Here are the big bullet points on Nintendo's new gaming console

By Nick Romano
January 13, 2017 at 11:01 AM EST

Nintendo is getting ready for the big launch of its next gaming console, Nintendo Switch, later this year. Now, gamers eagerly waiting to wrap their hands around the new Joy-Con controllers have a lot more information to go on beyond the cryptic release slot.

The company held a special live-streamed event on Thursday for the grand unveiling of cost, functionality, new games coming to Switch, and (most importantly) the official release date.

In a nutshell, Nintendo Switch can either connect to a television set like a regular console or be used as a portable device with its high-definition display screen. The Joy-Con controllers can be used jointly by a single player or two for a multiplayer experience.

You can watch the full hourlong presentation on YouTube, but here’s a breakdown of the key facts.

1. When does it come out?/How much does it cost?
Nintendo Switch will hit shelves on March 3, 2017, with a retail price tag of $299.99. Pre-order at Gamestop, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, and more places.

2. How is it different from previous gaming systems?
Some of the functionality is similar to systems like Wii U, but there are many nuances.

To use as a home system, players slide the Switch console screen into a loading dock connected to the TV and attach the Joy-Cons (similar to the Wii wands) together to form the controller, the Joy-Con Grip. To play remotely, there are multiple options.

You can slide off the Joy-Cons and attach them to either side of the console screen to create a hand-held device. In this mode, up to eight players in close proximity can link together via wi-fi for multiplayer games. You can also form what’s dubbed Table Top Mode by propping up the console screen on its stand like a tablet device and use the Joy-Con controllers to maneuver.

The Joy-Cons also offer their own recording button to capture screenshots and, at a later time, gameplay.

The other big functionality shift from the DS, the 3DS, and the Wii U is the capacitive touch screen, which allows for the same sort of finger functionality you find with most smartphone devices.

3. What’s the battery life on Nintendo Switch?
If used as a handheld device or in Table Top Mode, Nintendo Switch will last for anywhere between three to six hours without charging, depending on which game you play. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for example, will play for approximately three hours without a charge. However, players can also charge the console screen while playing through appropriate USB cables.

4. Is there an online multiplayer service?
An online multiplayer service will be available, but, like its predecessors, it’ll be at a TBD monthly fee. The good news is that you won’t have to start paying until sometime in fall 2017, and subscribers will be able to download one free Nintendo Entertainment System or Super NES game per month.

Nintendo also boasts a smartphone app component to connect to Switch, but details are still unclear.

5. What games can you play on Switch?
Nintendo announced a flurry of titles coming to Switch — some you might know, some you don’t. Here are some of the trailers.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: “Forget everything you know about The Legend of Zelda games. Step into a world of discovery, exploration, and adventure in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a boundary-breaking new game in the acclaimed series. Travel across fields, through forests and to mountain peaks as you discover what has become of the ruined kingdom of Hyrule in this stunning open-air adventure.” Arrives March 3.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe launches on April 28 with new characters from Splatoon and an additional map.

Super Mario Odyssey “sees Mario leave the Mushroom Kingdom to go on a new sandbox-style journey!” Arrives holiday 2017.

Splatoon 2, the sequel to the third-person paint shooter game for Nintendo Wii U, will arrive for Switch this summer.

ARMS is “a mix of boxing and shooting where you use extendable arms to battle your friends both locally and online! Take a Joy-Con in each hand and punch forward, twisting your fists to bend your attacks.” Arrives March 3.

Xenoblade Chronicles was released for Wii U, and now the franchise is coming to Switch with a sequel that appears to feature a new cast of characters.

1-2 Switch is a new “face-to-face party game” accompanying the Switch launch.

Nintendo confirmed Fire Emblem Warriors to join Switch’s gaming slate during the presentation with a tagline, “Fire Emblem meets the Warriors series.” The game will drop sometime during holiday 2017.

A number of other titles, including Skyrim and Dragon Quest, are in development for later releases.

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