The Nintendo Switch is the newest console entry into the competitive and ever-growing industry of video gaming. The console had the codename ‘NX’, before it was officially revealed as the ‘Switch’ by Nintendo in a YouTube video package on the 20th October 2016. In this article, we will be reviewing the console and providing the answers to important questions, such as what is the weight of the main unit? Why does the left Joy-Con keep disconnecting from the console? And how does a Nintendo Switch cartridge taste?
The Switch is a hybrid video game console, and the first of its kind; it’s both a home console and a portable handheld device. It was primarily designed to be used at home; the main unit is inserted into a docking station which allows gamers to connect the device to a television. Alternatively, the unit can be removed from the dock and used like a tablet. The unit weighs about 297 grams and is relatively small (by small we mean 23.9cm by 10.2 cm by 1.4cm to be precise). There are three different gameplay modes that can be used to play the Switch:
- TV Mode – The main unit is placed in the docking station to support gameplay on a television. This was the mode that we mainly played the console on. The docking unit acts as a charging device for the console.
- Tabletop Mode – The main unit is placed on a table or hard surface using its kickstand for shared gaming, away from a dedicated screen. I did not use this mode at all. I tried to stand the switch up using the kickstand, but there was an initial fear that it might break off completely. It was very flimsy and it felt like it could break off if you were too rough with it. If you don’t use a hard surface area then the Switch won’t stand correctly.
- Handheld Mode – The main unit is used as a standard portable device. I used this mode to test the battery life and its portability. Whenever ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’, was played in this mode, it lasted over two hours before it reached 16% battery life. The console can be charged using a USB Type-C charger.
There are a few differences between the modes. When the main unit is docked, the console runs at 1080p as opposed to 720p, when it is undocked. You can connect USB devices such as a keyboard to the main unit via the dock; however, if it is not docked then you can’t use the device. Keyboards work in TV mode when you are typing on the Switch. If you are using the Tabletop mode, you can’t physically charge the console as the charging port is on the bottom. You have to connect the controllers known as the Joy-Cons to the main Unit of the Handheld mode.
Speaking of Joy-Cons, if you clasp your hand around your ear and look at the shape of it, this is how you would hold one. The Joy-Cons fit relatively well in your hands. They come with a grip that they can be slid into for support. When placed in the grip, you will hear a click meaning that the Joy-Cons are securely locked in. Playing with the grip, feels rather unnatural and weird at first, but in a good way. The more I played, the more I got used to the grip as it felt natural after a few hours of gameplay. I removed the Joy Cons from the grip and placed them into the Switch in Handheld mode, I heard the click but they were definitely not secure.
This is one of the problems with the Joy-Cons. When used in Handheld mode, it feels like the main unit is going to slip out of the controllers and smash on the ground. I would not carry the Switch using the controllers. The next issue is the right and left bumpers at the back of the controller. They don’t feel like buttons at all. My left bumper actually broke and is not working properly; it has made for very uncomfortable gameplay. Continuing with the consistency of problems that the Joy-Cons are causing; gamers have been experiencing issues connecting to the console while playing using the left controller. The left Joy-Con will stop responding for a few seconds, meaning the player will lose control of their character. This happened a number of times in one play session lasting about 4 hours in TV mode. Since then, the problem has only occurred once or twice and I have died due to my own stupidity instead of running off a cliff.
The operating system within the console is very smooth. It may be a very small feature, but the noises which it made when you click on something were very positive and uplifting. On day one of release, the patch was relatively quick, but it did take a while to connect to the Wi-Fi during the setup of the console. You can create up to 8 different profiles on your Switch account – each account having their own user data for each game. The e-Shop is also back but was lacking significantly in terms of games. Nintendo have announced around 137 games to be released on the Switch.
Whilst you can download games digitally, Nintendo went back to using cartridges for this console. A trend that was started by Jeff Gerstmann from ‘Giant Bomb’ involved putting the Nintendo Switch cartridges in your mouth to see how they taste. To Jeff’s surprise, he was shocked whenever the cartridge left a disgusting aftertaste in his mouth, they would then go on to discuss why it tasted so bad. In a statement released by a Nintendo representative, he confirmed that the Switch cartridge was in fact covered in a material that was meant to dissuade people from putting them in their mouths. This material was a bittering agent known as Denatonium Benzoat. It was applied to the cartridges to avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion.
Overall, we decided to score the Nintendo Switch – 7/10. The Switch is new, exciting and the first of its kind, however, it’s not perfect. The quality of the screen when the console becomes portable is amazing, but the battery won’t even last 3 hours. You can take it on the go, but I don’t think dying constantly because of a controller issue is ideal. It looks like I’ll have to wait until April for ‘Mario Kart 8’, before I get another game due to the lack of titles at launch.
There may be one reason for the lack of titles at launch, and that reason is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We will be releasing our review of the game in the next few days.
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