One week with the Nintendo Switch


Cam Fuller

After some pour business decisions and a lackluster console, many didn’t think Nintendo could come back from their fall. Long-time fans had counted them out, but one should never forget that Nintendo are the kings of video game innovation. The new Nintendo Switch is a hybrid console, meaning it can be played on a TV at home or on the go as a handheld. The Joy-Con controllers make the Switch a veritable Transformer: keep them attached to the sides in tablet mode, slide them off and prop up the screen on a table to play one- or two-player games, or dock the Switch in its included charging cradle to play on your big-screen TV. The idea is that you’ll get the same basic experience regardless of how you play.
The Nintendo Switch is a much more elegantly designed console from top to bottom, light-years ahead of the plastic goofiness of its spiritual predecessor, the GamePad on 2012’s Wii U. It feels solid in its construction — expensive, even — and demonstrates a mature refinement throughout. Even the operating system is clean and fast — a stark contrast compared to what the Wii U ran on.
Just looking at the Switch’s primary focus of being a practical home-and-on-the-go console, the Switch definitely nails it. There is something awesome about taking a huge game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with you wherever you go. It is perfect for long car rides, and it works well on a plane, too. And while battery life is far from marathon levels, I was able to slow down battery drain using a Tronsmart portable charger, thanks to Nintendo adopting the USB-C charging standard on the Switch.
The console doesn’t come without it’s fair share of day one flaws however. Besides one instant classic, there are only a handful of games and no Virtual Console. The screen feels small during tabletop sessions and the Joy-Con layout can be very cramped, and the left one can have connection issues when wireless. These problems are to be expected, but are by no means acceptable.
Once you’re done with Zelda (already the frontrunner for game of the year), you’ll probably have to turn to playing more Zelda. The early Switch lineup is pretty anemic. 1-2 Switch, which effectively serves as a demo for the Joy-Con controllers, isn’t even included in the box. And don’t expect any other online entertainment on the Switch’s screen for now — Netflix and other basic streaming services are nowhere to be found and there have been zero updates as to when they will be included or if they’ll be available at all.
All of these little omissions and issues make the Switch feel less than ideal no matter which way you use it. But Joy-Con sync problems aside, it can be easy to overlook this stuff when you’re enjoying Zelda on your own personal screen in the car, or in bed while someone else uses the TV. Unless you’re a hardcore Nintendo fan however, the Switch just isn’t worth getting quite yet. Come the Holiday season, when prices have dropped and there are more than three physical games, the Switch will be truly ripe for picking.