Post updated April 22nd, 2017 at 12:23 pm
The Nintendo Switch has been available for over a month by now, and we’ve spent a good amount of time with it thanks to the folks over at Shopee who provided us with a review unit. There was, of course, an important question to answer: is the Switch worthy of a place in your daily life?
Nintendo’s Switch is designed to be both a home console, and a portable device. The idea is to take your games with you, no matter where you go. It certainly sounds ambitious, but a pleasant surprise is that this actually works. The console does precisely what it says on the box – switching seamlessly between living room console and mobile gaming.
The main console itself is a solid chunk of plastic, and really feels like it was meant to handle the abuse from being lugged around. The construction inspires confidence that this is something that will be fine from being tossed in a backpack between train rides. If only it came in more colours than just flat gray. Still, at least there are Joy-Cons that inject some amount of playfulness into the design.
If there was something to criticise it would be the god-forsaken kickstand. This is easily the laziest attempt at a stand we’ve come across, and for some reason feels like it was installed as an afterthought.
In fact, it would be better if this was a last minute addition. Thinking otherwise would imply that there was a team of highly trained engineers who thought this flimsy piece of plastic was a good idea.
On the other hand, the Joy-Con controllers are far more ergonomic and comfortable than they look. I personally believe that it is more fun to ignore the controller dock and just use the Joy-Cons separately.
That in mind, I have a minor complaint about the thumbsticks on the Joy-Cons. They just don’t have enough range of movement to be satisfying, and lack that clicky feeling that makes other controllers pleasant to use. Interestingly, this comes from the same company that makes the awesome thumbstick on the 3DS.
As far as the console dock goes, there’s nothing much to talk about here. It’s literally a chunk of plastic with a power cable and HDMI port. Its only true purpose is to connect the Switch to a TV, since the console can be easily charged through any USB Type-C connector. The dock works, and there’s all there is to it.
Before anyone asks; yes, I tried to charge a phone in the Switch Dock. No, it doesn’t work because phones aren’t heavy enough to depress the spring loaded ledge protecting the charging port.
The Nintendo Switch is a really fun device. But, like all consoles, its true value lies the games available to it. In this respect, the Nintendo Switch is a terrible machine. I’m not saying that the games are bad. Zelda: Breath of the Wilds is a perfectly good game and brings many new things to the franchise.
No, the issue here is that there is so little to choose from. Nintendo announced over 30 games at the launch of the Switch, and almost all of which are “coming later this year”. Day one for the Switch saw only two titles available; and nobody really wanted to pay money for 1, 2, Switch (though it is admittedly a whole load of fun when played in a group).
This is perhaps Nintendo’s greatest failure with the Switch. There’s almost nothing to play on it. To make matters worse, there’s a lack of information on when the big, exclusive triple-A titles are being released – making one think twice about potentially purchasing it.
Despite this dearth of games, it would be safe to say that Nintendo has a winner on its hands. Nothing else that currently exists is capable of bridging the gap between living room and handheld console in this manner. The ability to seamlessly transition between the two modes is great for families that share a single TV; since gaming doesn’t have to stop when your grandmother insists on watching her shows.
One thing to note is that the graphics will not be as good at other consoles. Loyal Nintendo fans will be fine with this, but those picking up the Switch and expected current generation graphics have another thing coming. At 720p, the resolution falls firmly in the “just fine” category.
It’s not going to be winning any prizes for being photorealistic, but the art style from Breath of the Wild is some of the best I have ever seen. Maybe because it doesn’t mute the colours into oblivion like every other triple A title made in the past three years.
One last thing to note: the Nintendo Switch makes a brilliant toilet break companion, because your game can follow you while you take that bio-break. If only Nintendo made it water resistant so that we can game in the shower as well.
The battery life of the Nintendo Switch is a bit difficult to pin down. Power draw largely rests on the type of game being played; and I simply didn’t have all that many games to mess around with. As far as it goes, Zelda: Breath of the Wilds will last for a bit over two hours of continuous play – which is just about enough to travel between Shah Alam and KL Sentral by KTM (including waiting time) and back.
Ideally, this means that Nintendo was spot on with its expectations. A situation that isn’t too surprising as this is essentially what handheld gaming is supposed to look like. That said, longer trips will require the addition of a high capacity power bank. Something that Nintendo 3DS owners will be familiar with.
It was perhaps a stroke of genius for Nintendo to skip using a proprietary charging cable and use a standard USB Type-C port. This doesn’t just mean that it’s easier to shop for replacement cables, it also means that charging the Switch on the go is unfathomably easy.
The Switch is a great piece of hardware hampered by several small design flaws. This, perhaps, keeps it from achieving true greatness. On the other hand, they don’t harm the overall experience as much as one would expect. After all, nobody really expects Nintendo to have hardware that competes with PlayStation and Xbox.
That’s not how the company operates. Demanding otherwise misses the point of what Nintendo is all about. The company set out to deliver a console that seamlessly goes from the couch to the train, and it has done just that.
However, we find it a little difficult to fully recommend purchasing the Nintendo Switch now. Breath of the Wild is a fantastic game, but there isn’t anything else to follow it up. It is possible to try to sink several hundred hours unlocking and discovering everything, but that’s pretty much just buying time until the next proper game to arrive.
On the other hand, 1, 2, Switch is really fun to play with a huge collection of mini-games, but it loses its lustre after several hours and is only best played in small groups.
Back to our earlier question: is the Switch worthy of a place in your life? It’s safe to say that the the answer is rather complicated. Kind of like having a place that delivers excellent burgers; but only makes that one burger.
Special thanks to our buddies at Shopee who hooked us up with the Nintendo Switch for this review! Check out the Switch here. Shopee is also having a Lowest Price Guaranteed sale for mobiles phones where you can get 120% difference back. Find out more here.