Nintendo on Thursday finally announced the official release date for its new console, the Nintendo Switch, in North America. Nintendo Switch will release on March 3. It starts at $299.
What is the Nintendo Switch?
The Nintendo Switch is the successor to Nintendo's Wii U, a console that failed to catch on with people. The Wii U is the worst-selling game console Nintendo's ever made (with the exception of the Virtual Boy), and the long-time Japanese game company is hoping to turn around its fortunes with the Switch.
The gimmick of the Switch is simple: It's a home game console and a portable game console. The same games are played on both, and it seamlessly transitions between being used at home (in a dock, seen below) and being used as a handheld.
When you're playing it at home, you can use a standard gamepad. When you're playing it on-the-go, you attach a pair of controllers — dubbed "Joy-Con" by Nintendo — and play it using those. Think of it like an iPad Mini held sideways with gaming controllers attached.
The portable version of Switch even has a kickstand so you can play games on it without having to hold the handheld:
Rather than using Blu-ray discs, like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch uses cartridges. These aren't the type of cartridges from the '80s that Nintendo used in the original NES — instead, they're more like the carts that were used on Nintendo's DS and 3DS handheld consoles.
Here's what they look like in action:
The Switch will also work with digital games — those downloaded from an online storefront, similar to how Apple's App Store or Google Play work.
What about games?
Glad you asked! There are a handful of games announced as coming to the Switch.
Standouts include "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," and a new, 3D game starring Super Mario.
During the debut trailer for the Switch from 2016, a few games from the Wii U made a cameo — "Mario Kart 8" and "Splatoon," seemingly with new content, both showed up.
Beyond Nintendo itself, EA is promising one of its "bigger games" will head to the Switch. While game fans are no doubt hoping that EA is talking about its upcoming "Mass Effect: Andromeda," we'd bet the next "FIFA" game is heading to Switch.
Interested in checking out the system in person ahead of its March launch? Nintendo is taking it on tour — check out the full list of locations right here.