Nintendo Switch Review: Hybrid Console
I tried, really I did. But the overwhelming urge to buy a Switch finally got the better of me! Here’s my Nintendo Switch Review, after a full week with the console. Despite some concerns I had before the launch, I’ve absolutely fallen in love. Let’s get started with the initial unboxing.
Nintendo Switch Review – Unboxing
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The box pictured above is how the Switch arrives. When you first open it up you’ll find the remarkable tablet and its tiny twin Joy-Con controllers on top. Underneath you’ll find the included dock and Joy-Con grip, two wrist straps, plus HDMI and power cables.
I started by attaching the Joy-Cons to the tablet itself, they slide on at either side with a supremely satisfying click. The whole unit is incredibly sturdy and feels great in your hands. The grey plastic does not pick up dirt or scratches easily and the whole thing looks and feels like a premium product.
The only exception is the dock, which while functional is literally a near weightless plastic shell. It doesn’t quite match the quality and feel of the main unit but does what it’s designed to do just fine. The dock can be permanently attached to a television, allowing you to easily move between handheld and mobile play.
Nintendo Switch Review – Initial Set Up and Use
From the moment I turned the console on, it’s been a joy to use. The software, while bare-bones as things stand, is fast and functional. Navigation is punctuated by pleasing whistles and clicking sounds. I certainly don’t miss the menu music from Nintendo’s previous consoles.
You’ll find the e-shop, news app, settings and other things on the main screen. Your installed games and whatever cartridge you happen to have in the unit at the time are listed on larger tiles above. It’s very easy to find your way around. I’m hoping Nintendo see fit to expand functionality as time goes on. A web browser and apps such as Netflix would be welcome additions.
The display on the tablet is a six inch, 720p IPS panel. It looks gorgeous too! Colours are rich, there are no issues with viewing angles and the brightness goes high enough to suit a variety of surroundings. The screen does have a shiny finish, which might make things a little more difficult in direct sunlight.
I have large hands but I’ve found adapting to the small layout of the Joy-Cons to be easy. There are a pleasing rigidity and weight to the unit in portable mode. The grip allows you to join the two Joy-Cons together and use them as a more conventional controller when docked. It’s also worth mentioning that each Joy-Con can function as a controller in its own right for multiplayer. That represents great value and makes local split screen easy both at home and on the go!
The tablet also has a small flip-out stand on the rear so that you can stand it on a tabletop and play if you wish. I have to say though, the stand does not feel very sturdy and is probably the most disappointing part of the whole package. It does its job but could have been a little more rigid.
Nintendo Switch Review – Battery Life and Docking
Nintendo has stated the battery should last anywhere between 2.5 and 6 hours depending on usage. In practice, I’ve found their estimates to be dead on depending on the game. In portable mode, I managed to get just under three hours out of the console playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild before the battery warning started flashing. Fast RMX, a futuristic racing game from the e-shop, got me closer to four hours.
There is a sleep mode to conserve battery. Your game can be suspended at any point and be ready to start up again in seconds this way. The sleep function is also very power conscious. I charged the battery to full capacity and then left the console in sleep mode overnight with Zelda suspended in the background. The following morning the battery level had only dropped to 98%.
Nintendo’s marketing materials certainly don’t overstate the ease of docking the unit either. When you slide the Switch into its holster the video moves to your TV screen after a short pause. There is no delay in getting back to playing, you just pick up immediately where you left off.
When docked the Switch is able to draw more power and can display games at a higher resolution, outputting at 1080p. The Joy-Cons then function independently and you can use one in each hand if you wish. They each have a battery life of up to 30 hours, which I’ve found to be pretty much spot on.
Games and Software Available at Launch
I feel making a note of what there is out there to play right now is an important part of any Nintendo Switch review. The answer to that question, for me at least, is more than enough. I’ll be reviewing Zelda separately later this week, but I feel this one game will be enough to keep most people busy for a long, long time.
I’ve also picked up Fast RMX, which is a brilliant little futuristic racer with tonnes of content. It’s also a brilliant showcase for the HD rumble feature of the Joy-Cons. This is an advanced force feedback system that takes the rumble we’re so used to in modern controllers to a whole new level.
Another worthy title from the e-shop is “I Am Setsuna”, a JRPG published by Square Enix, which has the look and feel of many classics from the genre. I’ve really enjoyed it so far. There’s a very Final Fantasy feel to its active time battle system and storyline.
In addition to these titles that I’ve tried so far, there’s a slew of indie games available on the e-shop. Plus a massive list of other indies and third-party titles due to land over the coming months. Nintendo also has its own releases slated for this year, such as Mario Kart 8 next month and Splatoon 2 in the summer.
The range of software available today is limited, but I’d expect that from most console launches. The games that are playable are certainly of high quality and many have a lot of content to keep you happy. There’s a list of current and future releases on Eurogamer. Plenty on the horizon to keep me busy at least!
Nintendo Switch Review – Should you Buy One?
I would say yes without hesitation. If you find the idea of console quality games anywhere at home or on the move exciting, you’ll love the Switch. The ability to sit back and enjoy Zelda on the sofa while my wife or son are using the TV has been wonderful. It’s actually resulted in me finding more time to game!
I can take the Switch anywhere and suspend my game instantly, another big plus. That means I can fit the joy of gaming into a lifestyle that’s become very busy. I can do it at my own pace, virtually anywhere and that’s a powerful selling point if ever I saw one!
The more I think about it and spend time with it, the more I realise what Nintendo has created. This isn’t just another console, it’s an evolution. One that I’ve fallen for wholeheartedly.