Even though it’s only been about four months since the Switch was properly unveiled, the console’s release was a long time coming for me. It was right around two years ago that Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president at the time, announced plans for mobile games developed by Nintendo. To ensure their audience that Nintendo wasn’t abandoning the dedicated video game hardware market, he also announced a new console, at the time code named the NX. This resulted in an obsession to figure out what this thing was that held my attention all the way until today.
Every day I would check the Nintendo NX subreddit for the latest rumors and leaks. Most of those would end up being completely false, and I kind of knew that all along. After all, they often contradicted each other. But that didn’t matter. I just wanted to know what people were saying about it at all times. Eventually, Eurogamer leaked out what I felt was the most likely possibility, a handheld console that could be docked to a TV. That leak would turn out to be real.
Fast forward to today, March 3rd, and I finally have one of my own. Can the Nintendo Switch possibly live up to all the hype that I’ve built up after all this time? Honestly, that would be almost impossible. However, I am very happy with the console so far.
When you buy your Switch, you have two different options to choose from. The only difference between the two is the color of the Joy-Con controllers that come bundled with it. You can either get one that comes with gray controllers or one with one neon blue and one neon red. I went with the neon colors. The interesting thing about this is that the controllers are also sold separately. So if I decide one day that I don’t like the neon colors, I can always buy a set of gray ones and slap those on the side instead. At $80 for a set of two Joy-Con, that’s a lot of money just to change your system’s aesthetic, but if you’re going to get a second pair, that’s a good reason to get ones that look different.
I knew from following as much Nintendo Switch coverage as I could that the Joy-Con were very small controllers, but I was still genuinely alarmed to see just how small they are. Your entire hand engulfs them when holding them individually. Although they are two pieces to one whole controller, they can also be held sideways and function as a super tiny controller, similarly to holding a Wii Remote sideways. I haven’t played anything like this yet, but from just holding it, it seems functional, at least. It’ll be interesting to see how well it works when I try it for real.
There were a couple things that I’ve been worried about as far as the controllers are concerned for as long as we’ve known about them. One is the placement of the analogue sticks, which are directly above or below the buttons depending on which side you’re looking at. On most controllers, the sticks are offset a little, so your thumb naturally finds its way there. I’m happy to report that this seems to be a nonissue, as it didn’t bother me at all while playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild today. My other concern was the D-pad, which instead of being one solid piece, is four separate buttons. This works well enough for games that only use it as a set of extra buttons, like Zelda. I’m still worried that it might be bad for 2D games, but I haven’t been able to test that yet.
When you first turn on the console, you’re given a pretty simple setup process. Choose your language, your timezone, and set up your internet. It’ll then have you sign in to your Nintendo Network ID or create a new one. Again, this was a very easy process. After that, you choose an icon to associate with yourself and you’re good. Unfortunately, it seems as though friend codes are back. Nintendo has said that they will be expanding on methods to add friends, but as of right now, it’s friend codes, adding people you’re friends with on Nintendo mobile games, or via local wireless connection. I’m really hoping for better options soon.
Like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the Switch has the option of taking screenshots. To do so, you simply push the capture button, located just below the D-pad on the left Joy-Con. This will add the picture to your album. From there, you can add a caption and post them to social media. It all works really well, but I’m hoping for a way to get the pictures off of the Switch without spamming my social media accounts. I don’t have any sort of modern capture devices for taking videos or pictures of gameplay footage. I use an old one that only takes composite cables when I do reviews of old games. Thus, I rely on the screenshot functions of the consoles to include screenshots in my blog posts. It’s possible that you can get them off with a micro-SD card, but I’ve been unable to test this so far.
I was hoping to take my Switch outside today and test out the screen in the sunlight. Wisconsin weather had other plans, however, as it was below freezing all day today. I can confirm, however, that the screen looks very nice indoors. It’s only running at 720p, but honestly you won’t even notice that this is “subpar”. It looks incredible, and the novelty of having a full console game in the palm of your hands is very appealing.
I’ve only had the Switch in my possession for about six or seven hours, but I’m currently very happy with it. While it certainly isn’t perfect, it still manages to be exactly what I wanted it to be, which is home console that you can take on the go. If they can work out the few kinks with software updates, the Nintendo Switch could be Nintendo’s best hardware to date.