A few months ago I was anxiously awaiting the reveal of the Switch. The NX as it was codenamed was the next revolutionary step from Nintendo, it’s bounce back from the Wii U. It promised handheld and console level performance which it could interchange between very easily. I was not disappointed.
From the initial video, I was hooked. Breath of the Wild looked amazing and the ease of use of the device, the revolution of the Joy-Con controllers and the Nintendo magic sold it to me. I needed one.
After the second reveal; the introduction of initial launch titles, the different coloured Joy-Cons and more specifications on the device, I was excited and prepared my wallet to pay. This was the thing we had been waiting for, and it was coming in March. From initial reviews of the unit, many people seem to be very happy with the product and it looks very polished. Here are my thoughts after the buzz has died down slightly.
The hardware specifications:
Running on a CPU and GPU that are based heavily on the Tegra X1 Chipset (also used in the Nvidia Shield TV box), this console has a lot of power under its hood. It officially would be capable of 4k UHD video playback through its HDMI 1.4 connection however whether this will be used remains to be seen. Of course though, it will be more than capable of running games at 1080p. According to initial reports, the Switch’s GPU will run at 307.2MHz when undocked (in handheld mode) but 768MHz when docked. I personally think this is really clever as this allows the console to change to a more battery saving mode when handheld (using the 720p screen) whilst still being able to output better graphics and higher frame rates when connected to a 1080p TV, not retraining the user in either situation.
Whilst some were annoyed at the fact it only had a 720p screen, I maintain that it was a good decision to go in this direction. Other common complaints already quote the battery and if Nintendo had gone any higher in resolution this would have suffered greatly due to the fact that the processor would have had to output to more pixels and render more. It also would have drained the battery a lot faster due to more pixels needing power.
Going on from my last point, the screen is perfectly fine in terms of PPI. 720p at 6.2 pixels gives around 236ppi which is around what you get on a retina iPad. I’ve never had complaints about my iPad not being sharp at all and I think Nintendo was clever not to chase spec sheets and stick with something which saves on battery life and isn’t really needed at a higher resolution. It will be a massive upgrade to the low resolution 3DS anyway, and that sold very well due to its games, rather than its raw specs. As long as the Switch can run its games well at these resolutions, I’ll be happy.
The Switch boasts a very unique experience – being able to use the same controller when docked and when on the move. This means there is no real change when going from desktop to console, a very stark contrast from the 3DS and the Wii/Wii U. I was also excited to see the different colour Joy-Cons available, however I think I’ll stay with my grey colours as I don’t want it to stand out too much (however this may change). I was also interested to see that you could buy Joy-Cons on their own individually however they were reversed from the original console, allowing you to have a fully red or fully blue console if wanted. They look like the perfect devices to play hardcore games but then also shift to handheld sharing mode to play with friends, and create the core experience for the users.
The amount of buttons on the controllers is also really impressive in my opinion, with left and right bumpers usually hidden in usual play but revealed when using them individually. There are a wealth of buttons on the console too, along with dual analogue sticks and dual buttons. There are also dual bumper buttons when using as a full console or when using both Joy-Cons together. The controllers also have ‘HD Rumble’ which sounds promising, akin to the upgraded Taptic Engine in the iPhone 7 however this remains to be seen as initial reviews just see it as a normal vibration (Nintendo touts that you can ‘feel’ individual ice cubes in a cup through these vibrations).
The rest of the hardware:
The Switch looks like it has dual speakers on the front (hopefully stereo!), power and volume buttons, an audio jack, a microSD card slot, a kickstand and a USB type C connector. I personally am really looking forward to being able to charge the Switch using something that isn’t proprietary. This means if you loose your charger or go somewhere without it, you’ll be able to purchase a cable from anywhere which could in the future also charge your tablets, laptops and phones. This also makes hooking up an external battery pack really easy which will be perfect for on the go gaming.
When docked, the switch will have 2 USB 2.0 ports on the side and one on the back along with an AC Adapter port and an HDMI 1.4 port. The function of each of these USB ports remains to be seen, hopefully providing extra functionalities in some degree.
The software experience:
As revealed by this recent post from IGN, we can see a very clean user interface which looks very easy to navigate. Capturing screenshots, adding annotations and sharing all seem really easy to do and the addition of memory cards allowing up to 2TB will help hold all those games. Games can be played through a cartridge that looks a lot like an SD card but eShop titles will be available. I personally have ordered Breath of the Wild, the new Zelda game and I am really looking forward to it. The onboard 32GB will also help to fulfil woes of people with large libraries already.
The whole package:
I am very impressed with Nintendo including most of the things the user will need within the pack. I was very annoyed when I opened up my New 3DS to find it without a charger but Nintendo has included everything you’d need (apart from the Pro controller). It even has a HDMI cable! The Joy-Con straps will also be very useful for kids (especially since they cost £79.99 as a pair to replace) and the grip will allow for everything to work right out the box. Games seem to be reasonably priced too and I am looking forward to seeing what else is on there. I will update this article with more news on the Nintendo online subscription service which I was disappointed to find out that you can only play the game for the month (hopefully Nintendo changes this soon) but I wait in anticipation and will update with thoughts on the console, especially when I receive it!