Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch reviewOut of nowhere, the launch of the Nintendo Switch has arrived, and if we’re being completely honest, it doesn’t really feel like all that much of a wait. However, now that it’s here, we’re left with one overriding opinion, which is what the “glory of Zelda” did we ever do without it. There are plenty of little bumps for Nintendo to smooth out in the coming months, but delivering a console that allows you to play The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild out in the wild is more than enough reason to make the £280 investment for the genius home gaming/hand-held hybrid system.

Haters will moan about the processing power of the console versus an Xbox ONE S or PlayStation 4 Pro, but the reality is that the Switch’s main selling points have got little to do with its chipset, RAM or screen resolution output. Instead, it’s another credible effort from Nintendo to go its own way, do things in a new way and push the boundaries in more unique, interesting, ingenious and, admittedly, quirky way.

For us, it’s an instant joy and when Nintendo get up to speed and start ticking off fixes for the cons we mention below, as well as dropping the price tag later in the year, it’s got every possibility of recreating the success of the Wii and putting the tamer day’s of the Wii U behind it. The hand-held mode of the device puts it in a very good position to be the natural successor to the 3DS, which has continued the strength of the DS systems, so it may well be the best of both worlds if the games and content match the console’s lofty ambition to re-imagine gaming.

Setup review

The Nintendo Switch is brilliantly easy to setup. If you skip the TV connection then you can be up and running in a matter of minutes of unboxing the kit. The battery comes with a 50% charge, so it’s pretty much good to go right out of the box. Just clip in the Joy Cons, answer a few setup questions and you’re pretty much all set to head out for some wild hand-held gaming.

The TV setup only adds an extra five minutes or so to plug the AC adapter and HDMI cable in, take the Joy Cons off to add them to grip controller and dock your Switch in the base. If you’ve already answered the setup questions then all you’ll need to do is complete a very speedy console update and you should be ready to game.

It’s a good idea to sign-in or setup a Nintendo Account and link it up to your other devices, like the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS. This means that you’ll pool any old funds you had across all devices, which might give you a few extra quid that you’d forgotten about entirely -we had £8 when we synced everything up. For more info on setting up the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has a how-to page to help, but it isn’t really needed.

Build quality review

When it’s not connected to the Joy Con controllers, the tablet core of the console looks solid, but hardly impressive in itself, but when connected as a unit it’s one of the most beautiful and well crafted pieces of tech that we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on. It’s a great size and sits very well in your hands, and the same goes for the grip controller connector, making the whole kit feel very high quality.

The dock to connect it to the TV is fairly basic, as it’s just a hull for the power, HDMI and tablet connection, but it more than does the job. While the Switch jiggles a little if you shake the dock, the real question is why the hell are you shaking the dock; not why it isn’t a tighter hold, which would have slowed down the whole docking process.

It’s incredible what Nintendo has been able to do with the slimline size of everything, packing in a lot of quality into very tight confines. One of the more gob smacking elements is that each of the games are contained in their entirety on teeny-tiny cartridges, not too much bigger than those for the 3DS. There’s only 32gb of hard drive memory on the Switch, so it’s a good job you don’t need much in the way of load space, but with the smart little cartridges you really don’t need it. However, the microSD port gives you the opportunity to expand this to accommodate more if you do opt for more digital downloads, so you’re not constrained, either way you do it.

The Nintendo Switch as a home console

As the console only kicks out 1080p resolution when connected to a TV, the HD gameplay isn’t up to the 4K UHD of the Xbox ONE S or the PS4 Pro. There’s no getting away from the fact that this will be a deal breaker for some, but with the visuals, story and gameplay of The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild to take in, you hardly feel like you’re missing out in the balance.

As a home console, the Nintendo Switch is quick to respond with a fluid interface. In addition to the games, there’s little to the navigation menu, which only includes a news section, the Nintendo eShop, the screen grab album and some settings options. We’re fairly certain that this will be built out over time to make the device even more of a home entertainment system, but for the launch window things are pretty sparse.

The real joy of the system comes into play when someone wants to take over the big screen to watch, say, the Great British Throw Down on BBC iPlayer because they fell asleep half way through when it first aired. Much like the Wii U before it, the new Nintendo console allows you to keep the game going by simply playing directly off the pad, either with the kick stand or as a sofa-schlumping hand-held.

Joy Con review

They may well be pricey at £75 for a second set if you’re desperate to up your multiplayer potential, but they are clever little controllers, so it’s easy to understand why they cost so much. Not only are the great to handle with perfectly designed ergonomics, but they also pack one hell of a lot of functionality into their slender-line confines.

Not only do you have multiple options in terms of how you use them – connected to the grip, the tablet, one in each hand, or shared out for multiplayer – but they also contain a lot of functionality. They’re pretty advanced motion controllers, come with advanced rumble force feedback and have an IR distance sensor to provide a variety of different gameplay options. These are all on display in 1-2-Switch, which gives you a host of different mini-games, ranging from gun fights and sword battles to milling a cow, dance move face offs and hotdog eating tournaments.

The Nintendo Switch in the wild

Nintendo Switch on the commute

Head down, headphones on and a long train, coach or car journey is all you need for Nintendo’s hybrid system to really come into its own. It’s the first time gamers have been able to play current gen console-standard games on a hand-held device and we’re loving it. It’s been one of our holy grail gaming dreams for a while now and it’s great that it’s finally happened.

You can opt to play it as a true hand held device with the Joy Con controllers attached to the screen unit, or play it more like a tablet gaming experience with the kick stand out and Joy Cons in the grip controller. Either way, it’s a genuine pleasure to play, allowing you to take your home console out with you, continuing the gaming seamlessly wherever you are.

Obviously, you’ll need to take environmental circumstances into account when you head out for more wilder gaming action. Rain, snow, sand and mud do not mix well with the Nintendo Switch, so make sure you give this some though before you decide to take it with you on a hike or a trip to the beach.

Battery life

We’re fairly happy with the battery life of the Switch, which hasn’t really let us down at all. We had TLOZ: BOTW going for a fair few hours undocked and there was still one bar of power left in the system. The only negative for us is that you’ve got to power up using the AC adapter coupled to the docking unit. Short of taking the adapter with you on your gaming travels, you’ll only only have what’s left in the tank to keep you going. Once it’s out of juice, it’s out of juice.

The solution, of course, would have been to build USB charging into the equation similar to smartphones and tablets. If Nintendo had been able to deliver this then the battery life wouldn’t be an issue at all.

One thing to be aware of is that the Joy Cons have their own charging process, in addition to that of the main console. If you play with them in the grip, they’ll be using up their battery life, even if the console is docked, so it’s easy for the two to get out of sync, which could result in the controllers draining more overall battery life when you’re playing hand-held or kick stand, as they charge up, while also playing.

Multiplayer review

The reality is that apart from Bomberman R there isn’t really all that much choice when it comes to multiplayer gaming. However, with so many controller options you’re well set up to kick into it as soon as the games start to land. Arms and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will be the first big title to truly stress test the console.

For now, though, the multiplayer experience is confined to Konami’s bomb fest and the Joy Con share micro game fun of 1-2-Switch. We’ll keep you updated on more details about Nintendo’s new paid online gaming subscription as it becomes available, but for now it’s free until the autumn, we just need the titles to go along with it.

Nintendo Switch games

The Legend Of Zelda 2015 Wii U open world setting

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild may well be one of the greatest games ever released during a launch window, but other than that the games roster is pretty thin on the ground. We’ve mentioned a few of the big titles to look forward to in the future and you can definitely add Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odysee to the list. However, on day dot it looks like the Zelda show is the defining factor.

There are a lot of positive murmurings from third party developers about the potential of he Nintendo Switch, but not that many have nailed their hat to the door to confirm a big release. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is the biggest confirmed title and there will also be FIFA 18, Minecraft, NBA2K 18, a new Sonic game, Ubisoft’s Steep, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Ultra Streetfighter II: The Final Challengers.

However, we’re holding off on our excitement levels for something a bit meatier like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Mass Effect Andromeda. If either of these came through it would change the third part Dec landscape for the console significantly. You can keep tabs on the game announcements on the Nintendo Twitter page, and we’ll be posting each one as they’re confirmed on our Nintendo Switch news page.

The joys

  • One of the best launch titles of all time in The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
  • Super-simple setup
  • Gameplay variety and innovation
  • Great ergonomics and build quality
  • Play anywhere
  • Decent battery, good size screen and a lot of controller flexibility
  • Some great Nintendo games on the horizon, including Arms, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odysee

The cons

  • No internet browser
  • No video on demand like Netflix, YouTube, and BBC iPlayer
  • No StreetPass or Miiverse
  • Third party game support is still out for judgement, so we’ll have to wait and see what gets announced in addition to Skyrim in the coming months
  • TV resolution isn’t as sharp as the Xbox ONE S or the PlayStation 4 Pro

Summary

For die-hard Nintendo fans, the Switch is a must-buy, and we kind of think that’s a big part of the big N’s plan with its unconventional March release date. Nintendo lovers like us will be buying it straight away no matter what, especially with one of the most impressive Zelda games in the history of the series to dive into. The rest of the gaming, family gaming and light gaming market will make a call around Christmas 2017, when prices should come down for the console and more games excitement is out of the bag.

This may well have meant that the Switch had to cut corners to arrive so early in 2017, giving it a slim roster of games for launch and some notable system software omissions, but we’re still having a blast with what we’ve got. With the knowledge that Nintendo will undoubtedly be revving the system up with updates and software releases throughout the rest of the year, it should be perfect for Christmas, which would suit Nintendo down to the ground. Hopefully, we’ll also have a slew of great games announced during E3 2017 to bolster things even more.

Amazon customer reviews currently has the Switch at 4.5 stars with 53 ratings (at the time of writing), which isn’t too far away from our own assessment below, so clearly we’re not the only ones appreciating the new tech from Nintendo.

Nintendo Switch review: 4.4 /5

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