The Nintendo Switch is the latest from Nintendo, coming only four years after the Wii U, and this time offering a concept everyone can get behind. Play it at home, play it on the go, it’s the Switch! Much better than play some games with a tablet controller you can’t take out of the room, or even your old Wiimotes, it’s the um… Wii… U, a new console, really! I love my U, but that’s how it goes, and so, it’s time to switch things up with clear goals and no more lows.
The Switch hardware, as seen in the shiny freshly unboxed image above, is a tablet device which would be easy to mix up with a Kindle without the controllers, known as Joy-Cons, clipped on. The Switch has a 720p plastic display, which is clear and bright enough for handheld gaming, be it with Joy-Cons attached, or left to stand in tabletop mode, and can even be placed into the plastic dock the system comes with, for some good old-fashioned TV gaming. It works well in all modes, offering quick screen transitions between handheld and TV, and the device has a nice weight to it, making for an experience I’ve found far more comfortable than say, the Nintendo 3DS.
The dock which initiates TV mode, and charges the Switch isn’t such a comfortable experience however, at least not for the Switch. The dock doesn’t look particularly ugly, and is small enough to allow the system to fit snugly wherever it may go, but the insertion gap for the Switch is also fairly snug, a little too snug in some Switch owners cases.
The first time I docked my Switch, was the first time I scratched my Switch. I was real careful, believe me I’m careful when it comes to shiny new tech, yet the dock sunk its plastic teeth into my right bezel. No amount of rubbing would remove such a mark, and I quickly slapped a screen protector in the Switch to ensure that it would face no more scratches. Another try at putting the system in resulted in another scratch, this time on the protector. I didn’t know at the time, but there seems to be an amount of Switch docks with slanting fronts, and a love of scuffing anything that dares enter. A paperback copy of Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy lived inside my dock for three days to widen the gap before I tried again, and no longer receive such marks, but it’s certainly a nasty shock for those who like to keep their plastic toys as shiny and spotless for as long as possible. Thankfully I can only see those initial scratches in certain beams of light, beams of light which wouldn’t be suitable for playing games to anyhow.
Aside from the dock, the Joy-Cons also like to cause mayhem for a number of Switch users. As mentioned in an earlier Joy-Con post, the left controller has a tendency to fall out of sync in certain conditions, typically distance, and the only way to fix such an issue is to play closer, or send the controllers off to Nintendo so they can stick some foam inside, which takes care of any interference. This issue is perhaps more common than the scratching, and one which at least can be fixed without having to haul the whole system off to Nintendo, at the cost of your save data. But still, it’s a hiccup which has caused many a grievance to players, myself included when playing in living rooms across Hyndburn.
It’s a real shame these issues currently exist, as the concept works wonders, with USB-C allowing for charging anywhere to make handheld mode and its roughly five-hour battery life not such a big deal, an almost instant switch to TV mode, and a smooth minimalist operating system allowing for quick fire gaming wherever you may be. The niggles most likely won’t exist by Christmas, so ask yourself now if you can wait for a smoother hardware experience, or if you don’t mind dealing with Nintendo customer service so you can have it all right here, right now.
I can live with a single scratch and a few weeks of Joy-Conless action, but can you? Should you have to? Is it all that widespread anyway? Can you make your fingers click like they do in the Switch adverts? Are you looking forward to the return of Twin Peaks?
You’ll already know some of those answers. For myself it’s a yes, no, dunno, no, yes. Click.