Release Date: March 3rd, 2017
Assigning a grade to a system is a tough proposition. The hardware itself will only take you so far; the games have to do the rest. For Nintendo fans, they know the company is pretty good about making solid, unique hardware. You should expect by now, if your going in for any Nintendo system, that you’re not going to get top of the line power out of it. Nintendo is all about designing something that we will simply get the most joy out of. The Switch is something you almost assuredly will get plenty of joy out of from what the hardware brings to the table.
The biggest feature the Switch offers is where it’s namesake comes from. The system isn’t quite a full console or a full handheld system. Instead it sits in the happy middle where the two meet and go have little Joy-Cons babies to live happily ever after. We’re not going to explain out the differences between the docked mode, handheld mode, or tabletop mode. If you’ve made it this far we expect you already know those details. What we will say is that it works and it works pretty damn well. The system can slide off the dock with ease to be taken on the go without missing a beat. From what we’ve played, everything runs smooth no matter which way you play, just that games can run 900p on your TV and 720 on the Switch’s beautiful and vibrant screen itself. The screen makes everything pop if your on the go, or as you may choose to do quite a bit, just using it in handheld mode on the couch. Joy-Cons slide on and off as easy as they should, while definitely feeling locked in when they’re attached to the system.
The Joy-Cons have had people curious since they’re reveal and you really need to get your hands on them to tell how comfortable they really are. Still, I will say, with rather big hands, they feel like they’re meant to melt in my hands. Whether you have them attached to the system or the grip, they feel great. My personal favorite choice has been to just have them just by themselves with no grip for some real lazy, comfortable game playing. The HD rumble is pretty amazing when it gets used properly, though it’s of course up to the game your playing to properly utilize them to their greatest extent. The best feature truly is the ability to play local co-op with each person taking a Joy-Con half. Does it feel a little cramped using it like that? Sure, but if you’re on the go with your system, is pretty damn convenient to be able to have the option, and it’s certainly not the most uncomfortable way to play. The Pro Controller may give you the more traditional feel, but the Joy-Cons are more than adequate once you get used to the slightly different layout and design.
At this point, we’ve loved everything about the Switch. What’s the downside? Well, there’s a few. It’s a small complaint, but the kickstand is a bit flimsy. Putting it down, you’re going to feel like it’s going to snap off. If it does, it’s designed to pop off and back on if needed, but something a bit more solid would have been preferable.
The battery life is going to be fairly short on the go. It ranges between 3-6 hours, where something like Zelda will take it down to that lower end. Is that really that surprising though? The system is closer to a high-end tablet than the 3DS; running something like Zelda or similar is of course going to drain any battery in it. There’s at least options, like a rechargeable battery or a car charger if your desperate. Beyond that, it’s a hybrid console/handheld, it’s all about having to meet in that happy middle.
The onboard storage is the only other problem we have to complain about. We had 32 GB in our Wii U we bought several years ago. Can we really not even double that space several years later? There are things Nintendo did to keep the price relatively lower. Would a bit of more really have cost more with as cheap as memory is anymore. This is at least something you can fix if you plan on going the digital route, since the system will allow for up to 2 TB micro cards to be inserted under the kickstand.
Honestly, we are not going to get into things like the eShop, friend codes, streaming services, or any that can be updated later on. Those are little potatoes compared to the main course. Most of all, all of that can, and probably will be, updated later on. The interface out of the box is simple and easy to use for anyone; classic Nintendo. Just trying to look at the hardware itself, we’re not taking into account those other things.
If you go into the Switch expecting for it to be able to produce Playstation 4 or Xbox One graphics, first off, slap yourself in the face and wake up. This is a Nintendo machine, we should already know Nintendo is comfortable being a little bit behind with the horsepower to bring us something special. The Switch is special. It’s a system that will go with you, wherever you may go. It’s a solid piece of hardware that finally pays off on the hopes we had for the Wii U when it launched in 2012. Now its just up to Nintendo to ensure we have a steady stream of games from them and from 3rd parties. Otherwise the Switch hardware has done its part to be the system we’ve wanted.