I’ve been a gamer since I was 3 years old and the company that welcomed me into the world of video games was none other than Nintendo.
Naturally, over the years I came to love other gaming companies as well, such as Square Enix, Bandai Namco and Naughty Dog, but none of them have ever quite managed to capture my heart like Nintendo did.
It’s been over two decades now since I first fell in love with Nintendo, and to this date they remain my favourite gaming company. They’re the home to a large chunk of my favourite gaming franchises and their games always have this unfathomable kind of magic to them and give me a feeling that games from other companies just aren’t able to provide.
But of course, I’m well aware of the companies flaws over the last generation or so, to the point I’d began to lose faith in them as a diehard fan.
I loved the Wii when it was first released. The motion controls were fun and innovative and were used in some incredibly ingenious ways. But despite having a lot of excellent games such as Super Mario Galaxy and Xenoblade Chronicles, the console began to rely far too heavily on its central idea, and by the end of its lifespan it felt a little tired, with games like Skyward Sword being a tad disappointing (I still like the game a lot though).
Then came the Wii U, a console which aimed to bring back the “hardcore” demographic and failed miserably due to poor marketing and a lack of content, both third and first party wise. I liked the Wii U. I liked it a lot. But I was still rather disappointed with the systems lack of games and while its tablet controller gimmick was really neat and cool, it just wasn’t used enough. I have some very fond memories with my Wii U and some of my favourite games of all time are on that console, but comparing it to the likes of the Gamecube and the Nintendo 64, it just wasn’t as exciting for me.
And now we have the Nintendo Switch. It’s Nintendo’s latest console, and I’ve been incredibly anxious since the concept was first revealed about how much I’d enjoy it.
I was so anxious in fact, that I bought the console on launch day, something I haven’t done since the Gamecube.
And I have to say I’m far from disappointed and that the Switch might just be the best home console since the Gamecube.
For those living under a rock, the Switch is both a home console and a handheld console. It’s a hybrid system that can either be hooked up to your TV or taken out and carried around as a tablet sized handheld with detachable controllers on the go.
It’s not exactly a new concept, but it’s a gigantic leap forward in terms of progress. The Switch is what the Wii U should have been. Off TV Play, anywhere I want, any time I want. I’m able to play current generation home console video games on the go, with no noticeable compression or anything. It’s a dream come true!
That being said, as incredible as the idea of taking a home console anywhere you want with you is, that’s not even why I love the console so much. I just love that aside from the portability, there’s no other “gimmick” to it.
Sure, there’s the option to use motion controls or to use the accelorometer in the controllers to point at things, but unlike past gimmicks, these aren’t forced. If you want to play the Switch as a regular home console, like the Gamecube, you can. And that’s what excites me the most about the thing.
The controllers that come with the console are pretty great and can be used in a multitude of ways. They can be used with one in each hand, similar to the wii remote and nunchuck set up. They can be used sideways for multiplayer games, which is a tad uncomfortable, but still relatively decent to play with. They can be attached to a grip that helps form a more traditional styled controller, which is an absolute joy to use and feels great (despite how bulky it looks). And of course, they can be attached to the console itself, which can then be lifted out of the TV dock and played as a handheld device anywhere you want.
There’s so many ways to play the Nintendo Switch and every single one of them offers a fairly comfortable and unique experience. There’s a playstyle for everyone.
And if neither of those tickle your fancy, there’s also the option of buying a Pro Controller which is more or less Nintendo’s answer to Microsoft and Sony’s recent controller efforts. It’s sold separately and it’s rather pricey, but for all the technology that’s packed within it, and for the added comfort it provides, it’s absolutely worth it.
Another great thing about the Switch is the seamless transition between docking and undocking the console. There’s a mere delay of around half a second, but the transition between TV mode and handheld mode is more or less instantaneous, something I thought would require waiting at least 10 seconds for, or needing to press a button or something. It’s so damn good.
The portable mode also runs very smoothly. While the screen is only 720p compared to the TV modes maximum 1080p output, due to the screen being relatively small, it’s impossible to notice the difference anyway and the games look just as beautiful on the tablet as they do the TV. Something I could never say about the Wii U and it’s rather ugly glossy images.
The console does have a few issues though. The screen is shatterproof, which while good, also means it’s prone to scratching. I’ve yet to scratch my screen at all because I’m super careful, but there have been several reports of screens getting easily scratched by simply taking the console out of the dock. I question the validity of these stories however, as I’ve pulled mine out of the dock at least 50 times and have yet to see any damage to the unit.
Then there’s the online service, which is currently up in the air and incomplete. You’re required to use the dreaded Friend Codes from the Wii days and there’s no real unified account system yet, although it’s coming eventually. There’s also no virtual console yet, and it’s unclear whether we’ll be able to transfer our old purchases to the Switch. The virtual console is coming however, and Reggie from Nintendo has openly stated that they’ve “heard” the comments about transferring purchases. I hope they act on what they’ve heard.
However, that’s all fairly minor to me. I don’t particularly care for social gaming anyway and I have very few virtual console purchases to my name.
The only real issue I have with the console is it’s measly 32GB storage space. Yes, it can be increased using an SD card, but 32GB is ridiculous for a console in 2017. The average iPod has more storage space than the Switch does. What’s worse is that save data can’t be transferred to an SD card from the console, meaning if the space gets filled up, you’re basically screwed and need to delete stuff.
There are other issues that have been reported, such as the Left Joy Con controller disconnecting regularly, dead pixels on the tablet screen, Zelda crashing 19 hours in, the kickstand breaking easily, and many other things, but I’ve yet to encounter any of these at all and believe these are simply happening to a minority of unfortunate users.
So how is the Nintendo Switch overall? I’d say it’s the best console purchase I’ve made in years. The concept is phenomenal, the console is an absolute joy to use and there’s a steady line up of fantastic games due to come to the system throughout the year, with a tremendous amount of third party and indie support to fill in the gaps between big Nintendo releases.
Zelda is awesome by the way. I’ll talk about that tomorrow.
Nintendo are finally listening and for the first time in years, they’re doing just about everything I could ever want them to do as a gaming company. They’ve clearly learned from their mistakes in the past and are moving forward and back to throne of quality that rightfully belongs to them.
Playing the Switch makes me feel that Nintendo magic that I haven’t felt for such a long time. It feels nostalgic, yet fresh all at once and it just feels so damn good.
Nintendo are back in the game and there should be much rejoicing.
Welcome back Nintendo. I’ve missed you.