Review: The Nintendo Switch

Mar 16, 2017

The latest Nintendo video game console has been released to much fanfare. 

Nintendo’s seventh foray into console gaming carries with it the nostalgia, simplicity, and fun of previous iterations. But this time bringing the console with you on your own adventures is as easy as making starting an adventure with Link or Mario. If you were looking for a system that carried the emotional gravity old hats normally associate with Nintendo, it might be better to look for a Nintendo Mini NES elsewhere.

Only a few games are available for the Switch so far, but Nintendo says many more are in development, including the Elder Scroll’s Skyrim and a new console based entry into the Fire Emblem series. The newest chapter in the Legend of Zelda Series, and one of ten launch titles, has been getting critical reviews everywhere and ranks as the fourth best video game ever reviewed on Metacritic.

The system comes with one Joy-Con controller (two parts that separate into two miniature controllers), a dock for the Switch, a Joy-Con grip, straps for the Joy-Con, a charging cable, and an HDMI cable. Veteran gamers might notice it’s about the size of SEGA’s GameGear from the early 90s.

The Joy-Con is more than two pieces of plastic that make up a controller. They help form the frame to make the Switch’s mobile version feel like a traditional video gaming platform and they snap off to fit the grip for a traditional controller. It also doesn’t hurt to have the most aesthetically pleasing sound when connecting the Joy-Cons to the Switch.

Games journalists and editors online had tested a rumored feature of the system’s game cartridges – horribly, disgusting, taste. So naturally I decided to give it a shot…

The negatives of the Switch aren’t in what the console has but in what it lacks. The launch edition of the Switch does not include any app support or background music. Nintendo recently told the Washington Post that app support for streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu “will come in time.” The interface is calm and well-managed. And the Nintendo EShop seems easy to use at launch — an improvement from the Wii and WiiU storefronts.

The overall weight of the Switch comes in just over a half-pound, surprisingly light for a modern day system of its computing power… but it still doesn’t distract from the fact it is also large and unwieldly.

Once dropped into the dock, which is nothing more than a hub for HDMI output and USB input, the image transfers from the handheld device to the television screen in a matter of seconds.

The innovation Nintendo is best known for is obvious here. None of this makes Switch an immediate buy but definitely raises hopes that Nintendo isn’t a dead company living off the reputation of games it made 20 years ago. It would be reasonable to anticipate this will be one of the hottest items on any kid’s – or adult’s – Christmas list this year.

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