03/03/2017 marked a release of a new console, and not just any console but one you can use on your HD TV and then undock and take on the go should you choose.
It’s barely been 3 full days since release but already there has been a good amount of positive and negative reactions across the internet.
I’ve spent a massive amount of time over this 3 day period with the device and I’ll break it down like so.
How does it feel in Hand Held mode?
It’s surprisingly really comfortable and despite its seemingly large presence in your hands, after prolonged use I did not experience any cramp, pins and needles or other discomforts like I get while playing my 3DS XL. With my experience I would say that this is truly a hand held device first and foremost and secondly a home console. I know Nintendo have said the opposite and that this is primarily a home console that can be used as a hand held, but I believe this is more of a marketing ploy to allow 3DS sales to continue. After playing games on the Switch I can truly say that over time this will render the 3DS obsolete, maybe not so soon but definitely in the foreseeable future.
Games in hand held mode still feel as good as on the TV, albeit taking a little time to adjust to the smaller display. Playing a true home console experience like Zelda BotW on the TV feels familiar and amazing, but undocking the device and carrying on playing in hand held mode feels a little weird at first but then you realise how clever this little device is. It’s early days yet but just based on playing Zelda BotW which is in no doubt a true triple A console title, the Switch has lived up to its promise of console gaming on the go.
Now granted I haven’t been on any long flights or trips with the device, I haven’t had any problems with battery life and I’m not really the type of person who will be in a position where battery life will be a problem. I love hand held gaming but for me it’s more of a convenience thing I do at home and only occasionally on the go. I’ve owned every hand held console from Sega, Sony and Nintendo and cannot think of any occasion where I ran out of battery. This is me though and I know this will vary between others in being an issue or not.
Joycon’s and Pro Controller
Honestly, the Joycon controllers are all joy and no cons. I haven’t had a single sync issue yet like you would have seen from other players, but then again I don’t play with my hands behind my back or sit 10 meters away from my TV. Yes they are little but again I haven’t had any discomfort. Even while playing Snipperclips with one individual Joycon it feels normal despite looking at your hands and seeing how damn small the thing actually is. I was even surprised when the individual Joycon’s are inserted in the Joycon Grip, again it feels surprisingly comfortable using this alternative as a standard for playing on the TV. I played Zelda BotW for a long period using it and decided that I probably didn’t need to buy the Pro Controller after all because it felt really good and after a while very natural.
The HD rumble effect is definitely the new big thing tech-wise for a video game controller. It’s something you have to experience to appreciate but despite its gimmicky notion it truly does give an extra dimension to how a player can feel being a part of the game and I’m sure if utilized properly, games in the future will use it to great effect.
One minor complaint about the Joycon is the lack of a D-pad, but when they’re split you can’t really fault Nintendo because you can see and understand why it is the way it is. I don’t really need to discuss more because those who have played will know why the D-pad is excluded from the Joycons. I mean it is feasible that the left Joycon could have had a D-pad, it’s just that it’s not that practical using it as a standalone controller like it already is if the 4 buttons were replaced by a D-pad. When you hold one it makes perfect sense.
The Pro Controller is a Pro Controller. It feels amazing, solidly built and delivers on all fronts. Not much to say about it really but that it feels in association with an Xbox One controller. The D-pad on it feels perfect and it also has HD rumble. Biggest let down is the digital triggers, but if you’re not much of a racing game fan then this shouldn’t be a big issue. You don’t need one but I do still recommend getting one just to have it there.
UI and Switch Screen
The UI is simple and sweet. It’s Nintendo’s best UI since the GameCube and it feels polished and easy to navigate with the help of button inputs or simply using the touch screen. The Wii and WiiU UI’s were horrible and it’s great to see Nintendo up their game in this respect and in this fast growing technological age when user interface is important. Many will compare it to PS4’s UI and that’s a fair judgement, but is that really a bad thing? Anyway, I don’t really have any problems with it and thought it married into the hardware design nicely. Maybe in future updates Nintendo will give some awesome customisable options to tinker with but as of now I’m liking its simplicity.
I was smart enough to put an official screen protector on my screen straight away. It’s a wonderful screen and looks crisp even if only in 720P, but it’s something you really don’t want to scratch. Capacitive touch screens have come a long way and Nintendo Switch’s feels as good as some of the best on the market. I loved the WiiU and its gamepad but there is no denying the gamepad was a cheaply built piece of tech that felt like a child’s first tablet that was manufactured in a budget Chinese warehouse, which it probably was. However, in comparison the Switch screen feels weighty, expensive and ultimately like a device designed for adults that was put together in an industry leading high tech electronics factory. The overall feel, look and matte finish compliments the device as something all tech savvy gamers will appreciate.
Obviously some games will always play and look good in hand held mode like Super BombermanR, FAST R.M.X and I Am Setsuna, but it’s when you’re playing traditional console entries like Zelda BotW that the screen really is as good as it needed to be for this device. With the initial launch library there is not a massive amount of console standard games to test the Switch with, but Zelda BotW looks so crisp and clean on the little 720P screen that believe me when I say it’s enough. Sure Nintendo probably could have increased the costs of the console by adding a higher resolution display, but after playing it enough I feel they found the right balance between visual quality and costs for the consumer. It’s hard to find fault with a hand held console when a game like Zelda BotW looks better in hand held mode than on your HD TV.
The Switch has no Games…..
Wrong! The Switch does have games, just not a wide variety like other console launches of the past. I criticized this too on my YouTube channel and in various comment sections on various websites, but now that I actually have the console and 5 games, I’m really only playing one, and that’s Zelda BotW. Looking back at all my other day one console purchases I’ve realised that all you need at the launch of a console is just one solid game. Too many times at the launch of a new console we go into FOMO mode (fear of missing out) or we impulse buy games that under normal circ*mstances we would never touch let alone shell out full price for.
I thought back to when I bought my PS3 and got Resistance Fall of Man and MotorStorm. In the build up to release I always thought Resistance looked average at best and come release day and $100 later it turns out I was right (my opinion). However, MotorStorm was a game I loved and it was a game that made me not regret buying the PS3 at launch similarly to the Switch console with Zelda BotW, PS2 with SSX Tricky, Gamecube with Luigi’s Mansion, Wii with Zelda Twilight Princess, Wii U with Zombi U (yes I love Zombi U) and Xbox One with Battlefield 4. That’s not to say I didn’t buy other games with these mentioned consoles day one, but there is normally only one to two games at launch that are worth buying no matter how stacked it’s game launch line up is.
For some the Switch will not have any appeal with what’s on offer day one game wise and that’s understandable, but for the one’s complaining about the share amount of games, how many games does one player actually need day one anyway? I have 5 day one games: Zelda BotW, FAST R.M.X, 1-2 Switch, Snipperclips and BomermanR, and there is no way I will have sufficient time to sink into all of them between now and Nintendo’s next big game release Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and also finish games I’m playing through on my Xbox One and PS4. Amassing a huge amount of day one games is ridiculous in this gaming age when most people like myself have multiple game consoles, a gaming PC and if you’re in your mid-thirties like me, you’ll most likely have a massive back catalogue of games to either complete or even start.
After a bit of research using my skills obtained through my screen and media degree which I seldom use, I’ve discovered that most people only need between one or two games that satisfy their video game preferences to make a day one console purchase feel worth it. I’ve also discovered that it can be as little as one game if the game is a multiplayer game and you have friends who are influenced into buying it too. I feel like 5 day one games is overkill on my part, but with Zelda BotW being all about me as a single player game and then all the others having a multiplayer component and being fast and accessible via simple pick up and play, I feel I kind of got the balance just right. I’m personally satisfied by the launch line-up now but know that it will not appeal to everyone.
How does the Switch stack up against Xbox One and PlayStation 4?
In all honesty it’s like trying to compare apples with oranges. The things it does have in common are simple. It plays games and it’s trying to win over consumers dollars like any other product does. At gaming’s basic level any product that is used to play games is competing for consumers and their hard earned money, meaning every gaming device no matter how small, big, powerful or underpowered are all in competition with each other whether directly or indirectly marketed as such. The only difference in this type of competition is whether it’s happening in a red ocean (Xbox One versus PlayStation 4) or a blue ocean (Nintendo Switch).
The Xbox One and PS4 are very similar to each other tech-wise and power-wise, therefore they directly compete with each other like for example two heavyweight boxers of similar size and skill.
The Nintendo Switch is in a different weight class altogether but not as a boxer. As a boxer the Nintendo Switch would struggle to fight something above its weight, but as an MMA fighter it has different rules for engaging and can do things the boxer can’t. In this respect if it were a true fight it would be hard to say who would win if both fighters were bound by their own respectable rules of engagement.
What I’m saying is it’s easy to compare the Switch to an Xbox One or PS4 and say that on a power level it’s just not good enough, but when you compare it the other way, neither the PS4 nor Xbox One are even close to being as flexible as the Nintendo Switch in its mobility. It’s a different beast altogether.
This still doesn’t mean they’re not competing. Many think the PlayStation Vita lost a battle with the 3DS and I’ll agree that there’s some truth in there. I’ll argue though that the Vita actually lost to the PS3 and PS4. It may have been marketed as a product that directly competes with the 3DS but at the end of the day PlayStation fans would rather have played the big boy experiences over what was offered on their hand held device and that is what the majority ultimately chose. The 3DS is a niche device with games specifically built for it that cannot be played on a home console. The Vita tried to be a hand held console that was marketed as being able to play home console games at the same time Sony had a home console with better games and an incoming new console that could play even better games than the other better games on their current console. See my point?
Nintendo Switch though has no direct competition. It is indirectly competing with PS4 and Xbox One but it doesn’t have to balance what gets released on it due to it being both the portable and home console in one, whence a blue ocean. Nintendo say that the 3DS is still a priority but as I’ve mentioned above, the Switch is definitely a good hand held and soon will render the 3DS obsolete. It’s just a matter of time until the Switch wins the battle against the 3DS (Pokémon Switch…)
At the end of the day there will always be fanboys and they will praise a console they own and love and tear down a rival console they don’t own and never will. Compared to the Xbox One and PS4 the Switch has its differences and to me as someone who owns all 3, that’s a good thing.
Anything about the Switch I don’t like?
Nothing to make me wish I never bought it but I was hoping they would at least have some kind of achievement / trophy system but not in the way you think. I have a love hate relationship with in game rewards like these and I know Nintendo have never seen the point in them which was why I was hoping for their own interpretation of them for their new system.
As a whole I actually think achievements have become a bad thing for gaming. Many play the game for the achievements and not for the actual game. When you think about it it’s actually quite sad that these days we can play a game with an amazing story, reach a pivotal story point in that game, and then spend 2 hours shooting the leaves of every tree in the level to unlock a 10G achievement or bronze trophy because it’s missable and there’s no chapter select. I really wanted Nintendo to implement a system that would give you a gold star or something where all you had to do to earn it was simply finish the game. That way people would feel inclined to finish and experience more games and get a reward that shows on their account showing they’ve completed them. It’s simple and not pathetic like some in game tasks have been to obtain certain achievements and trophies on Xbox and PlayStation.
I played online with Super BombermanR and had a blast, but I’m unsure as to how the online functions are going to work like matchmaking, voice chat and finding friends. I’m not saying Switch’s online is bad or anything it’s just there’s not really anything to test the Switch’s online capabilities with yet and it’s more uncertainty then simply suggesting now that the Switch is bad for online play. Truth be told I have always had a PlayStation and Xbox for online games so getting down and being angry about Nintendo’s poor online ventures have never been an issue for me because I’ve never really used it or needed to. This is one thing I’ll reserve judgement for until they have rolled out all their services.
Third party support? It’s Nintendo’s duty first and foremost to have games ready for the console and a line-up that continues to bolster its library, but third party support is so important and besides some of the awesome indie titles coming there is still not enough chatter from the big third party publishers. Despite that I still think the year ahead has a lot of amazing titles and by Christmas I am picking it will probably go down as one of the best first year game libraries for a newly released console.
It’s really too early to find faults in something that you’re finding so much enjoyment in, and it’s because of the fun I’m having that I really haven’t been let down by anything yet. Of course there is negatives with the console and time will shine on these blemishes, but I think because I consider myself a core gamer with multiple gaming devices I tend to let the negatives slide because I still have the other consoles too. I don’t have to defend my purchase to anyone and I’m not precious about judgement on the console itself when all I care about is the games I get to play.
As I mentioned in my previous blog I think this is the right direction for Nintendo. Now that I have one and I’ve played it extensively I am even surer of that. It’s a fantastic device that delivers on its message as being a hand held and a home console and even with its small launch list of games I have absolutely no regrets. I’m not going to lie but I found Zelda BotW a little boring in its first hour, but once I got my head around everything and what lay ahead I felt feelings of excitement that very few games can conjure from me as a 34 year old man who’s played too many games to count. As I said, even if I just got the console and Zelda I would have still been happy.
I’m excited for what lies ahead and have high hopes for it if Nintendo can continue momentum. They are staggering their game launches this year and I actually think that’s good leading into Christmas season when Super Mario releases. By then it’s most definitely going to be worth every penny and I hope many take the plunge and find the pure enjoyment of playing games for the fun that they are.
Just like McDonalds I’m loving it. Best Nintendo console since the GameCube and I’ve only had it for 3 days.
We’re in an amazing time for gaming.
Have you got one too? Do you feel the same or have other views?
Let me know what you think
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