Sitting upon my desk daring me to never finish this review is my now two week old Nintendo Switch. This $300 piece of tech is one of the only things that will get me into a Walmart at 12 AM on a work night, and what a beautiful piece of tech it is.
Included in the box is the Joy-Con (L) and (R), Nintendo Switch Dock, Joy?Con Wrist Straps, Joy?Con Grip, an HDMI Cable, Nintendo Switch AC Adapter, and of course the Nintendo Switch Console. Notably absent are the Pro Controller and the Joy-Con Charging Grip.
In my use case, The Pro Controller is the only accessory I would say is 100% recommended. Partially because of the deficiencies of Joy-Con (L), but largely because the Pro Controller is so well designed and comfortable to use. While pricey, I think most gamers will appreciate having one in they’re Switch arsenal.
I never found myself needing to charge the Joy-Con independently which is a testament to just how solid the battery life for them is. As such, the Joy-Con charging Group which adds a USB port to the controller shell seemed largely unnecessary for me. Perhaps when I add more Joy-Con to my collection I will feel differently, however, after each of my gaming sessions were complete, the Joy-Con naturally found their way back onto the Switch while docked to be fully charged upon the next session.
Also of note is the fact that the Joy-Con Charging Grip doesn’t actually charge the Joy-Con when they are attached. Pre-launch it was largely believed that the Joy-Con Charging Grip would include a battery, and that is not the case. The only way to charge while using the Joy-Con Charging Grip is to plug the controller into a USB device such as the Switch Dock.
Where the Nintendo Switch truly shines is in its simplicity and brisk user interface. Remembering back to the long wait between every function on the Wii U is almost laughable compared to the snappiness of the Switch. As soon as you you press the power button, the play session from the night previous starts nearly instantaneously. Opening up the eShop is seemingly as fast as your internet bandwidth will allow. Although the UI currently has very few bells and whistles, the Switch functions perfectly for what was intended of it. To play games.
There is something to be said about the ability to seamlessly take your television gaming on the go. Until that moment presents itself, it’s hard to imagine the need for it. After experiencing the convenience for the first time, it’s hard to go back. Case in point, my recent visit to watch Beauty and the Beast with my girlfriend.
In my region, the latest trend in movie theaters is assigned seating and full food service. This provides a perfect environment for playing the Switch with the kickstand as there are extendable tabletops in front of each patron.
Waiting for the previews has never been so much fun. I’ve never had so many onlookers or so many questions asked of me. The little boy sitting next to my girlfriend even had a go at the VS mode of Puyo Puyo Tetris. While he was able to defeat me with ease, my girlfriend proved to be too formidable an opponent. Having the ability to snap off each Joy-Con for instant multiplayer is not something you thought you wanted until you have experienced it first hand, and having done so had our new friend pleading to his parents to buy him a Switch so he could have that same experience himself.
Clearly the Nintendo Switch is not going to be your go-to machine if you’re looking for a box to wow you with 4K visuals and graphical horsepower. That video game console is called a PC. Nor is the Nintendo Switch going to be your first choice if you want the latest exclusives (outside of Nintendo), or are hoping for an abundance of third party multi-platform games. As of this writing it is too early to tell whether or not the Nintendo Switch will sell well enough to be attractive enough for your EA’s and Activision’s of the world to continually support it.
While publishers will certainly throw the occasional game at the wall to see what sticks (Skyrim says hello), it is simply not feasible to expect every game released for the PS4 and Xbox One to eventually make its way to Nintendo’s hybrid console. Porting a game over to Switch in many cases will require significant development that many publishers may shy away from. It would be naive to expect games that require significant horsepower, and that push the Xbox One and PS4 to their respective limits to arrive on the Switch in the same form.
But you know what, that’s ok.
With the Nintendo Switch essentially comes the consolidation of Nintendo’s handheld and console divisions, which in turn can only mean a steadier flow of first party video games as Nintendo will no longer be dividing its attention amongst two consoles. Indie developers will also contribute to the Switch ecosystem as we have already seen with the likes of the soon to be released Yooka-Laylee.
If the Switch goes on to be a sales success, third parties will not be able to ignore Nintendo’s console. The Switch may not see a direct port of the latest Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed, but instead special attention may be given to new Activision or Ubisoft properties. Afterall, there could still be something to that Rabbids/Mario crossover rumor we were hearing so much about pre-launch.
Lastly, I did want to touch on the one nagging issue keeping me from 100% recommending the console at the moment. Joy-Con desync is a real issue. For the gamer who plans on not purchasing an expensive Pro Controller, dock placement is likely going to be a problem when playing in TV Mode.
My current setup has me shuffling my Switch Dock from behind my television to a side table on a regular basis. At times I prefer the laziness of having two detached controllers and the ability to move both arms independently at will which using the Joy-Con detached provides. While there are no problems playing with the Pro Controller, if there is anything obstructing line of sight between Joy-Con and Switch console, there is likely going to be an issue.
Playing 1-2-Switch for example required me to move the Switch from behind the television so that the player with the left Joy-Con wasn’t at a significant disadvantage. Similarly with Snipperclips, the player with Joy-Con (L) would often complain that their button presses were not being registered until the console was moved to a different location.
There are already reports of customers sending in their Joy-Con (L) for repair and receiving them back with all issues fixed. There is even a DIY fix for those skilled In the arts of the soldering iron. My Joy-Con (L) is currently out for repair, and hopefully when it returns, I will have a fully functioning unit.
I’m not sure how Nintendo will address the issue on a large scale. Seemingly, this is not an issue that can be fixed with a simple firmware update. One would also imagine that all Joy-Con currently being manufactured will have this issue fixed.
At present time, until Nintendo formally addresses the issue, and all defective units are cleared out of the retail channels, buyer beware.
All these issues aside, there is a lot to love about the Switch. I find myself only wanting to play games on it. Picking up my Xbox One controller is dissatisfying after the realization that I cannot take my gaming with me when I leave the room. While not an issue before, the speed of the Switch really highlights the sluggishness of the UI for other consoles. Pressing the power button on the Switch instantly takes me back to Death Mountain, where as going from 0-Gaming on the Xbox One takes considerably longer.
All in all I would say that the Switch is a big win for Nintendo. Exorbitant accessory prices and the sparse quantity of launch titles aside, It is easy to see Nintendo meeting and even exceeding their expectations this console generation.