On the weekend we were fortunate enough to get our hands on the Nintendo Switch (you may have already read about how filthy it was). It was a pretty great evening, we spent three hours up close and personal with Nintendo’s new system, some new games, and the Joy-Con controllers. Whether you’re considering a preorder or just curious, I’m sure you have some questions about the system, in this article I’ll do my best to address those question. If you’re not in the loop on the Switch, you can read our handy guide first.
What’s it like changing between modes?
One of the main Switch features is its adaptability. You may have seen the trailer where people seamlessly transfer from portable mode to TV connection, and the cool thing is, it really is that instantaneous. I played Breath of the Wild for 20 minutes, and during that time I continuously switched (lol) the console between modes. Sometimes I would rapidly alternate in an attempt to catch it out and see it freeze, but nope, it was pretty damn consistent. The quality between the different modes is noticeable, but it wasn’t a turn off in any instance, in fact the handheld looks sharp, even on relatively beefy games such as Zelda. I did notice a couple of frame rate drops when playing as a handheld, but nothing too severe, and certainly not worth panicking over this far before launch.
As a handheld device the Switch feels pretty good, much like the Wii U gamepad, and the Pro controller felt much like an original Xbox controller. So ultimately no surprises in handling, but how about the tabletop mode? This is where things really changed.
Using half a Joy-Con must suck, right?
The Switch can be placed on a table and played wirelessly with controllers. It pretty much turns the system into a tiny 6.2 inch monitor capable of multiplayer. I played Tom in a round of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe using split screen. To both play we each held one side of a Joy-Con, which is a very tiny controller coming in at roughly the size of my palm.
What you may notice about that image is the location of the stick. It’s almost dead centre on the Joy-Con, which you might also presume isn’t so comfortable when using it as a traditional controller, and you’d be right. It’s not a perfect controller when used this way, however it’s still pretty great for temporary use. I can’t see too many instances where you’d play solely on tabletop mode, but it would be a great solution for multiplayer needs when no alternatives are available, such as on a plane. It’d be interesting to see how the Joy-Con grips make it feel, but ultimately it’s always going to be the least comfortable set up.
Oh, and the screen is crazy small for split multiplayer. A hectic game of Mario Kart can be hard to follow, but like I said, it’s a not so elegant solution for when you absolutely must trash talk on the go.
What does HD Rumble feel like?
So HD Rumble is that weird thing shown during the Switch presentation that can make a Joy-Con controller feel like a glass of water with ice rattling around inside of it.
It might not seem like the most useful thing, and I’m still not sold on it as a gaming mechanism, but it is really cool. During a play around with 1-2 Switch, which is pretty much tech demos meet party games, we played a game where the Joy-Con mimicked a box and you had to guess how many marbles were rolling around inside. Yeah, not the height of gameplay, but it did feel real. The gyro and HD Rumble make a pairing worthy of praise, each subtle movement corresponds to the feel of the controller. It’s impressive tech, especially in such a lightweight controller.
Are the games gimmicky?
Considering the Wii had quite a few gimmicky titles based around Wiimotes, this is something that’s been a constant fear for me with new Nintendo consoles. For the Switch this is kind of a mixed bag, but from what we saw it’s kind of a yes and no answer.
1-2 Switch is straight up gimmicky, but it’s kind of fun too. I can’t imagine getting a shit ton of playtime out of it, but when a friend pops by and you want to jack some flaccid body parts together, it’s a means to an end. As I touched on, it’s a tech demo/party game hybrid. It’s the PSVR Worlds of the Switch. But, it’s also a great intro into what the Joy-Con controllers and the Switch can do, whether that justifies the AU$69.95 price tag is your call.
Arms is pretty much Wii Sports boxing, but with a dumb name and better mechanics. I enjoyed beating the shit out of Tom (he sucked), but it also doesn’t feel like a long term game. The character designs are kind of cool, and I do look forward to finding out just why so many people in the game’s world have springs or chains for arms, but it really isn’t screaming “must buy” at the moment.
Splatoon 2 made me feel sick when used in portable set up, the gyro aiming is pretty nuts, but that being said, it’s still the best online shooter experience going around on Nintendo systems. This sequel doesn’t fall far from the tree, and hopefully with gyro settings turned off, it will be a worthy purchase when it launches in Winter 2017.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is essentially a GOTY edition of the Wii U classic, and to be honest, you can’t go wrong there. The retail price is a bit steep at AU$79.95 for a port, but it’s something that should get a solid amount of playtime, especially in portable mode with up to 8 players in local wireless multiplayer.
Breath of the Wild, yeah this game will pretty much be my life until 2018.