Nintendo Switch – Early Impressions

After the Wii U fell flat, Nintendo needed a hit with their new console the Nintendo Switch. And with two million sold in the first month, they’re off to a great start.

As a marketer, I’m impressed with how Nintendo has marketed the Switch. The branding feels right. Ad’s were well placed, numerous and clearly showcased its strengths. We saw the switch docked for a home console like experience and at numerous locations for gaming on the go. Most noticeably Nintendo has pushed the Switch as a social experience to enjoy with friends, whether indoors, outdoors or travelling.

This marketing effort stands out as a failure to properly market the Wii played a big part in its poor sales performance.

But is it any good? I picked one up at launch and here are my early impressions.

When docked to a TV the Switch isn’t as powerful as Sony’s PS4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One but that’s not it’s MO. It’s as a hybrid system that the Switch shines brightest. It feels incredibly instinctive to move between TV and portable modes. You can be playing on the TV, remove the Switch from its dock, and almost instantaneously continue gaming without having to restart your game.

I like the freedom the bundled joy con controllers offer. They attach to each side of the screen for handheld mode or can be detached for multiplayer gaming. I’ve found using them in the joycon grip configuration fairly comfortable. Although you may want to invest in the pro controller for longer sessions.  

Battery life is reasonable. I’ve experienced around three hours for Breath of the Wild and six and a half hours for Shovel Knight.

I should note that I haven’t experienced any of the early gremlins reported by some users. E.g. Left Joy con de-syncing, the dock scratching the console or dead pixels. But these problems seem to be fairly low spread and the type of issues associated with a new system launch.

Breath of the Wild

PROs of the Nintendo Switch

  • It delivers true console quality on the go. This is the systems USP and fortunately, Nintendo has delivered on the promise of a proper hybrid console. It’s been amazing to play an AAA game like Zelda on a handheld.
  • The high build quality. Unlike some previous Nintendo consoles, the Switch feels like a premium product. Much less plasticky, it’s well balanced and feels great when used in portable mode.
  • The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. As a launch title, and a system seller, it’s right up there with Mario 64 and Halo. What’s more, after ploughing more than 100 hours into it, this is quite possibly the best game I’ve ever played. It’s a real game changer for open world games. Apart from the brief opening plateau section, you can approach the game in any order and travel to any point on the map. Spot a mountain in the distance and you can climb it. The physics are incredible and this breeds creativity in how you play the game.  
  • The launch line up. While many have criticised the launch lineup. I disagree. While low on quantity, there’s a good variety of quality games available. Apart from Zelda, there’s Snipperclips, Fast RMX and Shovel Knight – all of which rated 80 or higher on Metacritic.

CONs of the Nintendo Switch

  • The cost of accessories. While the Pro Controller looks great, feels comfortable and performs brilliantly it costs around £60. That’s £10 more than comparative PS4 or XBox One controllers.
  • Compared to the console the docking station looks and feels a little cheap.
  • No apps or Virtual Console available yet. This hasn’t really bothered me. I have about a dozen devices on which to watch YouTube or use other apps. But I guess it would be nice if they were here at launch.

What’s the future like for the Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch looks set for a bright future. The buzz around the console means more third party developers will produce or port games to it. Plus there’ll be the usual high standard first party Nintendo games.

I’m not a Nintendo fanboy! I try to give all my consoles equal love. But for my money, the Nintendo Switch is a real cracker. I love switching out to play from the sofa or on the go. Once again Nintendo has gone in a different direction than Sony and Microsoft and It’ll be fun seeing how it pans out.

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