A Month(Ish) with the Nintendo Switch: Hardware REVIEW

With the abomination that was the Wii U, not that it didn’t have its awesome games. Nintendo recently released their 7th home console since the NES hit the shelves and blew up the 80’s. Enter the Nintendo Switch (#NX4LIFE), a portable handheld console hybrid thing which one paper is kinda cool, the trailer was released everyone got excited because you could play Skyrim wherever the fuck you wanted. But how does it stand up now it’s been on the market for a month? Here. We. Go…

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Breath of the Wild. The only launch game you need to care about…

Public Perception

It’s amazing what a bit of marketing can do, that was one of many downfalls for the Wii U. There are people who still have no idea the Wii U existed, I was speaking to a friend of mine the other day and he was banging on about how innovating the Wii was when that was first released and then jumped straight to the Nintendo Switch. This is a console that’s been out for 5 years this year and the fact he doesn’t know the successor to the almighty Wii baffles me (I’ll point out he’s not a “gamer” but still). Ever since the announcement trailer was released last October hype has been generating if you don’t count the lacklustre presentation in January everyone has been relatively looking forward to it.

The Games

The system launches with Zelda: Breath of the Wild and not much else to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a Bomberman game which is a good time albeit released 15 years too late, Shovel Knight which everyone has about two copies already although you get Specter of Torment on Switch before everyone else and I’ll tell you now that’s the definitive version of the Shovel Knight campaign, plays like a dream. Fast RMX, a “sequel” to Fast Racing NEO on Wii U is also a launch title which is cool, it’s the Primark version of F-Zero, the anti-gravity racer we all really want but a decent game nonetheless and me and my girlfriend have a great time with it. Then the games start to spread themselves a bit thin, 1 2 Switch is on it, a party game nobody cares about, Snipper Clips looks cool but no and a load of Neo Geo games, Metal Slug, King of Fighter and all that jazz.

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The surprisingly awesome, Super Bomberman R.

After all these games in the coming months you have Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, Cave Story+, Skyrim, 1001 Spikes, Disgea 5 Complete, Stardew Valley, Overcooked, Rayman Legends etc. You see the problem, right? You’ve got most of them games already and how dare Nintendo and Ubisoft have the audacity to even think of releasing Rayman Legends on Switch. The exclusive Wii U game which was supposed to utilise the Wii U game pad and all that pulled and delayed what felt like ages cause Nintendo couldn’t market free money to the homeless. Saying that it is a quality title plus Super Mario Odyssey and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 look fucking awesome so it’s not a bad line up by any stretch of the imagination, you’ve just seen it all before. Put that list next to Sony’s and 2nd and 3rd party support shows a massive gulf in class with Sony coming out on top. Lay all that down with the fact that the Virtual Console is nowhere to be found, I have no idea what Nintendo were thinking with that one. Disappointing with all the Gamecube VC rumours.

Performance & Power

Nintendo being Nintendo pulled a Nintendo move straight outta the book of Nintendo and underpowered the Switch by using the Nvidia Tegra X1 chip which is decent and everything but dated at this point, but if we’re creating a mix of modern technology and affordability it was probably the right choice to be honest. These people who want 4K resolution on the tablet and the graphic power of an Nvidia 1080 TI need to wake up and smell the coffee, the system they’re asking for would probably be the size of a suitcase and would probably cost around £800-£1,200 which would then get the backlash, “Waaaa, it’s too expensive. Waaaa”.

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What’s under the hood of the Nintendo Switch, the Tegra X1.

In my experience the Nintendo Switch runs better when it’s undocked, when I hook it up to the TV the framerate on Zelda in particular is borderline unplayable at busy periods of the game (Korok Forest springs to mind), I’m not a framerate whore or anything but I enjoy a smooth experience, regardless how low or through the roof the frame count is. Apart from this though, my exposure to the machine is that it’s fine.

The battery life isn’t too far from the 3DS, it’s about 30 minutes worse off. Depending on what game you’re playing you can play undocked for 2-6 hours. The device uses USB-C so it charges relatively quick. Battery was always going to be a problem for this console and there’s nothing you or Nintendo can do about it, unless you want it to take 40 AA’s?

The UI is sound, clean and easy to use with only the eShop bugging me for some reason, I don’t know why. It’s not clear with how you find certain games and the commotion I had paying for Shovel Knight was ridiculous.

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Nintendo Switch UI.

There is a distinct lack of apps here, no Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll etc. this is further evidence that Nintendo pushed the Switch and released it too early, it’s pretty basic what you get. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with no apps, I don’t spend £300 on a console and sit and watch Netflix on it, but it would be nice to have the choice.

There have been a lot of defective stories about the Nintendo Switch on the internet and speaking from my experience again, I can confirm my Switch is still in tip top condition, I’ve yet to come across the dead pixels, blue screen and even reports suggesting that the Switch itself would bend in the dock. I have no idea what hole these people are sticking their dicks in but it seems to be the minority at this point.

The Controllers

When I’m playing in handheld mode it’s like I’m playing on a chunky Vita, which is fine with me but I can see some people having a problem with that. When you detach the joy cons and play with them on their side, they’re far too small for my liking, it’s kinda cool being able to play 2 player Bomberman straight out of your bag but I’ve got long fingers and I’d prefer a controller any day. When both joy cons are in the grip and resemble an actual controller it’s not half as bad as it looks on the trailers and stuff, it lies somewhere between Mad Catz and official but too far from official to be my number one controller of choice. That goes to the Pro Controller, hands down one of my favourite controllers of all time, it’s ergonomic as fuck the buttons are the perfect size sticks aren’t too sticky, the triggers aren’t 360 standard but they are adequete  and there’s even a secret message hidden behind the right stick which says “Thnx 2 All gamers” which is a nice touch. Part of me wishes that Nintendo would indeed as much as I like the idea bin off the concept of a portable home console, have the Pro Controller as the main controller and cram the machine with as much power as it can currently hold, that’d be the day.

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The phenomenal Pro Controller, a must have purchase for every Switch owner.

Final Summation

The Nintendo Switch is a success from a sale standpoint, selling out across the globe with Nintendo hitting 1.5 million sales in less than 2 weeks making it likely that Nintendo hit their 2 million target by April 1 which is WAYYY more than what I ever thought it would sell, it’s amazing what a bit of marketing can do, isn’t it?

The thing is in demand, that’s good for Nintendo, the only problem is now they need to solve the game problem, yes, there are stellar releases coming for it but they are few and far between and coming from a company with a point to prove they need to launch a nuke instead of firing a shotgun. I still say it was released FAR too early and only came out in March because they couldn’t push Zelda back any further and release Zelda for Wii U and Switch at different times. Imagine the sales pitch, “Oh, here’s our awesome new console releasing with a six-month old first party title”, however if it meant releasing a Switch with a more packed and concise library/release schedule then I’d of had no problem with that, but then again gamers aren’t exactly known for their patience are they?

I enjoy my time with my Switch however I’ve enjoyed it more since I thought of it as a 3DS successor as opposed to a Wii U one, this console has the potential to thrive as a handheld unit, yet in my opinion lacks the fire power to compete in the current age of console gaming.

E3 is make or break for the Switch, if they are holding there cards close to their chest then is the time to play that flush, knock it out of the park. Otherwise the Switch will fall off a cliff and Nintendo will finally go third party (you’d assume).

A valiant effort, but it feels half baked.

7/10*

WheelJack xoxo

* Could be higher or lower in the coming months, depends how it sells and what games are revealed for it.

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