The Nintendo Switch has been out for a few months now. Let’s take a look at how it measures up…
After many secretive years about a console code-named NX, in October 2016, Nintendo released a trendy new trailer introducing the world to the Nintendo Switch. This trailer immediately set out to target a different audience to the Wii U, which was primarily children, to an older audience, an audience that would have grown up with Nintendo products such as the Nintendo 64, GameCube, Gameboy Advance and others from the past. Another important aspect was the return to local multiplayer, with the Switch’s two “Joy-Con” controllers being able to be used as individual controllers. Along with some highlighted games, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, I knew that this was the console for me.
As with any new release, there were all sorts of negative speculation, that the system would pull a Wii U and fail to catch on. Or that the portability wouldn’t allow the games to look as good as they would on a big TV screen. Sadly, the January 13th press event didn’t assuage many of their fears, with the lack of a pack-in game and a small launch line-up seemingly ready to doom the system before it could crawl out of the warehouse. Others complained that the system was nowhere near as powerful as its competitors. Of course, not all of us were prepared for failure or needed bleeding-edge graphics, as I and a friend of mine pre-ordered our consoles a few days later, which started our countdown to March 3rd.
Come March 3rd, after many, many weeks of sustaining the hype via watching a die-hard fan wait an entire month in line at the Nintendo New York store to be the first in America to receive the Switch and other speculative videos, the launch of Nintendo’s latest began, and I walked away with a Neon Joy-Con Nintendo Switch, a Pro-Controller, a Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild console and game travel case, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild game and 1-2 Switch. As soon as I got home, roughly 1:00 AM, I immediately, and very quietly, walked into my room and unboxed the system, savouring every moment that came with being one of the first to own the console as well as getting to grips with the new gear.
The Switch itself is a tablet-like device, measuring at 23.9 x 10.2 x 1.4 cm, and carries at just under 300 g, providing a screen that can run games at 720p resolution. The Joy-Con, the two small controllers, can slide into the rails on either side of the screen, which come together to form a handheld gaming device, like a much larger, more powerful GameBoy Advance. Speaking of power, many complained that the screen would only go as far as 720p resolution and not to the maximum 1080p, which is honestly overkill. The size of the screen wouldn’t be able to show much more difference between the two resolutions and the battery life would be significantly cut down, although the dock that comes with the console can run games at 1080p should the TV allow it.
Should the handheld method of playing not suit you, you can instead use the Switch as a more traditional console by inserting it into the aforementioned dock, which connects to the TV via HDMI cable, which is packaged within. The Joy-Con can then be inserted into a Joy-Con grip, also packaged, which then turns the two Joy-Con into one controller. Although, I was pleasantly surprised, during my initial early hour session, to discover how comfortable it was to play Breath of the Wild using one Joy-Con in each of my hands, allowing me to assume an even more relaxed position.
The Joy-Con themselves are small controllers, with each one featuring an analogue stick, a diamond of four buttons, a bumper button, a trigger button and either a plus or minus button. Each Joy-Con also has, on their side, a smaller SL an SR button, which act as the L and R button for the controller when it is used individually, hearkening back to the control of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. More specifically, the left Joy-Con features a screenshot button, which allows you to take snapshots of your onscreen game experience and these photos can be shared through social media or edited. The right Joy-Con features an infrared camera on the bottom of the controller, which can detect movements, such as hand shapes like paper, scissors or rock, or the movements of a closing jaw. The controller also has an NFC reader for amiibo concealed within the analogue stick, which allows for the amiibo to interact with the game being played, and a home button is also featured, for a fast return to the home screen.