The long awaited Nintendo Switch came out this past Friday and we finally got our hands on one, sadly we’re not big enough for the Big N to give us an early review console but that’s fine, we’re a site of the people so we don’t mind waiting with the people to get one.
So as now if you wanted a Switch you probably got one so this review isn’t for you, obviously, but some people didn’t get one (as it sold out through pre-orders with only a handful given to stores to sell on launch), this review is for those people or for the people waiting on a second shipment and are on the fence.
This weekend I spent, many, many hours with the Nintendo Switch, the pro controller, the Joy Cons, and the Switch controller with the Joy Cons, amiibos, as well as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Bomberman. Keep in mind this will only be a review of the Switch console itself, the game and accessory reviews will come later.
First off, the Switch as a console and handheld work amazingly. It really does go from handheld to TV and back again in almost an instant (it is faster going from TV to handheld), the only thing from the commercials that isn’t seamless is taking the Joy Cons off. There is a little button on the back of the cons to unlock them and can be tricky to try and do with one hand, but that’s a nitpick, not a strike against the console. The tablet has a nice weight to it and does not feel cheap at all. It feels robust and not like some Fisher Price toy, like the Wii U Gamepad felt.
The funny thing about this, even though you’re playing the same game, when you go from TV to handheld it almost feels like a completely different game, not in a bad way though. It just changes the scope because of you the way you’re holding the hand held and looking down, as opposed to looking on a big television screen. It’s a wonderful experience, especially with a vast game like Zelda, you don’t have to be tied to your TV, you can take it on the go with you. This is perfect for someone like me with a 40+ hour a week job and kids. You don’t always get to sit down and play “big” games, you maybe have time for a few rounds of say Overwatch every couple of nights. With the Switch I can actually play these vast games on the go, like when I take the train into work. Games like Skyrim and Final Fantasy are games that sometimes take me forever to complete because I don’t have the time to sit and play, and sometimes I take so long off from them that I come back and have no idea where I am in that game. This sometimes leads to a couple hours of backtracking or I’ll just give up all together, like with my second play through of Skyrim on the Xbox One.
Battery life for the Switch has not been an issue for me, I did play a lot over the weekend (and today) with it in handheld mode but never approached the 3-6 hour barrier, though I’m sure on my trip to Japan next month I’ll probably get a real test on the battery life as well as how long with works with portable chargers. Several times over the weekend I was playing Zelda on my TV and then had to go upstairs to cook, fold laundry, and various other things (like watch WWE Fastlane) so having the ability to go to hand held mode was great. In fact a couple of times, because my mind hasn’t fully wrapped itself around the concept of a console that is also a handheld, I was doing something and thought, man I want to play Zelda, then I remembered that “hey I can!” and I went downstairs and grabbed the console to play it while say watching TV, listing to a conferences, and so-on.
Some reviews (and these were pre-day one patch) noticed some frame rate drops occasionally in Zelda and the left Joy Con un-syncing, but in my extensive play thru I did not encounter either of these issues. I’m not saying the day one update fixed them, I’m simply saying they did not happen for me. Also, as long as these weren’t persistent they probably would not have affected my review at all, but would have been noted for you.
As far as graphics are concerned both Zelda: BOTW and Bomberman look great. They’re both crisp and even though the system doesn’t run at a full 1080p (I don’t think most people will notice). You’re not going to get PC or PS4 graphics out of this system but honestly depending on the game and game play you don’t really need them. Considering games like Mario, Splattoon, and Zelda, would one need realistic graphics? Some may say “yes” to Zelda, but for me (and this is my personal preference) I like a more artistic style to the land of Hyrule. Especially with BoTW the art style and graphics look gorgeous and I’ve enjoyed every new character I’ve come across. Bomberman, well it’s Bomberman with cartoony characters so it looks just fine on the Switch. I have yet to play Fast RMX yet, but I’ve watched a few YouTube videos with it and man does it look fantastic. Developer Shin’en Multimedia has really pushed the Switch hardware to its limits and in a launch game no doubt. Just imagine what we might get out of developers in a year or two with this system. This along with BoTW really show the potential of the Switch.
The Joy Cons are very unique controllers. When they’re attached to the tablet they feel very natural, like a bigger PS Vita or 3DS. In the Joy Con comfort grip it feels a bit weird at first, but it doesn’t take long to get used to. A lot of reviews said the placement of the right thumb stick is awkward and they have to scrunch their thumbs. I’m a big guy with pretty big hands (cue Donald Trump meme) but I didn’t notice any awkwardness while playing BoTW with it. As far as using the Joy Cons as mini NES controllers for multiplayer they take a bit to get used to, but once you get used to it they’re not that bad. Honestly for two player games I’d invest in a pro controller so that you and your friend have two complete controllers to play with. Like I said above I did not experience any de-syncing from my Joy Cons while playing. Like any new console you need to get used to your new controllers, though these take a little more than say going from a PS3 to a PS4.
As far as the Switch as a console I really like it. It is hard to give a point value to a piece of hardware, especially since new consoles don’t really hit their stride until two years in, but if I must I must, and I will say that my score is 70% of what the Switch is and 30% of its potential. The Switch as a handheld system gets 9 out of 10. The battery life aside, this is a beefy portable system is great to take on the go or play in front of your TV while watching something else. As a home console it is under powered and sometimes it will run better in handheld mode than on your TV, but it is innovated and I really do like what Nintendo is going for here so that gets an 8 out of 10, leaving us with a final score of 8.5 out of 10. Check back later today and this week for reviews on the games and the accessories as well. Other than that, what do you think of the console if you were able to get one? If you did not are you hoping to snag a second shipment? Let us know in the comments below.