Two Hours With The Nintendo Switch Are Enough To Sell You On The System

GamingBolt’s Pramath goes hands on with the Nintendo Switch, and comes away incredibly impressed.

Posted By | On 04th, Feb. 2017 Under Article, Previews | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


Nintendo systems always feel like toys. Even when they have some pioneering tech packed into them, and in spite of their legendary build quality, specifically fine tuned to withstand any abuse that a young kid might hurl at it, Nintendo systems feel like toys. They don’t ever actually feel like high end, premium electronics or tech gadgets like PlayStation or Xbox products do. Nowhere was this more evident than on the Wii U, where the much maligned Wii U Gamepad controller felt like a cheap, flimsy, tacky construction, a Fisher Price take on the tablet concept. It, like most Nintendo products, never felt desirable.

This is not the case with the Nintendo Switch- the system’s reveal video last year showcased a slick, high end piece of gadgetry, far unlike any other Nintendo hardware until that point in time, and when you are actually confronted with the Switch in person, you realize that the video was not lying. The first time I laid my eyes on the Nintendo Switch, at Nintendo’s Switch and Play event in Toronto last week, I fell in love with it. It was hard not to- it looked like a slick, desirable, extremely well made piece of kit, with excellent finish, and a gorgeous screen dominating the visage. Picking the Switch up just further reinforced the notion of this being some high end tech gadget made for adults- gone was the detestable glossy finish, gone were the buttons that actually rattled in their casing on the Wii U, gone was the low quality screen that dominated the Wii U Gamepad and the Nintendo 3DS, gone was the cheap resistive film that Nintendo stuck with for the longest time, instead of adapting the modern capacitive standard- no, the Nintendo Switch feels like a high end product, a fabulous gaming tablet that seems to justify its asking price the minute you pick it up.

But in this movement from making electronic toys to high end electronic gadgets, Nintendo has remained Nintendo, and it has not lost the qualities that made it so appealing to everyone in the first place. The Nintendo Switch is instantly, intuitively, easy to grasp- when you see it, you know what to do with it. Actually ‘switching’ from the TV to portable mode is ridiculously easy, and every bit as quick as Nintendo has shown it so far- you just pick it out of the dock that cradles it, and without any delay, you are now playing the same game in your hands. Understanding how to get the Joycons off can take some time – there is a pretty small button on both sides that you need to hit before you can slide them off – but it took me less than five minutes before I was able to do it without even looking. A full fledged AAA game, in the palm of your hands. Voila.

"The Nintendo Switch feels like a high end product, a fabulous gaming tablet that seems to justify its asking price the minute you pick it up."

The more you fiddle around with the Switch hardware, the more you end up falling in love with it, and understanding its value. Nintendo made a royal mess of things when they unveiled the Switch at their Tokyo event last month- one of the most widely held to be embarrassing parts of the presentation was apparently their demo for HD Rumble. HD Rumble at the time sounded like a waste of time and money- an iteration on a technology no one was asking for iterations on, one with no practical applications for video games, and one that Nintendo spent far too much time explaining at the event, with increasingly contrived analogies.

On the other hand, when you actually experience HD Rumble, it’s a whole different ballgame. Only one of the games that I tried out – ARMS – actually utilized HD Rumble to any meaningful degree, but the difference was apparent immediately. It is not an exaggeration to say that the difference amounts to night and day. HD Rumble is finer haptic feedback- the intensity and even, to some degree, kind, of vibration differs according to what is going on in the game. As an example, in ARMS, the vibrations vary based on the direction, speed, and type of punch, and the ensuing impact- so each punch feels different in your hands just as real punches would feel different. Theoretically (I did not get to try this out myself, and the game does not support HD Rumble anyway, I am only using it as an example to explain what the feature does), in a game like Zelda, HD Rumble can lead to harder vibrations when your sword hits a shield, softer ones when you cut the grass, it can simulate the drawing of a bowstring when you are readying your bow, and so on.

It was a very minor thing, but you instantly understood the appeal- HD Rumble essentially approximates touch in video games, and I can easily see it being instrumental in making VR as immersive as it promises to be. But within the confines of the Nintendo Switch, too, HD Rumble is a winner- the games that I played without HD Rumble support felt indisputably diminished for lacking support for that feature.

"Actually ‘switching’ from the TV to portable mode is ridiculously easy, and every bit as quick as Nintendo has shown it so far…"

"…you just pick it out of the dock that cradles it, and without any delay, you are now playing the same game in your hands."

The Joycons in general are extremely well thought out- they are very small, as feared, yes, but they are extremely comfortable, with each Joycon contoured around the curves and shape of a human hand. However, there are limits to what comfortable ergonomics can do- using both Joycons (one in each hand) is arguably the most comfortable control scheme that Nintendo Switch has. You end up with two very comfortable controllers split across both hands, and you no longer have to assume the tense, hunched up posture that you otherwise have to with an ordinary controller. Indeed, split Joycons are my favorite way to play Switch games. But it’s when using the Joycons in literally any other way that problems begin to crop up.

For instance, take using one Joycon independently, as a primary controller. That is actually a big part of Nintendo’s pitch for the Switch- that each system effectively comes bundled with two full controllers right off the bat. And this is, technically, true- each Joycon is a full fledged controller (there are even two additional buttons, SL and SR, on each Joycon, that you can access when you are using them as an independent controller, held horizontally). It’s just an extremely uncomfortable one. For as ergonomic as the Joycons are, they are also, in the end, small, and Nintendo has crammed simply too many buttons on there for an individual Joycon to be comfortable as the sole method of control. An analog stick, four action buttons, and four shoulder buttons and triggers, not counting the + and – buttons, in addition to the Home and Share buttons, all on one Joycon, is excessive. It’s too cramped, and too uncomfortable

This same problem is also evident when you play on the Joycon grip- things are too crammed, too uncomfortable, too close together. The shape of the grip is also not conducive to long sessions of play. it ultimately comes down to what I said before- the Joycons have way too much going on. The only way they work effectively as controllers is if you split them apart. This means you get the comfort of the shape, and you get the benefit of inputs now being spread across two hands. This modularity is ultimately greatly to their benefit.

arms

"When you actually experience HD Rumble, it’s a whole different ballgame. Only one of the games that I tried out – ARMS – actually utilized HD Rumble to any meaningful degree, but the difference was apparent immediately."

That apart, the Joycons largely impress. The analog stick on them can throw you off for a bit- the angle of rotation there is a bit smaller than you expect, and it can take a couple of minutes to get used to it. But when you do, all’s well and good, and you don’t even notice any difference. The Joycons are also extremely sophisticated motion controllers- I have actually never once played with any motion control I found as accurate and as shockingly satisfying, as I did the Joycons. The Wii Remote seems laughably primitive, the Kinect seems to be a joke, and even the relatively more sophisticated Wii Motion Plus and PlayStation Move controllers seem to be crude betas next to the full motion capabilities of the Joycon. I know a lot of core gamers are over motion controls at this point, and even the casual audiences have moved past the Wii fad- but the Joycons could finally realize the promise of proper motion control in games that doesn’t get in the way. At any rate, the motion controls and HD Rumble make them exceptionally well suited to be VR controllers.

The one thing the Joycons do get wrong is the D-pad- or the complete lack thereof. Where they should be a D-Pad, there are instead four independent buttons set in a diamond shape. Not only are they too cramped, they are too inaccurate and imprecise-  the Joycon D-Pad is actually horrible. It is, without exception, the worst D-Pad I have ever had the misfortune of playing with. You can see that it is a concession made to the necessity of having each Joycon be an independent controller, but it also means that, out of the box, playing 2D games on the Switch, like Shovel Knight and Sonic Mania, is going to be extremely unpleasant. The D-Pad on the Joycon is an abomination, and I spent a good five minutes contemplating on in sheer disbelief that the inventors of the D-Pad could think something like this was acceptable.

"Using both Joycons (one in each hand) is arguably the most comfortable control scheme that Nintendo Switch has. But it’s when using the Joycons in literally any other way that problems begin to crop up."

If you want a proper D-Pad- indeed, if you just want a traditional controller, without any of the finnicky nature of the Joycons- then you are in luck. The Switch Pro controller exists, and it is without a doubt the best controller that Nintendo has ever made. The shape is great, the analog stick placement is great, all the buttons are well spread out, it has a nice, responsive, clicky D-Pad, and it comes with the complete functionality of the Joycons, with HD Rumble, full motion controls, and an Amiibo reader being built right into it. The Switch Pro controller is arguably the best controller on the market at the moment- and you will definitely want one for yourself sooner or later. I think that in terms of comfort, it doesn’t come in first, losing out to the split Joycon configuration, but it is definitely a marvellous joy for those of you who might want a more traditional controller to play their games with.

While all the control schemes I have been describing so far work perfectly fine whether you are playing the Switch as a console or a handheld, it is indisputable that these are essentially all controller configurations designed with TV play in mind first and foremost. Indeed, if you will be playing the Switch as a handheld, chances are that those Joycons will stay attached to the system, and you will play it as one big handheld. Te good thing is, the Switch lends itself to that style of play extremely well- while it is big, its overall volume is far smaller than the Wii U Gamepad, and honestly not that much bigger than a New Nintendo 3DS XL opened up. Indeed, the first thing you notice when you see one in person is just how small a Switch really is- promotional material makes it loo far larger than it functionally is in real life usage. It doesn’t weigh much, either (again, it weighs about as much as a New 3DS XL), and the weight distribution is excellent. It is also exceptionally ergonomic- the hand cramps inducing Nintendo 3DS is a memory of a distant past. The Nintendo Switch is as comfortable as any handheld has ever been.

The controls, comfort, build, and finish apart, the Switch’s dominating feature is its screen- and what a screen it is. Undoubtedly the best screen on a portable gaming device ever (coming in far ahead of both PS Vita screens), it is big, bold, bright, with sharp colors and extremely gorgeous contrast, resolution, density, and clarity. 720p may not seem like a lot, but at 6.2 inches, that gives the Switch screen a PPI of about 320, which is in line with an iPad Mini or iPad Air- and no one complains about the screens on those devices. With good reason, too- those are excellent screens, and now, the Nintendo Switch screen is, too.

"If you just want a traditional controller, without any of the finnicky nature of the Joycons- then you are in luck. The Switch Pro controller exists, and it is without a doubt the best controller that Nintendo has ever made."

The one thing that you need to remember is that the Switch is not even remotely on par with the Xbox One or the PS4. Contrary to initial reports, speculations, or just wishful thinking, the Switch is slightly more powerful than the Wii U- indeed, the jump from the Wii U to the Switch is perhaps equivalent to the jump from PS4 to PS4 Pro. There is a very definite improvement (made even more notable by the Switch’s portability), but you will not be buying the Switch for its power. Most Switch games that I played – Splatoon 2 (excellent, and every bit as compelling as the original), ARMS (probably the most fun Switch game I got to play), The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (I’ll be posting a full preview feature on this game later to share my thoughts on it), Sonic Mania (the return of glorious 2D Sonic, that most Sonic fans have been yearning for for so long now), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (the best Mario Kart game yet in its best incarnation), and Ultra Street Fighter II (a game that I was surprisingly mysteriously good at… somehow), among others, looked really nice- but they looked like slightly more polished Wii U games.

Which means they don’t look bad, since diminishing returns in modern graphical tech, as well as the artstyle used on most Nintendo games, means that they look good within reasonable limits of acceptability- but you’re not going to get Horizon: Zero Dawn on PS4 Pro, or 6TFLOPs kinds of graphics here. If that is what you are looking for, stop and turn elsewhere- the value of the Switch lies in its hybrid modularity, in its portability, in its exclusives game lineup from Nintendo, in all the new ways to play that it offers, and even in its overlooked gimmicks like HD Rumble and motion controls. If you buy a Switch, you buy it because a hybrid console fits into your life, or because you want to play Nintendo games. Do not go into it with the expectation of getting a powerful home console.

But the Switch doesn’t need to be a powerful home console- it is the most powerful portable gaming system ever made, it has some genuinely neat tricks up its sleeve that catch you off guard, it has some great games on it, it is exceptionally well made, with startlingly high end quality, construction, and finish, and it does everything that it sets out to do exceptionally well. The Nintendo Switch is primed to be a success as it stands right now- it is a machine that is instantly appealing, from the minute you lay your eyes on it. Much like the PS Vita, it is a machine that exudes desirability. What the Switch’s ultimate fate is is something that the market, and Nintendo’s handling of the machine, will decide- but after two hours with the Nintendo Switch, I, for one, am glad that Nintendo made this system, and I am glad that I have mine pre-ordered. March 3 cannot come soon enough.


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  • Andy Maas

    I’m waiting on the Scorpio

    • AJK

      Me too. But I am also really excited to get my Switch pre order. Console quality gaming anywhere I go? Yes please.

    • Andy Maas

      I’m not getting the switch

      Sent from my iPad

    • enjoy candy crush

    • Riggybro

      I’m not getting the iPad

      Sent from my iPad

    • Lawd

      Why not just build a PC at that price? The Xbox Scorpio will be barely more powerful than a PS4 Pro, which is already outclassed by low end PCs.

    • Andy Maas

      Screw pc gaming

    • Riggybro

      You can try but your weiner might get electrocuted

    • Paul

      i don’t see throngs of people gathering and sponsors throwing money at xbox/ps4 gamers, all packing their xboxes and going to events

    • AJK

      But from the sound of it you are really into the best graphics and performance. Why would you not want PC gaming? The Scorpio will be outdated by the time it is released (heck its outdated now). It will just be an inferior PC that you play on your TV…mind you, I have my gaming rig on my TV so…I will be interested to see if Microsoft have any exclusives for Scorpio that will get me interested. I bought the XBox one for Halo and Killer Instinct so if they have some compelling exclusives for Scorpio I will buy one.

    • Will Harvey

      What do you have against PC gaming? It’s objectively the best experience in terms of performance, backwards compatibility (every PC game can be played on Windows 10, even the old DOS games if you have an emulator), versatility (Mouse+keyboard, Xbox Controller, and a near infinite number of combinations for other hardware,) online gaming, emulation, mods, hardware prices, sales on games, etc.

      The ones reason to want an Xbox or Playstation is if that’s the only way to play with friends or for the exclusives.

    • hiawa23

      I got a Pro, looking forward to the Scorpio. Console only gamer. Not into pc.

  • Andy Maas

    Until Nintendo brings back their classic game to the Nintendo switch I’m not wasting $300 on Nintendo

    • chaz

      What is their ‘classic game’?

    • Andy Maas

      Nintendo will never be able to compete with Sony and Xbox

      Sent from my iPad

    • chaz

      So… nothing of substance or meaning to say. Alright then.

    • Andy Maas

      I can’t wait to see what Microsoft has in store for E3

      Sent from my iPad

    • guyminuslife

      If you want a PlayStation or an Xbox, you buy a PlayStation or an Xbox. Those are roughly equivalent products competing in the same space. Nintendo is in its own market.

    • Nintengoth

      Yes this is very true 🙂

    • Riggybro

      You mean compete with Sony. It’s doing ok competing with Xbox.

    • AJK

      They seem to be doing just fine competing with xbox. And the 3ds has outsold ps4 so far (mind you it has been out longer than ps4). XBox one has not really been a success for Microsoft in the same way that WiiU has not been a success for Nintendo. The Switch will appeal to the 3ds audience as well as the WiiU audience though so could do very well. Indeed, preorder numbers alone are pretty healthy, and many retailers are saying they have customers with pre orders for the 2nd and 3rd wave of Switch’s that they will be getting in.

    • Will Harvey

      Despite what they advertise it as, the Switch is a mobile console first and foremost so it should not be compared with Xbox and PS. It is competing with the Vita, NVIDIA Shield, and smartphones, all of which it trounces in the hardware department.

      Even if it was just an underpowered home console, your statement that they “will never” be able to compete with Sony of Microsoft is still bullshit. They are fully capable of building a powerful console but chose not to because they wanted to make a hybrid, and that would be very expensive to make as powerful as a PS4/XB1. Nintendo consoles were beasts all the way until the Wii came out. Even the Gamecube was more powerful than the PS2 and about equal to the original Xbox. They moved toward making gimmicks *after* the Gamecube flopped.

    • Andy Maas

      I’m not wasting my time spending 2000 dollars on a dumb pc rig

    • AJK

      My self built gaming pc is more powerful than the rumoured specs of Scorpio and only cost me £700.

    • Riggybro

      He is referring to their line of handmade cards they produced in 1889.

  • i probably wait for the next zelda (not breath of the wild) and smash bros. “switch”.

  • DevilDogA99

    It just wont work at that price. It just wont really ever work, without more games. Three AAA games a year is just not enough.

    • maxwells_demon

      It’s already working. And then by holidays it will be $250. You’ll come around.

    • agramonte

      yep, once 250 and 2 or 3 solid games out (Zelda will be on sale also) it will change minds.

    • Waji Hemisphere

      Why would they reduce the price in less than 9 months.
      Don’t assume because the 3ds had one, that every Nintendo systems will now.
      The system is far more worth the 300 than the 3ds was for its price at launch. You better hope for the shops themselves to have good deals, but clearly not a price reduction from Nintendo.

    • AJK

      Hmm. Tell that to all the people desperately waiting for a preorder after it sold out everywhere in about a day of being available to preorder.

    • agramonte

      That means very little unless you know how many Nintendo made.

    • chaz

      2 million

    • agramonte

      That is what they think they will sell by end of March – if they giving themselves extra time it means they not there yet.

    • chaz

      No, they have already upped production in response to pre-orders, implying that more are selling than they planned or accounted for, in turn leading us to the conclusion that their original inventory i.e. 2 million units, was not enough.

    • agramonte

      Again, they have 2 million global units end of march target – that includes shipped to retail units. Nintendo has never said what was the number for the first shipment of pre orders from that 2M… The entire 2M were not up for preorder, so unless you know what was that shipment number “Selling out” means nothing. It cold have been 200k like the nesMini or 100k like the PSVR.

      Amazon uk has them up for sale, they been available for the last weekened – so they still moving units into retail From the original batch.

    • AJK

      Between 2 and 3 million by the end of March is what they are saying. There are articles from retailers saying that it has a higher number of preorders than the ps4 did at launch…which doesn’t mean it will sell more than the ps4, but it is certainly interesting. http://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/gaming/758541/Nintendo-Switch-Pre-Order-PS4

    • agramonte

      Sweeden?… If retail partners in the UK, Japan or US start making that claim you have a story 🙂

      People seem to forget the wiiU sold almost 3mill in 6 weeks and it still ended as a complete failure. I have a preorder, but just like the wiiU – people like me wont save this thing on our own (or random “sold out” hype). Nintendo needs to get games out.

    • DevilDogA99

      New consoles always sell well at first. I’m saying the Nintendo faithful will but the Switch & then it will slow down to a halt like the Wii-U

    • AJK

      Hmm. If you think though that’s 60 million potential customers who have bought the 3ds so far, plus the 14 million who bought the WiiU. The Switch should appeal to both those demographics. Even if we assume that everyone who bought the WiiU also has a 3ds, thats still 60+ million potential customers. That’s a big market. Plus I personally know quite a few PC only gamers who are interested in the Switch because of its versatility…people who have never bought a console in their lives.

    • Waji Hemisphere

      Absolutely not.
      The Wii U was seen as a Wii with a new controller.
      It didn’t have either the hype or the advertising of the Switch.

      So even if obviously it will sell more at launch (because obvious), it won’t become a Wii U and probably not even a 3ds because the first party line up destroys what the 3ds had.

    • Waji Hemisphere

      It’s the first year and they didn’t revealed every games that were in development. So… I don’t see how you can assume there will be “3 AAA per year”. Makes no sense.

    • DevilDogA99

      Because that’s what theve always done. Also this is there smallest launch title list ever. So there’s no reason to believe that they can make more then three, when their making 3Ds games along with phone games now. You can’t expect much more.

    • Waji Hemisphere

      That’s assuming there’s only first party games on the Switch.
      And you’re also assuming they put a lot of effort in making 3Ds games when they clearly are not.
      The Switch is not “supposed to replace the 3ds” only because they’re going to release a more portable Switch/device in the future while the 3ds is slowly finishing its life.

      Anyway, you’ll see later.

    • DevilDogA99

      Nintendo hasn’t had strong 3rd party support for awhile & with the difficulty of making your gaming on a less powerful console, they won’t have many 3rd party games after the first year. Not much of stretch to think that. However I’d think it’s odd to say that 3Ds games don’t get much effort put into them, considering that were they make money. I however do wish the Switch was a replacement, if it played 3Ds games (like it should) then I would pre-order one as well. Like you said though, we’ll see. It’s just not hard to predict the negative outcome of repeating failed business practices that occurred during the Wii-U.

  • Danny Brookshaw

    what a puff piece

  • Geneva Sieg

    Fanboy piece detected.

    • chaz

      ???

  • Mr Xrat

    Looking good! 2017 is going to be the year of the Switch and not that other thing starting with S. What was it called again?

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  • ThePoetPyronius

    Saw the switch at RTX Sydney on the weekend myself and was a bit disappointed. I’m not a Nintendo fanboy, but I thought this one might get me back into it. But the screen is just too small, I was expecting something 7-9 inches, but the switch is just a bit smaller than 3DS XL. And the launch titles all seemed aimed at recapturing what the wii did with quirky side games designed to make the person wielding the controller look ridiculous, such as a milking simulator, and eating simulator. And those joycons are WAY too small for me to think about using them with multiple people to play Mario cart. At the end of it, maybe I’m just not the target audience, but I’m disappointed because I wanted to be. But the switch just looks like an impractical gimmick to me, and I’d rather just get a PS4 pro. Enjoy, guys.

    • AJK

      The Switch screen is bigger than the 3dsxl screen (Switch 6.2″ 3dsXL 5.3″)

    • ThePoetPyronius

      3DS XL has 2 screens which are more than 8″ combined.

    • AJK

      That’s a weird way of thinking about it when most games play on the top screen with the bottom being used for menus. We’re you not impressed by how good the Switch screen looked? I found it really vibrant and the point at that screen size is great. Seeing Zelda go from the tv to that screen with no discernable loss in quality was the moment I became convinced by the concept.

    • ThePoetPyronius

      No question that the switch is a much better quality screen, whatever way you look at it. I wasn’t disappointed because the switch was smaller than an unfolded 3ds XL specifically, that was just more a frame of reference for size. The switch is technically still one of the bigger handheld screens (though there’s not a lot of competition I guess). Like I said, I just had hoped for a slightly bigger handheld screen. I get headaches reading small text, and play games on my 10 inch android tablet sometimes, so gaming on a 9 inch tablet didn’t seem unreasonable to me. But I suspect I might be in the minority. No big deal, I’m not the target audience, maybe they’ll make an XL version eventually.

    • AJK

      I wouldn’t be surprised if an xl came out at some point. I went in being really worried about the Switch and came out a firm believer in the concept. Just need to wait till e3 to see what other third party games are coming. I’m intrigued what From Software have for it as the thought of playing Dark Souls on the train to work has me very excited.

    • Waji Hemisphere

      You’re making so much nonsense between the screens and the “Wii games”. Besides 1-2 Switch there’s not much “Wii games” out there and Nintendo is actively showing Breath of the Wild far more than anything else as well as good amount of other “normal games”, far, far….. more, than any “quirky side game”.

  • Paul

    lol why do people keep going on about xbox and ps? people who like nintendo don’t care. either they have the intelligence to understand PC is superior, something that eludes these console fanboy cave people, or they aren’t interested in Call of Doody and Madden 2074, new roster, old engine edition. i loved watching ignorant idiots gather at a ps3 to play basketball and go OMG the grapfgxhz are elmazyng look so grate! ::glance over:: oh exact same since it was built on same engine and made for ps2, loads faster. these fools were literally sold on it being better for an integer increase of 1 in the name!

    • Paul

      start calling myself Paul 2 and hope my job will give me more money and defend me like xbox/ps fans “HEY yeah you’re just Steve, but he’s Paul TWO so much better than just Steve”


 

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