The Nintendo Switch is here. Which begs the question, is this meant to replace the Wii U or the 3DS? In my opinion, the shortest answer is both. Nintendo has released a hybrid console that promises a simple way to not only play at home the traditional way on your television set, but also on the go.
Upon unboxing the console you’re greeted with the Nintendo Switch and the left and right Joy-Cons, which is what Nintendo is calling the default packed in controllers. The layer below it reveals the dock, HDMI cord, a pair of Joy-Con wrist straps, a Joy-Con grip (more on those later) and an AC adapter with a USB Type-C connector.
The Nintendo Switch itself is a 6.2 inch tablet. The console comes equipped with 32GB on board memory, which, if you plan on going digital, is not at all ideal. After the OS has eaten away at your available memory you’re left with under 26GB to work with. The flagship launch title, The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, for reference, clocks in at 13.4GB. However, the Nintendo Switch does support memory expansion in the form of Micro SD, SDHC and SDXC flash memory. Up to 2TB. That said, the Nintendo Switch does have it’s own physical media for games called Game Cards. They’re small cartridges, somewhere between a PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS cart.
The console can be played various ways, in the included dock which is where the tablet is inserted. Providing not only a charging station, (and is currently the only way to charge the Joy-Cons out of the box) but also outputs to your television. Which can provide a resolution up to 1080p. In table-top mode, which is where the console is just the bare tablet leaning on the kickstand on its back which just flips out. Keep in mind, must be a solid, balanced surface. But. It works, and finally, in handheld mode, which is where the Joy-Cons themselves are attached to the system. Think a wider PlayStation Vita. This My preferred way of playing and it feels great. The battery life ranges from 2.5 hours to 6, depending on the strain the game you’re playing puts on the system. In my experience, while play Zelda I was able to get a good 3 hours out of it on multiple occasions. That was with the brightness setting set to the lower level.
One of the Nintendo Switch’s strengths, like the last 2 Nintendo consoles before it, is it’s various input methods. Which brings me to the Joy-Cons. These are what are packed in the box and are the default method for playing. The Joy-Cons themselves are 2 separate controllers that can slide in, and attach to the tablet. They can also be used with the included Joy-Con Grip for a more traditional controller approach. I however, found this to be my least favorite way of playing. They can also be used separately from the console and without the grip. The Nintendo Switch also supports The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, which is not included and retails separately for $69.99 USD. The controller itself is comparable to the Wii U Pro Controller and Xbox 360 controller. This is by far my favorite way to play when docked and playing at home. The Joy-Con battery lasts approximately 20 hours, according to Nintendo. Both Controller methods provide amiibo support, have gyroscope and vibration.
Nintendo has announced that the Switch’s online service will be a paid service. But it is free until the fall. Price and specific date has not been announced. The Switch launched with an eShop though its offerings are very minimal as of writing. Disappointingly, the Virtual Console is not available at launch and there is no estimated time frame for it. Currently adding friends via the internet still requires the use of friend codes. However, Nintendo has said other methods of adding friends are on the way.
From playing Zelda at home with the Pro Controller. Then Metal Slug with a younger cousin using the Joy-Cons as independent controllers and then Snipperclips in bed with my girlfriend in table-top mode, it’s clear that the Nintendo Switch provides flexibility I’ve never seen before. It’s an impressive piece of technology that at launch, we are getting a solid preview of what’s to come. Nintendo has done a solid job of covering their bases. Want a core game? Here’s Zelda. Want a party game? Here’s 1,2 Switch. Craving a retro fix? Here’s a few Neo Geo games. Even if you want something simple, there’s Snipperclips and that can be played solo or coop. There’s a nice amount of games covered for kick off and Nintendo did their best to get something from everyone.
BUT, Is It Worth It?
I’ve been having a blast since I’ve gotten my hands on one. The ‘switch’ between handheld mode, table-top, and home console mode is just as easy as Nintendo claims. To go from home console to handheld you simply pull the unit out of the dock, it takes about a second to switch its video output, and that’s it. When going back you just slide it back in. It’s that simple and satisfying. It’s amazing how user-friendly it is. But it’s something to be expected with Nintendo. I was impressed on how simple going from united Joy-Con, with the grip and without, then to separate for use as 2 controllers and then over to the pro controller is.
The Nintendo Switch is a console that feels like it was released only half baked. It doesn’t seem rushed, but more an intended soft launch with nice, spread out offerings to follow. I personally am having a blast with this thing and it can, over time potentially become one of my favorite consoles ever. But that’s just it. In its current state it’s built off potential. What it may offer. There’s plenty more on the way and from my time spent with it. I am in love. I cannot recommend it enough, although that can be directly attributed to the masterpiece that is The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. However, I cannot wait to see how Mario Kart 8 Deluxe plays when it releases next month. The idea of being able to play a game of Mario Kart on the spot, on demand. With 2 separate controllers on one unit without a television. It’s just something I cannot wait to experience.