Preview: We finally use the Nintendo Switch on a daily basis
A portable console, now finally in our hands
Nintendo was awesome and kind enough to send us a Switch a whole week and a half early ahead of its March 3rd launch. This is a big deal because up until now, the Switch has always been under strict supervision during events, usually tied down by some sort of security lock, meaning no one could really get a good sense of the weight and how it feels actually walking around with it. I've had the console now for four days and I've been trying to utilize its portability factor to get a really good sense of how it works when on the go, but for my night time sessions, I told myself that despite gaming comfortably in bed, I need to experience playing Zelda on the big screen.
The build, as you probably already know from numerous preview events, is fantastic, and truly doesn't feel like a Nintendo console. I'm not trying to knock Nintendo or anything, but the Wii and Wii U largely felt like toys, at least in comparison to the super sleek Switch.
Even knowing what the Switch looks like, nothing will surprise you more than actually holding the console in your hands for the first time, marveling at its tiny size, and yet, the screen is bigger than any current dedicated gaming portable such as the Nintendo 3DS XL or the PS VITA. It helps that it weighs very little, making it very easy and comfortable to hold over long periods of time.
The Switch presents players with choices on how they want to experience the system; Docked, portable, tabletop mode, Joy-Cons attached to a grip or detached and held in each hand separately. It's great that there are so many options because I've noticed that I personally tend to lean toward playing a specific way, which means others will as well. For instance, I love playing with the Joy-Cons detached from the console and without a grip, simply holding one in each hand. It allows me to lounge and doesn't restrict me with having to hold my hands in front of me. This is the primary way I've been experiencing the Switch and I absolutely love it. With that said, portable mode with the Joy-Cons docked on the side also feels great, and like I've stated, thanks to the weight, allows for long sessions without your hands feeling tired.
As of right now, I can't use the console to its fullest potential, because the day one firmware update hasn't gone live yet, which means software like the eShop still isn't functional and I can't link my Nintendo ID. Actually, as far as the system UI goes, there isn't a whole lot you can do at the moment outside of creating a Mii, setting up a profile, scroll through the News section which is basically the system's manual at the moment or browsing through my captured screenshots. Of course, the main event is Zelda, which I have been playing but unfortunately can't talk about until tomorrow.
Talking about screenshot capturing, there's something extremely satisfying about pressing that button and immediately seeing the screenshot captured in the upper left corner along with the camera shutter sound it makes. It just feels so immediate when compared to the PS4 for example. And sure, while the PS4 does take a screenshot as soon as the Share button is pressed, the little sound notification happens seconds after. Something about this all happening so immediately feels super satisfying. I know it's a little thing, but Nintendo is good at the little things.
As of this writing, I did experience two strange issues with the Switch. The first one involves some weird de-syncing going on with the left Joy-Con. What I mean is that at times, Link will just stop moving entirely and either won't respond to my input or will move in the direction a few seconds later. Sometimes continuing to move in the same direction even when I'm no longer holding down the thumbstick. It's super odd. However, seeing as this seems to be a common issue with those who have the Switch, hopefully, this can be fixed in the day one update.
The second issue relates to the battery, specifically charging it while in Dock Mode. I've noticed that when docked, the Switch will charge all the way up to 73% (although 72% was the max I was able to get to last night) and then stops. At first I thought this was Nintendo's way of preserving the battery, however, the next day when I woke up to check the battery, it went down to 71%. This might be an extremely isolated issue that's only related to me, so it might not be worth worrying about it too much but I did want to bring it up.
Also, something worth mentioning since people seem to be in a tizzy about it not being a true portable because it doesn't fit in your pocket. If you take off the Joy-Cons and put those in one pocket, you should be able to comfortably fit the Switch in your other. Of course, your mileage may vary since I tend to wear jeans with bigger pockets, but I'm just saying that it is possible.
I still need more time with the Switch, and definitely with Zelda to give a more proper opinion on the matter, but so far, outside of the two small issues, I'm really in love with this little thing. I'm a big fan of portables, to the point where if I'm traveling, the first thing I'll do is charge my 3DS and VITA. So the Switch naturally fits right into my ecosystem really well.