After five years of fiddling around with the Wii U, Nintendo is back with a bang with its hybrid gaming console Switch. With its capability to allow gamers to play both on the big screen as well as on the go, the Nintendo Switch combines the nostalgia of its yesteryear NES hits with modern gaming, such as the critically acclaimed Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
A handheld tablet having detachable controllers and a useful kickstand and which can be easily switched from the TV to be set on a table for multiplayer gaming, is the new Switch a landmark step in the world of gaming? Will this radically innovative device achieve soaring greatness by becoming the preferred console instead of the PS4 or Xbox One? Let’s see what critics from different websites have to say, once we have given a lowdown of what all the Switch includes:
Nintendo Switch Hardware, Specs and Pricing
The Switch costs $300 in the U.S., making it relatively cheap compared with other consoles. The hardware that you receives contains 1 x Switch, 2 x Joy-Con controllers, 2 x Joy-Con controller straps, 1 x Joy-Con grip, 1 x Dock, 1 x HDMI cable, 1 x Plug. It is extremely easy to set up and no manual is required (they haven’t included one either). The instructions are given out in the form of four infographics on the side of the box.
The tablet with its 6’2 inch screen is a smart looking kit, in which SD game cards go in the right slot and the Joy-Cons are connected on either side. A headphone jack is included at the top, and you can add additional memory into an SD card slot under the kickstand if you want a ‘tabletop’ mode. The dock is simply a small, black plastic box with two sockets and can be discreetly attached to the television.
Impressive and portable, what is the opinion of critics on the Switch?
The Reviews Are In
TIME’s Matt Peckham has given a full thumbs up to the Nintendo Switch, stating that he is ‘in love’ with the new console. He has showered praise on the device for being solid and well-built, the easy flexibility it offers, and the smooth navigation offered by a sleek, fast and intuitive menu- unlike the snail-like pace of the Wii U. As far as the wireless connectivity issues being reported for the Joy-Cons from some quarters, Peckham says that he has had an absolutely smooth experience with no glitches whatsoever.
Any downsides? The tabletop mode is not particularly wonderful and the Switch can topple over if not perfectly level. Also, questions remain over the validity of old eShop purchases in the Switch and how good Nintendo’s online subscription services will be.
At Ars Technica, Kyle Orland isn’t a fan of using the Switch as a home console but would rather use it as a portable device. According to Orland, playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the big screen made it look worse than on the go. ‘Though Nintendo marketing seems intent on describing the Switch as a home console that it just so happens you can take with you, I’ve found myself using the system as a portable much more often than on the TV.
In the week I’ve spent with the Switch, the system has replaced my iPhone as the source for flexible gaming when I have a few minutes to spare regardless of location,’ says Orland. Other issues mentioned are the Switch’s first day software lineup and the left Joy-Con losing wireless connectivity on a frequent basis.
Kotaku editor-at-large Kirk Hamilton loves the fundamental idea and concept behind the Switch- the ability to play anywhere. However, he did not find the controllers to be comfortable since the buttons were oddly placed, had the same issue of the left Joy-Con losing connectivity while gaming and the fact that there was no Bluetooth headphone support.
‘The fact that I can lift my Switch out of its dock and immediately be playing a handheld version of the same game I was playing on my TV is one of the most remarkable things about this device. I love being able to take screenshots while I’m playing, and I’m glad Nintendo included it.’
‘Both the Joy-Con grip and the Pro Controller lack a headphone output, putting the Switch behind the PS4, Xbox One and even the Wii U in terms of allowing you to easily listen to game audio on headphones from your couch when you’re using the console to play a game on the TV.’
The staff at Polygon had the same first reaction for the Switch- ‘Holy shit. It works’. Their team loved the industrial design of the device, though they found the kickstand to be clumsy and the controllers a bit awkward since they seemed to be a compromise between console and handheld gaming. The issue of the left Joy-Con losing connection was reported here as well.
‘The Switch feels like a piece of serious consumer electronics; it couldn’t be further from the Wii U’s plastic toy quality.’
‘The Grip was a better option than free-floating Joy-Cons for most Polygon staff, but it still feels like a compromise.’
‘Over the course of our time with the Switch, at least one editor has had numerous, consistently recurring issues with signal loss in the left Joy-Con.’
A review in contrast is from Brian X Chen of The New York Times, who considers the Switch to be a ‘mediocre as a portable gaming device, with short battery life and an O.K. screen,’ but a device that ‘excels as a powerful and compelling home console.’ However, he also considers it to be a risk worth taking, although waiting would be also recommended. Nevertheless, gamers eager to get their hands on a Nintendo may have to wait anyway, since only 2 million systems have been made available by the company worldwide.
Engadget’s Devindra Hardawar has a somewhat similar opinion on the Switch. Though he found it to be several notches above the Wii U with some innovative hardware on display and the added portability factor, he considers it to be ‘a really powerful’ tablet that was probably released in a hurry by Nintendo. The average battery life, the inability of the screen to work properly outside as well as the waiting time for extra features and the expensive accessories make the Switch a real downer.
‘Clearly, Nintendo was in a bit of a rush to launch the Switch. That’s a shame, because it’s tough, as a reviewer, to completely weigh in on a system that’s not quite finished. It’s also particularly worrying after the failure of the Wii U, a console that launched with a series of baffling issues, as well. If Nintendo wants to make shoppers more confident about its abilities to launch new hardware and networking capabilities, this isn’t a good start.’
At IGN, Vince Ingenito expressed dissatisfaction, stating that the ‘Switch was an attractive and powerful but oversized portable gaming system that struggles to be a convincing or reliable home console.’
‘The system’s modular design means that it has to function as a traditional home console, a portable system, and stand-alone touchscreen tablet with wireless controllers. Getting a piece of hardware to do that much while also making it easy to use and understand would be an engineering miracle, and although Nintendo has come close in some regards, it has fallen well short in others. Overall, the Switch is an attractive and powerful but oversized portable gaming system that struggles to be a convincing or reliable home console.’
A relatively positive review came from Ross Miller at The Verge, who found the device to be a major upgrade from previous consoles thanks to Nvidia’s Tegra system-on-a-chip, though not necessarily a landmark achievement for home consoles. The smooth transition from a console to a tablet is a big plus point for Miller, but the flimsy kickstand and the bright screen glare outside received a thumbs down.
‘Playing a full Zelda game on the go is pretty surreal. The game’s style seems tailor-made for a mobile console, favoring more impressionistic character models while playing around with more realistic particle effects.
‘It’s got a pretty nasty glare on sunny days — my dreams of practicing virtual archery in the park will have to wait for overcast weather.’
‘The kickstand hinge is the one spot that feels somewhat flimsy and has a slightly more jarring sound when it clicks into place.’
‘There have been a few hiccups while playing Breath of Wild — some choppiness when, say, you’re running through a rather large field you just set on fire.’
Overall Verdict- An Innovative New Console That Redefines Gaming
Despite its flaws, it cannot be denied that the Nintendo Switch is a new, revolutionary console that redefines gaming as you know it. A hybrid console that effortlessly slides from the big screen to on-the-go play is definitely worth your money.
An area of concern among gamers is the list of titles that would be available for play and whether they would be any good at all- Breath of the Wild may be the blockbuster game of the year but multiple titles in diverse genres would certainly be a huge selling point. For now, pick up a Switch (if you manage to get hold of one) and wait for these highly anticipated Nintendo games coming for the hybrid console in 2017.