Nintendo Switch

Nintendo's next major console - a unique hybrid of home and handheld gaming is retailing for £279.99. So, what else do we know about it? The truth is there are still a lot of gaps in our understanding of the Nintendo Switch, the promotional material is choosing to focus less on the actual technical specifications than the variety of locations in which it can be played - on the train, in bed, in the garden, to name a few.

Design

Let's start with the obvious. Nintendo saw sales of their last console plummet due to the lack of fresh ideas; their response has been to create a gaming system unlike any other (although the jury is still out on whether this really enhances the user experience all that much).

The long and short of it is you can either use your Switch in "TV mode", whereby you set it down in its dock and hook it up to your wide-screen, or you can play using the tablet screen on the go. All titles released will support both formats, and you can pick up on your saved games as you switch from one mode to the next.

It remains to be seen how much mileage you can get out of the battery, particularly when it needs to support a 720 resolution screen, and the audio and vibration functions as well. The long-winded answer is it will probably depend on the game you're playing, but don't expect more than three or four hours before you're chained to a plug socket again.

Joy-Con

Nintendo are known for their innovative controllers (notably, the Wii-Mote), and Joy-Con sits in that same great tradition. The two of them can either be used as sort-of nunchuks - one for each hand - if you are playing via a TV, or with the Switch set down on a table-top, or alternatively you can attach them to the sides of the tablet and play it like the handheld consoles of old.

We're still learning more about the wonders of the Joy-Con, but what we do know is that it has a sensor that is capable of detecting shapes from fairly impressive distances, as well as an deftly realistic vibrate function.

The good news is the Joy-Cons do come free in the box when you purchase your Nintendo Switch, although the specialised charger must be purchased separately (and don't expect any of the knock-off products to work anywhere near as effectively).

Game library

The traditional Nintendo characters are all going to be in attendance for the Switch's March launch. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Oddysey - which combines the much-loved Super Mario world with a GTA-like sandbox-style urban setting - are among the notable confirmed titles, but you can expect some original games in the months ahead as well.

Although the Switch is being pitched as a personal gaming centre, Nintendo have also been keen to talk up its multiplayer potential - and for many, a big pull factor is the idea of playing Mario Kart against friends in the back of a car or on the train. Stay tuned on that front. It's a great family game for when everyone is bored. Everyone will have fun with it!

Verdict

Nintendo's ambitions usually seem grand on paper, but they haven't always been able to follow through on the pre-launch hype. Still, this console is only £279.99 and you can't really go wrong at that sort of price.

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