It may have been on the market for less than a week, but Nintendo’s new portable/home console hybrid Switch is off to a promising start, breaking launch records for the company (despite releasing outside of the holiday season) and selling out across the region. Marc already offered some of his preliminary impressions of the console, but how do the other ‘dojo staffers feel about Nintendo’s newest piece of hardware? Read on to find out their thoughts on Switch!
I’m at odds with myself over the launch of the Switch. On one hand, it’s one of the most elegant pieces of kit Nintendo has ever released. It’s very compact, with sleek lines. It’s also very flexible and adaptable, in terms of functionality. However, this feels like the Nintendo 64 launch all over again: One killer game and a handful of others that are a distant second, at best. Not to mention, Breath of the Wild isn’t even exclusive to the Switch. Additionally, we have the return of the cartridge (for better or for worse). I also can’t help but think that this whole thing seems a bit rushed and half-cocked. Perhaps Nintendo should have called this a soft launch or waited until the holiday season? Nevertheless, the thing seems to be sold out everywhere and I’m still in the honeymoon period with my shiny new video game console. The Switch is the first mass market console to deliver the holy grail of video gaming — being able to take your home console experience with you on the go. Granted, it’s not the equivalent of a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One, but we’re at a point in technology where graphical disparities between competing systems is down to comparing how many baddies you can have on screen at once without affecting the frame rate.
Of course, I’m the type of person who will buy any Nintendo system simply for the Nintendo games. However, given today’s marketplace, I’m not sure those in my camp are enough to sustain Nintendo. This is where they are going to need a diverse set of triple-A titles from third parties to gain some market share. And, as we learned from the N64 era, third parties don’t like proprietary cartridges because of the their costly nature and long production lead times. This probably explains why many of them are taking a “wait and see” attitude.
Still, the prospects of the Switch intrigue me. There’s nothing stopping Nintendo from releasing some type of streaming technology akin to Nvidia’s GeForce Now, given that there’s a compatible Nvidia graphics chip at the heart of the Switch. That could, literally, be a game changer. Switch also has the major gaming engines present (i.e. Unity and Unreal), making porting games much easier. And last, but certainly not least, all of Nintendo’s internal development teams are now focused on one single platform. The thought of this alone makes me all tingly inside. Now, let’s just sit back and see how all of this pans out.
I can’t get over how the Switch genuinely follows through on its promise of being a hybrid portable/home console. I’ve been spending a lot of time away from my house, so I’ve spent the bulk of my time playing Breath of the Wild in portable mode and I’ve loved every minute of it. Sadly, the battery life is fairly abysmal as reports said it would be; I can average about three hours on a given charge away from an outlet, which isn’t great. Still, having a full-fledged, fully-featured, enormous Zelda adventure in my hands like this is immensely satisfying — not years after it’s been released and ported to a handheld, keep in mind, but the second it comes out!
For all its technological wizardry, though, Switch is still missing some things that I wish it would’ve had coming out of the box. For starters, the lack of a Virtual Console sucks, straight up. I keep fantasizing about propping up my Switch disconnecting a Joy-Con, and playing Super Mario Bros. 3 at my desk at work, but as of right now that’s not possible. I also think that as much as I love all of the different accessories the console has available, it really feels like I’m being nickel and dimed for them worse than almost any other Nintendo system to date. Wrist straps in different colors for the Joy-Cons, charging grips, memory cards, wheels, extra chargers, and on and on, made this one of the most expensive system launches I’ve ever experienced.
I suppose being a hybrid home and mobile console is to blame; the same sorts of accessories I’d buy for my 3DS and Wii U have essentially been funneled into one. I’ve never had to buy a travel case and extra controllers for a single system quite like this! What’s necessary for a system on the go and at home is doubly so for Switch, and it’s putting a dent in my wallet and likely the wallets of many other gamers. Still, it’s a growing pain, for now; eventually I’ll have gotten everything I need (and want) for the console to meet my needs. I’ll part with one last observation: it legitimately freaks me out taking my Switch on the road. It’s not all that sensible of a fear considering the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars that I’ve invested into my 3DS. I mean, I worry about taking it out of the house and breaking or losing it (which has happened once before!), but Switch has me on extra red alert for some reason. It feels like Switch would be, if not irreplaceable, incredibly frustrating to replace should something happen to it.
Part of that might be due to the price tag, but I suppose if I think about the fact that I willingly walk around with an expensive tablet and phone on a daily basis, it’s not all that different to take my Switch places. Once the new system feeling starts to wear off a bit I’ll likely stop being so paranoid, but until then I’m clutching my Switch like a newborn baby when I cart it around!
I’ll be quite honest: I’ve been so taken with Zelda that it’s practically taken up 100 percent of my Switch time, so I still haven’t played 1-2-Switch or even messed around with the system options yet. While Switch does appear to be rather barebones in itself, I don’t think it’ll be fair of me to assess that when I haven’t fully explored what we’ve got, so I’ll just focus on ergonomics.
To me, what’s wondrous about Switch isn’t that it feels great to hold; it’s the awe in something so tiny is the console itself. True to its name, switching between the docked/undocked positions is amazingly simple, and I can’t believe how seamless it is. While I’m still getting used to sliding the Joy-Cons out, I think they’re quite cute in how they’re like mini-Wii Remotes, and I can’t wait to see the full extent of their capabilities.
And yet, I’m actually struggling with the control scheme a little. Maybe this has to do with how there’s so many options in Zelda, but I often find myself pressing the wrong buttons, particularly within the shoulders. As you can imagine, this makes things like the inventory screen and aiming bows quite troublesome! Maybe my muscle memory for N64/GC Zelda games is goofing things up? I don’t have the Wii U version, so I wonder if it’s any easier there.
Regardless, I don’t think it’s too big a problem; after all, I still have one more game to try out, and perhaps the controls are just fine there. I’m looking quite forward to what Switch will bring us in 2017.
I’ve already gone into detail on my thoughts on the Switch hardware. Long story short, it’s probably one of the most intriguing systems the company has ever produced. So, I guess I’ll talk a little about the games I’ve been playing, instead!
So far, I’ve picked up both Breath of the Wild and Super Bomberman R. The latest Zelda title is amazing, but I also find it daunting in a way I haven’t felt since the first time I played Ocarina of Time. There isn’t any hand-holding in this game! The title thrusts you into this massive, open world, and while I find that I love the freedom, I also feel like I should be quite a bit further than I am. Right now, I’m basically just exploring and marking up the map so I remember where things are. It’s intimidating, but exciting at the same time. This really was the shot in the arm the franchise needed.
I’m pretty happy I picked up Super Bomberman R on launch day. It’s a pretty straight-forward Bomberman game so far, but it gives me a chance to play something a little more traditional when Zelda becomes a little overwhelming. It’s also nice having something I can play for a few minutes and feel accomplished, which isn’t always possible with BOTW. I was able to partake in some online battles over the weekend, and did pretty well for myself! It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s a solid launch title.
Right now, I’m more than content with these two games. I’m still on the fence about double-dipping on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but with Splatoon 2, Yooka-Laylee, and Super Mario Odyssey all on the way this year, my Switch is going to have plenty to play in 2017.
Have you managed to pick up a Switch? What do you think of the console? Share your impressions in the comments!