Hardware Impressions: Nintendo Switch

How does Nintendo’s latest system stack up?

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 03/03/2017 21:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

After months of waiting, Nintendo’s newest system has finally arrived. Having finally gotten an opportunity to spend a little time with the Nintendo Switch, I’ve gathered some thoughts on the hardware itself, and how it stacks up to some of the company’s previous offerings.

One of the most notable things upon first inspection is just how small everything related to the Nintendo Switch is. The box, the cartridges, the game cases, the Joy-Cons, the dock… it’s quite surprising just how compact everything is, given the technology inside.

Start-up for the system is an incredibly fast process. Wii U owners were forced to endure a punishingly drawn-out update process before start-up, but the Switch proves Nintendo learned a valuable lesson from the experience. While Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild both have Day One updates, the process is stunningly fast. Most fans should be able to play their title of choice mere minutes after the system comes out of the box. The handheld unit even has about half a battery charge in it, meaning the system can be turned on in handheld mode immediately. More consoles should be this quick to setup!

The Joy-Cons themselves are particularly surprising. With all the talk of HD Rumble, and the capabilities of the new controllers, they make the much simpler Wii Nunchuk seem comparatively massive. It seems only appropriate to compare the Joy-Cons to the Wii controller: there’s a strong resemblance between the way they handle and feel. Where the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo provided a feeling of freedom when used in conjunction, the Joy-Cons take that to a new level. It feels like a true evolution.

The Switch’s screen is sharp and crisp. Though I was a fan of the Wii U GamePad, it’s amazing how much clearer the screen is on the Switch. This is easily the best screen I’ve ever seen on a Nintendo product. The resolution is impeccable. In the long term, however, I’ll be interested to see just how durable it is. Where the GamePad in our household has been manhandled by a toddler with little repercussion, I could see the Switch having more difficulty dealing with that kind of abuse. Time will absolutely tell, but for now, I would certainly advise purchasing a case and maybe a screen protector as well.

In handheld mode, Switch is a bit on the bulkier side. It’s not cumbersome, but the size is a bit of an adjustment from systems like the 3DS. The unit’s kickstand mode is nicer than I would have expected. I didn’t understand the necessity for single player experiences, but coupled with the freedom of the detached Joy-Cons, it’s quite nice. Some games will be particularly more difficult to see than others, however. I’m intrigued to try it out for multiplayer games. It seems like it would be a bit on the harder side.

One note of disappointment is the sparseness of the system’s menus. The Wii U menu, with its chatty Miis and simple tunes had a welcoming presence. The Switch is quiet and just doesn’t have as much going on. The eShop also follows this trend. I already miss the simple loading puzzle and the music. Even though it’s a minor quibble, I hope some updates will come along in the near future to give the menus a bit more life.

Overall, the Switch is an impressive piece of technology. The more time I spend with it, the more I find myself appreciating the small intricacies of its design. I found myself learning to love the Wii U, especially as games like Nintendo Land and Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker showed off its capabilities. With Switch, simply playing around with the hardware for a bit has endeared me to it. I really hope Nintendo and other developers find suitable ways to push it to its fullest potential.

One Response to “Hardware Impressions: Nintendo Switch”

  • 1379 points
    xeacons says...

    It’s still early and I’m definitely impressed by what the Switch can do. My biggest grievance is the lack of alternative apps. We knew Nintendo was dropping things like Netflix, but the Switch doesn’t have so much as a web browser, which becomes essential to logging on to certain businesses’ wifi. I also enjoyed the custom themed menus on the 3DS, and hoping Nintendo will soon add those to the Switch as well.

    It’s only Day 1, so we have a lot to look forward to.

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