Nintendo has always danced to its own beat. The legendary gaming company has little interest in coming out with just another conventional game box, equipped with a standard controller, every five years or so.
Instead, Nintendo tries to completely change how you play games every half-decade — with mixed results. The Nintendo Wii was an unprecedented success that made motion-detection controls a standard fixture in video games, while the follow-on Wii U failed to make an impression on anyone but the most hardcore Nintendo fans.
The recently-announced Nintendo Switch is the company’s latest attempt to change the rules of the game, by merging the home and handheld console gaming experiences. As you might expect from a hybrid console, it has several different ways to play. Here is how they all work:
When you play Switch games on the go, it looks like a fairly conventional handheld console. You have two analogue sticks, four face buttons, a directional pad, and four shoulder buttons, with a large, HD screen in the middle.
The two sections on either side of the screen with buttons can actually be detached and used for local multiplayer games, like 'Mario Kart,' as shown here.
You can also flip out a little kickstand on the back of the screen, set it on a flat surface, detach the controllers and use them to play single player games from a relaxed position.
However, like I said earlier, this isn't just a handheld console. You can place the screen portion (where the console's technical guts live) into a docking station to display the picture on a TV. You can then play games on the TV by sliding the detachable controllers into a shell, which will make it feel more like a conventional game controller in your hands.
Here is another look at the controller shell, with the tablet portion placed inside the docking station on the right. The controller shell looks a bit like a dog from that angle.
If the dog controller looks uncomfortable to you, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is a much more conventional console controller for TV play. It has all the same buttons and the same functionality, but looks much more comfortable. We're assuming this will be sold separately.
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