Today, I purchased the Nintendo Switch and have spent a few hours playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. After having spent some time playing the game on the new console – granted, not a ton of time – I do have some initial first impressions I think are worth noting. As I spend more time with the console, I will post a more thorough new review. But for now…here’s my first impression.
What’s in the box
The Nintendo Switch comes with a series of peripherals, including the Console itself, the dock, a left and right “Joycon” (or two Wii-motes with joysticks), a USB cable, a AC adapter/charger, and the Joycon Grip.
The grip – firstly, and I’m likely not the first to say this, I’m a bit disappointed doesn’t charge the joycons like the ones you would buy of the shelf. I did buy one, and they’re almost identical; there is no difference in weight that I can tell, so part of me wonders if Nintendo intentionally just decided to not include the USB plug for the include joycon grip.
A lot of people have complained about connectivity issues with the left joycon, and I have witnessed it first hand. Often times, the joystick simply won’t respond, or will get “stuck”. A few occasions when playing link, I ran forward and couldn’t stop; it would seem the signal dropped while the joystick was in the forward position, causing the software to think the joystick was held forward.
My TV is about 10-12 feet away from my couch. When I lean forward on my couch, I find I have better connectivity with the left joycon than I do if I’m leaning back in a more relaxed position.
Nintendo did release a software update. It was explained in several articles that performing the update with joycons attached, but alas, that did not address the issue for me when I did just that. I may find myself sitting on the floor when I sue the switch in my living room if the issue isn’t addressed via a software update.
Update (3/5/2017): Nintendo updated their support site with recommendations to fix the interference issues with the left joy con. However, their recommendation puts fixing the issue into your hands. They claim you need to keep the joycons and the Switch away from other wireless devices that could cause interference, including laptops with bluetooth or wifi, wireless speakers, even fish tanks.
This wouldn’t be a tremendous issue if the cables weren’t so short, and if we didn’t live in modern society, where just about every TV, gaming console, or blue-ray player has wifi or some form of wireless capabilities. To me, their proposed fixes are a bit ludicrous, as they seem to try and pass blame on other devices. I, for one, cannot move my Switch more than 2 or 3 feet away from my TV, because the cables simply are not long enough, and there’s really no better place for a console that connects to the tv to be placed: next to the tv!
I think Nintendo should attempt to address the issue with a software update, or recall joycons and offer free replacements. If they don’t do that, the “pro controller” might be the best option when it becomes available.
The various cables
Nintendo did something I haven’t seen done so well in any console: they included a cable management space in the dock. This would be fantastic if the cables weren’t so short. This could be one of Nintendo’s shortest power supply cables to date. The USB charging cable included is also ridiculously short. This was true of the PS4’s controller, too, so I suppose this is just meant to be used as a charging cable, not a cable to be used while playing…but still.
The design for the dock/charging station for the Nintendo Switch is mostly good, but a bit strange.
Again, props for having cable management compartments. The design overall is sleek and clean. The dock serves as a charging station for the tablet-console, as well as the place to connect the Switch to your TV.
The peculiarity of the design comes from the fact you need a ton of vertical space to dock the switch. Yes, you can lay the dock on its side, but the Switch console doesn’t “lock” in place. It just…sets there. Nothing really secures it in place. So, should you lay it on its side, and your device is at an angle, it is possible it could slip and fall.
So, if safety is a concern, then you’re best letting it stand.
Now, if you’re like me, the shelves on your entertainment center might be about 8 inches talls, in which case, using those shelves won’t work for standing the switch up. So you are essentially left with the awkward choice of lying it on its side, or setting it atop something that has ample vertical space. Luckily, I have ample space on top of my entertainment center to serve as the resting place for the dock.
Gameplay / Breath of the Wild
I pre-ordered The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild prior to owning a switch. Perhaps not the wisest choice, as I’d be paying $300 for the sole purpose of playing one video game. Let’s hope Nintendo releases a few more great ones sooner than later.
Anyway – gameplay. Gameplay is generally good. Controls are as you’d expect – natural, smooth, and comfortable. The joycons, despite being small, feel quite natural in the hand, be it using a joycon grip, attaching them to the sides, or holding them on their own.
While the controller feels mostly natural, it does take some getting used to. I’m not a huge fan of the diagonally opposite joystick, but that’s more a personal preference than a flaw in the system. I’m sure I will adjust over time.
I do have some concern around the graphical capabilities of the Switch. Nintendo has yet again put out a lower-than-standard device in terms of its of its graphics. Breath of the Wild outputs in an upscaled 900p when hooked up to the TV, while most consoles will output a native 1080p.
At the substandard resolution, Breath of the Wild struggles to perform smoothly under load. When running through fields with moving grass and sunlight, the frame-rate staggers and stutters, quite noticeably. Run away from the grass, and things start to smooth out.
Usually issues like this are often software related – not utilizing the hard ware efficiently, or simply attempting to render unnecessary content can bog down a game’s performance. Hopefully Nintendo will release a patch for this otherwise visually stunning game.
Even still, this noticeable lag leaves me worried upcoming games will result in similar shortcomings, and third-party developers will continue not supporting the new console, in spite of its potential.
Nintendo Switch Overall…
I’m overall pleased with the Switch. Yes, I did raise an eyebrow from time to time wondering what Nintendo was thinking, and I do have my concerns around the performance of future games.
That said, the shortcomings haven’t yet taken away from my overall enjoyment of the console.
Is it worth the $300 price? I don’t think so, at least not yet.
Do I regret buying it? No. I’m actually growing excited to see what Nintendo and other developers might do with the new tech.