I wanted to do something a little different with this review so we’re going to go with a The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly format. If you can’t guess already, then you’ll see in just a minute what I mean so strap yourselves in as this one’s a little longer than my usual review.
I’ve had the console for 2 weeks at this point and I’m not going to bore you with hardware specs, which have been available on other sites for a while now, but I will cover what you get in the box (and what should have been in there), as well as what you’ll probably need to pick up along the way to really make use of the console.
- Setup of the device was quick, straightforward, and very easy, as was the initial update.
- The $300 price tag is not bad, especially when you take into consideration the mobility of the console and just how much technology is packed into the JoyCons (controllers). When opening the box, you’ll find one JoyCon set as well as a dock for them & attachable wrist straps, the console (or tablet), a 5 or 6 ft HDMI cable, and one power cable.
- Both Zelda and 1, 2 Switch look great when using tablet mode or when docked and pushed to the TV. While I would have liked the tablet to have had a little bit larger of a screen I certainly won’t complain about the quality of the screen’s built in display knowing that having a smaller screen is a large factor in how they get the battery to last as long as it does.
- While I’ve only had a chance to play sporadically and probably not more than 2 hours at a time, the battery life of the Switch and the JoyCons seems pretty good to me. I get several hours of life out of the tablet and I’ve yet to run into a situation where the JoyCons have run out of power on me. When I have run out of power, the only downside was the plug connection is on the bottom of the console. Now this makes sense considering how the dock works and it uses the same port, however it makes trying to use the console in tabletop mode impossible without some other stand if you should need to plug it in. As a result I can see myself purchasing something like this: HORI Compact Playstand for Nintendo Switch
- The many features of the JoyCons are really neat. One of the minigames in 1, 2 Switch consists of a virtual box with marbles hidden inside. You need to rotate & tilt the JoyCon and use the vibrational sensations it provides as tactile feedback to guess just how many marbles are rolling around inside the box…and I’ve got to tell you, the rumble packs blew me away with just how accurate they represent that sensation. When playing Zelda and using the bow, you don’t even need to use the stick to aim, simply move, tilt the controller (which still works this way when it is docked into the console in tablet mode), and the reticle moves with you.
- You’ll never have to worry that the letters on the buttons of the Switch will wear off as they aren’t just printed on but instead injected through the whole button. If you’d like to see what I mean, check out these videos from JerryRigEverything:
- Many 3rd party developers have signed on to develop titles for the Switch and Nintendo has opened up a market for Indie titles as well which I felt was a perfect idea. Many Indie titles I’ve seen often have an “old-school” feel to them that I think perfectly compliment a nostalgic feel often associated with Nintendo. Though the real benefit for this is, there should be many more games available for the Switch in the future than there ever was for the WiiU.
- No game included. They have explained this decision by stating they could not ship a game with the console and still keep the price at $300 yet this really felt like a misstep to me. The 1, 2 Switch title has around 30 minigames and if you look online there are no shortage of demos showing people playing those. But here’s the thing, the games themselves, while minorly entertaining, really don’t feel like they have much longevity unless that kind of social party game is really your thing. I’m not bagging on the minigames. They can be fun and for my little one, she really enjoys some of the silliness of it all. My point is they’re expecting folks to drop another $50 on this set of minigames and I felt they would have better served the console by including a smaller, digital collection of these types of games to showcase just what the JoyCons are capable of to new customers
- No protective sleeve or screen protection. I’ve seen reports online where some folks have already scratched their screens, some of whom state it is just from docking and undocking the console, though I’ve not run into this problem myself. However, I also purchased a screen protector right away and a case for it. I list this as a bad thing because Nintendo decided to cut cost (I assume) by going with a plastic screen rather than something like Corning’s Gorilla Glass. You end up having purchase 1 -2 more things to ensure the longevity of the device.
- Now, if you’re like me, you’ll want some kind of cover over your JoyCons, especially if you have kids. A word of caution in the event you haven’t heard, I would highly discourage the purchase of any vinyl adhesive covers for the controllers, dock, and console. Apparently the kind of plastic used in the construction of the Switch is incompatible with the adhesive used on those and they have caused some damage to the JoyCons and the dock. You can get silicon slip-covers for the Joycons which you can take off and wash from time to time.
- One single power cord…really?!? Maybe my years working in corporate I.T. have spoiled me as I’m used to getting one power supply with a laptop and a second with its docking station. But considering the console is heavily marketed as a mobile and dockable device and I was sorely disappointed it only came with one power cable. Who really wants to dig around in their entertainment center pulling out or rerouting in a cable every time they are going to be on the go and might need the cable?
- The price tag of the console is only a scratch on the surface of what I think folks will end up spending when purchasing a Switch. The accessories themselves are not cheap and you’ll probably end up purchasing several over the life of the console and likely sooner rather than later. An extra JoyCon (which you’ll need for some multiplayer games) will run you another $80, a screen protector and case can range between $15 and $30, and an additional power cord is likewise about $15. These are just the basics I would suggest to get right when you purchase the system and this pushes the price tag up rather high considering the device is not going to compete on a performance level with the XBOne or PS4.
Even with some of the disappointments I’ve listed above, I would certainly say the console itself is worth it. But here’s the thing I tell anyone who ever asks me about buying any console: It’s really about the games.
Always look at the games that are out or will be coming out for whichever console you’re considering. Unless you are looking to play a bunch of them or are a diehard Zelda & Mario Kart fan like me, then you might not get as much use out of it as you’d like and that can affect whether or not a purchase like this is worth it to you. For me, this has totally been worth it. Some of the surprises from the new JoyCons have definitely added a nice “wow” factor in the use of the Switch and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how developers make use of the JoyCons in their games in the years to come.