Over the past month, the Nintendo Switch has quickly entrenched itself at the core of our gaming lifestyle, this hybrid system, which plays the parts of handheld and home console, is an amalgamation of great ideas and the dreams of gamers everywhere. The console itself looks like an unassuming tablet that, aside from the logo, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was another cheap Fire device from Amazon; this is not so.
The Switch’s pair of new controllers, or JoyCons as their called, snap onto the sides of the console for portable play, into a grip that forms a full-sized controller, or individually handed off to friends for some quick multiplayer action and that’s just a few of the ways these little guys can be used. Each JoyCon packs a ton of tech under the hood such as “HD Rumble” which gives the impression of texture and tactility to vibration, as well as a dedicated screenshot button and Wii-like motion controls which allow the JoyCons to act as a true extension of your hand.
The JoyCons are only half of the parlor tricks though, included in the box is a dock for the system. Simply slide it in and the Switch transforms from a powerful portable to a proper home console. When life comes calling and you gotta dash, simply remove the console and you’re playing Zelda on the go; it really feels like magic and the transition is seamless. Not having to stop the game while you go to work, school, or wherever is something gamers have dreamed of and for the first time you don’t need to stop saving Hyrule just because you’re away from home.
The ability to play your games anywhere is awesome, but it’s important to note that this hybrid design is one of compromise. As a portable the Switch isn’t as pocketable as Nintendo’s own 3DS and the powerful hardware means you can expect around 6 hours of battery life at best. This sounds like doom and gloom until you realize that most people are unlikely to have more than a free hour to play on the go, but if for some reason you’re taking an exceptionally long car ride, the standard USB-C connector makes it easy to use any portable battery packs you may have bought for Pokémon GO last summer.
As a home console, the Switch isn’t as capable as the PS4 or Xbox One; its nowhere near as powerful owing to its size and lacks the kind of robust ecosystem enjoyed by other platforms. The online setup is as bare-bones as it gets, you can add friends and that’s about it. The Switch doesn’t even have a messaging system. While the Switch isn’t trying to be a “me too” system, this is unacceptable in 2017. On that note, the long-term success of the system is still up in the air. Nintendo’s last system, the Wii U, famously flopped and Nintendo lost basically all third-party support. If things are going to be different this time around, Nintendo will need more than just an interesting design and Zelda to succeed.
Should you get a Switch? Right now, that depends largely on how much you like Zelda. If you jump in now there is a lot to like, but you’ll need to deal with some growing pains and we’d recommend waiting until the system is a little more fleshed out before pulling the trigger.
By Oliver Aston, staff writter