The Nintendo Switch’s launch was preceded by an initial period of mystery, then a flurry of details during the final month leading up to the system’s release. And although there’s plenty of information available on the new hybrid console, it’s still full of many surprises.
Switch isn’t perfect, though few gaming systems are. There are plenty of aggravating, as well as frankly bizarre things about Nintendo’s new system, but there are many things about Switch that are difficult to appreciate until you finally get your hands on one.
Here are the three biggest ways that Nintendo Switch surprised us.
Performance in handheld mode
Given the system’s current limited library of games, it’s difficult to truly test Switch’s capabilities in either TV or handheld mode. That said, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is a massive, beautiful game, which is a truly important test of the system’s processing capabilities.
All of Switch’s power and technology are housed behind a 6.2-inch, multi-touch, 720p LCD screen which, frankly, handles gaming better than a TV does when the console is docked. While playing “Zelda” in 900p on TV, we encountered plenty of issues with reduced frame rate once there was a lot happening on-screen. That’s not to say the experience is poor on TV, but rather those issues are rarely — if ever — duplicated while playing in handheld mode.
Additionally, the speed at which the system gets up and running is seriously impressive. In under 10 seconds, we were able to power Switch up, launch “Zelda” and begin playing.
As was the case with Wii U and the Wii before it, Nintendo Switch comes with an extensive amount of available accessories as well as controller options. the JoyCon, JoyCon Grip and pro controller all come in multiple colors and with varying charging capabilities.
The more-conventional Pro Controller is sold separately, so the default option for playing in TV mode is the JoyCon Grip. It’s actually not a controller, but rather a piece of plastic which is able to house both detachable JoyCons to form what admittedly looks like the face of a dog. It doesn’t look natural, but we were amazed how natural this configuration felt. Some people have taken issue with the relatively small joysticks as well as the split D-pad, but we think it plays and feels great.
The JoyCon Grip probably isn’t going to be remembered among gaming’s greatest controllers, but it’s the best Nintendo has made in a while, and has us in no rush to purchase a Pro Controller.
Size and durability
Switch shares many qualities in both design and concept with its predecessor, Wii U, but it feels noticeably more durable and solid. We’re not recommending you start dropping your Switch everywhere you go like a maniac, but you might be able to breathe a little more easily if you get a little clumsy.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the system’s high-quality feel is how it comes despite Switch’s light-weight, advanced hardware. Neither the system nor its accessories are particularly heavy, yet everything in the box feels like it has serious substance to it.
Thumbnail photo via Nintendo