Although portable gaming has always been huge with our Japanese cousins, it has seen a decline in recent years within the European market with many gamers preferring to play games on their smartphones than on a bulky portable console. The PS Vita is the perfect example of that fact. Although it is far from a bad console, it really didn’t take off. There are many reasons behind the fall of what should have been the rival to the Nintendo DS.
Nintendo have somehow always managed to corner the portable gaming market and fight off any potential competition. Games such as Pokémon, Mario Kart and Zelda have all featured on one of Nintendo’s portable gaming consoles, allowing you to step into another world while you are on the go.
However, the Nintendo Switch is not just a portable gaming console, it is also a hybrid, allowing you to plug the console into a docking bay and play on the TV.
With the Nintendo Switch now firmly on the market and swinging its stuff around, many people are still curious whether or not it is worth picking up the brand new console from Nintendo. So here are my experiences with the Nintendo Switch to help you make that decision.
Ease of Use As with any Nintendo console, it is extremely easy to use. Running off their trademark cartridge system, all you need to do is put the game in and away you go. The Nintendo Switch also features a sleep mode which works exactly the same as the rest mode on the PlayStation 4, allowing you to suspend your game for a while before carrying on from where you left off. The menu systems are easy to navigate and one of the things I love about the Switch is it doesn’t need an internet connection to gain the full experience.
Motion controls The motion controls on the Switch are based on the mechanics used by the Wii, however, you are not forced to use them. Although it is a nice feature to have, it is hugely awkward to use the motion controls when you are on the go and in some cases, I found that they really weren’t as responsive as they needed to be.
Battery life The most important aspect of any portable gaming console is the battery life. The 3DS and 2DS all have fantastic battery life but due to the sheer power that the Nintendo Switch is putting out, it does have a detrimental effect on the battery life. This is also dependant on the game you are playing too. For example, Breath of the Wild is a huge game that requires a lot of power to run. While playing it, I found my battery level dropping, and although the console does charge the battery rapidly, I still found myself preferring to use the dock. However, for the various retro games that are available for the console, the battery life discharges at a reasonable rate.
Graphics Graphically, the Nintendo Switch is above and beyond any other portable gaming console that we have seen hit the market. Characters from the Nintendo universe have never looked so pretty and the level of detail that has been put into these games has obviously been designed to show off the power that this console possess. However, the screen can become a fingerprint magnet and for those of you who are irritated by that kind of thing you will spend forever cleaning the screen.
Docking Bay Easily one of the Switch’s features that nearly blew the top off the portable gaming market, the console includes a dock which allows you to throw the Nintendo Switch onto a bigger screen and play it from the comfort of your own home. Using the controller that also comes included with the console, all you need to do is slide the Joycon controllers into it and away you go. Nintendo have improved hugely on an idea that was featured with the Wi iU, however, I rarely use this feature, instead using the dock to charge the console.
Memory Unlike the PS Vita, the Switch does come with a built in memory unit that will allow you to run most games, however, if you wanted to grab yourself a copy of LA Noire, then you are going to require an external memory unit as the game update is huge. Unfortunately, this does limit you to the games that you can play as it immediately rules out various sports games as well as other titles that have been ported onto the Switch from other consoles.
Accessories The amount of accessories that are available for the Switch is huge and ranges from carry cases, starter kits and a pretty cool bag that allows you to carry the docking station and all your accessories around with you. Nintendo have also released the Pro-controller, which makes it easier to play the game when you are using it on the docking station as well as tempered glass screen covers to stop it from being scratched when in use. However, due to the sheer amount of accessories available, as well as new carry cases being brought out with the release of every AAA game, it can soon become a never ending money pit. In my opinion, the only accessory you need is the bag that you can use to carry the Switch around with you.
The catalogue of games that are being released for the Switch is growing steadily each month and already there are some truly fantastic games out there ready for you to play. Listed below are a few of the games that I think are certainly worth grabbing. It is also worth mentioning that the Nintendo Switch online store features a huge catalogue of retro and indie games that more than makes up for the lack of AAA titles.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild If you are considering buying a Nintendo Switch, then this game is a must. Featuring a huge open world, an immersive storyline and some of the most likeable characters I have ever seen in a Zelda game, Breath of the Wild is a game that has been well and truly designed for the Switch.
Super Mario Odyssey Super Mario Odyssey is a Super Mario game like no other; a fantastic platform game which send you to different worlds to stop Bowser from marrying Princess Peach. Mario Odyssey also introduces a brand new character; Cappie, who allows you to inhabit the bodies of enemies in order to solve puzzles.
Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition Zelda meets Dynasty Warriors in a great hack and slash game that features heroes and villains from every Zelda game as well as the chaotic, enemy filled gameplay that is the trademark for the Dynasty Warriors series.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 One of the best JRPG games I have ever played comes to life on the Nintendo Switch that features a truly breath-taking storyline, a combat system ripped from FFXV and some truly relatable characters. Although the voice over work is pretty appalling, the huge scale of the game makes it worthwhile.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Make new friends and enemies in the most spectacular way. Mario Kart 8 features amazing graphics and hours of entertainment in both single player and multiplayer.
Splatoon 2 Splatoon 2 requires you to roam around a map and splatter paint wherever you go, trying to outdo the rival team doing the same thing. Although it sounds boring, it’s actually a lot of fun and the online mode is extremely competitive.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Donkey Kong is back and he has never looked prettier. Featuring characters both old and new, the game also features a new mode which makes the game easier for those of you who struggle with platform games.
In all honesty, the future is looking bright for the Nintendo Switch. New games are being announced every month and with a brand new online pass which mirrors Xbox Live, it seems Nintendo have no plans of abandoning their brand new console.
However, for the Nintendo Switch to really match up to the big boys on the market, a wider variety of games needs to be brought out instead of them relying on their huge catalogue of retro games. I’ll admit some of these are awesome and in recent months we have seen huge titles such as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus land on the console, but it still lacks anything with any substance. It would also be a huge bonus if games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and the Pokémon games become backwards compatible, bringing the classic games from Nintendo onto one console.
Nintendo are also ready to release a subscription based service so that gamers can use their online features. By all accounts, it seems to be following the same format as the PS Plus and Xbox Live subscription, which is fine, however the lack of games may affect their free game of the month. I may be wrong, but I remember the first 12 months of Xbox Live on the Xbox One offering poor games for those of us who owned the next generation of consoles.
Personally, I love my Nintendo Switch and although the catalogue of games isn’t huge, the games that are available for it are well worth playing with the graphics going above and beyond anything we have ever seen from a portable console and the ability to connect it to your TV and play from the comfort of your own armchair is an added bonus.
One thing that many people are put off with is the price tag that the Switch still seems to carry with it. Unless you buy one second hand or manage to find one on offer, you will struggle to find a Switch and games for anything less than half your monthly paycheck (going rate is around £350). It is a lot of money for a games console that is nearing a year old and there does not seem to be any signs of that price dropping.
If you aren’t planning on taking your Nintendo Switch out and about then I would highly recommend that you look elsewhere, however it is an invaluable companion if you’re using public transport or if you want to spend your break time trying to distance yourself from work.
The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic console and I feel that we are only seeing the beginning for what is arguably the best handheld gaming device on the market.