Nintendo Switch Tested and Reviewed

The Nintendo Switch is not like other consoles for obvious reasons. It’s not just a home console and not just a handheld. It’s a hybrid that doesn’t really seem to fit well into either category. However, the system seems to be made really well and so far I’ve enjoyed my time with it.

First I’m going to discuss the packaging and unboxing. The package overall was smaller than the special edition of Breath of the Wild which I picked up the same day. The box and packing materials are all high quality as you would expect from a Nintendo product. The box had a double-layered inner box containing the console, JoyCons, and other accessories. Everything was perfect with no damage to any of the parts.

My first impression of the hardware was that it was high quality. Almost like an Apple product. I didn’t realize the screen was plastic until I read about it in another article. The entire system has a lightly textured matte finish that doesn’t show fingerprints or attract dirt. The system is pretty light for its size but does feel solid. I was worried the JoyCons would feel a little loose due to the way they connect to the tablet area. They are held on pretty tight though and don’t feel like they’ll wear out too easily. The JoyCons also fit onto the grip nicely and as a controller it feels good. I was worried it would be uncomfortable because of the shape but I’ve used it to play Breath of the Wild for extended periods of time with no trouble. My only complaint about the JoyCons is that the straps are a little difficult to remove. I don’t foresee myself using them much, though.

Along with the console, JoyCons, grip, and straps, you get a dock, HDMI cable, and USB type C charger. I’m glad the charger is USB C and not one of Nintendo’s proprietary chargers (I’m also glad they included a charger at all, unlike what I got with my 3DS.). My problem with it is that if I use it with the dock it isn’t easy to unhook if I want to use it to travel. Also, it’s the brick type that is fairly large and does not fit in the carrying case I bought. Instead, I ordered a USB C cable and generic USB wall charger for travel purposes.

The dock is pretty cool. It’s a bit smaller than I expected and very light. The back opens up and has a port for the charger, HDMI cable, and a USB 3.0 port. There are also two USB ports on the front which I assume are used for charging controllers. When you close up the back, the cords are nicely contained and organized. It’s a really good design. The Switch fits in easily but just sits kind of loosely on top of the connection. I could imagine the screen getting scratches or wear from inserting it into the dock often so I got a tempered glass screen protector and recommend putting a screen protector on the device anyway. I’m not sure how solid the screen is but I’m a little concerned about it being plastic so I feel better having an extra layer over it. The switch still fits well even with the screen protector on it.

The system boots up very fast. It takes 5-6 seconds from pressing the power button to arriving at the home screen. Software also loads very quickly with the eShop opening in just a few seconds and most games taking less than 30 seconds from start to gameplay.

Now for the important part. Games. At launch, there weren’t a lot of games available. I got Breath of the Wild and Snipperclips on launch day and picked up the remaster of Blaster Master the following week. Breath of the Wild really shows off what the system is capable of. It’s not more powerful than the other consoles out, but let’s face it, this isn’t a true home console. It’s a portable that they made easy to play on a big screen. Still, Breath of the Wild has a steady framerate (at least in my experience, I’ve read complaints from other people that had varying experiences). The graphics are really good both in portable mode and docked with a lot of varying light sources, shadows, weather effects, etc. Audio in portable mode is also high quality. Overall I’ve had a really good experience with the Switch and do not regret my purchase at all.

If you’re wondering if you should buy a Switch or not, it depends on your expectations. I believe there will be a lot of good games for it and Nintendo first party games rarely ever disappoint. However, I don’t expect to see full versions of the triple A games that you’ll see on the PS4 or XBone. It’s unlikely you’ll see any Call of Duty games or Ubisoft games like The Division or Assassins Creed. At least not the same version you’ll see on the other consoles. And that’s fine as I don’t think the Switch is a main home console replacement for most gamers. It’s definitely the best handheld console out though and a great system if you like Nintendo. It’s more powerful than the Wii U and the only place you’re going to see some of the newer first party titles.