Nintendo’s highly anticipated Switch hybrid portable handheld/game console will launch in March. When exactly? We won’t know the details until Thursday night when Nintendo holds its Switch tell-all online stream.
But one thing we do know is when Nintendo fans will be able to put down their money for a pre-order.
According to a tweet sent out by Nintendo’s flagship store in New York City, there will be a “limited quantity of pre-orders” for the Switch starting on Friday, Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. Eastern Time.
The catch, of course, is that the pre-orders will be taken at the brick-and-mortar store, so if you’re not in the neighborhood, you might be out of luck.
Going by previous events at the store, it’s safe to say there will be a swarm of people waiting in line hours before the pre-order time, so get there early if you want to be one of the first to secure Switch.
That said, don’t fret if you can’t make it to the Nintendo Store to get a pre-order in. There will likely be other opportunities to pre-order the Switch, whether that’s at game stores like GameStop, big-box retailers like Best Buy, or online.
Nintendo gave everybody a first look at the Switch back in October. The console is largely expected to be the company’s comeback console after the disappointing Wii U failed to capture gamers’ attention following the wild success of the original Wii.
The Switch is also Nintendo’s most risky game console. Instead of going head-to-head with Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One and competing on graphical fidelity or processing power, Nintendo’s once again doing things differently.
The Switch’s success hinges on its hybrid design. Connect the “Joy-Con” controllers into the screen and it’s a portable handheld. But remove the controllers and slide the screen into a dock, and then the Joy-Con controllers into another adapter, and the Switch becomes a traditional home console that works with your TV. A third gameplay option lets multiple players play on the go with the Joy-Con controllers on the portable display.
Another key difference between the Switch and other game consoles is its use of cartridges. Yes, cartridges. (It’s like the ’90s all over again!) The last Nintendo home console (not counting handhelds) to use cartridges was the Nintendo 64.
There are still a ton of things we don’t know about the Switch, like how much it’ll cost (rumors suggest a price between $250 and $300) and what games it’ll launch with. Hopefully Nintendo will answer those questions during the live stream.
Will the Switch be enough to return Nintendo back to its glory days? That will all depend on whether people care about a games system that can morph between handheld and home console.