WHAT: The announcement video for the Nintendo Switch.
WHO: Nintendo, back with a new console after a five-year hiatus.
WHY WE CARE: It’s been five years since Nintendo released a new console (unless you count each of the various refreshed versions of the 3DS), and the last time they launched one–the Wii U in 2011–it flopped hard. The company built its name on home consoles, but it’s struggled to keep up with titans like Microsoft and Sony over the past decade as they’ve built dominant, high-powered, cutting-edge entertainment engines for the living room and Nintendo’s focused on casual ways for people to play Mario and Zelda. The Nintendo Switch, though, aims to be the best of both worlds–it’s essentially a transformer that connects to your television as a home console, or that uses a three-part detachable controller to allow gamers to play it as a hand-held portable device on the bus/plane/tour van/wherever. It doesn’t just come in two forms, either–the portable version can be played as a single device, like a traditional hand-held console, or the screen can detach from the controller pieces, allowing a full multiplayer experience off of one device even if you’re playing in the park with your bros after a basketball game. There are questions that linger–namely, how powerful the console is compared to the top-line competition on the market, if the impressive list of developers Nintendo announced at launch will stick with the device if it stumbles out the gate the way that the Wii U did, and how hard it’s going to be to get replacement parts when you inevitably lose pieces of your detachable controller–but it’s a new Nintendo console that has us saying, “Well, that looks neat,” and it’s been a while since they’ve pulled that off.DS