On March 3rd, 2017, Nintendo finally released their highly ambitious and long-awaited game console, the Nintendo Switch. Coming off the failures of the Wii U, it seems that Nintendo has learned a lot since their last outing. They’ve been very open with communication to their consumers, and they’ve upped their marketing techniques targeting adults instead of children this team. Not to mention, it is one of the most innovative consoles in the market so far, bridging the gap between home consoles and portable console. All in all, it was a gamble that mostly paid off for the company.
We here at Technomosis finally got our hands on the Nintendo Switch, and these are our impressions after using the system for a week. They may change over time as we use the console for a more extended period, but for now, this is what we think so far.
One thing that you will notice right out of the box is that this item comes in many different parts. You get the console, the dock, the two separate controllers, a grip, and two wrist strap attachments. It’s a pretty modular console that can fit the needs of many people whether you’re playing at home or on an airplane or at a park.
The controllers feel beautiful and strong by themselves. At first glance they come off as small however within just a few minutes of holding them, my hands adjusted to them somewhat reasonably. The buttons feel tight, and premium and the joystick has a decent amount of travel to them. Sometimes they do feel a bit to light, but that’s about the only issue I had. The left stick was a bit wonky at first try, however after playing for a decent amount of time the joystick started moving smoothly. Not to mention, the controllers look cool. There is a lot of technology packed into these. Both of them have HD Rumble which is supposed to give you a higher sense of immersion through better controller vibration. The left Joy-Con has a record button that lets you take a screenshot of your game, or record a 30 seconds clip of something amazing you did. The right joy-con has an IR camera and an amiibo reader. Many people have complained that the decision to get rid of the D-Pad for four directional buttons was not a good one. However, I am indifferent because I have not used them so far in any games.
The tablet is also way smaller than what I had imagined. It is relatively sturdy and comfortable to hold; however, it is also a fingerprint magnet. The screen feels vibrant and crisp and has auto-brightness. It is also the central processor for all the gaming, meaning that it will tend to get hot in your hands, and you may hear the faint sounds of a fan running inside the console. It wasn’t too bothersome at all, but something worth pointing out. There is a kickstand in the back that allows you to play tabletop games. However, the kickstand is very flimsy and breaks off easily. Behind the kickstand though is the Micro SD card slot that allows you to increase the console’s storage from the initial 32 GB. The tablet also has stereo speakers and a headphone jack to accompany various sound outputs. I don’t have any problems with the tablet, the only thing I would see changed with future revisions would be the size of the bezel around the screen. When all smartphones are on the verge of being bezeless, it is a bit weird to see a device with a big black bezel around its screen which is very obvious from a far distance.
There are many different play styles that the Switch offers. The two main playstyles are docked mode and portable mode. Docked mode essentially works with the tablet is inserted in the dock, and the image is being outputted through a separate display, most of the times through a TV. It is exactly like a typical game console you’ve seen in the past. You can detach the Joy-Cons from the tablet either use them freely, attach the straps, or put them in a grip to resemble a more traditional controller. The quality of the games are increased when playing docked, and that is about it. The experience is seamless and stays the same. I spent the majority of my time playing in docked mode, as I was not yet comfortable taking out my Switch outside my house.
The portable mode is when you decide to play your Switch out of the dock. You can attach the Joy-Cons to the side of the console to resemble a large PSP. It works great, and the controllers slide on smoothly. They feel sturdy, and they never slide off accidentally. Overall it does add a little bit of heft to the console, but nothing that feels uncomfortable. The quality of the games does decrease compared to docked, but it is barely noticeable unless you look closely. Like I said before, the screen is bright and vibrant. The games look just as good and play just as beautiful.
The Switch is the first console that allows you to take the traditional console gaming, on the go. It opens up exciting new opportunities for new game experiences. The way your controller is broken into two pieces is quite amazing. You can use them as Wii Remotes, holding one in each hand, or share the other one and use it sideways like an NES Gamepad. The many different playstyles genuinely make this console unique and a trendsetter.
Another critical part of a game console is its games. The Switch has a more than fantastic game library, with big names like Zelda and Mario already out on the console, and more titles like Smash Bros. coming later this year. The 3rd Party support is also a step-up compared to that of a Wii U’s. A lot of the games have minor performance issue when looking through a technical scale, however once again they are noticeably noticable when playing.
Games this time come on a small cartridge. It is safe to say that they can also be easily misplaced, so be careful. The benefit of owning cartridges is that you can re-sell them in the future, or share between friends. However, the downside is that every time you want to play a different game, you have to take one game out and place the other one back in. It is a bit inconvenient compared to digital games. Digital games can be directly bought on the console, or on a computer. If you buy it on a computer, it will start downloading on the console automatically if connected to the Wifi. There are tons of benefits for choosing digital over physical. Digital games allow you to switch back and forth seamlessly. You can quickly exit one game and play the other without fidgeting around for game carts. They also load faster in some instances. But just like physical, there are some downsides to digital games, specifically two. Most of the time, digital games are fully priced, and sales rarely happen on the shop to allow you to get a sizeable discount. You also can’t sell them, which means you are stuck with them forever. If you bought a bad game, well too bad, you’re out of luck.
Its all about preference. I prefer digital games because of the smooth transition from one game to another. I also don’t re-sell my games, so I don’t care. The only that bothers me is paying full price for a digital game when I can get a physical copy of the game for much cheaper.
One thing to note is that if you buy digital games, you will need a Micro SD card eventually.
The Switch is a fantastic console. One word to describe it would be versatility. It does what it set out to, and it does it exceptionally well. There is a lack of traditional apps on the console, such as a browser or Netflix; however, it is not a deal-breaker. Its main purpose two-player to play games, and it offers a great time to its users. Its playstyle can work for everyone’s needs and offers two player experience right out of the gate by sharing the Joy-Cons.
Its controller is the most innovative in the market; however if it too small for you, you can opt-in for a Pro Controller, a bigger single piece controller resembling that of an Xbox controller.
The games are fun and enjoyable. They offer a wholesome experience and work great on that tiny tablet. The portable mode is just as fun as docked mode and works the same with no difference. It has a great battery life that depends on the game and can offer at least a few hours of gameplay. Sleep mode is a highly appreciated addition that gets you right inside the game within 10 seconds. The UI is simple and basic and works fast. I hope Nintendo introduces new themes to make the home menu more customizable and unique.
All-in-all, I recommend this console to both the hardcore gamers, and the casual gamers. You never know what types of experiences you could gain from this, and what memories will come out of this.