Nintendo Switch Boldly Goes Where No Console Has Gone Before

Ready or not, Nintendo officially releases its next console on March 3, less than five years after the Wii U’s debut and just over six years after the Nintendo 3DS arrived. We’re bringing up both gaming devices because the Nintendo Switch is in fact a home console and portable system. And while the 3DS isn’t gone just yet, the Wii U pretty much is, so only time will tell whether or not Nintendo’s hotly anticipated hybrid can fill both voids. However, after spending a few intimate days with the Nintendo Switch, we think that’s a very, very strong possibility.

While we can’t definitively predict how well the Nintendo Switch will perform in the coming months and years, we can confirm that it’s a gorgeous piece of hardware with major potential to stand tall alongside the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and any smartphone or tablet. It may not boast the most advanced graphics, but that’s never stopped Nintendo from delivering quality eye candy paired with unique gameplay.

Let’s start with what’s best about the Nintendo Switch: it looks and feels better than anything Nintendo has released to date. The Game Boy and Wii clearly were breakthroughs back in the day, but the Switch is a trailblazing achievement as both a dedicated portable and home gaming system. This is an industry first, and could very well change what consumers expect from future hardware.

By comparison, in its handheld state, the Switch makes the Wii U’s tablet seem like a Fisher-Price toy. Unlike its more kid-friendly predecessors, the Switch feels as classy and cutting-edge as a brand-new iPad. Even its menus have the simplicity and ease of a newly minted Apple product.

If, however, your inner (or actual) child is looking for something a little funkier, opt for the neon red and blue Joy-Cons that go along with the system. You can also grab a pair of seamless grey ones, or get them bundled with the console. There’s even the option to purchase additional controllers in matching grey, red, and blue. Plenty of crafty potential, surely with more options to come at a later point. For now, we recommend picking up a pair of extra Joy-Cons for four-player gatherings of Super Bomberman R (out March 3) and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (out April 28).

Getting back to the handheld, its lovely and sturdy 6.2 inch wide screen renders at 720p, which may sound like a downgrade from the Switch’s 900p and 1080p TV resolution, but it looks just fine on a portable screen. In fact, it’ll take some time to get over how breathtaking The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks on the go. Handheld could end of being your preferred Zelda playing style, since the game is so damn addictive and other people might occasionally want to watch TV. I speak from personal experience.

A few more elements that make the handheld a winner is its fairly generous battery life (with percentage display), motion controls, handy kickstand you can flip out in order to prop it up on a flat surface, volume control buttons (not a slider) that indicate the sound level onscreen, and how it instantly wakes up from sleep mode (like, instantly) when removed from the Nintendo Switch Dock. Also, we adore that ultra-satisfying “click” sound the Joy-Con makes when it snaps into place just as much as Nintendo’s marketing team. Here’s a closer look at all that good stuff, and more:

When you want to “switch” from on-the-go to couch-bound, the transition is delightfully effortless. Just insert it into the Switch Dock and it charges and goes into TV mode. Even when you pop an adorably teeny new game cartridge into the console, it’s ready to play with zero installation.

As previously stated, the user interface is exceptionally easy to navigate, albeit because there currently isn’t much to do besides play games and create Miis. All of the Switch’s online features won’t be available until the system’s hefty “day one” update, which will open the eShop as well enable other tasty features like online gaming, image sharing through social media, linking of Nintendo Accounts, and the ability to connect to pubic hotspots.

Unfortunately, there won’t be any retro Virtual Console titles available in time for launch, but surely this will be rectified in the coming months, and hopefully the new eShop will offer GameCube titles, which many publications have speculated to be the case. Portable Mario Sunshine would be divine.

While it pains me to say this, one issue plaguing many of us who received review copies of the system is that the left Joy-Con seems to be sporadically losing its connection. When playing Zelda on my TV, Link’s movement were intermittently choppy. In several instances, the left Joy-Con stopped working and the game was interrupted by a re-sync screen, which is admittedly better than dying. Make sure you have an unobstructed signal, because apparently this is a Bluetooth issue that can likely be remedied via a patch that may even be implemented before launch. We’re staying positive and so should you. If the issue isn’t swiftly resolved, the Pro Controller or handheld mode won’t pose a problem.

On the software front, there isn’t a massive selection to choose from yet, but we’re confident most early adopters will be spending the first hundred or so hours playing Zelda. And if you somehow feel like sharing the Switch love with family and friends, 1-2 Switch and Super Bomberman R seem like definite crowd-pleasers. There are obviously loads of great games coming in 2017, in addition to a smorgasbord of awesome-looking “Nindies” like Fast RMX, Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, and Blaster Master Zero.

The Nintendo Switch is out this Friday, March 3, and is poised to be the must-have gaming device of 2017. If you somehow didn’t manage to pre-order one of these babies, seeing and feeling it IRL will have you regretting that decision. Up close and personal, the Nintendo Switch is truly a class act. Now bring on the games!