Having had the Nintendo Switch over two weeks by now and having sunk many hours into the new Zelda game, it’s time to review the new console.
Nintendo has been in the business of publishing both consoles and games in the past 35 years. After producing both stationary TV video gaming consoles and handheld gaming consoles, they have now gone into the hybrid direction.
With the new Nintendo Switch you have both a stationary console you play with by using a TV and a handheld device you can take along on your travels.
The previous console, the WiiU, was able to be played in the same room, while someone watched something else on TV, but wouldn’t be able to work much further away from the base station. The new Nintendo Switch has its entire operating system and the source of games on the handheld device itself, so it no longer requires a base station.
The Nintendo Switch is a handheld screen with the processing power for playing games at a resolution of 1,280 x 720-pixels. It uses special game cartridges the size of 32Gb. The console has an internal memory of 32Gb for savegames, screenshots, video material (functionality in the future) and downloaded games, DLC and patches. You can equip it with a microSD card (up to 2TB) for saving savegames, screenshots (possibly also video in the near future) and downloaded games.
It comes with two controllers, one that slides in on the left side of the screen and one on the right side of the screen. It also comes with a base station that makes the console charge up and more powerful to produce graphics up to a resolution of 1,280 x 1080-pixels on a TV screen. That means if you have a 4K TV, the graphics will be upscaled. It also means that when games are made for a lower resolution, The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild is rendered at a maximum of 1280 x 900-pixels, that gets upscaled on TV to FullHD. AC charge cable and HDMI cable are included. A controller dock is included for easier controls during TV mode play.
The main console is surprisingly small, but it punches quite the power. It is perhaps not as powerful as the Playstation 4, but it outperforms the Nintendo WiiU with ease. The battery life depends on how demanding the game is. Playing Breath of the Wild you can do for about 2 – 3 hours when in handheld mode. I haven’t tested the less demanding games because I have none. When it’s docked, you can play as long as your controllers have juice in them. I managed so far to get 40 + hours out of the JoyCon’s from fully charged to empty, which is a vast improvement over the silly battery life of the WiiU controller.
There is a charging dock available for the joy cons but those are sold separately. One can also purchase the Pro controller for the Switch, which is highly recommended. The battery power of the Pro Controller is longer than that of the JoyCon and the de-sync issue is non existent. The screen is multi-touch (thank God for that). I am terrified holding the main console in my hands, the screen is made out of plastic that breaks easy. I don’t think it would survive if you accidentally would drop it.
The interface is surprisingly simple but very easy to use. Making a profile is stupid simple. just follow the instructions the Switch will explain you exactly what to do. One can still create a Mii or use design your own image with many of Nintendo’s iconic characters. The frustrating part is the almost none existent activity log. Other online websites have claimed you get to see how much hours you have spend int he game after a week. After 10 days it finally showed I had played for 75 hours or more…
Also some things such as copying screenshots, managing data and the menu structure is somewhat dated for 2017.
The docking station makes the console charge up and gives more power to the console to produce higher resolutions up to FullHD 1,280 x 1080-pixels on a TV screen. AC charge cable and HDMI cable are included.
When I first saw the Joy-Con controllers, I was skeptical how they would feel in my hands. Turns out they are rather comfortable and the size is not a bother at all. You can use them attached to the screen when playing in handheld mode, attach them to the controller dock or have each of them separate in your hands. The Joy-Con’s come with all the required buttons and sticks to play games comfortably.
It also comes with a new type of rumble. Nintendo calls it Rumble HD. You can feel things really detailed, hence they released a party game called 1,2, Switch in which you can for example feel balls rolling from one side in the controller to the other side.
The JoyCon comes with InfraRed camera and NFC reader as well.
Sadly most of the online features are not yet available. Until this gets released, we get to enjoy online multiplayer for free. The Nintendo Switch e-shop is pretty empty as well so far I counted 18 games, but we will see a release of a total of 60 games this year. Just today 5 more games were released and I am sure more are soon to come. Some of you might be sad to hear Miiverse is no longer existing on the switch.
I assume it has been replaced with the online feature that will be released in the near feature. Sadly Nintendo decided it’s a great idea to include friends codes. Why can’t I add friends with my Nintendo network account?! Well, perhaps this is something they might add in the near future (when they properly release the online features), so this seems to be something temporarily. Because of this reason, I will have to come back and give an honest review regarding the online features once they are made available.
There is Cloud Saving for games, but this is not active yet and as of now it is only Nintendo Games that have access to this (but not active yet, so everything saves on your internal memory or SDCard).
I have been lucky my switch. My screen has not been scratched when docked. I have however come across that horrible de-sync bug with the JoyCon’s. Sometimes the left JoyCon decides to be a complete arse and looses connection to the Switch giving me some unfair deaths and tears of frustration.
I have however found a way around this annoying issue. As soon as I placed my console away from any obstruction and other interfering electronic device (in front of the TV on a table) the de-sync issues magically disapeared; POOF! I could finally enjoy my private time with Link, without him dying in the most horrible ways possible. Nintendo has issued a statement to contact support asap when one encounters an issue with their device.
The Good and the Bad
+ Mobile console you can play anywhere even if you are stuck on a public toilet
+ JoyCons feel rather comfortable in your hands
+ Great design
+ Switch screen is multi-touch
– De-sync issues with JoyCon’s; patching the console didn’t fix it (sofar)
– Missing online features makes it feel the console was rushed
– Back to friends codes ( might be temporarily)
Nintendo Switch is a great portable device with a lot of potential. It’s going to be the type of console with which it will be easy to play with friends and family, whether that is on the same console or with multiple consoles online or locally. Even though it launched with limited software and online functionality available, it proves to have enough capacity and potential to run the newer and more advanced games. To name one, The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild looks really stunning on the Nintendo Switch. We hope to update the review with info on the online functionality when the functionality has come available.