Nintendo Switch Hardware Review
Before the Switch was announced and it was simply known as ‘NX’, there was a lot of intrigue about what the console would be like as well as sentiments that this could be Nintendo’s last chance to get it right with Home Consoles, especially after what happened with the Wii U and the lack of support that it had from 3rd party developers.
At the announcement Nintendo made it clear about the 3rd party issue showing us a list of developers/publishers that were on board with the projects, as well as outlining their first party plans and showing us upcoming games. The fact that they have been able to get games like Skyrim on board to the Switch is a little bit of faith towards that third party support and also putting gamers mind at ease. However, one game doesn’t make a console and a steady supply of big third party games are needed and I think over the coming months as well as what happens at E3 will show how the Switch means business and whether it is going to be sink or swim. My honest opinion for games and Switch is that I’m hoping Nintendo get some big third party games shown during their presentation. They have a massive area on the floor this year so I’m hoping that’s going to mean that they have a lot to show off. Only time will tell I guess.
Now the console itself. I was lucky to be able to get my hands on the console early, only a day early, but still… It gave me a chance to have a play around with the system and to find out all the different little bits and bobs that are available at launch. Luckily for me as well the servers hadn’t long been ‘Switch’ed on, so I was able to update my console to version 2.0.0.
The e-Shop hadn’t been updated when I updated the console and still just showed games that were coming to the system. I will admit that there weren’t many there and still aren’t in the European store, I’m not able to see any demos either and the store does look very bare, however over the coming weeks this will change as there will be more games being introduced etc.
I had always said that I would probably mainly play the console handheld, this is the standout thing that appealed to me, being able to play these big games on the go. There was mention about the battery life not being great (I’ll get onto this later in the review) but I wouldn’t be playing with it outside and would probably have a dabble on my breaks at work, so wouldn’t be playing for long, or when I went go visit my mum, so I can take the charger with me and plug in, crisis averted…. lol. The other times will be played at home where I can charge or plug in and play. All is well there for me anyway. Others who may want to play outside might have issues when it comes to battery life.
The setting up of the console was very quick and easy. When I turned the console on, it asked me to pick a nickname for the console, and then connect to the internet. Once I was connected to the internet it popped up to let me know that there was an update available, and within 2 minutes it was done. Far from the scenes that were witnessed with the Wii U and the length of time it took to update that console. I did have slight heart palpitations when it told me there was an update, but all was well with the world. I hope that this is the same for everyone and the servers don’t get under too much stress at launch.
The UI of the system is very simplistic. It’s kind of like an XMB where you have your games/apps across the middle of the screen and options underneath to go to the news section, e-shop, controller settings/syncing, system settings and power options.
The UI is very user friendly but at the moment it does seem a bit bland, however I think that’s because the only game that I have for it currently is Zelda. So there is only one square being occupied right now but hopefully that will all change in the near future.
Screenshots have been introduced and just like the PS4 they have their own dedicated button in the left Joy Con, and it is so easy to use, press and done. You then have a gallery on the home page where you can edit and post your screenshots to Twitter and Facebook to share with the world.
One thing I have found a bit disappointing with the system is the lack of any apps, I understand that this might not a priority as it would require a constant connection (Unless offline watching was enabled on Netflix etc) but for those who are going to be using it as a home console, I would have thought that it would be been something that Nintendo would have thrown out for launch, let’s just hope that this is sorted out rather quickly. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention about a browser, the main reason behind this is that this really doesn’t bother me, the awkwardness of using Edge on Xbox One and Browser on PS4 means I am rather glad there isn’t one on the Switch (For the time being).
If I wanted to browse online I would either use my phone if I’m out and about with my Switch or if I’m at home I will use my laptop, simples.
When I saw the Joy Cons staring up at me from the top of the box, I was pleasantly surprised, they had looked smaller in videos and demonstrations, but from what I saw, they looked a decent size. When seperated and placed in each hand they do feel a bit small, but I always thought that was because of my big ham hands, and I found it a little awkward to hold them separately.
When I attached them to the Switch screen and played handheld, we had a different kettle of fish on our hands. I loved how it felt when holding and playing Zelda. For once I had a handheld that I could sit and play for hours as the controllers felt comfortable and the whole system didn’t feel heavy. This was one of my concerns about the Switch, whether it would be heavy or feel awkward, but all of that was put to bed after I managed to get comfortable with the console.
The battery life was mentioned by Nintendo at the announcement and they said it can last up to 6 hours, however this will depend on what you’re playing. I charged the console overnight and started playing Zelda this morning on 100% battery. 2 and a half hours later my charge was down to 20%, so as you can see from that, Zelda does drain the battery quickly. It will be interesting to test other games on this to see what the battery life is like, unfortunately I don’t have any other games at the moment so cannot comment.
In terms of charging times, after charging it earlier it has taken an hour and a half to get from 15% to 80%. I estimate a full charge is going to take around 2 and a half hours, which isn’t too bad, but I do feel that better battery life is needed, especially for a system that can be used on the go.
My overall assessment of the system at launch is that at the moment it is very threadbare, but that’s because it seems not all games that were announced for release have been added to the e-shop, there aren’t any apps on the system, which isn’t a bad thing as there are games to play, but there could have been more customisable options available such as using your screenshots as a background, which is a feature I really hope that they introduce.
I think the main question that is being asked at the moment is, do I get one now?
If you’re a fan of Zelda/Nintendo in general, then I would say yes, it’s an investment for the future for when more games come out, which they will as we already have numerous games coming out in the next 10 weeks, one of which is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
If you’re not and can wait for more games to come out and get them all at once, then I would say wait, but I have to admit that I am having a lot of fun with my Switch, mainly because of Zelda, but that’s a story for another day.