LTTP: Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch continues to be the most elusive piece of gaming hardware on the market these days, which is why when Amazon had some available on Friday, I panicked and slammed the BUY NOW button as quickly as possible without even considering the ramifications. Like, spending $300 on a system from a company I like OK but have no overwhelming desire to concern myself with.
Thing is, when it arrived the next day (All hail Amazon), I was shocked by the quality of the thing. Not that Nintendo makes crap — I’ve had my 3DS for many, many years now without any issues — but after the relative debacle of the WiiU and the fact that Nintendo’s market strategy is “flip MS and Sony the bird, and throw themselves down the hill with reckless abandon while giggling all the way”, it’s apparent that Nin’s either pulling an Apple and eating their own dog food when designing and developing, or they are from the future and know exactly what’s coming next in terms of exciting things*. tl;dr: Nintendo’s stuff is usually either really awesome or just shy of being lukewarm.
The dock is…a piece of plastic. I know there was some disappointment in that the dock doesn’t help the output to the TV any, but I suppose that decision helps keep the price down. It has an HDMI output, a power input, and a USB jack for reasons (I’m guessing for charging something). Originally there were reports that the dock could scratch the screen of the tablet, but my dock seems OK thus far.
Also included were two peripherals. The first was a traditional controller grip that accepted the 2 wireless “joy-con” controllers, and the second was a sliver of plastic with a wrist strap that is intended to complete a single joy-con into a stand-alone controller. Why there’s only one of these slivers for 2 joy-cons is beyond me, except to provide another up-sell opportunity.
The wireless controllers are smaller than I expected and light enough that I have concerns about using them without the tablet or docked with the controller grip. As widgets that contain gyroscopes and sensors and all that, you can close your fist around each of them for games like A.R.M.S. I suppose. Sadly, I got a unit which suffers from the dreaded “left con desync” issue which means the left controller looses connection to the console if it gets too far away. I’m told that a piece of conductive foam added to the innards is Nintendo’s fix, but I have contact customer support to get a replacement sent to me (saddling me with possible downtime during the turn-around).
The “console” itself is actually larger than expected, at least lengthwise. And lighter. And snappier. Also, shinier, which makes using it outside next to impossible (I tried!). Actually, I guess I had some pretty low expectations for the Switch, but the overall package is better than the sum of its parts. I hadn’t bought a game when I made the purchase of the console (No time! Must beat the rush!) so we stopped at Target on Saturday to pick up Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Having really only played tablet-focused games on tablet-sized devices which tend to be on the underpowered side, the game was visually stunning. It ran perfectly, and even holding the thing with the 2 controllers docked on either side was comfortable for the most part (the tablet did slip from my grasp a few times when reaching for certain occasional buttons).
I am pleased with the Switch thus far. LoZ is the only game I have, and I’m content with that. I can’t really use it with the TV right now due to the desync issue, but I had always anticipated that most of its use would be in portable mode anyway, sitting in the living room while my wife watches TV. I now have to immerse myself in the Nintendo ecosystem, because aside from LoZ and Mario Kart 8, I have no real idea what the Switch offers or what’s forthcoming for the system.
*Some might discount the “from the future” notion by saying that if they were, then they would have known the WiiU would bomb, to which I say of course! But if they were wildly successful all the time, people would get suspicious and want a closer investigation into how Nintendo can be so damn effective while constantly producing products that go against the grain of what the games industry is always telling us is the most important: horsepower, speed, graphics, online, etc. By stumbling on occasion, Nintendo can shrug it off once in a while and keep their time-traveling shenanigans a secret.