G&G 054 – The Nintendo Switch has been released and is so far a hit! We gather our good friends “faceoffoley” and newcomer “Han Solo” (Nintendo allowed that ID) to discuss all things Switch! We tell the purchasing stories, the games we got, what’s good and what’s bad. This is a MUST listen Nintendo-filled funfest!
Okay folks! I felt the need to expand on my thoughts a bit more from the Roundtable and finalize my review of Nintendo’s latest console release, the Nintendo Switch. While the release of this console did feel a bit rushed, I am happy to report that at least currently (2 or so weeks in..) the system holds up. Yeah, I know we are all playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but there is this feeling that the hopes for Nintendo worldwide are pinned on the success and feel of this lovely co-mingling of mobile and console gaming. For the cost alone, and for the chance to play Zelda wherever and whenever you want, I think Nintendo really pulled it off.
So let me confess. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the first video game I ever beat. So I have some childhood memories of playing this game, and quite honestly, nothing was going to stop me from playing this latest installment. I had seen the initial trailers for this latest Zelda game, and I stored in my brain the thought of, “whatever Nintendo puts that game out on, I am getting it”. I have been out of the Nintendo game for some time, which I think as an older gamer, who also doesn’t have kids, the more recent crop of consoles in their past cycles (Wii, Wii U) didn’t really attract me when PS4 has Grand Theft Auto. The last console I had was a Gamecube, which I barely felt had any impact on me as a gamer. I remembered recently that the only games I had owned for this system were Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, and WrestlemaniaX8. Both of these games had their merit, but I realize now I missed out on such greats as Metroid and Super Smash Brothers.
these games were alright
So when the Nintendo Switch was announced a few months back, and seeing the first launch trailer where players went from home to parties, to traveling and back home again, I was hooked.
Later, an all-around-agreed, not-so-good-conference occurred. However, in that same conference, there was a particular moment that gave me confidence in this latest console.
This small part gave me hope that one, at some point (although not currently) we’ll have access to all of our virtual console purchases from past systems. And at the very least, Nintendo may finally be thinking about how to maximize the spread of their first party software to a new generation of gamers. Hopefully those gamers who have already purchased their games on past systems will be able to enjoy their purchases too (Seriously Nintendo, WORK ON THIS!).
The rest of this conference wasn’t all that good, lots of developers stating they “are” or “were” making games for the Nintendo Switch, but sorry, no, we do not have a release date at this time. This was off-putting, I’ll be honest, as I was very vocal about it that night:
And shortly there after…
Okay okay, enough banter, let’s get to the real review.
Truth be told, when the Joy-cons were first shown, I was a afraid that my giant hands wouldn’t be able to fit the small buttons and joysticks. After hours of playing in both handheld mode and with the included Joy-con grip, I can report back that even those with long-ish fingers can play this system comfortably. Here are some comparison photos:
The screen itself is pretty good, I felt that so long as I was within about a 2-3 foot distance I could comfortably play Zelda with the 720p screen.
But for now, let’s get to the bad design parts that kind of left me scratching my head, and most likely will do the same to you when you encounter them yourself. First off, that flimsy odd little kickstand and the badly placed USB-C charging port:
As you can see from the above videos, the placement of the kickstand makes it likely that if you’ll touch too hard on the left side of the console and in so doing, will risk tipping the console onto its back. I now tend to lay the console on its back with something propping it up slightly to get a good angle at the screen and to charge it when I’m not using the dock. It’s even odder still that the console can only really be played with the Joy-cons attached to the side of the system when you are using the provided charging cable.
Finally, the last and most crucial part of the Nintendo Switch is the docking station and the important hand off feature we have seen in all the trailers. Well, this function basically makes the whole system for me. It is truly another wonderful excuse for me to continue playing a game, even if for some odd reason I know I have already had my fill. Nintendo Switch just keeps drawing me in to play more. This delightful hand off takes merely a few seconds:
Well in this case, I haven’t spent really any time playing anything other than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and rightly so, this game is a juggernaut and is one of the most beautiful pieces of art I have seen in some time. While I will save my larger review of Zelda for a post later this month, I have to say, all in all, this one game feels to me to have enough content to carry me till my next purchase, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
I have also spent some time playing 1 2 Switch, which, in the above podcast faceoffoley makes the astute point that this title feels like something that should have been included for free. Hell, we got Wii Sports bundled with our Wii’s, why not this game?
1 2 Switch is a showpiece of what the Joy-cons are capable of doing. Your switch has a lot of capabilities but, I couldn’t see myself playing this for more than a few weeks before I end up selling it back. I like some of the games that I would say require more skill, i.e. Sneaky Dice and Joy-Con Rotate, but most of the games are quick and rather easy to win at. Below is the creepy Baby mini-game Manley Pointer demo’ed for us:
Finally, the Nintendo eShop and the interface is on our list. Boy, how can I say this politely? Well, the Nintendo eShop and the interface are a bit sparse to say the least. Granted, in the past few weeks, the store has filled out with more items, but I really expected something a little more fleshed out, also something ripe with age-old Nintendo content. What I got, well, is what you see below:
wish there was more to see here
The interface leaves much to be desired as there is even a lack of system music like the PS4 or Xbox One. Somehow, even though I generally hate system music, this is a bit disheartening when it comes to it being a Nintendo console. It’s like it’s lacking the lightheartedness and playfulness of past consoles. That being said, what you see is what you get. There are few if any items you’ll really spend a lot of time configuring in the settings. There is an image section on the front page that will show the captured images taken, however this is the only sharing functionality. This also lags behind other competitors as sharing videos has become a regular component to modern gaming. The Nintendo eShop and interface are in short, really really simple.
The Nintendo Switch did one thing for me: it got me to care about a Nintendo system again. Ultimately, time will tell if it will live up to all of our dreams, or if it will go the way of its predecessors, the Wii and Wii U. It’s hard, when you think of how short the Wii U’s lifespan was, to feel as a customer that you’ll be supported for the long haul. What I see in this console is potential. Potential for the system to redefine how we play games, how we can quickly share those games with each other, and how fun it is just to have this console with you each day.
I want the Switch to succeed, not for my sake, but for those kids who were just like me when they got their first Nintendo console. That feeling of being the hero that most Nintendo games carry, is not lost in me as an adult, and I don’t think any gamer worth their weight would be willing to let games like Zelda die out to never be seen again.
The Nintendo Switch is somewhat a work in process, I think in the coming months I will have a better feel for how it will impact my day-to-day gaming, but for right now, the Switch is doing something different from its competitors, and I think that is the sort of uncharted territory that Nintendo is most comfortable with.