For better or for worse, the Nintendo Switch is unlike anything we’ve played before.
Capable of both portable and home gaming, the system has the potential to change how we play video games from here forward. But after spending one week with the system, it’s clear the Switch isn’t ready to make the impact Nintendo wants it to.
The Switch faces quite the conundrum: It’s neither small enough to be a truly portable gaming device, nor does it offer the power or services of its home-gaming rivals, Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. As a result, the onus is on Nintendo to build a library of games that make the best use of the Switch’s unique capabilities.
In this regard, Nintendo has come up short, despite the brilliance of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”
Titles such as “1-2 Switch” and “Super Bomberman R” are entertaining, but offer minimal replay value. Moreover, the other nine games available on the Switch — with the exception of “Zelda” — aren’t much better. Sure, “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” and “Super Mario Odyssey” are on the way, as well as a “FIFA” game. But right now, it’s difficult not to feel like Nintendo has charged gamers $360 to play a new “Zelda.”
The wait for new games could be eased, however, if the Switch launched with a virtual console. Not only has Nintendo been noncommittal about giving Switch a virtual console, but also there are no premier streaming services, such as Netflix or YouTube, available on Switch.
For all of Nintendo’s innovation and creativity, it remains stubbornly archaic in too many ways. Gamers can’t transfer microSD cards between systems, and sharing friend codes still is one of the only ways to add friends for online play. Furthermore, the charging processes for all of Switch’s hardware are too cumbersome, and the costs of additional, useful accessories are too high. Again, some of these issues could be smoothed out over time, but they were glaring annoyances after just one week of play.
Things, however, aren’t all bad. In many ways, the Switch still amazed us, especially with its practical user interface and many fun details. As a portable device, Switch is a powerhouse compared to its competitors, offering superior power and graphics. And it’s in handheld mode that Switch shines brightest.
Being able to seamlessly remove the system from its dock and take it on the go is as great as advertised, even if the hardware is a little big. The system boots up remarkably quickly, and makes practical use out of the multi-touch display. Moreover, propping the Switch up on its kickstand and sharing Joy-Cons with a friend to play “1-2 Switch” is a blast, and makes us even more eager for other multiplayer games to release.
Once Switch is docked and home gaming begins, however, the results are mixed. “Zelda” often suffers framerate issues when the screen becomes too crowded, which doesn’t bode well for future titles, such as the forthcoming “Skyrim” port. And as great as it might be to play “NBA 2k” or “FIFA” on the Switch, it will be difficult to justify buying those games for Switch over its competitors.
Ultimately, the Nintendo Switch offers a pleasant though altogether unsatisfying experience. “Zelda” is worth every penny, but in its current state, the Switch isn’t. Spending $300 for a Switch at launch feels like purchasing season tickets to the XFL. There’s a lot of hype and promise, but the initial appeal quickly gives way to buyer’s remorse.
If there’s any rose to be found in the manure, however, it’s that if anyone is capable of adjusting and improving on the fly, it’s Nintendo.
VERDICT: Don’t buy it… yet
Thumbnail photo via Nintendo