Less than five years since the Wii U was released, Nintendo has launched their next generation console. As the company’s seventh home console to grace Western shores, the Nintendo Switch – formerly codenamed the NX – should have a little more fortune and luck on its side with consumers and developers. Gone are the tougher development days for the Wii U, swept under a glossy marketing rug, and in comes the third-party cavalry (we hope) to strike a resonating chord with young and old Nintendo fans. There’s already been a flurry of developer excitement, as the Switch is reportedly more dev-friendly than its predecessor, so even though I’m not a betting girl, the future does look good.
Out of the box, the Nintendo Switch looks smart. It’s slick, polished and refined. If the Wii U was an old man’s liquor, the Switch is a classy martini with a twist. Sliding the red and blue controllers onto the console gives that oh-so-satisfying click, fixing them in place so they don’t budge. And setting up the Switch is remarkably easy, since it can be completed in ten minutes flat. Inside the box you’ll find your standard wires (AC Adapter and HDMI Cable), as well as two wrist straps, your Joy-Cons, the Switch tablet and its attached stand, a Switch Dock, and a Joy-Con grip.
When setting up the Switch, the dock has a subtle back panel which can be pulled easily to reveal the HDMI and AC Adapter slots. There’s even an indent at the side so you can slide your cables and neatly tuck them together once the back panel is affixed again. The Switch rests nice and securely in its lithe dock, though can be tricky at first to ascertain where it’s most likely to slide into place. One drawback is the Switch’s cable length, meaning you’ll have to place it much closer to a plug socket than you would with a Wii U. But here’s the good news, there’s no power block, making the console truly portable and much easier on my poor cable situation at the back of the TV. Though let’s be honest, these days it’s probably more of a media corner hub.
Each Joy-Con can be easily detached from the main console by pressing the circular buttons at the back of each controller. Simply slide them off and use them separately, or in the Joy-Con grip which is ideally the most comfortable way to play Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The wrist straps, though, are a different story. Popping them on is quick and painless, but removing them is like taking a blunt knife and guiding it through a hard cheese block. You’re not getting that cheese anytime soon. After some jimmying – for lack of a better term – the wrist straps pop off by unlocking them, pressing the circular release button and sliding them upwards. It’s more than likely that they will loosen over time, however.
Almost immediately, you’ll feel the difference in weight of the Switch compared to the Wii U GamePad. To me, it feels oddly heavier due to where the weight is placed, despite it actually physically weighing less, and has no back grooves or moulds to support your hands for lengthier play sessions. Resting it on your lap seems to be the best option for now when playing in portable mode. It’s also incredibly smooth to touch, unlike the rougher texture of the GamePad, and feels like it could slip from my hands. While the screen is multi-touch, the Switch also bodes a power and volume button on the top left, as well as a headphone jack and game card slot on the top right, while at the bottom, you’ll find the MicroSD card slot.
Once the console set up is complete, you’ll be prompted to add a user, including choosing a nickname and user icon. Both of these can be changed in the main user profile page later, however. Old habits die hard as they say, so I made sure to copy my Mii from a previously registered amiibo (you can do this in the amiibo menu on system settings) and on to the Switch. Miitomo must have had an effect here, given you can now change your Mii’s facial expression and their pose, alongside choosing a background colour. It’s not as cool as Miifoto, but you get the gist.
Of course, users can also create miis and store up to 100 in the console. It’s largely the same process as the Wii U and 3DS versions, but now you can choose your hair, eyebrow, glasses, lips and eye colours from a vast colour spectrum. Though it appears users are still locked into choosing their favourite shade (ie. their Mii’s shirt colour) from 12 set colours. And while you can seemingly send and receive miis from another console, presumably another Switch, you can’t seem to connect it to a 3DS yet. We’re hoping this may be added in the future.
While the home page is very sparse, minimalistic even, it does bode several tabs such as a news page, the eShop, your album from in-game captures, controller and system settings, along with a sleep mode. There’s also a quick settings mode too, which gives you access to the neat flight mode. At the moment, there’s no sign of an activity log either – perhaps further digging will give us a way to log our in-game time.
As it stands, the Nintendo Switch not only looks beautiful but is also greatly practical too. While it may be minimalistic from its home page and current settings, there’s certainly scope for the future. Not one to miss a trick, I’d say my body is ready… for more.
Disclaimer: Nintendo has provided My Nintendo News with a Switch console for the purposes of this preview.