March 3rd has come and Nintendo has once again dropped another delightful piece of entertainment hardware. But with every launch of a new console comes questions, worries, thoughts. When it comes to Nintendo, there’s typically two crowds; the diehard fans who will buy anything (which is usually me) and those that are on the fence or flat out hate anything they produce.
Suffice to say, the Nintendo Switch came out of nowhere late last year and we still don’t know everything about it yet. Many details are missing in regards to online, voice chat, Virtual Console, and such, but for now we’ll try to talk about what’s in front of us and whether we think, it’s worth your time.
Right off the bat, visually it’s not going to win any awards. Sure it’s a sleek slim device, but it’s devoid of any real character or uniqueness that previous consoles, Nintendo or otherwise, have sported. It’s pretty light at just under 1.3kg so you won’t tire yourself out for long play sessions away from your dock. Unlike previous comfortable controllers from the company, the Joy Cons while a fun new invention, don’t have much of a grip to them. They’re quite flat. Those with larger hands will definitely start feeling cramped due to the nature of holding it a certain way to grip it. Despite all that, it feels hefty and solid. And whether it was made on the cheap or not, it doesn’t feel like the build is. That’s always a good sign.
Speaking of the Joy Cons, we’re not entirely upset at their price points given that they have some pretty impressive tech in them, from HD vibrations to advanced IR scanners. $105AU for a pair of these seems quite fair. Despite being quite small and bare, it does everything a standard controller can do. Removing them from the screen is quite easy and fit quite snug (and make a cute “snap” sound when the console is on). It’s still weird being stuck with the right Joy Con given the placement of the analog stick. It’s like that one 3rd party controller that no one wants to end up with, people will definitely try to avoid using it.
Also, using the buttons as a D-pad is an interesting design choice. We’re curious how this will work out for games like Super Street Fighter, a game that makes use of any D-pad heavily. Obviously because each one must be used as a single controller, it’s the way around that.
Some issues currently with the Joy Cons are that they get out of sync with the system and Nintendo has put out a pretty laughable “fix” for the issue. Stating not to play near aquariums (their words), near wires, items that are wireless, or even items that are just using USB 3.0. It’s a bit odd that a console that should work wirelessly has so much issue connecting as such. But we’re hoping it’s nothing major in the long run.
Luckily, the console also comes with Joy Con grip to give you a more traditional method of playing. While it’s not necessary, it’s nice of Nintendo including this in the bundle. There’s a separate Joy Con grip that actually charges your controllers. So if you really need to charge them while playing you’re going to need to purchase one of those.
The screen itself could have been made of some finer materials. Sadly it’s not made of glass, but plastic, so we advise using a screen protector as soon as you unwrap it. Reports of docking the console causing scratches on the screen are legitimate concerns and should be taken seriously if you want your console to last you a long time. It’s also using an LED screen rather than the more advance OLED like the original PS Vitas. The screen itself is only slightly larger than an iPhone 7 Plus, or just under a iPad Mini. We assume this is because it’s a device that is still geared for the entire family including children (something the Vita was not) so the exclusion of higher quality materials might have been the reason there. Do yourself a favor though, spend some money on a nice glass screen protector, they will go a long way.
It is a touch screen tough, something many people though wouldn’t happen. It’s responsive like the original 3DS which is good. I haven’t noticed any input lag. In that sense it’s a lot like a Vita. I know people might not be happy with those comparisons, but the Vita was a great little portable system that did it’s best it could. Nintendo has the content that can push the Switch beyond what the Vita couldn’t. While we’re still on the console, the speakers on it are pretty good, but don’t expect to hear them all that well in a public area. That’s what headphones are for anyways, so be sure to carry some with you in your case (because you should have a case to protect this costly investment).
While Nintendo has lauded this as a great local multiplayer system, the size of the screen is still too small for group play. I really don’t find myself playing Mario Kart or some other game split screened with others given the size of it. It’s a nice thought, and a having the latch to stand up in tabletop mode is a nice addition even when just playing on your own. Though that latch feels a bit flimsy. (Nintendo is already stocking them on their site in case of breakage).
That’s all good and well but how’s the system itself? The UI design is actually quite sexy. The menu system is nice and fluid easy to read and follow. It seems to follow a tile based interface which looks simple but effective. Nothing obscuring you from what you’re trying to do. Whatever cartridge you have will be shown as the first tile on display. And yes the carts do taste bad. But that’s intentional. And quite genius really, to prevent the kiddies and other questionable people putting them in their mouth to keep them from being ingested. It’s disgusting and you wouldn’t ever do it again, though I’m sure you could make a game of it.
Graphically we’ve really only thus far have played with The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. And while it is a BREATHtaking game, there is some noticeable slowdown when the console is docked. It’s a bit of a concern given we’re still expecting a game like Skyrim to play flawlessly on and off the dock. So we’re hoping this is something that can easily be fixed in a patch, or future game programming to account for the upscaled resolution.
We have a few other games to check out like Snipperclips and Yacht Club Games Shovel Knight Treasure Trove now with the Spectre Knight DLC added to the main game. More from those in the coming week.
So there you have it. A pretty descriptive overview of Nintendo’s latest console. The verdict? I personally would love to wait to see an upgraded updated model, but we know we won’t be seeing that anytime soon. It would have been nice if they released a Zelda themed console since Breath of the Wild launched with the system. Perhaps those days are over now. But we can’t forget that it is a portable console, and Nintendo loves to churn out themed 3DS systems from time to time. So maybe in the near future we will see fully colored and accessorized Switch consoles. Perhaps with the release of Splatoon 2 or Mario Odyssey?
We still haven’t gotten word on when we’ll see the Virtual Console make an appearance, whether we’ll have to purchase Super Mario Bros. 3 for the 5th time, what their online subscription model will include, voice chat and more. And the 1st party game line up is quite sparse. The indie games will definitely be what holds us over as we’re seeing a bunch of good ones coming throughout the year.
The Nintendo Switch has some questionable issues, but none that will prevent you from enjoying a new console and an absolutely gorgeous game in Legend of Zelda’s Breath of the Wild. If you’re a fan of Nintendo, you’re most likely already playing yours as we speak.