Earlier this weekend, Informed Pixel attended the Nintendo Switch event hosted in Toronto, ON. While we were at the event, we had the opportunity to try the assortment of games releasing for the console at launch and into 2017.
My first comment: the Nintendo Switch feels more of an all-around console than an excuse for mobile gaming. Several games take advantage of the Switch’s Joy-Con features, such as1-2-Switch‘s ability to demonstrate HD rumble to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild & Mario Kart 8 Deluxe showcasing the many different play configurations available for the games. Even in mobile situations, where some would believe there are lost opportunities, the Nintendo Switch performs as well – if not better, than the console on the docking station. An example of this is shown in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where some frame-rate drops were shown when docked to the console, whereas un-docked seemed to run without a hitch. Many different factors, such as an early build of the game, could have been a result of this as we didn’t seem to see these frame-rate issues in other titles.
We have heard a lot about one of the Joy-Con’s features: the HD rumble, which is supposed to leave their fans in absolute awe for its incredible precision and accuracy telegraphed to the player. We felt the HD rumble and can say we are as awestruck as Nintendo said we would be. We played a game in 1-2-Switch where we had to guess how many balls in a wooden box. You make your guess by shaking and tilting the Joy-Con controller. As you tilt the Joy-Con, it vibrates in such a way that makes it feel like those balls are moving around inside of it. All I can describe the feeling was “weird,” because it was something I never felt in a controller before. This immersive experience left me thirsty for more examples of the rumble’s implementation, but sadly, there weren’t any available on the show floor to try.
The Joy-Con controller is something that our readers will have to try to form an opinion on. Whereas I enjoyed the several different configurations of the Joy-Con controller, with my favorite being the separated devices from the grip, the other writers were impartial to how comfortable it was. Admitting that holding one Joy-Con controller on its side felt a tad uncomfortable, especially with big monstrous hands like mine, it worked as a viable solution for playing games like Sonic Mania, Snipperclips, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The important thing here is that gamers have options to playing their games. Rarely any titles will limit players to just one type of controller configuration, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to hear that piece of news, especially when it came down to some questionable controller configurations on the Nintendo Wii U.
The Switch’s Pro controller wasn’t a bad peripheral to deal with and complimented Splatoon 2 very well. Built-in motion control took a while to get used to, but I started getting the hang of it after about 5 minutes. It is comfortable to feel in your hands as if you were holding an Xbox 360 controller – a controller praised by members of the gaming community.
The problem is, there is still a lot we have yet to learn about the new console. When are we going to hear more about Nintendo’s plan to include Virtual Console titles, if any? When are we going to understand how to use Nintendo’s online service and will it all be exclusively controller by a smartphone device? What is Retro Studios working on, and when will the project be released? I feel there may be a lot more about the Nintendo Switch that Nintendo isn’t revealing, which could end up being perfect for the console, to help safely pace out their excitement for new software and features on the horizon.
Overall, I was shocked by the overall lightness of the controllers as well as the ease of use when changing to different controller configurations. The console is very thin and lightweight, to the point where I was putting no thought into what I was holding, and more into what I was playing. A significant improvement over what was presented with Nintendo’s last console, The Wii U. What the Switch will need to do is maintain and improve its overall support with third parties. We know The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is coming to the Nintendo Switch in some way, Special Edition or not, but it is about bringing these AAA experiences to a wider audience, and I think the Nintendo Switch is the place for these types of games.
What may hold Nintendo back is their lack of interest in discussing hardware specifications, something we asked about in an interview with Nintendo of Canada’s Communication Manager Andrew Collins “It’s one of the things at Nintendo, we don’t really talk about specs, cause for us it’s not the most important thing. The important thing is the games. It’s what the experience is.” He said. “Specs don’t matter, so long as your putting a smile on people’s faces.” Perhaps Andrew is right about the Nintendo Switch, it is just about putting smiles on peoples faces, and during my playtime with all of the titles mentioned above, it put a smile on mine.
There were a lot of surprises, but the console will fall on the developers, both first and third parties, to take full advantage of the hardware. We can’t wait to see the future for the Nintendo Switch, although the general gaming populace is skeptical about things to come, especially since Nintendo’s lack of third-party support on the Nintendo Wii U. If you are skeptical, I have to urge you to try it before making a decision if this is worth the purchase or not. Ask a friend who is picking one up, or attend a Nintendo Switch event in a local area.