Nintendo Switch Hardware Review (BUY/WAIT/AVOID?)
Nintendo released their first console back in 1985. Thirty-two years later, they have launched their latest console: the Nintendo Switch. How is it? Let’s find out…
I have had every single Nintendo home console since the NES. Some would call me a Nintendo fanboy, but even I was pretty worried about the Switch. If this console failed, it could be the last foray Nintendo take into the world of home consoles.
After the failure of the Wii U, Nintendo seems to be pushing towards a market that has been booming the last five years; the mobile gaming market. Nintendo knows that hardcore gamers are not into free-to-play mobile games, which are designed to lock the full games behind pay-walls. Us hardcore gamers are born and bred to love AAA and/or indie game experiences, where we are not limited to how much we can play the game without giving money every hour. Nintendo also sees a market with the mobile gamers and wants a slice of that pie as well. Their answer to this separation in the market is the Nintendo Switch. And I have to say, it is a smart answer to bringing AAA games on the go.
When I opened the box of my Nintendo Switch, I have to admit I was surprised at how small the console is. From the promotional advertising and screenshots, I thought it would be a lot bigger; it is roughly the size of a tablet and weighs about the same too. Included with your purchase, is the Nintendo Switch console itself, TV dock, HDMI cable, USB-C power cable, two Joy-Con controllers, the Joy-Con grip, and the Joy-Con straps. Everything else is sold separately.
I was the most impressed with the clean and simplistic interface of the Nintendo Switch. This is by far the best console interface ever – even better than the Xbox One and PS4. Your games are easily accessible, ready to be selected, and all the handy menus for the system settings, screenshots, Joy-Cons, and Nintendo Shop are within your main screen. At the top, you have your Wi-Fi signal strength and power indicator. Clean and simple, the interface is designed to get you playing your games fast.
Another impressive thing is how fast games load from the cartridges. This is the first Nintendo home console since the N64 to use cartridges. Of course, when I pre-ordered the Switch I purchased the Legend of Zelda; I just popped the game into the console and it instantly showed up on the main screen. I selected it and the game loaded up within three to five seconds. No waiting to install, no long loading times, just pop it in and play.
What about the graphics? It should be noted that this is a mobile console, it is not going to compete against the Xbox One or PS4 visuals. But with that said, it is pretty impressive what this system can do – while the system is un-docked the game runs at 720p on the 6.2-inch touchscreen, and 900p docked to the TV. The Legend of Zelda looked amazing on the 720p screen on the console. When docking it, the game still looks pretty damn good and I didn’t really have many complaints. While the Switch isn’t on par with the Xbox One or PS4 in the graphics department, it still packs quite a punch.
Since the Nintendo Switch is meant to be played on the go, how does it feel? I can say that the Joy-Con connected to the Switch console feel really good – more comfortable than the PS Vita and 3DS in my opinion, and it feels a lot better then the Wii U screened controller too. It is worth noting that the Joy-Con Grip can take some time getting used to; I understand how some people would rather use the Pro Controller while the system is docked. Players can use the Joy-Con grip, hold the Joy-Con in each hand, or purchase the Pro Controller – there are options for all types of gamers.
Lastly, we have to mention the battery life. My play experience with the system on the go lasted pretty long while playing Legend of Zelda. I heard a lot of negatives about the battery life, but I have to say it lasted a lot longer than my Nvidia Shield Tablet, which averaged about an hour and a half playing AAA titles. The Switch’s three-hour battery life is a brilliant return for one charge, and the system can be hooked up to an external battery to extend play time further. Given the portability of the Switch and the quality of the games the system is capable of playing, it is a wonder that Nintendo managed to squeeze three-hours into it’s shell.
Overall the Nintendo Switch is an impressive gaming system. Nintendo has successfully taken AAA gameplay on the go, though it should be said that the system is not perfect. Some of those faults are a lack of software on release day, the Joy-Con can take some time getting used to (mostly while in the Joy-Con Grip), the graphics are not on par with Xbox One or PS4, and the internal storage is lacking for a console released in 2017.
With all that said I can say that this is a “WAIT” until a later date to purchase.
It really boils down to the lack of games at launch, even though The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is worth playing, the Nintendo Switch is pretty costly to just play one major title – especially since you can pick up Legend of Zelda on the Wii U. As more quality games start to be released then there will be even more reason to part with your hard earned money. Playing AAA games on the go is simply just awesome and Nintendo has definitely created a console worth being excited about.
Final Verdict: Wait