Nintendo Switch Review

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It’s March 3rd and that means it’s time for our Nintendo Switch Review. Is this console worth the price or is it just another gimmick?

Release Date March 3, 2017
Company Nintendo
Price $299.99 US
Memory 4 GB LPDDR4
CPU Octa-core (4×ARM Cortex-A57 & 4×ARM Cortex-A53) @ 1.020 GHz
Storage Internal flash memory: 32 GB
Controller input Joy-Con/Pro Controller
Power 4310 mAh, 3.7 V lithium-ion battery

 

Nintendo is a very special brand to many people. When somebody tells you a story about their earliest gaming memory, it’s usually a memory of a Nintendo console. It is a brand that nearly everyone knows and respects. The company had hit consoles and handhelds in the 90s and built a massive amount of momentum with the revolutionary Wii console in 2006. The successor to the Wii, the Wii U, didn’t fare so well and critics began to question the viability of Nintendo’s hardware business. A lot of people thought they should become a software company instead.

Nintendo has always been a creative company when it comes to creating game consoles. They ushered in an era of portable gaming with the original Game Boy which evolved into the dual touchscreen DS line of portables. The dabbled with VR back in 1995 with the Virtual Boy. That was a massive failure, but one that the company could take in stride. They even created the SuperFX chip in certain Super Nintendo games to add new graphical elements. More recently, Nintendo ushered in a new wave of motion control gaming with the Wii. They also introduced glasses-free 3D gaming with the 3DS. They’re always one-step ahead of the curve.

Gaming Anywhere

Nintendo Switch Review
The Switch can be propped up with a kickstand on the back and each Joy-Con can be used as a separate controller with certain games.

The Nintendo Switch is a very revolutionary idea for a video game console. It’s not just a console, it’s a portable too. It’s amazing to me that it took this long for a company to develop something like this. The console is contained in the tablet itself which can be plugged into the dock for play on a television. The tablet is a touchscreen and the console includes two controllers which are called, “Joy-Con”. The Joy-Con can be used 3 different ways: connected to both sides of the tablet, connected to both sides of the actual Joy-Con base (which creates one controller), or free in your hands. These Joy-Con can even be used separately for some two player games eliminating the need for a second set of Joy-Con.

The versatility is something to behold with the Switch. You can easily take it anywhere you travel and play it wherever you are. If you’re at home, you can just plop the console into the dock and connect it via HDMI to your TV. If someone else needs the TV, you can take it out of the dock and play it as a handheld. The battery gets about 3-6 hours depending on the game. The AC adapter can even plug in to the bottom of the tablet itself so you can still game plugged in if you have an outlet nearby. It’s game-ready whenever and wherever you need it and that is very appealing to me.

What’s in the Box?

Nintendo Switch Review
Here’s a diagram of what you get in when you open up the box.

The Switch retails for $300USD/$399CAD and comes with the tablet, the dock, a left and a right Joy-Con, the Joy-Con grip, 2 wrist straps, an AC Adapter, and an HDMI cable. There are two base models available for purchase and the only difference between the two is the colour of the Joy-Con. One set is grey, one set is blue and red. Both models come with 32GBs of internal storage which will fill up rather quickly if you’re downloading any games. Nintendo has given users the ability to use microSD cards to add to the total system storage. It’s a nice feature, but my hope is that we’ll just be able to plug an external hard drive into one of the Switch’s USB ports.

The Initial Set-up

Setting up the Switch is a really easy process and Nintendo actually made it really easy to connect the wires by putting a swinging door on the side of the console that you can open when you want to plug wires in/pull them out. It’s an interesting design that not everyone will like, but I thought it cleaned everything up quite nicely. Inside that door is a USB-C slot, and HDMI port, and the plug for the AC Adapter. There is no HDMI connection on the tablet itself, so if you’re looking to game from your hotel or something, you’ll have to bring the dock with you. Once you attach the Joy-Con to each side of the tablet and plop it into the dock, you go through the familiar initial set-up, download the update, and you’re ready to go.

Controlling The Switch

Nintendo Switch Review
Here’s what the Joy-Con look like detached.

The Joy-Con themselves are very interesting pieces of technology and are unlike anything I’ve ever used before. The first thing I noticed about them is how small they feel in my hands. My hands are big and it doesn’t feel very comfortable when I just hold them in my hands. It gets a little better when they’re in the grip or attached to the tablet itself. It’s difficult to use one of the Joy-Con for two-player games as well due to the size and positioning of the buttons. The analog stick is just way too close to the face buttons to make it very easy to use. This is something that someone with smaller hands may not have a problem with, but it certainly affects me. The included slide-on caps give it a bit more size and a bit better feel, but it’s still not quite good enough.

I will say that I feel like the Joy-Con are well-constructed pieces of hardware. The buttons are very small, but feel a lot like an Xbox One controller to press. I also really liked the d-pad for some reason, it’s a lot tighter than most controllers. the shoulder buttons are very similar. The + and – buttons are oddly placed and feel really uncomfortable when you need to use them. The one shining aspect of the Joy-Con is the vibration features that

Nintendo Switch Review
Here’s what the Pro Controller looks like. It’s very similar to an Xbox One controller.

For the most part, the Joy-Con just don’t feel up to par with standard game controllers. They’re more useful when you’re on the go rather than at home. Nintendo also has a Pro Controller that can be purchased separately that is closer to an Xbox One controller in layout. The options are there to play the way you want, you may just need to shell out extra money depending on your preferences.

Things To Note

  • You cannot transfer save games to a new console or a microSD card at this time. There is currently no way to transfer any save games. If your console breaks, you lose all your progress. I have to think Nintendo will be addressing this sooner rather than later.
  • The charging port is on the bottom of the Switch console which means you can’t charge it while having it propped up on a table.
  • The kickstand that is used to prop up the Switch is very delicate and I can definitely see a lot of them breaking. Of course, this is also the cover to the microSD slot so it’s a double-whammy if it breaks.
  • The Joy-Con grip and the Pro Controller lack a headphone output making it next to impossible to listen to the game audio with headphones when the console is docked.
  • There is no support for bluetooth headsets which is just mind-boggling in this day and age. The PS3 supported that…
  • The Joy-Con grip doesn’t charge the controllers. You have to attach them to the tablet and dock it if you want to charge them or shell out extra money for a nearly identical grip with a USB charge input. Talk about a money-grab. Alternatively, you can pay extra for the Pro Controller.

These negatives aren’t the worst things for me and I can definitely work around most of them, but some people may not feel the same way. I will say that I am puzzled by some of the omissions here.

 

Nintendo Switch Review
This is the only way the Joy-Con can be charged. They must be charged while attached to the tablet and docked unless you buy a charge grip.

The Games

The launch lineup for the Nintendo Switch looks like this:

  • 1-2-Switch 
  • Fast RMX 
  • I Am Setsuna 
  • Just Dance 2017 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 
  • Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
  • Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove 
  • Snipperclips – Cut it out, together! 
  • Super Bomberman R 
  • Skylanders: Imaginators

As you can see, there aren’t many standouts in that list apart from Breath of the Wild. It’s a normal thing for a console launch to be thin on games, but this is admittedly pretty bleak. The good news is that some new games will be on the way shortly. ARMS is coming sometime this spring. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will be here at the end of April (though I am annoyed that we’ll essentially be buying the same game over again). Splatoon 2 will be here in the Summer time. Of course, the big release of Super Mario Odyssey won’t be happening until the holiday season. It’s tough to justify purchasing a console with so few games and I really struggled with it, but I lined up on launch day to get one like everybody else. Zelda alone is worth it.

Hidden Costs

Nintendo Switch Review
The game card slot if on the top of the console.

Many people will probably go out and buy one of these consoles without thinking about the added cost on top of the base price for the console. I’m going to try and add up some of the different extra costs early adopters may encounter below.

  • The Switch doesn’t come with a game so that’s an extra $79.99CAD/$59.99USD.
  • Additional microSD storage costs >$55CAD/>$40USD for any meaningful upgrade if you plan on buying games on the eStore or upcoming Virtual Console.
  • Want a Pro Controller? That’s $99CAD/$70USD.
  • You’ll want a case. That’s another $10-$30CAD/$10-$20USD
  • The car mount/charger is an extra $40CAD/$25USD

As you can see, it quickly adds up! Luckily, most of these things are optional and some can be acquired as the need arises.

Final Thoughts

My first impressions with the Switch have been very favourable. I think this console is going to be a big hit for Nintendo. It gives gamers a lot more options to play on the go with how busy everyone’s lives are these days. I think that it’s going to be a good console to link up with other players anywhere and bring the social element back to gaming that has fallen by the wayside with the near extinction of couch co-op. The games will come and as long as Nintendo keeps their support behind this console, I think it can be a wonderful alternative to the PS4 and Xbox One. Though it may have its shortcomings, Nintendo has created yet another unique experience that you just can’t find anywhere else. I think that anyone on the fence should wait to buy this console until the holiday season. For those who can’t wait, Breath of the Wild will make it difficult to regret your purchase.

 

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