Nintendo Switch: The Team’s Early Impressions

We canvass the opinions of our humble Sprite Nation team to see how they feel about Switch after a few weeks of solid gaming on Ninty’s new hybrid device…

Tom’s take: (Neon Switch, Zelda, Glass screen cover)

Positives: “I’ll admit to having a spot of buyer’s remorse after I shelled out a great deal of money for the new Nintendo console, yet once I had opened that small but perfectly formed box my fears were allayed. The console is a beauty. No doubt about it, the diminutive device is solid and feels well constructed, and immediately announces itself as a much higher quality product than the (beloved) Wii U. The system is just so quick! None of that Wii U lumbering when you need something done. The graphical power may be lacking on the other consoles, but Switch is lightning fast, a welcome luxury. The machine basically runs silently as well, which is one real benefit of those tiny (and bitter) cartridges. Already I’m well impressed by the machine’s main functionality, the switching; taking a great game on the go just works. We have seen this ability in previous devices, yes, but it’s always been some kind of inferior version, and the fun is somehow lost. With the Switch, you really feel like you’re getting the same experience in both locations; I’m even happy to play in handheld mode when I get back to the house, and I’ll only dock if I’m staying for a long Zelda session, it’s that good. Also, the Joy Cons themselves and the handheld unit together are both far more comfortable to play with than I expected, and that’s a huge bonus. I was converted to the Joy Cons in seconds.”

Negatives: “It’s slightly disappointing that the Switch can’t run Zelda at at least a solid 30fps, and the infamous left Joy Con connectivity issue has reared its ugly head, albeit only once or twice in many hours. It’s never taken longer than a few seconds to sync back up again, but still, it’s not what you expect from a new device. The wrist straps for the Joy Cons also take a good bit of force to be removed from the controllers, and ironically I often feel a bit out of control when doing it. Unless I’m missing something there is no smooth way to release them, and with the console/Joy Con connection being so slick, the straps seem much more jarring to remove. That little kickstand on the back appears to be about 2mm too short to stay clipped in, too, but it’s no big deal.”

Those neon beauties! Wait, is the left one connected?

James’ impressions: (Neon Switch, Zelda, Snipperclips, 1-2 Switch)

Positives: Like Tom, my first impressions of the Switch were dominated by just how incredibly fast and responsive the system’s OS runs. The Wii U would take several Ice Ages just to open up the main menu, whereas the Switch shows almost no slowdown at all. It can’t be overlooked that Zelda is a truly incredible launch title, especially with so many ways to play. The lovely image capture button is also pleasingly snappy and bodes very well.”

Negatives: My main gripes with the Switch so far are largely down to a slight feeling that the system was rushed out, with many key and generally expected features curiously lacking. For the sake of readability and my love of lists, here are some of the features that really should have been present, but are weirdly absent on the Switch at launch; media capabilities, friend messaging or photo sharing services, folders, search options, customisation of user interface, game playtime stats, streaming apps (Netflix, Twitch, YouTube, etc) and finally a trophy system or some quirky Nintendo equivalent. While I appreciate the clean look of the e-shop, its lack of features and organisation is pretty startling. There is no way to search for games by category or name, and the game title isn’t even displayed clearly. Hopefully, as more games get added the shop’s functionality will improve, because at present it is pretty awful. Unlike Tom, I’ve managed to avoid the widely reported left Joy Con sync issues, but that’s most likely down to playing with my hands almost in touching distance of the Switch. My final disappointment is a general lack of the Nintendo charm that their other consoles are famed for. There is no background music and a lack of fan favourites such as miiverse, streetpass makes the console feel a little sterile and cold.  Hopefully some of these missing features will come with future updates and help to liven up the Switch a little.”

Charlie’s thoughts: (Grey Switch, Zelda, Snipperclips, plastic screen cover)

We weren’t actually going to get a Switch on release – it just kind of happened (impulse control problems are common in our household). We had previously discussed which colour we would end up getting, and decided the novelty of the neon version might wear off sooner rather than later, but personally, I’m a little jealous of everyone else’s multi-coloured switches right now. Oh well!

Positives: “So neat! So compact! So perfectly holdable in all its forms! It really is a nice bit of kit. It’s also super quick and quiet, as the others have mentioned already. Zelda, as literally the entire internet has already told you, is simply beautiful; we also enjoyed the mild confusion of the Snipperclips demo, and will definitely be buying that. Then there’s the hilarious fact that the cartridges taste horrible and people can’t stop tasting them, which has offered me no end of entertainment already…”

Negatives: “For me, the screen is just that bit too small to play on for an extended period of time. Let’s be honest, this is more an issue with my ageing eyes than with the screen itself, but I did notice almost straight away how much effort my eyes were having to make. While I find the self-contained experience of playing it handheld somehow more satisfying and enjoyable, I will mainly be playing on the TV.

Then there’s the fact that people’s screens are routinely being damaged by putting the console in its dock (although us folks at SN have had no such incidents to report), which seems like a ludicrously avoidable problem. We’ve currently got a plastic screen cover on ours at a slightly odd angle, and will be upgrading to a glass one that’s on straight. We’d probably want one anyway (okay, my other half would, I wouldn’t care) but that’s not really the point! We’ve also had left Joy Con issues, but only one incident so far.

I also have to agree with James that a certain “Nintendo charm” is distinctly lacking. It’s almost as if the system is too mature and sophisticated – I actually miss what I have come to think of as the quirky, good-natured faff of the Wii and Wii U menu screens.

Finally, there’s the fact that inevitably, I will taste a Switch game and then regret it strongly for a really long time…”

Homeslice’s 2 Cents:

Positives: The amount of power that is packed into this tiny console is amazing! The quality of the screen is a lot better than I thought it would be, the Joy-Cons are amazing to handle and of course Zelda is just wonderful.”

Negatives: “A lack of support for the launch, but hopefully we’ll see some big reveals at E3 to change all that, and I feel like the kickstand can be a little bit flimsy.

A positive start, we love playing Switch in both of its main modes, but can that be maintained over 2017 and beyond?

Roundup:

Well, there you have it. That’s how we’re feeling coming up to 1 month after launch. I deliberately left in any issues that overlapped, and it’s quite clear that A: Zelda is still keeping us all hooked after a few weeks of intense gaming, B: the console’s immense speed and clarity make for a great early impression and offer a fair trade off for the comparative power deficit, and C: we’re all yearning for a little bit more Nintyness to be imbued into the workings of the unit itself, and of course, some features to be fully fleshed out. These things seem almost certain to happen over time; but what will happen to console sales figures as Zelda reaches its early peak remains a mystery… and we won’t be the only ones keen to see what happens.

 

 

 

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