I’ve been playing with the Nintendo Switch for about six weeks now, off and on. I wanted to write a more in-depth review about it but between traveling/being away more often than not around the time I received it, I feel that it’s too late now (besides, numerous reviews have hit the internet since), so I’ve opted to do a post in the format below.
By now, you you may have read that it’s Nintendo’s fastest-selling console (in the US), which sold 906 000 units last month, after being released on the 3rd of March. The most puzzling stat is that Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sold 925 000, more than the Switch itself. Anyway, you get the picture, everyone wants one, some even purchasing games before getting their consoles. I think.
But first… Inside the box, you will find the following:
> Switch console
> 2x Joy-Con controllers
> Switch dock
> Joy-Con grip
> 2x Joy-Con wrist straps
> Power cable
> HDMI cable
Here are some things you should know about the Nintendo Switch:
1. It’s the first gaming console in a completely new format to what you’ve ever seen. This means that you can start a game in your living room, then remove it from the dock, remove the Joy-Cons (controllers) from the grip, and attach the controller to the console in hand-held mode, pop it into your bag, and carry on wherever you are (car, plane, train). So essentially, the fun goes everywhere with you. You don’t have to be stuck to the room your console is plugged in.
2. Use different controllers for different environments, hence the name Switch. You can be social and play with others, while the console stands upright on its built-in (albeit slightly weak) kickstand, or use the wrist straps and play directly on your TV, or use the ‘grip’ attachment for a more traditional gaming mode. This really does translate to ‘fun for the whole family’, as clichéd as it may sound. Some of the games require you to interact with others instead of staring at the screen. A great way to use technology and still be ‘social’.
Image credit: Shutterstock
3. It may seem overwhelming the first time you connect it, if you’re not sure what to do. I missed the media demo, and I’m the type who plugs stuff in and immediately starts using it, with the assumption that it has to be simple enough (read: logical) to figure out as you go along. It mostly worked. Just start off in handheld mode for the basic setup, then you may want to dock it to try some games on your TV, with others. If you want a quick run down, just catch a YouTube video.
4. The console comes in two colour options that are either the grey, or neon Joy-Cons. The neon controllers look great, and can be easily identifiable when playing with others. So if you’re unsure about colour, go with neon; trust me. I’m finding black gadgets and phones boring of late, so why not go for a pop of colour. It would be different if the whole console was neon, but two controllers is fine.
Image credit: Shutterstock
5. It can be a bit buggy at times. A few times I had the console just freeze on me and had to reboot it. Thankfully I wasn’t deep in a game but more when I tried going in to play a specific game that it kept freezing. Hopefully these will get continuously addressed with software fixes. That said, when switching modes, it continues without much of a hitch.
6. It’s portable and light enough to travel with you. I took my console on a trip to Durban and it all fit in my hand luggage (the only luggage I take locally). I packed it in a compact case and wrapped it in a hand towel. Despite it being easy to take with you in a bag, the screen size is 6.2-inches so not compact to fit into your pocket, like say a smartphone. I don’t think it should be an issue because it’s a gaming console first, not “phablet”.
7. Okay, so it comes with 32GB of internal storage. If you’re on a fibre connection or have access to uncapped WiFi, you’re more likely going to want to download games from the online store instead of buying physical copies. If so, buy a bigger memory card, at least 128GB. I ended up deleting Zelda to play Just Dance. Oops.
8. Which brings me to games. The starter game to buy for families or casual gamers is 1-2-Switch. It has a face-to-face mode that kinda makes you get social with others by looking at each other instead of the screen. It’s also a fantastic party game. Games include quick draw to see who fired first, samurai training to ‘catch’ the sword between your hands, a boxing gym (this feels like a workout), etc. There’s a level of intensity per game indicated by the amount of red chilies (boxing gym is 4). It is priced at R699 on Takealot. For the traditional gamers, check out Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s good and will keep you hooked but will take a lot out of your time. I mean this is the game that has strangely outsold the console itself. I played Just Dance 2017 on the Switch and will have a post up on that separately soon.
9. The best or rather most efficient way to charge the controllers is if they are attached to the screen and docked. You should get about 20 hours of battery life on them. A charge of about three and half hours should give you that much battery life. I’ve read online that the charging grip is not worth buying. When the Switch is on portable mode, you should get five hours, but if you’re playing a game like Zelda, expect about three hours (according to Nintendo).
10. The console itself costs R5 199 on Takealot. It has also been recently added to the eBucks store so your discount would be tied to your level. You can buy some accessories for your console like another set of Joy-Cons, which are currently R1299 on Takealot. You can also get a racing wheel attachment for about R229. All prices quoted are as of Thursday, 27 April.
One final thought is that Nintendo should have added a web browser to the console, we all like browsing with whatever device we’re on. It feels like an Apple move by not adding a built-in browser.