Our Nintendo Switch review went live earlier this week following the hybrid console’s launch last Friday, but while I’m also up on the machine in general, there are a number of issues that I don’t deem acceptable.
I take little to no issue with the Switch as a handheld console, in fact, on that front, it’s only impressed me.
It hasn’t happened to me personally (perhaps only because I dock and undock like a surgeon playing Operation), but there are plentiful reports of deep scratches being inflicted on the screen in the process. The resulting consensus is that a screen protector is a must, except that’s far from a perfect fix. Several protectors from different manufacturers are said to have melted along the edges as a result of the heat they’re exposed to when playing a game while docked, which is worrying to say the least.
Whether you opt for a protector or not, you’re sure to incur a few more hidden costs. Throw in a case to keep it safe when you’re out and about; an SD card if you intend to download games from the eShop; a second AC adapter if you don’t want to unplug your dock whenever you need to charge in handheld mode; an additional stand if you want to charge in tabletop mode; a portable battery if you want to stay topped up on the go. Depending on your luck, the pricey Pro Controller may or may not join that list.
As was reported before release, the left Joy-Con can suffer noticeable input lag, become totally unresponsive, and lose sync entirely when unaffixed from the console. All of these problems occur fairly frequently for me, which has gradually beaten me into making the purchase.
I’d be lying if I said these control issues hadn’t put a downer on playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on my TV, but, sadly, it isn’t the only contributing factor. Nintendo’s flagship launch title suffers regular frame drops that mire gameplay at a clunky, stuttering 20FPS, making it feel markedly worse than the consistent 30FPS that handheld mode boasts. A difference in performance quite this pronounced is most definitely not worth the jump in resolution from 720p to 900p, which is cause for concern when the likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are targeting a seemingly unrealistic 1080p/60FPS docked.
I’d be lying if I said these control issues hadn’t put a downer on playing Breath of the Wild on my TV, but, sadly, it isn’t the only contributing factor.
Zelda’s motion controls also have me approaching Arms with some degree of caution. Very infrequently (thankfully) you’re asked to guide a ball through a maze as the entire thing spins uncontrollably with every tilt of the wrist - it’s legitimately awful - while the reticule when aiming the bow can drift and make aiming a pain.
It speaks to the quality of Breath of the Wild that I think it’s outstanding regardless of these issues. It packs innovative gameplay into an enormous, enthralling open-world that’s rich with RPG and survival elements; though it’s a large departure for the series, it’s a welcome evolution in my book. It’s just a shame there isn’t much else to play (or do in general with no video apps or browser) at the moment. Keep an eye on the site for our full BOTW review soon.
I can ignore the UI foibles and missing features this early in the Switch’s life - Nintendo earned some slack by righting so many of the Wii U’s wrongs - but the hardware and software issues with the dock really are inexcusable even at this stage. It definitely feels like the console was rushed out, though I can’t be certain why: common sense seems to dictate it’s to avoid direct competition with either the PlayStation 4 Pro or the Xbox Scorpio, but the Switch isn’t really geared towards competing with either of those high-end machines.
If Nintendo can improve on the docked (and docking) experience they’ll have a hybrid console I’d happily recommend.
Ultimately, it’s an impressive handheld console - easily the best on the market - but the implementation as a home console is very lacking in my experience so far. If Nintendo can improve on the docked (and docking) experience they’ll have a hybrid console I’d happily recommend, but, until then, you should probably only consider the Switch if you’re in the market for a new dedicated handheld. While it’s annoying that the Switch doesn’t quite scratch the itch I bought it to satisfy, a superlative entry into the Legend of Zelda series and a better-than-expected handheld mode have been enough to stave off buyer’s remorse.