Nintendo Switch review: Nintendo’s game-changer switches things up, for the better

Update: Nintendo Switch sells like hotcakes

Surprise, surprise. Nintendo latest console launch has been seriously successful. The Switch, that fancy console/handheld hybrid seems to be doing pretty bloomin’ well, according to recent analyst reports. According to Market Intelligence Group, Superdata, the Switch has already sold a total of 1.5 million units worldwide. In less than two weeks.

That’s incredibly impressive, especially considering Wii U figures barely touched that. 500,000 consoles have supposedly been sold in the US alone, with Japan shortly lagging behind at 360,000. Europe has reportedly seen 195,000 units sold. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild too, has reportedly sold 1.34 million copies on Nintendo’s latest.

If you’re thinking of picking up a box fresh Nintendo Switch, you might have a hard time. Because of this popularity, the Switch has all but disappeared from shelves, with third-party reseller sites ablaze with exorbitant prices. You may have to wait a little longer for the next wave of Switches.

That being said, you can find my original Nintendo Switch review, below.

Nintendo Switch review

Letting that inner child run free is a mantra that’s been at the heart of everything Nintendo has done since the very beginning of its existence. With experiences that leave you grinning ear to ear, Nintendo’s family-friendly games whisk you away from the stresses of adult life.

You’ll be pleased to hear, then, that the Nintendo experience remains unchanged with the firm’s latest console. Just as the Wii pushed gaming convention aside back in 2006, the Nintendo Switch takes the lead at the forefront of console evolution.

Nintendo Switch review: Console

Ambidexterity is the name of the game with the Nintendo Switch, and then some. This a console like no other, and by plonking the full console experience in the palm of your hands, Nintendo creates a whole new category of machine.

That’s because the Nintendo Switch is, effectively, two consoles in one. In its dock it connects for play on your TV, just like an Xbox One or a PS4. Pull it out, however, attach the two controllers to each side and it transforms into a mobile gaming powerhouse, complete with 6.2in, 1,280 x 720 resolution touchscreen.

Screen 6.2in 1,280 x 720 LCD
CPU/GPU Nvidia Tegra X1 processor
Storage 32GB
Battery life Approx. six hours (4,310mAh)
Charging time Approx. three hours
Weight Approx 297g (398g with Joy-Con)

That’s impressive in and of itself, but it’s the way the console manages the switch (sorry) between living room and mobile gameplay that impresses the most. Moving from the big screen (resolutions of up to 1080p are supported) to its bright 6.2in 1,280 x 720 display is pretty much seamless.

The Switch doesn’t pause to reload at the different resolution, it switches modes instantaneously, so if you’re halfway through a particularly intensive Zelda session and you need to dash off to work you can do so without a second thought to shutting down or rebooting. And, while it’s certainly true that the Switch is much bigger, heavier and less pocketable than the 3DS, it’s by no means unwieldy. The whole thing weighs 398g with the Joy-Con controllers attached – that’s lighter than an Apple iPad Air 2.

The only negative thing about the hardware, and it’s a small thing at that, is that onboard storage isn’t particularly generous at a mere 32GB. Don’t expect to store much on the device either, with its piddly 32GB of on-board storage. Best invest in a decently-sized, fast microSD card for your game downloads and screenshots.

Nintendo Switch review: Joy-Con controllers

Nintendo calls the Switch’s dainty, brightly coloured controllers Joy-Cons, and they’re marvellous. The stars of the show, they slot in at the sides of the tablet for on-the-go fun, or in the bundled Joy-Con Grip when you’re at home but can also be detached and used independently, for co-op fun in supported games.

Each is a controller in its own right, complete with a solitary analog stick, quad action buttons and a pair of shoulder triggers. Internally, there’s a gyroscope and accelerometer serving its motion-wielding purpose. Now, those dinky controllers do sit well in my unnecessarily small hands, but the buttons may prove a little cramped in larger mitts. They’re wonderfully light, though, just what you need from a controller you’ll be flailing around. Just make sure to slip on the included Joy-Con straps before doing so.

What really impresses, though, is each Joy-Con’s “HD Rumble”: advanced haptic feedback that produces vibrations far more sophisticated than your average mobile phone buzz. Pay close attention Sony, this is no vague rumbling. It’s so finely tuned that you can feel even the faintest of tiny movements of virtual balls buried inside the controller when you give the Joy-Con a rattle.

You may have heard some issues around controller syncing issues with the left Joy-Con controller. During both our hands-on period and over our time with the console for the review it was hard to ever replicate the issue – especially after Nintendo’s day-one patch. Nintendo says that it’s largely due to wireless signals or too many cables nearby the main Switch unit. Still, as it hasn’t happened to us it’s hard to really knock Nintendo on the issue, but do keep it in mind.

Nintendo Switch review: Games

The hardware itself is on point then, but the lineup of launch games is cause for concern. If it wasn’t for that system-selling Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there wouldn’t be enough to actually do on the console you’ve parted £280 for.

Besides Zelda, there’s the Warioware-like 1-2-Switch, which seems too much like a bundled freebie like Wii Sports, than the fully-fledged £40 title it is at launch. It’s a seriously fun game to play, though, filled with laugh-a-minute cow milking head-to-head action and hard-fought virtual jousting, but essentially this is a glorified tech demo. It does make splendid use of those Joy-con controllers to great effect, though, so here’s hoping Nintendo keeps 1-2-Switch afloat with free mini-games come launch. Pair that with booze-filled parties and 1-2-Switch could be a winner.

Zelda, though, is one of the best open-world gaming experiences I’ve had the pleasure of exploring. Its world is expansive: filled with bad guys, loot, and miles of wilderness to explore. It’s a bit of a battery hog when in handheld mode, though: expect to run out of juice within three hours.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – a port of the Wii U version and its DLC – is coming a month from release, while paint-combat sequel Splatoon 2 and Mario Galaxy-like 3D platformer Super Mario Odyssey arrive toward the tail end of the year.

Including indie games, the library of Nintendo Switch games should swell to 70-ish by Christmas time, but it’s slim pickings for the time being. If you’re expecting a long list of games to play on March 3, don’t get your hopes up.

One thing to note, although it doesn’t affect too many Switch users right now, is Nintendo’s bizarre move to not let you take save data from one Switch to another. You can install games onto a microSD card, trasfer screenshots to it too, but you can’t put saved games on there and move them to another console – everything saves directly to the internal storage. This may not sound like too much of an issue but it does mean that if your Switch breaks, or you break your Switch, that’s everything you’ve worked so hard towards gone. Nintendo currently says that it may look into the issue in the future, but right now you’re stuck like this.

Nintendo Switch review: Verdict

Given there’s only two AAA games on launch (and one’s a bunch of mini-games), there’s little point picking up a Switch day one. Wait a few months for Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and indie titles like Team 17’s Overcooked, before handing over the cash. Its biggest launch issue, though? It’s just not finished.

At the time of writing, Nintendo’s servers are still to be switched on, so there’s no knowing what apps or services – such as Netflix or YouTube – Nintendo’s hybrid has to offer. Online subscription pricing still hasn’t been talked about, either, which is simply baffling.

As such, I feel I’ve been given half a console to review, with the rest showing up only after people have forked out £280 for it. This still feels like a preview, and with the Switch launching on Friday the 3rd of March, I can’t award it a Best Buy. Yet.

That’s a shame, because by golly if this isn’t one of the best games consoles of this generation, if ever. That console to handheld transition is superb, and the Joy-Con controllers really steal the show. Hardware-wise, it’s near-perfect, but we need some games and apps to keep it afloat. Come on Nintendo: we don’t want another Wii U on our hands.

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