So this weekend I finally made the leap. I guess the brainwashing finally got to me. Either way, the purchase has been made, I’m now a Switch owner. I’m just a little over 24 hours in as a Switcher (is that the right word? I’m new to the gang) and I figured I’d share my first thoughts.
I went with the minimal investment, got a Nintendo Switch (grey) without any accessories, and bought Mario and Zelda from the eShop (I really don’t like discs, cartridges or whatever). So the first 2 hours with Switch, post initial setup, was spent sleeping together with my 1.5 year old daughter. Felt refreshing.
And I think that’s a valid description for the Switch overall – refreshing. Contrary to the all more convoluted Xbox and Playstation consoles, the Switch does one thing, games, and not much else, and it does it quite well. I really like the minimal menu system (even if I’m missing a few features, more on that later) and how responsive it is.
As for the actual thing, I was a bit surprised at how large it actually is. I’ve seen it in stores, but back home, in the sofa, it feels really large. And while that does rule out my backpocket it’s actually a nice thing. The 720p screen looks really beautiful on it and the screen is now large enough to actually not feel like too much of a compromise vs playing on the TV, and the small screen is one of the three main complaints I have about the PlayStation Vita (the other two are the memory cards and the lack of a proper secondary shoulder button). You need a sizable screen to fully enjoy big open world adventures like Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted, and Zelda really thrives on the Switch, even in portable mode.
Like I mentioned before, I so far only have Zelda and Mario, plus the demo of Dragon Quest Builders, and it’s easy to see why the first two are so popular. Mario really have a unique charm about it that brings a smile onto your face while Zelda brings back the adventurous part of playing gaming, like it used to be. I’m far from ready to give a final verdict on either, but so far it’s looking very good.
Speaking of looking good, it’s impressive to see how well Nintendo has managed to squeeze out every bit of performance from the hardware to run Zelda and Mario, as it never feels like a compromise. The Switch will still never be able to compete with the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X when it comes to realistic looking graphics, and it probably does well to avoid titles that aim for those kind of graphics.
I have to mention the Joy-Cons, as Iv’e seen them getting a fair bit of negative comments. I so far love them. I may still get the over-priced Pro Controller, but so far I don’t miss it. Using the Joy-Con Grip you get a quite a surprisingly comfortable grip (coming from PlayStation the thinner grips feels familiar, even though I so wish it was possible to swap the A & B buttons). But what’s even better is using them with one in each hand. Mario has special support for it and you can use it to through your hat and other commands, while Zelda works perfectly fine without any special support.
It’s the ultimate couch-potato controller, as you don’t even need to raise your arms now. I played with one controller behind my head and the other lazily by my side and it worked just as well.
I have to go through some of the less good things though. It’s quite embarrassing that the online services are still mostly missing from the console. I do like that it doesn’t really force it’s social functions onto you, and instead allows you to use service of your choice, and they do have a service coming, but we are now almost a year since release and it’s yet to be released.
A bit worrying is that I can’t find the feature I like the most from PS Plus (and Xbox Live), aside from the multiplayer of course, the online sync of save files. At launch you couldn’t even backup your save files, or transfer to a different Switch, but those have been recently added through a system update.
Also, I’m curious what will be the long term plan for their Classic Games. There’s been no word at all regarding the Virtual Console, that’s available on Wii U and so on, which allows you to buy older vintage games like the first Zelda and play on that console. The only mention it’s gotten so far, is again through it’s online services as “Classic Game Selection”, and that Super Mario Bros 3 (being an oldie, I rate it as the best Mario game so yay! for that) will be available through it.
But what about the rest? The Switch should be able to emulate all previous consoles up to the original Wii, and boy it would turn the Switch into a true killer console.
Personally, I’m not too fussed about free games each month (it’s very rarely I actually play the ones offered through PS Plus) so I’d rather they focus on cloud sync of save files and creating a full virtual console store. My only worry, is given the success of the retro boxes, they’ll focus on them instead for classic games, but I don’t want more boxes connected to the TV than I already have.
Finally, I have to complain a bit about the Nintendo website and that it’s not possible to buy a game digitally on the Swedish website. Overall, their online services with My Nintendo, Nintendo Account, Network Id and almost endless list of different accounts and services is really a mess.
Ok, enough doom n’ gloom. But the main reason I want to spend some time complaining is that they are all relatively easily fixed. The hardware is solid and the game content is constantly getting better. Back in 1985 a completely new world was opened up to me when my older brother gave me his NES, so I’ve always felt a close bond with Mario, Link, Zelda and Nintendo in general, and it certainly feels nice that they’ve really stepped up this time. Good times ahead!