Review: Nintendo Switch
A unique experience that offers options for just about every style of play
To say the Nintendo Switch is the talk of the gaming world right now would be an understatement.
Whether you’re excited about the new console you just purchased, eagerly trying to get your hands on one through eBay or another outlet or whether you’re one of the many waiting until the fall to pick up the new console so you’ll have a few more game choices, you can’t ignore the new system’s popularity.
I sat down with the system and gave it a look so I could share my thoughts with the SCG community. I opted not to hold onto it, but not because I didn’t like it. I’ve never really cared for The Legend of Zelda and as a busy college student, I don’t have a lot of time right now to play the other games available. Instead, I’m among the crowd waiting for the fall, mainly to play Super Mario Odyssey.
Despite some minor issues that I experienced, I really enjoyed my time with the system. Luckily, I didn’t experience any of the major issues – like dead pixels, blue screens of death or screen scratching – that are being reported.
Take a look at my thoughts below. Don’t forget to comment and share your thoughts and experiences with the system as well. We’d love to hear from you.
Like I suspect most people have done and will continue to do as more Switch consoles get into the hands of gamers, the first thing I did after setting up the console was to try out all of the different control setups.
First, I played around on the menus using the Switch in handheld mode with the Joy-Cons attached to its sides. This felt very similar to the Wii U gamepad, but it’s a little more sleek, concise and refined this time around. In other words, it felt great.
Next, I docked the screen and turned on my TV. I detached the Joy-Cons and attached them to the Joy-Con Grip and tried out the system in a more traditional format. The Grip is a bit too narrow and wasn’t very comfortable, but it did give me an idea of how it would feel to play the Switch with a traditional controller.
I didn’t get a chance to try out the Pro Controller, but I do own the Pro Controller for Wii U and I’m sure it’ll be a similar experience. And that’s definitely a good thing.
Lastly, I tried the Joy-Cons as two separate controllers, one in each hand, ala the Wii remote and nunchuck, but minus the cord.
This is by far the best way to play the Switch (aside from using it as a handheld if you’re traveling, of course). It is so comfortable not having to squeeze your arms together like you do with a traditional controller. I always loved this about the Wii remote and nunchuck setup as well, especially in games like Mario Kart, but the cord got in the way sometimes.
My verdict here is that whether using the Joy-Cons as two separate pieces, one in each hand, using something like the Pro Controller or the Grip, or playing in handheld mode, the options are nice to have and all of them are pretty viable and fun ways to play the system.
Of course, the controllers can also be used in a similar way to the Wii remotes – like with games such as 1, 2 Switch – but I didn’t get a chance to try that functionality out for this review.
Graphics and visuals (TV vs. mobile):
In many of the screenshots and videos leading up to the release of the console, games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which is the only game I got a chance to try out, looked washed out and just lacked a lot of color pop that many of today’s games handle so well.
The console itself, however, displays in a much more vibrant fashion. I was pleasantly surprised. However, there is certainly a difference between TV mode and handheld mode. That’s not to say either one looks any better or worse, and naturally, it’ll depend on each person’s television and personal preferences, but the difference is noticeable.
In either regard, the system’s menus pop, both on the TV and in handheld mode, and the games, at least least Breath of the Wild, look stunning.
It may not be on high-end PC level or even able to match games like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End or Halo 5, but the Switch is a powerful machine when it comes to graphics. With proper optimization, I think devs will be able to release some beautiful games for the Nintendo Switch in the near future.
Console design and overall quality:
When it comes to the console itself, I have to say I love how easy it was to set up. Pop everything out of the box, slide the Joy-cons onto the sides of the console, plug in the HDMI and power cord to the back of the dock and into your TV and wall or powerstrip, respectively and you’re ready to go.
From my description, it may sound like any other console, but when you set it up for the first time, you’ll know what I mean. I actually said out loud, “That’s it?!”
On the downside, the dock feels a bit cheaply made and I can see why some people are having issues with it scratching screens. It’s very easy to rub the screen along the inner front of the dock when sliding the Switch down into it.
Another issue I had is that, the Joy-Cons can be difficult to detach from the sides of the console and the Grip. Also, I really hope Nintendo revises the wrist strap add-ons because a lot of people – me included – have missed the plus and minus images and put them on incorrectly. They’re very difficult to see, especially in a room with low lighting.
Overall, I feel like, from a hardware perspective only, this console was rushed to market. Its overall build quality just doesn’t feel like what I’d expect from Nintendo.
It’ll be interesting to see how many more hardware issues develop over time and how durable this thing is as people put more daily use into their systems. This thing is meant to be very portable, but aside from the console/screen itself, everything just feels flimsy and cheap.
Sound, menus, options and more:
The Switch system features small speakers, as expected from a portable device, but the sound isn’t even as good as the PlayStation Vita or some phones. Sure, you can always get a set of headphones or portable speakers, but who wants to lug all of that around?
Don’t get me wrong, the sound isn’t that bad. I just really wish Nintendo had invested more into the audio offerings of the system when using it as a handheld. The company’s marketing pushed handheld mode pretty hard, but the audio abilities of it just don’t support that usage.
On the contrary, I absolutely love the simplistic style of the menus. The Switch UI is very clean and simple to understand. Everything you need is there without any useless apps or menus. I love that everything is clearly labeled, but uses icon images to achieve this instead of being too cluttered with text.
The options section of the menu is also very well laid out and there are tons of settings to tweak to really customize the system the way you want it. When I reset the system to its defaults after finishing my review, it gave me very clear warnings about what I was doing. I liked that a lot, because Nintendo tends to aim its products at kids and families, so it’s nice to see they don’t make it too simple to delete everything.
The game boxes are a nice change of pace as it’ll be easy to collect a large number of games without taking up too much shelf space. The games themselves are very small, so I’d imagine they’d be easy to lose, but it shouldn’t be too hard to keep track of them since we’ve come accustomed to using very tiny memory cards and other such items these days.
Oh, and the answer is ‘yes’ to the question of whether or not they really do taste disgusting. I’d still encourage everyone to touch his or her tongue to the cartridge, but you’ve been warned.
The eShop, while extremely minimalistic at the moment, was simple to navigate and had some nice features like being able to set a password that needs to be entered just to open the store.
On another note, the storage space is pretty weak and it’s a bummer that save files can’t be backed up, at least not right now. I also really wanted Nintendo to adopt a trophies or achievements system, but unfortunately they didn’t. Perhaps that’s something they can add later.
The system’s software is sleek and easy to use. You can tell a lot of thought went into safety and security features. It’s nice to look at, doesn’t have too much clutter or too many confusing elements and is actually one of the better console user interfaces out there.
My favorite part about the Nintendo Switch is the options it gives players. If I grow tired of sitting in my chair and want to lie down and play, I can do that. If I want to go for a walk and play, I can do that. And, as Nintendo pointed out, I can even play while sitting on the toilet.
The built in two-player option is also nice for the games that support it. Plus, the motion controls, advanced vibration system and other cool features could have the potential to bring us even more unique experiences like 1, 2 Switch.
While it’s a system that at times can seem too simplistic and does have its flaws, I’m sure, like any console, it’ll evolve over time. Once some apps are available, some user-requested features are added through system updates and any bugs or quirks are worked out, I think this will be a system that many people will want to support.
It takes what was great about the Wii and Wii U and mixes those elements with new ideas to make a truly unique and exhilarating experience for the entire family. It’s hard to recommend a purchase of the system right now with such a small library of software available, but in due time, the system will have a great lineup of titles to play and I’d say at that point it’ll be a must-have console for gamers and families.
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