After Nintendo’s Switch presentation last week – which, can only be summed up as being very Nintendo – I was a little hesitant. The hardware looked neat, and the core idea of a system being both portable and static was cool. On the other hand, the launch line-up looked slim, and the price-point was a little hard to wrap my head around.
I was ready to be negative about the Switch when I stopped by Melbourne for a hands-on event. I couldn’t shake the feeling that this would be another Wii U – a system that was more novel than innovative.
I’m glad to say that I was wrong. Mostly.
While I still have some reservations about parts of the system (more on that later), the Switch is an impressive piece of kit. Because its modular nature is at the forefront – the ability to make it portable, or remove the Joy-Con controllers for two-player gaming – that stuff needs to be fast and easy, and it is. Joy-Cons slide into the sides of the tablet with a satisfying click, and docking the system seamlessly transfers the action between devices.
The build quality on individual pieces has improved. Gone are the plasticky, clacky controllers from Nintendo's previous offerings. Despite their reduced size, the Joy-Cons are also solid to hold, with a matte finish making them feel nice in the palm of your hand. The tablet – which houses a capacitive display – produces a sharp image, despite being locked at 720p. Unlike the Wii U tablet which displayed a video feed from the system, gameplay is rendered natively to the screen. That means no more nasty macroblocking.
“HD Rumble” is a jump in quality over what’s currently on the market, and the granular detail is noticable. It’s less-so in more kinectic titles, especially when you’re focused on multiplayer experience like ARMS. I’m interested to see how other developers create experiences for it, or to see if its incorporated into standard games in meaningful ways.
The system itself is pleasing to look at. It’s isn’t gaudy, nor does it draw too much attention. The design is understated, and could easily be confused for some other hardware peripheral instead of a gaming console. It also has a small footprint, meaning it shouldn’t take up too much space on your cabinet. None of the systems appeared to run too hot either, but I couldn’t identity fan exhaust-ports due to poor lighting at the venue. It’s likely that the system has few moving parts, so heat build-up might not be a huge issue.
There are some things I’m concerned about though.
But I am looking forward to the Switch – heck, I even pre-ordered one. Not just because I need it for my job, but because I’m curious. I’m curious about the system’s portability. I’m curious about its online functionality.
I’m curious about a Nintendo console – which is more than I could say about the launch of the Wii U.
Keith travelled to a press event in Melbourne, courtesy of Nintendo.
For Angus' thoughts on the Switch, head over here.
Keep it locked locked on NZGamer.com for previews of specific Switch titles.