Through the trials and tribulations of the 100 plus years of Nintendo, we continue to see their undying dedication and perseverance to the gaming community, solidifying their rightful spot in the console race. Nintendo Switch is a perfect storm. It’s melded together all of Nintendo’s past hardware triumphs, with new forward-thinking innovations. Finally, home-console gaming that can be brought with you on the go is real. Without any degradation to the experience, or quality of gameplay, the Switch proves to be so much more than a gimmick. Nintendo’s new sleek, conglomerate handheld/console device brings a buzz back to the company that I haven’t felt for some time now.
A few years back we all had started to hear the quaint rumblings of Nintendo secretly beginning work on the successor to their abysmal blunder, Wii U. Codenamed “NX”, the internet grew ablaze seeking every corner, of every thread, trying to soak up any new info that could be leaked. When word broke that this hybrid handheld/home console was in development, a sigh of relief swept over many fans. Finally, Nintendo were playing to their strengths. After a long weekend with the console, up close and personal, I can say Nintendo Switch is undoubtedly my favorite console developed by them to date.
The Nintendo Switch is a tablet-based console equipped with two detachable controllers, dubbed Joy Cons, that can be played on your fancy big screen tv, or in a portable handheld mode. The Switch comes with a dock that you insert the tablet into and can effortlessly display right to the tv. The Joy Cons can then slide into a provided grip that replicates a standard console controller. The concept is unique, and absolutely something I don’t know how gamers have gone without with for so long. The freedom of just being able to bring your console gaming experience with you anywhere is refreshingly liberating, and something I already yearn for from the competition.
The guts of the console lie within its beautiful, multi-touch, 720p screen. It’s astonishing to think that all the power, CPU, GPU, etc, all lie neatly within this 6.2 inch screen tablet. Only Nintendo. It’s runs using a custom built Nvidia Tegra chip under the hood. When docked, the tablet will up-res games to 900p or 1080p depending on the title. But if you wanna see the pure beauty, I recommend handheld mode. Here, the clarity of the 720p screen reveal a dazzling display that is bright, crisp, and splashing with rich color. The touch features are quick and responsive, but unfortunately aren’t utilized much with any of the launch games as of yet.
The UI on the Switch itself is brilliantly simple. I don’t discredit it for that. The competition may obliterate they’re home pages with ads, offers, and trailers, but the Switch reminds you that this is solely a gaming device from the moment you turn it on. It’s something that in 2017, I find comforting and focused. You can easily find and navigate across the home page, to the eShop, and to the friends list. Any customizations you prefer to the Switch are just as easy to execute as well, although choices are limited at the moment. One area where I think may be just a bit too bland is with friend interaction. At the moment the smartphone companion app is not available, so while you can add friends, there’s no way to message, chat, or communicate in any way with them. You can take screen captures and post to your social media, but that’s about it for social interactions.
One of the new selling points to the Switch is Nintendo’s all new controller, the Joy Con. These controllers pack a big punch in a very compact package. They feature the all new HD Rumble, which is the most detailed rumble mechanic to date. They have the ability to replicate individual items through each other with distinguished vibrations, making for an all new way to engage in gameplay. Again, other than 1, 2 Switch, there aren’t may great examples of the power of HD Rumble at launch currently, but it is super exciting to see how developers will incorporate this feature in future titles. The right Joy Con also has a built in IR sensor which can detect various objects and shapes, perfect for a game of “rock, paper, scissors” and activities of that nature. And don’t think Nintendo forgot about your Amiibo support, within the Joy Con is also a NFC reader for quick use. Also it should be noted, for the first time since the Famicon, a console is launching technically with 2 controllers right out of the box. Thanks to the design of the Joy Cons, you can simply detach them right from the console and hand one off to a friend for easy co op fun.
I’m not gonna lie, the Joy Cons scared me at first with their pint sized design. After numerous hours I can comfortably say they feel amazing. They fall smoothly into the hands and are easy to access any button on the controller itself. What makes the Switch so great is the variation the player is allowed to choose from in how they play. Whether the Joy Cons are slid into the provided chassis (the ‘Dog-head’ controller), separated, or in handheld mode, each way of play feels completely comfortable and intuitive. The only time their size can become an issue is when played in co op mode. Positioning them sideways still never felt quite right. They’re absolutely still playable like this, but perhaps not for long sessions before hand cramps kick in. A minor gripe I have is I wish the triggers were analog, but you quickly become accustomed to the digital triggers and their satisfying clicks. All around, they Joy Con is an ergonomically friendly design. Even after spending 5-6 hour in solo play sessions with them, I’ve had no discomfort or issues.
Something that’s just as pivotal as the console itself with the handheld hybrid mix is the battery. When announced the battery was revealed to be from 3-6 hours depending on the game. I found this to be true, playing a juggernaut title like Breath of The Wild usually granted me about 3 hours before it was time to dock it. There’s multiple ways to charge the Switch’s battery and Joy Cons. For charging the Switch tablet itself you can either dock it with the provided USB-c, or use that same adapter cable to bring with you on the go if you prefer handheld mode. To charge the Joy Cons you simply slide them into the Switch itself, providing the charge power straight from the tablet. Since Nintendo has stressed the ideology of console gaming on the go, I really wish they would have provided an extra cable. It can be a bit annoying unplugging and plugging the charging cable back into the dock when you plan to play handheld mode longer than the expected battery life. It would have further promoted the seamless on the go approach with an extra charging cable, eliminating the fumbling with the dock for any long planned trips.
All in all, this is an exciting time to be a Nintendo fan. The Nintendo Switch inspires and encourages new ways to play by challenging the fundamentals of a traditional console. While it may not contain as many robust features at launch when compared to the competition, I am very intrigued to see what updates and features become added to Switch in the years to come. As for now, the console proves Nintendo is taking great strides in the right direction, and modernization of their place in the gaming industry. As a gamers we can all celebrate a little, there’s a new Nintendo console with a new Zelda, 2017 never looked so good.
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