After years of experimentation, Nintendo has finally hit onto something with their latest console.
The Nintendo Switch had an uphill climb from the word go. Nintendo hasn’t done itself any favors in recent years in combatting their biggest criticisms, and as the Wii U had shown, gamers weren’t entirely on board with their experimental approach to console design anymore. Sure, the Wii sold just under the PS2 world-wide in terms of sales, but Nintendo hasn’t had a hit since. Well, unless you count the 3DS.
See, despite their shaky stance in the home console market since the start of the 2010s, they dominated the dedicated handheld market with an iron fist. Even the “low” selling 3DS managed 60 million units its six years on market. I’m sure one of the higher ups noticed this trend. “Take what we’re good at, apply it to what we’re not,” seems to have been the design mantra behind Nintendo’s latest piece of tech.
(The Switch with the Joy-Con Controller, assembled in the included Joy-Con Grip. Yeah, it’s tiny.)
Enter the Switch, a handheld/console hybrid that somehow manages to take everything Nintendo was ever successful at (motion controls, multiple controller configurations, portability) and mash it into one Frankenstein of a machine. And I mean that in the best possible way it could be taken. What the Switch is supposed to do it does FLAWLESSLY. Switching control schemes or going from docked console to portable mode is as easy as the cool little ads targeted at millennials makes it look.
(The tablet pictured is the console itself- the dock merely outputs it to a TV at 1080p.)
The Joy-Con controllers are certainly well designed (if a bit small), and miles ahead of what the Wii Remotes or PS Move controllers are capable of producing. Yes, they are motion controllers, but if you’re more of a traditionalist the bonus Joy-Con grip that’s included or the separate Pro Controller offer perfectly fine alternatives to the motion mayhem. I didn’t have the opportunity to test the controllers in a two-player game, unfortunately, so I can’t speak for one of its biggest selling points. Though the idea of having a competitive showdown somewhere out and about while the console is in tabletop mode is certainly a cool idea, I doubt this will happen to me very often. Your mileage may vary, particularly when Mario Kart 8 Deluxe drops.
(The Joy-Con controller.)
The actual hardware of this device is certainly nothing to scoff at, but be warned: This does not buck Nintendo’s habit of using well-worn tech for their devices. Your standard PS4 or Xbox One will still run laps around this thing, but we’re at a point now in gaming tech where the lines are becoming increasingly blurred. The difference between gaming generations has shrunk, and beyond the nitty gritties of framerates and HDR, you’re not going to see a substantial difference.
Let’s not forget something important though- despite how Nintendo is marketing this thing it is more of a portable gaming tablet with the ability to be docked on a TV than the other way around. And when you consider that- it’s something to behold for sure.
(The console in portable mode, with the Joy-Con attached.)
I had recently mentioned in a belated New Nintendo 3DS review I had done that it was Nintendo’s most confident product to date. Scratch that, because I truly believe the Switch can take that crown and run with it. In every way, it oozes the “it” factor that the Wii U lacked. It does exactly what it sets out to do (and does that incredibly well) and the big N can’t be faulted for that. Time will tell if this machine really saves Nintendo from gaming oblivion, but if the early sales numbers are to be taken as any type of indicator, they may just finally have another well-deserved hit on their hands.
If you don’t mind the lack of power in comparison to the other gaming giants, then the Switch has a whole lot to offer. It is essentially the Nintendo Fanboy’s dream machine- a hefty throwback to the confidence and “cool” factor Nintendo still had back in the 90s. Not since the N64 have I savored over a new Nintendo machine quite like this. Welcome back guys- after a couple of misses you finally nailed it.
- The 720p 6.2-inch screen is vibrant enough and games such as Breath of the Wild look gorgeous on it.
- The Joy-Cons are surprisingly comfortable for their small size, and the included grip accessory makes it dead simple to enjoy traditional controls- if you don’t want to shell out $70 for the pro controller, that is.
- Accessories are borderline offensive in their pricing. Go ahead, look them up.
- The battery life isn’t fantastic- six hours’ tops, less if it’s a bigger game. I’m lucky to net 3 on BOTW.
- Though not a problem for me, there have been reported connectivity issues with the left Joy-Con controller.