Thomas Deehan reviews Nintendo’s new console and assesses whether or not it will live up to the hype in all modes of play.
The release of a new gaming console always comes with an unfettered degree of excitement. I’m not ashamed to say that on the day of the Switch’s release, I exhibited the same enthusiasm of a child waking up to a pile of presents on Christmas day, albeit throwing myself into a stupor as I patrolled the window, waiting for the delivery guy to arrive. Now that I’ve spent over two weeks with the Switch, the proverbial dust has settled and I feel ready to offer a nuanced opinion on Nintendo’s latest piece of hardware.
Anyone expecting the Switch to come bursting through the gate, all guns blazing, will likely be disappointed. As if the Switch’s minuscule launch line-up wasn’t already an indication, the whole shindig can certainly be deemed a ‘soft launch’. The Virtual Console, which has been one of Nintendo’s greatest assets, is currently nowhere to be seen, just as video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Video will see Switch compatibility a little later down the road. Much like the console generations of a bygone era, you’re getting a system and some games – that’s it.
With those expectations quelled however, I can assure you that the Switch itself is truly a fantastic device in its own right. The design of the joy-cons is ingenious and I can’t think of a better apparatus for tying together gaming on your TV and on the go. The buttons are certainly small by console standards, but anyone who has played a portable device in recent years will know the trade off that input has to take for the console to effectively meet its function.
The screen is surprisingly sharp for a 720p display and prevents any noticeable dip in quality as you use the switch in handheld mode – this is console quality gaming on the go, make no mistake about it. Where things get a little bit tricky is in the supposed ‘tabletop mode’ – utilising the Switch’s kickstand to prop the device onto a flat surface, allowing you to remove the joy-cons and enjoy the Switch from a distance. On paper, it’s a godsend for anyone embarking on a long-haul trip but the practicality of its application falls flat as a result of the kickstand’s lacklustre design. Finicky to open and limited in its range of movement, its hard to think that this made it out of Nintendo’s R&D department in its current state.
Another concerning issue lies in the Switch’s proficiency when it’s docked and used as a home console. Just as everyone else who preordered the system, I picked it up alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and while the game is a true joy to play in handheld mode, the same can’t be said when it’s projected to your TV. It’s hard to say if the issue lies with Breath of the Wild or with the Switch itself, but the frame rate often dropped to noticeable levels. If the console is truly to blame for the game’s shortcomings, then it would be wise to retain a fair amount of scepticism about the Switch’s future.
While it might be tempting to focus on the Switch’s shortcomings, it should be applauded for daring to try something different in a market that has become fairly stagnant in a race for higher graphical fidelity. Much in the same vein as how language can have a lasting effect on our thought patterns, so too can different styles of gameplay change our understanding of gaming itself. Nintendo have always been one for placing the user experience above everything else, and in their latest effort, the company has produced the most innovative games console since the Wii.
Featured Image: Wikicommons