It’s here! The Nintendo Switch has finally released and is now in the hands of gamers all around the world. We are now able to experience what the creative minds at Nintendo cooked up for us! The Nintendo Switch is the successor of the less than successful Wii U. The Wii U had many great games but not enough adopters, forcing Nintendo to move on. However, is the Switch able to do what the Wii U could not? Should you, as a gamer, take a chance on the Switch? Should you Switch it up?
I’ll start off with the physical aspect of the console. I think it’s important to understand what the console looks like and how small it is. The dock doesn’t contain much as it has 3 major parts, which house everything. It has 2 USB ports on the side and a third hidden behind where the AC adapter and the HDMI cables plug in. A part opens up to reveal the HDMI and AC Adapter port behind, and keep things tidy by bringing the cables to one side. It’s all plastic and the dock is very light weight. I would be afraid to drop that as it feels like it could break. The AC adapter cable is also shorter than you would expect and with a dock that would need to be easily accessible, it’s a problem. The AC adapter was not providing me with a lot of room for placing that dock next to my TV. The HDMI cable was of normal length and seems to be the standard cable that comes with most devices these days. The dock is also as wide as the screen is, only the Joy-Con sticks out if they are left on. The part where you put the screen has the micro USB connector in the middle, a bit of plastic to direct the screen in its proper place and that’s it. There’s nothing to secure the screen in or to prevent it from moving. It’s annoying particularly when you are trying to remove the Joy-Con from the sides. Lastly, the dock has the front plate with the logo and a small light at the bottom left to indicate that it’s connected to the TV when the screen has been set in.
Alright, enough on the dock and more on the rest. The screen and main processing unit is about as heavy as a 3DS XL, maybe a little bit more. The Switch is bigger than a closed Nintendo 3DS XL and not much wider than the bottom part of the 3DS. It’s rather interesting how compact it is. Each sides are for the Joy-Con where you slide them. The top part has the power and volume buttons, the headset port, the heatsink exhaust and the game cartridge port. The bottom part has the micro USB port for the AC adapter and 2 small holes to steady the screen on a stand. The back of the console has the mini stand to prop the console on a hard surface. Under that small stand leg, you have the space for the microSD card, which is necessary to obtain if you decide to download games. The console only has 32 GB of space and the OS takes 6 GB of that. There’s also 2 speaker in the back and the logo. The speakers are nice for the simple fact you won’t need a headset, but they don’t get very loud even at max volume. The front is the touch screen and it takes about 90% of the surface. Screen protectors are highly recommended, as Nintendo does not include anything of the sort even as a temporary protection. It’s definitely portable and I can easily see it replace my 3DS if they can get the same type of support on it. It could be fun to have a Pokémon game on the Switch for that. The stand behind is also a nice addition. I like that I’m able to set it up as a little screen and can just pick up the Joy-Con and play instead of the whole thing. Heck, I’ve been just doing that while I am writing this. There has been rumors going around that the skins you can buy to put on the Joy-Con and the Switch itself (not the dock) can actually remove the paint of the Switch. It’s only a rumor, I haven’t seen any proof of that or felt like it could happen other than where the logo is located. I would still not take a chance.
Now to the cartridge, they are significantly smaller than the ones you see for the 3DS. It will be quite easy to lose and/or break them. The connectors for the cartridge take almost half the space behind and the front is simply the sticker for the game. The other small factor form of this console is the actual controllers, the Joy-Con. They fit really well in the palm of your hand and they’re quite comfortable to hold. It’s actually much more comfortable to use them in the individual hands than to use the grip to bring both together. Sliding the Joy-Con in any of the accessories is easy but removing out of the accessory not as much. First, when the Switch is in the dock, you have to keep the Switch down to slide out the Joy-Con and that means the Switch won’t stay firmly in the dock so it will disconnect and reconnect. The straps that you can put on are actually the hardest to remove. Every time I try to remove them, I have to hold the strap, awkwardly try to press the release button behind the Joy-Con and try to hold the Joy-Con while I try to slide off the strap. It’s very annoying and takes more time than it should. I’m hoping that with use, the sliding out will actually be easier but I’m not holding my breath on that for now. The part on the Joy-Con is in plastic but the strap part that slides is metal so wear and tear will not happen fast. Color wise, I like the blue and not so much the neon red. It looks more pink than red but it still beats just having that gray/black Joy-Con. I’m thinking of just getting an extra blue and an extra red eventually to round up the numbers. The cost of these things though is very high. I find the Joy-Con to be the best part of the Switch so far. There’s been report of connectivity issues but from 7 to 8 meters away, I have not experienced any problems nor did it seems to cause issues even if the couch was in the way. It’s been very responsive so far. I can’t comment much on the whole vibration feature as the games I own doesn’t seem to make much use of it. It seems to be something that will barely be used and might be a waste of technological improvement.
The OS seems very light. When you press the power button, it takes about 15 seconds to get to news. It’s a bit weird really. You get the news on the side and then pretty much emptiness on the rest. I hope they do more with this because it’s kind of a loss of space. If you decide not to check the news, you get right away to the Home Menu and access to your games. The interface is fine but rather large. It feels like they could not figure out what they wanted to do with it but it’s doing the job. Upon the first boot up, you have to do a quick set up. Asks for a username and profile image or Mii, set up the wireless connection and the region and you are almost done. The initial set up doesn’t ask you to link your Nintendo account or, make you set up the Nintendo eShop. It will ask you if you want to put parental control but I would have liked if it went through a few more of the settings. I had to go through all the settings to make sure I had what I wanted. The Nintendo eShop set up was very annoying, I had to create a new password if I didn’t want people to have access to my user eShop, though I had already a password for the account. It was a pretty pointless step. It also required that a 4 digit code be sent to my email because it almost acted as a password reset. The games open up fast after you are requested to select a user (it can be changed in the options but not all game will skip that). I seriously can’t give it that many praise, I’ve found a few annoying things like the Joy-Con charge level doesn’t display other than in the controller section of the Home Menu.
One of my Joy-Con seems to lose it’s charge much faster than the other. The charge while on the go is not bad but don’t expect a charge like the 3DS. It’s hard to say if it’s the Switch or the game but I’ve found out that it was having problems rendering graphics as it stuttered once or twice while on the dock. There’s no music for the Home Menu, there’s only sound effects. It makes it really quiet and you wonder if everything is working. The un-docked experience is smooth enough but I don’t know if at that price point I want to go out in the cold and bring it with me. It’s also lacking so much connectivity wise. I found out how to link things to my Facebook and Twitter accounts but there’s no other options and if you want to play with friends, be ready to message them very long friend codes. You can’t even search for people. That’s another thing, trying to find your friend code. It’s not obvious but the icon for whatever you chose is a menu as well with user settings, profile information and friend lists. That’s where the social media settings are too. The experience it provides is definitely not the best we’ve gotten from Nintendo. There’s a lot of work left for them to do and we will see several patches in the first year alone to fix and smooth out the experience.
There was also a day one patch. I have not been able to say if that had improvements to the OS or not but it added online play and friend lists. It added the function to share screenshots on Facebook and Twitter and added the eShop. It also added the function for the TV to turn on when the Switch is in the dock and turned on. However, that should not have required a day one patch. It’s something that should have been part of the console before it was brought home. I wish Nintendo would understand gamers want online features and a proper online multiplayer experience. I guess we’ll see the direction they decide to take.
I asked myself, was it worth it to buy a Switch on launch and can I convince people to do the same? My answer is no. I can’t promote this console or recommend that you should get it on launch. If you’re a Nintendo fan or an avid Legend of Zelda player, chances are that you own a Wii U already and you should just keep to your Wii U because at this point, the only game I see a real worth to it is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and that is also on Wii U. The Switch is a great concept but it is currently lacking a wow factor. It’s not bringing anything that you can’t find elsewhere and only Nintendo first party games would be a reason for the Switch. For now, there’s not enough to warrant to switch it up. This console might become something better as time goes and as such I will keep it around and see. The Nintendo Switch released on March 3rd 2017.