Developer: Nintendo Starting Price: $299 (Base Model; no Bundle) Available Now
By: Mitchell Cole
Nintendo’s Next Machine
March 3rd, 2017 introduced Nintendo’s latest gamble, the Nintendo Switch. The Switch replaces the unpopular Nintendo Wii U and encourages gamers everywhere to make, “the Switch” and forget Nintendo’s mistakes with the Wii U. Will players give the Nintendo Switch a chance?
The Nintendo Switch is a combination of home & portable console that allows gamers to play your save-file from a game directly onto their home T.V., or take your fun on the go by detaching the Switch console from its dock and taking with you wherever. This isn’t a new idea exactly as Nintendo and other companies have been toying with the mobile console theory for a while now including the marketing failures Nintendo Wii U & Sony Playstation PSP/Vita. What makes the Switch different than other past attempts is also what may help gamers on the fence, to ‘Make the Switch’.
Geek Talk Time
The Nintendo Switch hybrid sports a NVIDIA Custom Tegra processor. While this CPU/GPU combo isn’t as powerful as the PS4’s & Xbox One’s AMD Jaguar/Radeon based graphics engine, a NVIDIA based processor allows for ‘on-the-go’ play but sacrifices a portion of graphical power in the process. Compared to its counterparts and similar to its predecessor, the Nintendo Switch includes a small 32 GB of memory for storing game information. While many will cry foul or idiocy, I understand. For a gamer, there simply will never be enough memory! Honestly, I found myself having to buy internal and external hard-drives for my PS4 & Xbox One just as quickly as I needed for my Nintendo Wii U. As with any gaming system or rig, invest in whatever kind of internal/external drive that is needed. There isn’t any real debate no matter what system you own. In the case of the Switch, players will need to invest in a sizable MicroSD card.
Nintendo is known to create then deviate from great ideas, taking risk where many other companies wouldn’t. The Switch is no exception. Nintendo has abandoned disc based games, favoring instead, to utilize small game-cards similar to its cousin, the Nintendo 3DS family. The re-introduction of the cartridge based gaming allows for both gaming at home or while away from home.
Tech Talk Tick Tock
As can be seen in visuals provided, The Nintendo Switch is small…VERY SMALL compared to competitors, even the sleeker models now offered. Approximately 4 inches high, 9.4 inches long, and 0.55 inches deep (with Joy-Con attached), this console hit the mark beautifully in terms of power AND portability! Slightly larger than many standard tablets yet a fraction of the size of the Xbox One or PS4, both older and newer slimmer models. I simply love the fact that I can plug in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild onto my t.v., or take with me if I need to leave the room.
While docked with a television, the Nintendo Switch runs up to 1080p yet only 720p when detached from the dock and viewed from the console itself, or ‘tabletop mode’. I’ve never been the graphic freak to cry foul over this but with the recent advent of 4K Gaming & VR Gaming on the horizon, Nintendo may have missed an opportunity here. Time will tell on this subject.
Joys of a Joy-Con
To pull off the home/portable device and actually work, Nintendo needed to think of a way to utilize its controllers both at home and away. Introducing the Joy-Con Controller. With the Joy-Con, players may find the need for utilizing the Joy-Con in a variety of ways. The Joy-Con controller detaches from its traditional base to also create (2) separate, smaller controllers two players can use or each Joy-Con piece also docks directly onto the Switch console when players have the need to be mobile.
Here is where one of my chief gripes comes into play. When used as a traditional controller like its counterparts, the Joy-Con Controller is too small. The Z-L & Z-R buttons are positioned a bit too low for my hands. I don’t have large hands and yet I prefer the leveled back buttons on the PS4 Controller or even the Xbox One Controller. When using the Joy-Con as 2 controllers with 2 players, the controller-pieces again, are too small for my tastes. It’s a fun concept for 1-2 Switch right now or Snipperclips but I’m not sure this concept will be taken seriously enough for the overall lifespan of the Switch.
A saving grace for the controller aspect of this review is when docked directly onto the console itself. I became so used to using my Nintendo Gamepad, I was shocked by how much lighter the Switch is compared to just the weight of the Gamepad! When connected with the Joy-Con Controller, the Nintendo Switch holds and handles like a dream! I find that while even at home, I still utilize my Switch as a portable, both for the convenience of my family and for the easiest controls.
Game Line-Up? It’s Time to Talk!
Just what kind of games are available for the Nintendo Switch? Have large third-party developers lifted their vitriol for Nintendo? Why should I buy a Nintendo Switch? All good questions, ALL valid questions. I’m a Nintendo fan. I LOVE Nintendo but I am also a business-minded person too. As much as I loved the Nintendo Wii U, I am also the first to say the Wii U was doomed when all large third-party developers abandoned the system. Sure, Nintendo shot themselves in the foot with HORRIBLE marketing as well but for the gamers… Gamers want big name games on their system, PERIOD. Add a thousand indie titles and the masses will still cry for Mass Effect of Skyrim. Unfortunately, Nintendo console owners haven’t been very supportive of those titles historically speaking.
Back to the point, the most important launch in Nintendo’s history included the most anticipated game of the past 5 years, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This re-imagining of the tale of Link, Princess Zelda, and Calamity Ganon is also offered on the Nintendo Wii U. This title is both the herald of new for the Switch and the final nail in the coffin of the Wii U. Also offered at launch was Super Bomberman R, 1-2 Switch (Group Party), Just Dance 2017 (Dance) and digitally; I Am Setsuna (RPG), Fast RMX (FUTURISTIC RACER), Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove & Specter Torment (INDIE PLATFORMERS), and Snipperclips – Cut it Out Together! (1-2 Player Action-Puzzle Game). Since launch additional games have been added including (but not all-inclusive) The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+, the ACA Neo-Geo Collection of titles, and more. So far, quite a few re-releases or remixes but I have enough titles to keep me playing for a while.
I am impressed with Nintendo’s upcoming lineup but cautious. Thankfully, Nintendo is stocking up on awesome RPG’s! Where the Nintendo Wii U had virtually 0 RPG’s; one of my favorite genres appears to be making a grand comeback to the Switch! In addition to how you classify The Legend of Zelda, RPG fans also have the pleasure to currently PURCHASE AND SUPPORT I Am Setsuna from Squaresoft…ahem, Square-Enix. (My upcoming review of this title will further explain on this gem of a title.) Additional RPG games coming include the anticipated Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Fire Emblem Warriors, Dragon Quest Heroes II: Twin Kings and the Prophecy’s End, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and the intriguing title, Has Been Heroes, from the developers of the Trine series. Clearly Nintendo is putting its full support behind its sorely needing RPG fans!
Again, time will tell if large third-party developers will also throw their full support behind the Switch but so far, it appears to be a ‘wait and see’ approach. Capcom, EA Games, Ubisoft, & Bethesda Games have tentatively pledged titles yet only remakes (or rehashes) of games already established on other platforms elsewhere. It was a surprising but welcomed addition of Konami with Super Bomberman R and I hope to see more of Konami on the Switch including a new and original Castlevania title. Koei-Tecmo is still a strong supporter of Nintendo and will be releasing the anticipated Fire Emblem Warriors.
For the moment, Nintendo is back to the Stone Age here. The Nintendo Switch offers 0 apps or programs. I get that Nintendo wants the Switch to be thought of a game console only, but many gamers (including myself) LOVE the ability to play our games, then jump over to Netflix or Amazon Prime to watch a show with the family. In order for me to continue to do so, I have to stop using Nintendo and turn my Xbox One or PS4 back on to do so. From a marketing aspect, this is a complete failure. Nintendo is literally sending its gamers back to its competitors. Unless you are a crap hacker or modder, there isn’t an any internet function at this point either. Lately, Nintendo confirmed that apps are on their way but it’s too little, too late. Instead of being on-board with this age and ready, Nintendo ignored its consumer base and opted to tell us what (and when) to enjoy on their system rather than let us gamers explore and enjoy. For now, Nintendo is graciously offering its meager online features for free but later this Fall 2017, expect that to change. If Nintendo is choosing to charge us for online services, they better damn well have worthwhile services such as a stable online network, secured gaming rooms, and more. (Playing online with friends in Mass Effect 3 on the Nintendo Wii U was a travesty for example.)
The Inevitable Comparison
The Nintendo Switch is what the Nintendo Wii U wanted to be in my opinion. If the Nintendo Switch had debuted back in 2012 instead of the Wii U, Nintendo may not have spent the last 5 years fighting off everyone from everywhere. It’s their own pride (and arrogance) that doomed the Wii U. The Nintendo Switch has made vast improvements over its predecessor. In light of the upcoming release of the Nintendo Switch however; Sony & Microsoft both conveniently released beefed-up, slimmed-down versions of their popular systems. Make no mistake, these releases were directly aimed at minimalizing a Switch purchase. Geeks immediately recognized the hardware comparisons left the Switch behind its newest competitor models. Yet in all fairness, a PC gamer is always quick to point out how a PC rig is superior to any console. Here, is where I say…Shut up and play. Whatever game, whatever system…Just shut up and play. The Switch may not be as powerful at home but is 100x’s more powerful than an Xbox One or PS4 for a gamer on the go!
Durability Is A Must
The Nintendo Switch was immediately called out on by gamers when it was soon discovered the while docking the console, gamers were scratching their console screens. I don’t have that issue as I bought a screen protector immediately and installed before any play or moving around. I can understand how players would be upset while its surprising no one from Nintendo saw this issue coming.
On the other hand, I had the unfortunate situation in which my daughter bumped into my hand that was carrying the Switch. This resulted in me dropping the Switch directly onto a wooden floor, face down. I am relieved to report that there was no damage externally or internally. I will NOT be testing that out again. Suffice to say, it survived and I’m happy.
The Nintendo Switch deserves a chance. I’ve enjoyed countless hours with the titles I have purchased including BOTW, I Am Setsuna, Fast RMX, and Snipperclips. I have enjoyed hours of playing these titles ANYWHERE I want including in the bathroom! I will advise players who are considering a Switch purchase to fully consider the costs however. This is an expensive system when you beginning adding up the purchase of console, games, and accessories. I spent maybe around $500 or more just at launch. I also advise to wait for an upcoming sale that may help alleviate some of those costs or when there is more offered to justify the costs. My Nintendo Switch collection will grow and at some point, fully justify my purchase but others may feel to wait. That is fine too. Don’t pass up this system however. It’s a great system that has great potential while delivering enough for those gamers who were lucky enough to order one so far. Many places are still sold out!
It’s hard to call yourself a gamer if you only play one type of game or one kind of console. Nintendo has long been offered as a prime first choice system or a perfect companion system to a gamers primary system. You will find many games on a Nintendo console that you will never find anywhere else. I fully support the Nintendo Switch and feel that the Switch has a brighter future than the Wii U ever did. But it’s on us Switch owners to support the other developers better and it’s on Nintendo to really listen to its consumer base. Time will tell…Time will tell.