Pre-orders for Nintendo’s latest console may have already been available in the rest of the world, but not in Nintendo’s homeland of Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun will begin its mad dash to pre-order the unit tomorrow and so I thought this would be the perfect time to put down my impressions, as well as an info dump. Some of this might answer questions you have about the Switch, but as this is a purely subjective look, your opinions may differ.

 

THE GOOD

Yessssss

Yessssss

  • The unit itself: I do like the design of the unit in its portable mode, and the idea of being able to slip off the Joy-Cons and play with or without the special Grip controller is great.
  • Portability: Battery life aside, I’m really excited about having a new device I can bring on my hour-plus commutes to and from work, and a 720p screen is perfectly fine for gaming. Some people seem to think it’s an unwieldy behemoth, but the tablet is smaller than an iPad Air 2 and even with both controllers attached, it’s lighter – coming in at 14 ounces.
  • Charging: Proprietary charging ports are the worst. Thankfully, Nintendo has taken a lesson from smart phones and done away with the idea. With a new USB-C charging port, most standard portable battery packs can plug in if you need to top it off on the go.
  • The Future…? I’m not saying that the Switch is a guaranteed hit. But Nintendo makes great games and can get some amazing deals, like Bayonetta 2 and Tokyo Mirage Sessions. Plus, it looks like it will be the next big platform for indie devs looking to make games for portable devices. There’s a lot of potential here.

 THE MEH (Or things I really don’t care about)

Seriously, Nintendo. We don't care.

Seriously, Nintendo. We don’t care.

  • The price: $300 is not nearly as much as some people seem to think. The Wii U launched for that price, and though the Wii was $50 in 2006, the higher price can easily be considered the same after a decade of inflation. That said, $300 is the current price for both the PS4 Slim and XBox One S, so you’re asking people to throw out the same cash for a system with less power and a sparse library.
  • Internal memory: There have been complaints regarding the system’s 32GB internal storage. While somewhat valid, given it’s not even an incremental step above the Wii U’s, the Switch also allows users to store games on SD cards. It’s an added expense, but cards can be bought rather cheaply, since it’s not using proprietary storage like the Vita.
  • Battery life: This was perhaps the biggest question on everyone’s mind when the unit was first announced. Nintendo has stated that the unit lasts anywhere from 2.5-6 hours. It can only go 3 hours with Zelda: Breath of the Wild, meaning it fails the cross-country flight test. But at least it’s easy to charge.
  • Nintendo being Nintendo: HD Rumble, motion controls, an IR camera…does Nintendo really think anyone but they are going to develop for these tools? The world breathed a collective sigh of exasperation as a significant portion of the presentation was devoted to talking about feeling a glass of ice water in your hand, and for good reason.

 THE @&%_#?!

Smartphone sold separately

Smartphone sold separately

 

  • The online service: It’s paid now, and that’s perfectly fine, assuming they actually build up the infrastructure to warrant it being a paid service, but there are several issues. You know what…this needs to be further unpacked.
    • Smartphone dependence: All indications seem to be that the only way to get voice chat through Nintendo is to use a separate application on your smartphone, meaning you’ll need to have both devices on hand. And we still don’t know if game audio is somehow played through the app or if you must play games in silence to be able to hear friends.
    • “Free” Game: Nintendo has stated that subscribers will receive one free NES or SNES game per month. That’s one, 1, uno, ichi, eins game that’s already decades old. Oh, and they take it back at the end of the month. Even if you’re still subscribed.
  • No StreetPass/MiiVerse: Okay, I’ll admit that I never used the MiiVerse and I only cared about StreetPass if I had nothing better to do, but other people loved those things and it WAS fun to do StreetPass at places like conventions and theme parks while waiting in those long lines. Logically, this was taken out to help preserve the already minimal battery life, but it still sucks.
  • No pack-in game: Seriously, Nintendo? I understand you needed to remove it to make that $300 price point, but you’re absolutely throwing 1, 2, Switch under the bus by making it a $50 separate purchase.
  • Peripheral pricing: $30 for a charging grip for the 2 Joy-Cons (the in-box grip does not charge them). $50 for ONE additional Joy-Con. $80 for a pro controller. Ridiculous.

With everything weighted, I’m still excited about what the Switch can do, just very cautiously so. Count me in.

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