I’m almost embarrassed to say that I wasn’t initially a believer in the Nintendo Switch. Rumors of Nintendo’s Wii U follow up being a console/handheld hybrid had been circulating for years before the official announcement, but I was never really too keen on merging those ecosystems.
All of that changed when the Switch was formally revealed, and doubly so when I finally got my hands on one about a month ago. Just to get this out of the way, I am over the moon in love with this system. It takes what worked about the Wii U, 3ds and even the Vita, fixes what they got wrong and wraps it all together in a sleek and stylish little tablet.
One of the biggest compliments I can give the Switch is just how great it is to use. It’s the most elegantly designed system Nintendo has ever produced, and strips away pretty much all of the clutter that occupied the home screens of the Wii U and 3ds.
There’s no Mii Plaza, no augmented reality mini-games, and no confusing menus to sift through. Outside of your games library, the only options you’ll see on the Switch’s home screen are the eShop, standard system settings, screenshots, power options and the featured news tab.
The Switch has gotten a bit of criticism for the lack of applications such as Netflix, Youtube and a web browser. But as someone who has plenty of other devices to fulfill these needs, I couldn’t care in the slightest.
My Playstation 4 is loaded up with Netflix, Crunchyroll, Funimation and Youtube for all of my home entertainment needs, not to mention the fact that it can play my Blu-Rays. If I really need to watch something on the go, I’ve got a laptop and a great smartphone. The only thing I care about doing on my Switch is playing games, nothing more, nothing less.
Having only been out for about 6 months at the time of this writing, the Switch already has quite the impressive library. The system launched with Breath of the Wild, which set the bar pretty high, but there’s also Mario Kart, Splatoon, Arms and Mario + Rabbids. Not to mention the fact that Super Mario Odyssey is roughly two weeks away.
Beyond the great roster of first party titles, the Switch has also taken the Vita’s role in being a happy little home for indie games. Stand out titles include Fast RMX, Golf Story, Stardew Valley and Axiom Verge, and these titles and many more show just how tight Nintendo has become with indie developers.
So the Switch has great hardware and great games, but what about the controllers? Well, I’m happy to say that each of them gets equally high marks. While I still do think that both the Joycons and the pro controller are overpriced, they are all really comfortable to handle.
The pro controller feels almost as good as the controllers for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, and has a fantastic battery life to boot. And whether you’re playing with the single or dual Joycons, both iterations feel fairly comfortable in your hands for games like Mario Kart and Snipperclips.
In the month that I’ve spent with the Switch, I’ve noticed myself playing games in a number of ways. I’ll play games like Splatoon 2 and Golf Story predominantly in handheld mode, while Fast RMX gets played exclusively docked. Other titles like Breath of the Wild are 50/50, and sometimes I’ll even pop out the kickstand to play with the Joycons detached.
I’ve always had kind of a weird things with accessories and cases when it comes to handheld systems, and the Switch is no different. I’ve already invested in tempered glass, a set of blue Joycons, a dock sock, and I plan on eventually getting one of the premium Waterfield City Slicker carrying cases.
I love almost everything about the Switch, but there are a few things that still bug me. For starters, the system really needs a method for backing up save data. Cloud saves should be a standard in 2017, and it’s kind of a bummer to see Nintendo behind the times in this regard.
Secondly, I’m really hoping for Nintendo to finally adopt unified accounts and purchases across the board this time around. I really want to go mostly digital for my Switch games, but their current system makes me gun shy about doing so.
The few complaints I have aside, I believe the Switch is well worth its asking price. It delivers on the promise of seamlessly switching between handheld and home console mode, and I really feel that it’s going to cause a resurgence in couch multiplayer. If the Switch continues to receive the support it did in 2017, it’s going to have a very long and successful life cycle.