The Switch may just be a new console to some, but to Nintendo it represents a fresh start. Shedding off the Wii branding that they’ve been using for over a decade, their home/handheld hybrid incorporates lessons learnt from both the 3DS and Wii U.
After spending several weeks with the Switch, here are our thoughts.
For our review, we received the following from Nintendo Australia:
Setting the Switch up is easy – simply attach the Joy-Con to the unit itself, plug in the power, and go. I did run in to some issues setting up my connection to the internet however. My wireless access point is about 5 meters away from the living room, at the end of a hallway. Getting the Switch to recognise it was a bit of a hassle, and connectivity was intermittent – a problem I don’t have with any other device in the same room.
Once you’ve walked through the system and wireless setup, you can connect the dock to your TV via HDMI. The first time that you slot the Switch into the dock, and it seamlessly moves your experience to the big-screen, is exciting. More than that though, it’s wholly unique from any other console on the market.
The Switch’s user interface is slick and easy to navigate. Taking cues from the PlayStation 4’s XMB, games and apps appear gridded in one row, with system-level features presented in their own static row underneath. Getting to the options you need is snappy, and some additional flair is added with cutesy sound effects. Also, I highly recommend you swap to the “Basic Black” colour scheme, as the white one can be a bit aggressive on the eyes.
The Joy-Con that you’ll be using to navigate menus and games are sturdy, with their build quality being leagues above that of the toy-like Wii U gamepad. Face buttons have a satisfying clackiness to them. Moreover, they don’t depress into their divots, so they can take a bit of a beating.
There are some issues with the Joy-Con however. When the system is docked and Joy-Con placed inside the grip, I found the left one lost connectivity periodically. This was despite having direct line-of-sight to the Switch, sitting about eight feet away. While Nintendo has detailed possible causes of interference – including other wireless signals, and aquariums – the reason was a lot more troubling. Occasionally I would cross my legs, and hold the controller in my lap, meaning my shin bone was enough to block the signal. Having to change my sitting patterns just to play a system sucks.
But if like me you’re using your Switch primarily in portable mode, this is a non-issue issue. The capacitive touch-screen isn’t as high resolution as something like an iPhone 6S, but the display is bright and sharp. On especially bright days it can be hard to see images on the screen, even after cranking up the brightness manually. In most cases though you’ll be wanting to keep that brightness down to preserve battery-life.
While the Switch may be the most powerful handheld on the market, the strength of that hardware does mean compromises had to be made. The battery life will range anywhere from two and a half hours, to six and a half. Graphically demanding titles like Zelda: Breath of the Wild lasted for about three, while something like Snipperclips saw me through longer periods of play. If you thought the Switch was going to be your replacement for the 3DS, you’ll have to temper your expectations; this isn’t a system you’ll have exclusively in your bag for weeks at a time.
There are some minor issues on the periphery too:
But despite these problems, I’m still enamoured by the Switch. It’s magical when you first move the system between the dock and hand-held mode, and the ease of that transition means it hasn’t yet lost its appeal. The Switch is the clearest vision Nintendo have had for a console in a decade, but they need to keep the momentum up to secure its place in the market. That means ensuring a steady flow of releases – from indies, and third parties.
Keith received a Switch from Nintendo Australia for review.