Well it’s finally here. After months of anticipation, early concerns and uncontrollable hype, The Nintendo Switch has finally arrived. It’s a concept that is sure to set a trend for gaming consoles from this point on. It’s already solidified itself as Nintendo’s best launch and its flagship game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is their best-selling stand-alone launch game to date. Breath of the Wild is a gaming masterpiece that is on course to being the best rated game of all time. While it was a major selling point of the new console, it’s also available on the WiiU so it is hard to base too much of the Nintendo’s success in regard to the Switch on one game. By no means is the launch a failure and is actually breaking plenty of records, but it’s not without its hardships. Reports of players who are plagued with issues pour in, while the majority of users sing its praises. There are arguments on both sides of the fence, with lots of complaints stemming from user irresponsibility and unwillingness to troubleshoot their problems. But certain issues seem to be more prominent across the board and shouldn’t be ignored in the long run. After spending a solid week with the console, I figured it’s about time to peek my head out of Hyrule, and let you know what I’ve experienced in the early days of the Nintendo Switch.
The box was a pleasure to open. It’s hard to convey what it’s like to open something you’ve anxiously awaited days, weeks, months even years for, but if you’re a fan of Atomic Geekdom, you’ve probably experienced this at some point in your life. The packaging was beautiful and appeared very streamlined and thought out. The screen bursts out at you and is ready to play out of the box. The console is sleek and fits perfectly in my hands. It’s an amazing piece of machinery and switches easily from docked mode to a handheld. 720p goes a long way on a moderately small screen and looks every bit as good as when the console is docked and displaying on an HDTV. The system does have a Mii maker, which can be used for profile pictures and in certain games, but is not heavily featured as part of the main menu system as with previous consoles. This is definitely a departure from the Wii family, but still manages to pull from the well of innovations that made those consoles so beloved. I’ve noticed some very limited frame rate drops, but only in Breath of the Wild, which is excusable in some situations because there is a lot going on at once on screen. For the most part the amazing visuals of the game are made consistent by the part time handheld console. The online multiplayer seems to be stable and performs without lag or disconnects. I played long sessions with friends and experienced very little frame rate drop or lag. If this is the service that Nintendo intends to deliver when the function finally has a price tag in the Fall, I’m sure I will happily pay to keep strong servers on the console.
These things are incredible. The amount of technology sunk into each controller explains why they focused so heavily on them over the months leading up to release. When they work, they work flawlessly, but can be a bit touchy on occasion. One of the largest concerns about the console is the fact the controllers can randomly de-sync and become erratic. Complaints of the controller’s limited range and inability to work properly when shielded by users’ hands and bodies also put a damper on some people’s experience. As for me, I experienced some issues with de-syncing over the first weekend. After troubleshooting for a couple days I was able to find that using the recalibration options in the settings went a long way to making the controllers feel more accurate. It seems that they can be affected by other frequencies in the room, or even just the basic layout of other devices. After recalibrating in every room I played in, I was able to overcome this issue and play the precision motion games with ease. I had sessions of 1, 2 Switch where the button inputs were lagged, and the sensors were disrupted, and I also had 3-4 hour sessions where there were no issues of any kind. It seems the problems players are experiencing are fixable and, at worst, manageable. All in all, I would say the Switch performs marvelously a majority of the time. Not that many games utilize it at launch, but the touch screen is incredibly responsive. I could see downloading and even purchasing touch screen only mobile games on the console.
I actually thought the Joy-Cons could possibly run the risk of being too small for my oversized monster hands. Even when detached and shared with another player, this is not the case at all. As small as it is, it’s oddly comfortable to hold and control. In the case of Bomberman, I actually found myself favoring this control scheme over the grip. That’s not to say the Joy-Con Grip Controller isn’t comfortable, because let me tell you, it is. I love everything about it, from its unique look to the button layout. The triggers are digital and a bit shallow, which could make First Person Shooter games feel a bit watered down, but not enough to ruin the experience. The same issue was present on the WiiU GamePad, but this didn’t affect how well the controller performed when playing Splatoon. I was happy with how easy the controllers are removed and placed onto the console and the Grip. They slide smoothly on and off, and when connecting to the Switch, make a sweet distinctive sound that is music to my ears every time. The straps give a bit of fight when trying to remove them, but this is actually a good thing when it comes to a sturdy safety strap. Nobody wants to explain to the hospital why you were thrusting controllers into each other’s faces when one went flying out of your hand. The Pro Controller seems to be the must have accessory for most gamers, but I’ve made conscious decision to hold off on it. I like to allow the proper controller of a console to win me over before searching for alternate options, but I will definitely be purchasing one in the future. Having had a chance to play with one, one of the major differences I noticed was with the triggers. They felt more pronounced and easily pressed as opposed to the Grip. It may very well be the best controller on the market, but without owning one personally it would be hard for me to judge. The general consensus is that it is the best experience, and with all of the technology of the Joy-Cons, it seems like a wise purchase even at $70.
Addressing Other Complaints:
Hesitation to purchase the console based on some of the reports that have been made is a bit foolish. Reports of scratched screens caused by the system’s own dock have been made, as well as some cases of dead pixels. I personally have not seen any of these issues, nor know anybody who has actually seen this happen. The space between the console and the side of the dock, when placed to charge and display on a TV, is very tight and devoid of any type of padding. Because of this, some reviewers feel that the console is too easy to damage when docking and undocking. To me, this seems like more of an issue on the user’s part. It is easily removable from the dock, even after daily repeated use, as long as the console is handled with care. Jamming, dropping, forcing, or otherwise aggressive motions, not indicative of handling a $300 electronic device seems to be avoidable. The first thing I did with my Switch, right out of the box, was install a screen protector, and as with most devices that you wish to keep in good conditions, I strongly recommend installing one. Another complaint is the continued use of Friend Codes to play with your fellow Switch owners. It’s as easy as typing in a few numbers, but this seems to be a major point of contention for users. Why this is the case escapes me, and I’ve had no issues gathering my friends and finding them in game for matchmaking. The kickstand used for table top mode is noticeably flimsy, and is actually built to snap on and off. A nice feature for irresponsible owners, but not a great choice for long term table top mode. It favors one side and makes it so your new Switch could topple over if nudged slightly. A table top stand is available, and I’ll be picking one up as soon as possible.
As for the lack of an extensive list of titles available at launch, I personally feel there is plenty to get you started. I purchased Breath of the Wild, naturally, 1-2-Switch and Super Bomberman R. This is more than enough to keep me satisfied, but there are already several more available the week after launch to have me wanting more. 1-2 Switch is the perfect way to test out the capabilities of the new console, and some of the minigames will really surprise you in how they implement the technology. I think this game will be the most underrated title on the console, which is a shame because users really need to see these controllers in action. If you’re having reserves about purchasing the game, I can tell you that it’s best if you are going to be playing with a group of people. If your console is going to be a solo use machine, this title probably isn’t the right fit for you. The game also revolves around interactions between the players, so if your friends are some boring wooden boards, you may not have as much fun as I did. Super Bomberman R is THE multiplayer game to get. As a big fan of the series, it’s great to see the franchise back on top and having a strong selling launch. Hopefully this will pave the way for Konami to breathe life into some of its other fan favorite franchises. Either way, “R” brings all of the fun of SNES’ Super Bomberman back with an updated look and beautiful visuals. An all new story mode has also been added, and is not only fun but pretty challenging right from the first set of levels. As for Legend of Zelda’s new hit entry…there’s not enough time in this article to truly convey what this game is able to accomplish. It will surely keep you busy and entertained well passed the release of any other game this year. Where there are talks of “Game of the Year”, Breath of the Wild will become synonymous with the conversation. It’s a truly breathtaking experience in every way and the ability to play a game of its magnitude on the go is probably The Switch’s biggest selling point.
The Nintendo Switch has its issues to overcome, like with most launches of major consoles. Nintendo has acknowledged many of the complaints that are being made, and has tried offering some solutions. They seem to be in a state of fact finding, and urge players to contact their customer service to advise them of any issues they are experiencing. The reviews citing some of these issues seem to be a bit skewed, and as with most Nintendo products, have been unfairly biased. The gaming community has long made Nintendo the black sheep of the console war because of their refusal to adhere to the norms of the market. Once again, they launch an amazing console that will revolutionize gaming’s future, and it’s met with complaints that people can’t dock their console properly. If you are already a Nintendo fan, this is a no brainer, but hardcore gamers seem to need some convincing. I wouldn’t advocate people to blindly spend their money if I didn’t fully believe in the merits of the console, and I can confidently recommend it to people with the means. It’s fun, light weight, yet durable, and has plenty of content on the way to pave the road for a great year of gaming. I’m looking forward to more great games, and more of the countless hours of laughs I’ve already had in the last week. I’m able to acknowledge that the console does have some hiccups, but not enough to regret spending a small fortune on games and accessories. If I had to give the console an overall grade of “B” it would have to be the highest B possible. In fact…for the sake of argument, why don’t we just go ahead and bump it up to a solid A- because…well...’dat Zelda, though….
Oh, and before you ask…No I have NOT tasted any of my cartridges yet. Nintendo’s admission that an excruciatingly foul tasting coating was added to their cartridges, due to safety concerns, has had people all over the world happily licking their videogames. For the foreseeable future we will not be performing this experiment, although I’m sure it would be pretty easy to convince someone in the Atomic Geekdom family to do so. Sound off in the comments if you have your Switch and love it pieces, or if you’ve experienced any game ending issues!!