Friday, March 10, 2017

Nintendo Switch Impressions

I picked up a Nintendo Switch, Zelda, and Bomberman at a midnight launch event last week, and playing with these new purchases has pretty much been all I’ve wanted to do with every second of my free time ever since. I did manage to pry myself kicking and screaming from the new console to type up some quick impressions of the hardware:
  • The Switch console itself definitely feels like a sleek yet sturdy premium electronic gadget which contrasts with the chunkier toy-like designs of previous generations of Nintendo hardware.
  • The Joy-Con controllers are incredibly tiny and there’s definitely an adjustment period involved with learning the button/stick layout and determining the best way of holding them. However, as my hours of playtime can attest at this point, once I got used to them, they’re pretty comfortable. The short travel on the analog sticks does somewhat lessen the precision of aiming weapons, but at least in Zelda, it hasn’t really presented an issue. For games that require a lot of quick aiming  (like first-person shooters), using a Pro Controller would probably be best.

  • Other accessories that come in the box are a mixed bag. The Joy-Con grip doesn’t instantly transform the Joy-Con into an Xbox controller-caliber device, but it definitely helps give the Joy-Con more substance for those whose hands are more used to traditional controllers. I’ve spent most of my time playing Zelda using the grip.

  • My wife and I have both found that the Joy-Con strap attachments are a largely useless addition to the package. While they do give a nice rounded edge to the rail portion of each Joy-Con, they make the SR and SL shoulder buttons feel mushy and unresponsive. They’re also a pain to attach and remove. We probably won’t bother with them in our next co-op session.

  • At first, placing the Switch in the dock and removing the Joy-Con felt a little awkward to me, such that I was wondering if I was doing it right. I’ve since gotten used to it, but it’s not quite as effortless of a process as is depicted in marketing materials for the console. The various buttons, latches, and rails may have a break-in period after which they’ll feel smoother over time, however. I should also note that I put a screen protector on the Switch day one to ensure I didn’t scratch the screen clumsily placing it in the dock (or just being clumsy in general).

  • Some people have had issues with their left Joy-Con desyncing from their Switch. While it hasn’t been a major problem for me, I have had a few isolated instances of it happening. It seems that the Joy-Con require essentially unobstructed direct line-of-sight to the console to maintain their connection. For me, the fix was as simple as using the Joy-Con grip rather than playing with my hands separated and adjusting how I was sitting on the couch. For others, this issue has been more severe, so hopefully, a proper fix will be available soon. If you’re interested in some of the technical details of this Joy-Con bug, check out this article on Motherboard.

  • The screenshot button on the controller is really useful. I like that I can edit the image and post to Twitter quickly without having to exit the game I’m playing. As an added bonus, the Switch supports USB keyboards for expedient tweeting.

  • During one late-night gaming session on the couch, I decided that I wasn’t quite ready to put the game down for the night, but should probably at least be getting in bed. Immediately after attaching the Joy-Con and lifting the system out of the dock, it transitioned to portable mode. I spent another hour or two (whoops!) continuing my Zelda quest in bed and the experience was just as good on handheld as it was on the couch. I didn’t feel like I was making much of a sacrifice switching between the two modes at all. That is the true magic of this device.

  • Bottom line: After a brief adjustment period, the Switch is simultaneously a good console and an amazing handheld. Some of the accessories could use some refinement, however.
As I spend more time with the Switch and use it in a greater variety of settings, I may be posting some updated thoughts on it, but probably won’t be writing a full review with a score. In the meantime, look forward to my upcoming impressions of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild!

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