After a couple days of playing on my Nintendo Switch, I can honestly say that I’m just as enthusiastic as I am nervous for the future of this hybrid console. One part home console, one part hand-held, the Nintendo Switch is Nintendo’s attempt at a “next-gen” system. If you’re reading this then you most likely already knew that. I had originally planned on writing daily impressions, but I was so perplexed by the device that I wanted to spend more time to give it the fairest review possible. So here are my thoughts and impressions of this interesting piece of hardware and its accessories.
The Nintendo Switch can easily be summed up as a “Jack Of All Trades” yet a “Master Of None.” I have spent equal amounts of time playing the Switch in each of its available formats. TV mode allows the system to be placed in the dock that is connected via an HDMI cable to your TV. Tabletop mode lets you play with the kickstand flipped out from the back of the Switch, all while using the controller of your choice (which I will touch on briefly a bit later). Lastly you can leave the new Joy-Con controllers attached to the Switch to play in handheld mode. Each of these function beautifully and allow you to swiftly change how you play on the go. This is definitely one of my favorite features about the Switch.
The Nintendo Switch comes with the sleek console, which resembles a tablet. Meaning the dock it comes with is nothing more than a place to store and charge the device. The Switch is also touch screen, which I have noticed is very responsive. The dock doesn’t feature any sort of graphical or power upgrade in any way.
Next come the new Joy-Con controllers. Name aside, these very sleek and lightweight devices come in your choice of grey or the more vibrant neon red and blue. I chose the neon red and blue because well… why not? If you’re the type that likes to match, you can purchase additional color coordinated Joy-Cons. The black wrist straps slide onto each Joy-Con giving you some added stability when playing with them detached from the Switch. This also adds an extra layer to make them feel larger in your hands while also adding shoulder buttons that make them more noticeable and easier to press. There’s also the Joy-Con grip, which allows you to slide each of the Joy-Cons onto their respective side creating a controller that sort of resembles a cute puppy that you just told your parents you absolutely have to have. Of course the system also comes with the appropriate HDMI and AC power adapter, which are standard among your gaming devices.
The Joy-Con controllers are more impressive than I expected. You can play them while attached to the Switch, attached to the Joy-Con grip (which feels great), or let your hands and arms relax while each Joy-Con is in one hand. The HD Rumble is incredibly accurate and responsive, and allows you to feel how many marbles are in a tube or the clank of ice cubes hitting the inside of your glass. Tilt that same controller to either side and you can feel the same marbles roll and smack into each other. It’s quite surprising actually. On the other hand, the Joy-Con buttons and analog stick are made to fit into a child’s hands and the shoulder buttons aren’t quite what I was hoping for. Each face button is about the size of an M&M mini; the analog sticks aren’t going to move too much in any direction but are quite responsive. The directional buttons… yeah I said buttons… are designed to allow each Joy-Con to be played as an individual controller while functioning as your normal directional buttons when all put together as one. I completely understand why the directional pad was left behind in favor of the buttons and it does take a moment to become accustomed to this design.
The Joy-Con controllers placed into the Joy Con grip provided in the box doesn’t charge the controllers, but does allow for another way to play. This set up feels great and more natural than it looks, but for an average sized man with average man hands I didn’t prefer this option. (For the record I was fortunate and after starting up the Switch for the first time and doing the initial day one update, I never had any issues with connectivity or any de-syncing whatsoever.) I preferred Nintendo’s new adaptation of the pro controller, which features all of the same things as the Joy-Cons, except the HD Rumble. This controller reflects your more traditional controller with much larger buttons, a home and snapshot button, same as the Joy-Cons and resembles that of the Xbox kind.
I loved the ease of use of being able to find that awesome panoramic view in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and being able to click the snapshot button, take a screen shot, and within seconds share this screen shot on Facebook or Twitter for the whole world to see.
The Switch was incredibly easy to set up. It has been years since I have been able to unpack a new gaming device and be up and running within minutes. The day one console update was quick and after setting up my profile, linking my “My Nintendo” account, and connecting to my social media accounts, all I had to do was put the new Switch game cartridge (or card) into the console and poof… I was up and playing. The joy that this brought me made me feel like I was back in the days of having to blow in my game cartridge to “make it work” (and yes the game cartridges taste just as bad as you’ve probably heard).
The Switch’s user interface is very simplistic and smooth while showing the games you’ve recently played, news, the E-Shop, and settings. Each of these menus is very easy to navigate and while it is simplistic, leaves room for Nintendo to add more options and features (Netflix and/or a web browser anyone?). The Switch comes with 32 GB of internal memory, seven of which are used by the previously mentioned user interface. You can also upgrade your memory by adding a micro SD Card, but unless you’re planning on fully going digital, or just have to do it now, I recommend you wait. Prices of these cards will drop once the Switch has been out for a while. Also the fact that you do not have to install before you play will help if you stay with the physical copies.
I would like to mention that the inclusion of the USB C as the port that charges the system is a nice touch. I would highly suggest if you plan on taking this on the go at all you invest in a longer, and possibly braided, USB C charger. I purchased a 6.6-foot cable off of Amazon and I can’t begin tell you how much of a lifesaver this will be. The battery life is just as advertised. I noticed that I was able to get just under three hours playing Zelda and seemed to get about an hour longer while playing Bomberman.
My final thoughts…
The Nintendo Switch is definitely a work in progress. Almost releasing as a bare bones platform they can fill as needed. For every cool feature I have mentioned, I find myself wondering what made Nintendo release this right now? Why not hold off and put in that extra little bit of polish? Maybe add that web browser or something like Netflix before the launch. These features would help make the Switch your go-to device on the go. The lack of a pack in title, like 1-2 Switch should have been, to show off some of the new and improved features, was a head scratcher as well. The screen on the Switch is astoundingly clear even if it is native 720p. Now I do question the design on having such a large black bezel around the screen. Its 2017 and they couldn’t have eliminated this in the design? Unfortunately it wouldn’t be Nintendo if they didn’t make some questionable decisions.
With that said, this is Nintendo. If they stick to their word and release the large amount of games rumored to be in development from themselves and third party developers, your library of games will not suffer. At this time the library may be limited but I believe the games they have out now are quite enjoyable and worth your time. Want to play something open world or first party Nintendo? Lose yourself in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Need to scratch the multiplayer itch? Hop on into games like 1-2 Switch, Bomberman, or Snipperclips. Feeling the need for speed? Brace yourself for Fast RMX. Want some old school 8-bit fun? Dig into Shovel Knight. The choices are there.
I also love the region free functionality. While the US only has nine games available at this time, you can create a separate My Nintendo profile in a different region and access their available library. It’s just that easy. (Japan for example has quite a few more releases that the US won’t see for a little while longer.) The various ways we can play the Switch makes me excited to bring it with me anywhere I go. I can say that there are many things Nintendo has done right with the Switch and I can only hope at this point that they don’t continue their old ways.
The future for Nintendo still makes me scratch my head, but very bright at the same time. Sure it’s not the best gaming console out there and it’s not going to turn any heads with its lack of power graphically, but if Nintendo gets the games to back it up, we’ll be playing the Switch for hours and hours. For example, I’ve already spent numerous hours playing the Switch and honestly, I’m going to spend many more.
For all things Nintendo Switch and gaming overall, stay tuned to vgspectrum.com.
Written by Justin Smith