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10 things you might not know about the Nintendo Switch

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The Nintendo Switch touches down in stores and homes worldwide today (March 3). I have mine on preorder and will be popping to pick it up as soon as I'm done with work for the day (no I didn't pull a sickie, but I was tempted), but until then, I thought I'd satiate my Nintendo needs a little by exploring a few of the more interesting Switch facts that you might not have heard elsewhere.

The games taste bad!

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Cartridges for the Nintendo Switch console apparently taste foul because of a “bittering agent” intended to prevent them from being accidentally swallowed. The discovery was made after gamers noticed the repellent flavour. Gamers who managed to get hold of the console early have posted videos online of their reactions to tasting the cartridges and Nintendo has confirmed the use of a chemical agent. Cartridges for the Nintendo Switch are a tiny 34mm by 23mm (1in). Nintendo revealed a non-toxic bittering agent, denatonium benzoate, had been applied to the game card to “avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion.” Seems a little extreme for me, because if you were really that eager to swallow a game cartridge, an iffy taste probably wouldn't be enough to keep you from your bizarre goal.

Nobody really knows how powerful it is

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Whilst the console has been available to reporters for over a week now and some have even opened the console up to take a look at its guts, nobody really knows exactly how powerful the new console is, or what it's capable of. This is because the Switch is built around a custom NVIDIA chip that is effectively a mobile tablet GPU on steroids.

There is expandable microSD storage

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The Switch ships with a paltry 32GB of hard drive space, which is not even large enough for some of the digital games coming to the console's eShop. Mercifully, whilst the Switch doesn't support external USB hard drives like the PS4 and Xbox One, it does support microSD cards, and considering how affordable microSD cards are these days, and how portable they are, I'm going to count this as a win for Nintendo. Of course, whilst you can technically buy microSD cards up to 2TB, pushing past the 256GB range is really going to cost you. You'd do best to shop around, but considering microSD is effectively the standard for almost all portable devices released in the last few years, you should be able to find the right card for the right price without too much hassle.

Physical games require no installation

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This might sound like a minor point, but it's genuinely frustrating when I purchase a new PS4 or Xbox One game and have to wait half an hour whilst it installs. Nintendo, however, have assured us that all of their games are ready to play right out of the box with no install required. That doesn't mean some games might not require day one patches, of course, but at least Nintendo have listened to customer feedback regarding competing consoles.

Wireless headphones won't work

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Bluetooth-enabled, wireless headphones will not be able to pair with the Nintendo Switch, as confirmed by gaming website Polygon earlier this week. The site's testers tried to connect a pair of wireless Beats headphones, both before and after the day-one update went live, and each time could not. It wasn’t that the headphones wouldn’t pair, it's that there was no option to pair them at all.

Breath of the Wild is also on Wii U

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The major system-seller for the Switch is not actually an exclusive, though the marketing spiel would probably lead you to believe otherwise. Indeed, the game has also been released for Nintendo's dear departed Wii U console, however it is supposedly a pared-down port. Still, it seems they are keeping the game's Wii U release very much on the DL, probably because the Wii U is a failure the company wants to distance itself from with the new kid now on the block. A shame, as I genuinely treasure my Wii U.

HD Rumble is more than just a gimmick

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One of the features of the awesome-looking Joy-Con controllers that hasn't received half as much coverage as it deserves is the HD Rumble. I managed to try the feature out for myself at an event in Birmingham last month, and it's genuinely difficult to describe. I did play a mini game that was part of the 1-2 Switch package, where you had to guess how many balls were 'in the controller' and, whilst that sounds impossible, the HD Rumble made it surprisingly simple to estimate. It really felt like there were lots of tiny balls inside the remote. You could almost call it Magic!

It's Region Free!

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Up until this point, most of Nintendo's consoles have been region locked, meaning a game you buy in Japan, for example, will only work on a Japanese console. The Switch however, will allow players to import games will impunity, which will surely be music to the ears of Japanophiles who can't stand it when a niche game doesn't end up making the journey across the pond due to “localisation issues.”

You will be able to play Classic Games

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As with the Wii and Wii U before it, the Nintendo Switch will eventually be able to play virtual console games, and is powerful enough to play games up to the Gamecube era, which is a full era ahead of what the virtual console on the Wii U could manage. Considering how many classic, overlooked Gamecube games are just waiting in the wings to be rediscovered, I count this as a major bonus, especially considering how many rarer Gamecube games now fetch ridiculous second-hand prices online. It should be noted, however, that to play these games, and to play online in general, you'll need to purchase a premium subscription to Nintendo Online. You'll also get a free game every month, but this, to be honest, seems like a low blow from Nintendo, especially considering the value of competing services from Microsoft and Sony.

And Finally

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There’s apparently a neat little UI Easter Egg when the console is in handheld mode. Unlocking the console from rest mode requires you to hit the same button three times. Most people will hammer the A button, but if you experiment with your choice of buttons, you’ll hear a different sound for each tap. Try clicking the left stick in, or tapping the shoulder triggers three times for a special surprise.

Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician who will hopefully be spending most of the weekend curled up on the sofa with his brand spanking new Nintendo Switch.

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