by MATT MOLINAR//Associate Editor
A new video game console is being hailed as a breakthrough in both home console as well as portable gaming.
I was immediately sold on the Nintendo Switch upon learning about its ability to run as both a home console and a portable console. So I placed my pre-order as early as I could, and on March 3, I picked up my Switch, which had 80,000 preorders in the first three days.
Included in the box is a tablet, which is essentially the console, a dock that outputs the display from the Switch through an HDMI cable and onto a TV, two Joy-con, or controllers, that come in two color variations, a Joy-con Grip, which holds the two Joy-con on a frame that allows you to hold the two as a traditional gaming controller, a power adapter and an HDMI cord.
The screen on the Switch is roughly the same size as an iPhone 7+, with the screen bezel making it half an inch bigger. The half-inch-thick tablet has a power/sleep button, two volume buttons, an air vent, a headphone jack, a slot for Nintendo Switch game cards, two stereo speakers, a kickstand with a micro SD card slot under it, and a USB type C power receiver.
On each side of the tablet are two slots where the Joy-con can slide into place. This design allows for games to be played in tablet mode, with the Joy-con attached, and in tabletop mode, with the Joy-con in hand, away from the console.
This has made waiting for appointments and passing time between classes enjoyable. I purchased the game “Snipperclips,” a local multiplayer puzzle game that has made for very entertaining moments for me and my friends and family. The design of the Joy-con allows for each piece to be used as a single controller for party games such as “Snipperclips” and “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” which comes out on April 8.
The left Joy-con has L and ZL bumper buttons. I was slightly disappointed to learn that the ZL and RL buttons, which look like trigger buttons, aren’t spring triggers like the Xbox controller. It is just a button with two positions. However, after playing the games I purchased, you really don’t need a trigger.
The left Joy-con also includes a joy-stick, a direction pad, the – button and a screen-capture button, something I love to use and always wanted on my old Xbox.
The right joy-con has the + button, the R and ZL buttons, X,Y,A, and B buttons, another joy-stick and the home button, which allows you to switch between your home screen and the currently running software.
When my friends and I have a free period, we get together with four Joy-con and have a great time, instead of waiting around with nothing to do.
The other game I purchased for my Switch was “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” the biggest launch title for the console. When docked, the Switch runs at 1080p, allowing for the beautiful graphics of the game to be shown off. I haven’t played console video games since the Xbox 360 came out, so the graphics of the Switch are very impressive. Many say the graphics of the Switch are unimpressive because of the announcement of 4k-display capability from consoles proposed for the future. To that, I ask, “What do you expect out of a small tablet with a vent?” I think the graphics are very impressive for the size of the console, and I wouldn’t be able to notice the difference otherwise.
When in table mode, the Switch produces the display at 720p and still allows for advanced rendering and the same beautiful graphics. The tablet has touch-screen capability, which isn’t available on either of the games I purchased.
The Switch has very limited online access. Unlike other modern game consoles, the Nintendo Switch lacks a market for apps such as Netflix and Youtube. This has been a large complaint from Switch owners. But when you have a smart TV, an app store on the Switch just doesn’t seem necessary.
But I wouldn’t lose hope just yet. When you close a video game, a message pops up asking you to confirm to “Close the software,” which may mean these apps could show up on the Nintendo eShop in the future.
The only technical issue I have experienced with the Switch so far is how easily the Joy-con can lose the signal. If I’m sitting just 10 feet away from the Switch while it’s in TV mode and I am holding the Joy-con near my body, the signal seems to become weak. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen often. But if it happens at the wrong time, it can be very inconvenient.
My overall impression of the Switch is that it is an awesome, innovative piece of technology that really opens a new door for the future of video gaming.
[Photos by MATT MOLINAR/PLAINSMAN PRESS]