What is The Nintendo Switch?

Taking a closer look at the Nintendo Switch before its March 3rd release date.

The world of video games is constantly churning out engaging new entertainment for fans to sink their teeth into. Not a week goes by without new software lining up on retail shelves and digital storefronts.

Things are about to get even more cluttered on March 3rd, as Nintendo is set to release their newest video game system, the Switch. As you can probably guess, this will bring a wave of games to pick through and enjoy. This probably leaves you with a lot of questions regarding both the upcoming games and hardware they'll be played on.

Fortunately, we were lucky enough to spend a full week with a Nintendo Switch review unit, giving us plenty of things to talk about. Here's everything you need to know about the Nintendo Switch!  

Portable Console

As a portable device, you'll be able to take the Nintendo Switch with you on the go and play games no matter your location. While the Nintendo Switch is touted for its portability, it's also able to hook up to your home television for traditional console gaming.

For example, if you're playing at home, simply slide the Nintendo Switch handheld device into a docking station connected to your TV. Every Nintendo Switch retail box includes this docking station, so you won't have to spend extra to connect the handheld device to your TV.

When it comes time for you to leave home, all you have to do is pull the Switch out from its dock. Any game you play at home can be played in the same manner on the go thanks to the built-in portable screen on the handheld device.  

The Nintendo Switch is all about letting you play the way you want as emphasized by the console's input method. When you first look at the Switch, you see a screen with two controller inputs on either side.

This seems pretty standard for a device you can play on the go. The thing is, both of those controller inputs detach and can be played in the palm of your hands.

These inputs are referred to as Joy-Con Controllers, which snap in and out of the Nintendo Switch handheld device. When on the go, you slide on the Joy-Cons and play with them attached to the screen.

After arriving at home, you push a button on the back of each Joy-Con and slide them right off the device. Now you can hold those Joy-Cons free-handed and play a game on your TV.

There's an included Joy-Con grip as well, which you can slide your Joy-Cons into and get something resembling more of a traditional game controller.

Furthermore, Nintendo is selling a Switch Pro Controller which is perfect for gaming on the couch. While the Pro Controller isn't necessary to enjoy the Nintendo Switch, it nevertheless gives an extra option for those who prefer traditional gaming controllers.  

The Return of the Game Cartridge

Gaming consoles like the Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Wii U all use discs for their software. Game consoles have been using disc-based media for a number of years starting with the Playstation One, which helped make discs the preferred method of game distribution. Bucking this trend, Nintendo decided to revisit the age of game cartridges on the Nintendo Switch.

This may seem like a step backward, but these cartridges aren't like the ones you remember blowing into on your Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in the 80s and 90s.

The Nintendo Switch cartridges are called "game cards," and believe it or not, they're smaller in physical size than an SD card. These tiny game cards slide right into a slot on the Switch itself, which is how you can take your games on the go in portable mode. The same game card rests in the system for at-home play.

Cartridges come with certain added benefits. For example, gaming on today's consoles can require long loading time and installation processes. With the Nintendo Switch game cards, loading times are reduced and there's no need to install anything. 

The Nintendo's Switch is scheduled to release on March 3rd, and public reception has been extremely positive thus far. At the moment, it's nearly impossible to locate a retailer who still has the device available for pre-order. While this is certainly an early indicator of success, it's not guaranteed.

Selling a console successfully requires many years of support and constant dedication. Nintendo and their third-party developers will need to offer a plentiful supply of software to keep fans engaged and bring in new consumers. After the Wii U's struggles, some may be a bit nervous to jump on board with the Nintendo Switch.

Hesitation aside, there also traditional gamers who may find the bells and whistles on the Nintendo Switch a bit too quirky for their liking. It's also important to remember that Nintendo is a unique company who enjoy marching march to the beat of their own drummer. This is present in all their hardware and software, the Nintendo Switch included.

Will Nintendo's latest hardware plans woo the consumers, or will it struggle like the Wii U before it? Thanks to our hands-on time, we believe there's a bright future ahead for the Nintendo Switch.

Looking for more games to occupy your time with? Check out our list of the best games you can play with friends. If that's not enough for you, why not read up on some of the best multiplayer games included in Nintendo's NES Classic?