Nintendo’s new console is out, and I’ve been holding it in my hands all weekend. Discover what I find to be its greatest strengths and weaknesses thus far.
Do you get as excited about new hardware as me? Did you Move all the way to Australia just to be one of the first locations to get the Nintendo Switch? No? Well neither did I, but I just happen to be over here reaping the benefits of being 16 hours ahead of the US.
Finally a Nintendo console that is region free. This means when I ultimately take my Switch home to The States, I will able to buy games off the shelf, only having to worry about a plug adapter for the stock charger. I already have set up Australia, US and Japan region accounts on my Australian Switch and downloaded demos and games from each region’s eShop.
I am only a handful of hours into Zelda, but the game drops you into the deep end from the start. The obvious lack of hand-holding, sandbox style open world and freedom from a linear path might make this the first proper Zelda game that I see through to the end. The inclusion of robust, complex new mechanics, a beautifully stylized art design and voice acted scenes, makes Breath of the Wild the most interesting Zelda game that gives the franchise a much overdue re-imagining.
The Power Supply.
Nintendo went with USB type-c for it’s charging port this time around, which is a refreshing first. Unlike the proprietary cables of the Wii U GamePad, or the antiquated mini USB port on the Wii U Pro Controller, the Switch is all about the USB type-c. Nintendo is also taking advantage of the quick charging capabilities of the technology, boasting a whopping 15v, 2.6amp output yielding nearly 40watts! What this means is that the battery in the Switch will be able to charge to nearly full capacity in a very short amount of time. This plus a voltage switching input makes the Switch the fastest charging handheld, and the safest to travel with globally.
The Pro Controller.
It’s the most comfortable controller Nintendo has ever put out, and it is crammed with extra features (IR, motion and NFC sensors). It also is bundled with a USB type-c cable which you can also use to charge your Switch while you’re on the go. Just make sure it isn’t on and bouncing around in your bag while you’re trying to play and walk or the Switch will keep asking you to change controller types.
The Pro Controller.
Even with all the positive things to say about the Pro Controller, it still isn’t as good as the devices that Microsoft and Sony have on the market. It took me using it for hours before realizing that while the feel, and look of the controller are great, it has some annoying input registration issues. If you flick either of the sticks and then release it instead of it going back to a ‘zero state’ the controller often registers an opposite direction press. This mistaken input was also bothersome when using the d-pad to play Shovel Knight. Not sure if this can be corrected with a firmware update, but as it stands the controller is very frustrating to use when precise inputs are needed.
Nintendo has released another console, without properly preparing for an internet connected world. The Switch’s user interface and settings have plenty of potential as the framework for a usable network, but as it stands there is little to no functionality. Nintendo refusing to let their friend code system die, and the rumors of all voice chat and management tools being relegated to a smartphone app have me in a state of worriment for what Nintendo launches as their online platform later this year.
Nintendo uses the same wireless connectivity as they did with their previous consoles. BT is great, but what’s disappointing is that Nintendo doesn’t let users have access to BT to pair any of their own devices specifically headphones or speakers. The portable nature of the system makes taking it to a party to show off a core pillar of its design. However when it has to rely on the built-in speakers, the volume is just not loud enough to combat a moderately noisy social gathering. Maybe Nintendo will give users the ability to pair to BT audio devices in the future with an update, but in its current form it just isn’t loud enough to use in a party setting unless you’re able to hook into an external sound system.
Flimsy and rocky are the two words I’d use to describe the kickstand. The Switch is designed to be played using the kickstand in the “tabletop” mode, but with the lack of stability it will take some good conditions for users to be confident that it won’t rock or fall over. To add insult to injury the Switch is near impossible to charge while resting in tabletop mode. Be prepared to have a fully charged device when you bring it somewhere for some tabletop multiplayer action… Or wait for a cheap accessory bolt-on to fix this oversight.
Zelda is an incredible launch title, but it’s not quite worth buying an entirely new system to play when the Wii U version is nearly identical. The US region launched with 9 Games, only a few of these being system exclusives. 1-2 Switch is a fun, novel idea but too many of the mini games left me with a lack of desire to play them again. Shovel Knight is a wonderful platformer, but it’s been available on nearly every platform for years now. Snipperclips is a fun cooperative puzzle game which makes great use of the Switch hardware.
Nintendo released an impressive piece of hardware. The novelty of being able to take your home console on the go, and then dock it again is something I had wanted for a while. Hopefully third-party developers will support the Switch long into the future, giving this system a larger library than the Wii U. Hopefully Nintendo can cobble together something functional for their online system. I always buy Nintendo consoles exclusively for Nintendo’s games, but maybe this time will be different.