Since March 3rd, many avid Nintendo fans have gotten their hands on the Switch, Nintendo’s new home…and handheld…console.
The Switch was first unveiled last fall via an announcement video, and had one livestream event earlier this year that shared more information about the system and its upcoming games. The stream left many feeling unsure about the Switch, as there were hardly any launch titles and Nintendo has been trying to recover from the Wii U, which had been somewhat of a failure.
The Wii U was released back in 2012 and hasn’t seen much success in its five years of life. The technological advances were not nearly as impressive as its predecessor, the Wii, so it hardly touched the non-gamer demographic. Because of that leading to less sales, it was hard for Nintendo to attract support from third party companies to create games for the Wii U.
In my own experience, my Wii game library is massive compared to my Wii U library. Additionally, I was the only person in my family playing the Wii U; when my parents first bought the Wii as a Christmas surprise, they would sneakily play it at night after my sister and I had gone to bed in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Naturally, the lack of games for the Wii U had left many of us feeling skeptical for the Switch, but Nintendo made sure to publicize all the companies that had already signed on to work with them for the Switch, bringing titles such as “Skyrim” to our libraries.
Nintendo also emphasized the new tech coming to us in the Switch, dedicating several minutes of the announcement to some “HD vibration” feature (I don’t really remember besides it just being weird). I came off with the idea that the Wii U had been a prototype for the Switch or the line connecting Point A (the Wii) to Point B (the Switch).
Now that I’ve had the ability to play with it for a week, I’m actually pretty impressed.
The system itself worked out better than I had expected. The JoyCons are basically tiny Wii remotes, but despite the smaller size, they fit pretty comfortably in my hands. The screen on the Switch is a definite step up from the Wii U Gamepad, as the Switch’s screen is HD.
You can play it like a home console or a handheld device; put the Switch in the dock and plug it into the TV to play games on the big screen, or take it out of the dock and play it like a DS. It’s pretty awesome. The lifespan of the battery in handheld mode depends on the game you play; a data-heavy game such as “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”, the only title available at launch and therefore carrying the system until “Splatoon 2” and “Super Mario Odyssey” later this year, will run the battery down in about three hours.
Aside from “Breath of the Wild” I’ve played a little bit of “1-2-Switch!”, which is basically a lower quality, yet more expensive, “Wii Sports.” It really should’ve come with the system free of charge, as “Breath of the Wild” isn’t a 2-player game, thus forcing the hand of people sharing a Switch to purchase “1-2-Switch!” for a multiplayer experience.
(Side note: yes, I did lick the game cartridge and, yes, it did taste very gross. My sister and dad also tried it and came to the same conclusion as me.)
“Breath of the Wild” has attracted lots of attention, receiving some of the highest review scores ever compared to previous games. It’s my first open-world style game so I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by it, but it’s definitely fun; I’ve spent a couple hours a day playing it since launch. It’s also really challenging, giving me a plethora of “game over” screens every time I sit down to play it.
It’s a bit buggy, though. The frame rate drops pretty epically at some points, especially during big fight scenes, which is literally the worst time to drop the frame rate. Additionally, the game will freeze altogether sometimes—luckily only a few seconds at a time for me, but indefinitely for other players. I’ve even had the controls stop responding completely, if only for a few seconds! Despite that, I still find myself addicted to the game, which is only the third “Zelda” title I’ve owned and played through (the other two being “Wind Waker” and “Triforce Heroes”).
Overall, I’m definitely more pleased about the Switch than I had anticipated. There is a lot of potential for it to be revered as a great system. As great as the original Wii? Unlikely, though the Switch recently beat out the Wii's initial sales, making it the fastest-selling console for Nintendo ever. Better than the Wii U? Hopefully.
Here’s to hoping we receive much more third party support this time around in addition to other first party games as great as “Breath of the Wild”.