (FPS).

The processing power and video rendering will also be severely limited in portable mode, which is likely a move designed to extend the device’s battery life.

While it’s much more powerful than the WiiU, it still doesn’t seem like its going to match up with the current generation Playstation or Xbox consoles. That might not be a bad thing though — we won’t know until the Switch finally hits the shelves.

When Can I Get a Switch?

The Nintendo Switch is supposed to hit the shelves on March 3, 2017 and at the time of this writing, many retailers have already opened up their preorder options for the console, though many US retailers have already sold out ahead of the March release.

When the console does finally arrive, it’ll set you back $299 and comes with:

  • The console (obviously!) and dock
  • A pair of Joy-Con controllers
  • A Joy-Con Grip — This piece connects the controllers together for single-player gaming
  • Wrist straps
  • HDMI cable
  • AC Adapter

If you pick up one of the games that’s being released on launch day, it will likely set you back another $60. Also, you can pick the color of your console’s controllers, but there are currently no bundles being offered.

Right now, gamers the world over are crossing their fingers and hoping the minds behind Nintendo have learned their lessons from the debacle of the WiiU and that the Switch will help to put Nintendo back on the gaming map. We will likely learn more about the console between now and the March 3rd release date, so stay tuned!

Image by BagoGames