Nintendo Switch

It’s hard to play with a Switch without forming an opinion, and it’s hard to form an opinion without foisting it on everyone. Opinions seem to build up, like a sneeze, before you blurt them out unannounced and un-welcomed.

Let’s get the elephant out of the room first; I *like* the Switch.

I didn’t at first. The cringeworthy advertising and the ludicrously gimmicky controller turned me off, but I was quickly swayed and it appears to be the first current-gen console I’ve not been totally apathetic to.

What makes the Switch appealing, apart from it being the first piece of hardware from Nintendo in their entire history not to look like complete and total… *ahem*, is that it’s so damned easy to pick up and play.

While I don’t think I’d want one to tide me over on my train commute, I’ve just finally picked up a New 3DS for that, I thoroughly enjoy having a small, handheld console I can lie back and play at home.

The beauty of the docking cradle is not that you can connect it to the TV, but it keeps your Switch, with whatever game you happen to be playing still suspended where you last left off, charged and ready to go when you next pick it up. Paired beautifully with this is the limited battery life, which places an upper limit on play time and will prompt you to put the console down if you’re just a little too addicted. If you’re in the moment, you can just as easily borrow the USB Type-C charging cable from the dock, though, lie back, and keep on trucking.

When in portable mode, the Switch is a phenomenal, but when connected to a TV it’s somewhat underwhelming. This is compounded because the controls, which form its namesake (and logo), are completely awful in a traditional console context, and only tolerable in a handheld.

And there’s the rub. As far as I’m aware, the Switch is the first handheld to go full-hog on controls. It has a full complement of buttons, including the stick clicks, but this is often more of a blessing than a curse. The sticks are short and awkward enough that a tense moment in Breath of The Wild often resulted in Link crouching instead of performing a dodge back-flip. The buttons are awkwardly placed, and the + and – are awkwardly small. I don’t have small hands, or particularly big ones, but I find it trying at times compared to typically very limited portable games- although, granted, the New 3DS now has 4 shoulder buttons and a bizarre right analog stick.

In my irrelevant opinion, the Switch would have been better with integrated controls and a box-in Pro controller, but that’s not how Nintendo fly. And it wouldn’t have made for such a catchy name. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if controllers weren’t so outrageously expensive these days- add up £60 for a Pro controller, £280 for the Switch, and £60 for Breath of The Wild and you’re down £400 to get the most out of Nintendo’s triple-A behemoth.

By comparison £279.99 will net you a Playstation 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted 4 and a decent controller with enough money left over to buy a flippin’ screen to play it on.

But by that same logic, or similar, the Switch is actually extraordinarily reasonably priced at £280 with an included controller which, on its own, would set you back £80. That’s £200 for a pretty sweet gaming tablet. I guess you could buy the Switch and a Pro controller and sell the Joy-Con to some mug and make out like a bandit if you just want to use it on your TV with a proper controller.

The hardware feels premium, the OS is the most concise and non-terrible experience I’ve encountered since Nintendo started making consoles with embedded OSes and there are plenty of little touches to make you go- “Ooh, that’s… really nice.”

In short, the Switch feels like Apple made a console, not Nintendo, and if they can flesh out the rest of their planned features without making a total hash of it, it’ll be glorious.

What’s more, if Nintendo can stop pussy-footing about their IP and release Windwaker HD on the Switch (plus Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword) so I can play it on a more accessible console, that’d be fab! My current attempts to play Windwaker on the Wii are tied to my TV and thus happen in occasional fits and bursts interspaced by months or years, during which I’ve often forgot what the heck I was doing and have to restart.

Oh and Breath of The Wild is great. Weapon durability and stamina are a total pain for a great deal of the game, but once you get far enough in that you start steamrolling everything in sight, except Lynel what the heck is the deal with them, they’re less of a problem.

So, I’m going to finish rinsing BoTW on a borrowed Switch (thank you, Paul) and pass it to the next budding adventurer. Then, I’ll be waiting on the sidelines for a Christmas bundle deal… as long as Nintendo haven’t launched the Switch 3D and Switch XL by then.