I previously spoke about my journey to getting a Nintendo Switch here. This article is going to be a discussion of my thoughts on the Nintendo Switch after having it for a few weeks. I have played it quite extensively since owning it (much to the chagrin of Violet, I am sure!), and thought I would give my impressions and experiences so far.
Initial Impressions With the Nintendo Switch In Handheld Mode
On my lunch break, I unboxed everything, and took it into work to charge up. By the end of the day, it was fully charged. I decided I would pick up my wife, as we had a party to go to that evening and it was closer to work than home, so this made the most sense. This also meant I would have about an hour to play while sitting in my car.
The Nintendo Switch Has Its Flaws, But Is a Solid System In Hand Held Mode
I fired the system up, and put the ever-so-tiny SD-like cartridge into the cartridge slot. I set the system up, which took a few minutes, and I saw Link waking up like I had in the trailers for Breath of the Wild.
A couple things I first noticed about the system—the Nintendo Switch was fairly heavy, and fairly wide in my hands. I thought it might be cumbersome to play as a portable device. I also thought that playing games on a small screen might be uncomfortable—a reason why I didn’t really have any portable consoles before. But after a few minutes of Breath of the Wild all of that melted away. It could be said that Breath of the Wild is such a fantastic game that it makes it easy to see past these “flaws”; however, even 10 days later it still feels comfortable. (There will be a Breath of the Wild review in a coming post, but spoiler—it is awesome).
The screen looks great, even though it is only 720p—I don’t feel the screen is lacking in any meaningful way. It has excellent brightness, even on a sunny day. As for durability as a whole, it feels pretty solid. My initial first impressions were of amazement and bewilderment that so much could be packed into a small device.
But time was up for my initial first impressions, so I put the Switch in the handy-dandy case that came with the Special Edition of Breath of the Wild and would hope to get more play time in the morning.
Minor Nit-Picks For the Switch In Handheld Mode
The one gripe I have about the Joy-Cons is the “-” button. The Analog stick on the left Joy-Con is in a position that when using my thumb to hit the “-“, I would inevitably touch the left joystick, which would have some unintended consequences, from accidentally running Link off a cliff I didn’t intend, to doing some inventory changes that I wasn’t exactly trying to do. I really wish that button were in a slightly better position.
Another minor complaint I have about the Switch in handheld mode is the battery life. This was already a concern for most people. After my little bit of usage the first time I used the system, I was about down to half way—with about an hour of play.
One last thing to bring up, which came up a couple days later when playing in handheld mode: the kickstand. I was playing in portable mode, and I came across a shrine in Breath of the Wild that required motion controls to solve. This is a problem because you have to tilt the screen, which means it is harder to figure out what you are doing as you tilt the screen, because you can’t see it anymore. I had a solution to this though—simply pull the Joy-Cons off to tilt them while the screen stands on the kickstand. Unfortunately, this did not go according to plan. The kickstand is so flimsy that it was having a hard time balancing the screen/tablet portion while it rested on a table. It toppled over a few times with nothing coming in contact with it, making for a frustrating experience. The table it was on did have a padded surface (a standard card table), so that explains why it tipped over, but you would think the kickstand mode would be used in less than ideal circumstances, so a mildly padded card table shouldn’t be a problem. I did eventually solve the shrine, but not before the screen fell over a few times. I immediately reconnected back to the tablet with the Joy-Cons so that nightmare could be over. It certainly will have me second-guess whether I want to play other games with motion controls when I am playing portably. I will have to find a better solution than the included kickstand.
Time to Try the Switch in Docked Mode
So next morning came (more like early afternoon, as we got home at 3am after playing a few games of Werewolf, a social deduction party game—I will probably do a write-up on this at some point). But now I had to try the Nintendo Switch as I figured I would be most often playing it: attached to the TV—or in my case, projector screen.
My Home Set Up and How the Nintendo Switch Would Fit In
Our TV setup in the house is a projector onto a retractable screen, which is about 110 inches diagonally—so it is fairly big. The Nintendo Switch dock would route through our Yamaha surround sound system via HDMI. I had reservations that given Breath of the Wild was only 900p resolution, the screen might be too “grainy”, with individual pixels being easily distinguished. While this is true if you stand 2 feet away from the screen, back on the couch where I would be playing from, the game looked great. Everything looked vibrant on the screen, and given the art style of Breath of the Wild, I couldn’t really find anything to complain about.
Some of What I Disliked About the Nintendo Switch
So while everything looked great on screen with the game initially, some of the initial glow of the machine was being smudged by a couple of flaws that came up. The first one revolved around the internet connection. The system would not connect to my router, despite it picking it up the wi-fi menu. I tried repeatedly to connect, with no luck. I finally took the tablet portion upstairs and stood next to the router. I managed to get it updated with it there. So this was a bit of an annoyance, but I won’t put all of the blame on the Switch—our house is notoriously bad with the wi-fi signal.
Lack of Ethernet Port
One other complaint I had regarding the internet though—why is there not an ethernet port? For online gaming, a wired connection is almost a necessity, so why would Nintendo require the purchase of an additional adapter to have a reliable connection? This was pretty bothersome, and I did not want to fork over another $20-30 for the “licensed” USB to Ethernet adapter, but I did pick up an Amazon Basics version for $11. I haven’t tested this out, but I am hoping it solves the connection issues—at least when the system is in docked mode.
Another issue that people seem to be having revolves around the left Joy-Con having input lag when playing. I have certainly had this issue as well. It seems to occur when something obstructs the line-of-sight with the Joy-Con and the system. This wasn’t limited to the Joy-Cons that came with the system either—I bought a pair of gray ones as well, and had the same issue with it. Any time there was input lag with Link’s movement on screen, I would realize I have positioned myself in a way that I had obstructed the line of sight. Once I corrected it, the input lag would go away.
Speaking of lag—there was also some graphical lag when playing Breath of Wild in the more “busy” areas of the game (this has since been patched specifically for Breath of the Wild). Areas with extensive vegetation or water seemed to have the most issues. It wasn’t too unplayable, but the stuttering in the game was certainly present. This strikes me as a bit strange given the game is a first-party game for the Nintendo Switch, and you would think it would be extensively tested for this, and it would be ironed out before the games release, as it is apparent even in the opening parts of the game. I would understand if that was something like a PC game being run on a Nvidia Shield where Shield doesn’t have full control over the software being played on it, but this is a Nintendo system running a Nintendo-made game. How was this an oversight? It almost makes me wonder if Nintendo just said Breath of the Wild runs “good enough.”
Joy-Cons In Horizontal Mode
Another game I had picked up for the Switch is Snipperclips. I picked this up specifically for the multiplayer part of the game. The Switch seems to be trying to make its games a social experience on the go, so I decided on giving this game (over 1-2-Switch, which looks terrible) a shot. So Violet and myself decided to try out the game on Saturday afternoon. The first thing Violet complained about was the awkwardness of the controls. Either the analog stick was too far to the right or the buttons were too far to the left, depending on which Joy Con she was holding. I noticed this too—it felt very unnatural. But after playing for a few minutes, it was something that I got used to and she seemed to as well.
Joy-Con Wristband Device-Thingy
One other thing I was not really too fond of was the wristband device that is applied with playing with the Joy-Con horizontally. I would have thought these would slip on and off as easily as the Joy-Cons come in and out of the system’s screen or the Joy-Con grip. But they seem to get stuck, and it almost feels as if they could break when pulling them off.
Thankfully Not Affecting Me – Screen Damage By Nintendo Switch Dock
One other issue that seems rampant on the Internet that I thankfully did not have was the screen being scratched from undocking/re-docking often. I did take the Switch out of the dock and replace it several times with no screen issues. That certainly didn’t stop me from putting a screen protector on right away though.
Final Thoughts On the Nintendo Switch
So does the Nintendo Switch meet expectations? I think the jury is still out on this. There are certainly some flaws with the system—as any system has, but it is so early in the life-cycle of the Switch that judging this is hard. Especially because the system is in a bit of a “honeymoon” phase, given how amazing Breath of the Wild is. A good game certainly masks some flaws—or makes them less apparent, at least.
Last Thoughts Regarding Portability of the Switch
I really like the portability of the system, and I would not want anything smaller—but it certainly is not something I can just put in my pocket and go. I have been looking for a portable solution that I like—so far the “licensed” options really do not fit what I am looking for. I don’t want a messenger bag or a backpack; I want something really compact that can simply carry the system myself, with 2 Joy-Cons, and some charging cables. So far I have picked up what my wife has dubbed a “murse”, and it works in the limited capacity I have tested it with. We’ll see how this goes, despite Violet’s harassment!
Speaking of portable charging options, I picked up a USB-C cable and a USB-C wall adapter that was rated at 5V and 3amps, to see how it would charge when not docked. While playing Breath of the Wild, this was able to charge the system a couple percent every few minutes, so enough to at least maintain the current charge while being played.
Looking to the Future of the Nintendo Switch
So, the next thing for Nintendo to do, is get some big games out! I have finished Zelda, tried a few other games, and nothing as really caught my fancy aside from Snipperclips. So, until Mario Kart Deluxe comes out, I will just be puttering around in Breath of the Wild. If you want to read my review of Breath of the Wild for the Nintendo Switch, you can take a look at it here!