In the two weeks since I left GameStop eagerly waiting to get home and unbox my console, the Nintendo Switch has been such a joy to use. I waited two weeks to write this review so I could accurately depict how it fits into my everyday. Before I start the review though, I figured I'd run through my launch night.
In an effort to make the midnight launch go as smoothly as possible, GameStop required people to get a receipt with their pre-order earlier in the day and they were numbered so people would know where to stand in line. As people on the Internet say, "FIRST!!1!". The guy behind me got to the midnight launch before I did and was wondering who had the number one receipt. I thought it was pretty funny.
I went to the midnight launches of the DSi and 3DS. Those launches had nothing on this one. When I left, the line was to the door and then some. It was a hella windy night and I'm glad we didn't have to wait outside.
The people on the other side of the store didn't have a pre-order, but they snagged the 13 or so extra Switch consoles this GameStop had for launch. As I waited to get the aforementioned receipt, a couple realized that someone in GameStop allowed those 13 people to reserve the right to buy the limited Switch consoles and the couple were highly upset, to say the least. Apparently, that wasn't supposed to happen until 6pm. GameStop's gonna GameStop. 🤷🏾♂️
As a launch bonus, everyone got a free Zelda poster. I should put this up at some point but I'm still unsure about which side I like most. As soon as I got my bag of goodies, I left the store ASAP. I was stopped by someone in line for an impromptu Facebook Live interview. That was weird but two random people know who I am now! Since you got this far, here's a video:
Unboxing and Setup
If you didn't watch the video, here's a peek at what my current (slightly messy) gaming area looks like now:
I didn't truly appreciate the Wii U's GamePad until my girlfriend asked me if I was done playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I was hours deep into playing and she had shows to watch. With the press of a button, I switched my attention from the TV to the controller I already had in my hand and walked to my desk a few feet away. Confused, she asked if I was mad at her. Of course I wasn't, I was still playing Deus Ex! I guess you could say my gameplay was augmented.
For the uninitiated, the Wii U allowed you to swap between the GamePad and the TV for playing most (if not all) games. In a household where there was only one TV at the time, it was amazing.
With the Switch, that appreciation came a helluva lot quicker. I have a roving 10-month-old who likes to wreak havoc and while my girlfriend was gracious enough to let me spend the entire first weekend with the Switch relatively undisturbed, the boy needed to be watched when mom was busy. While playing Zelda, I was asked to watch the boy for a couple minutes so I took the Joy-Con out of the charging grip (highly recommended) and onto the sides of the Switch, which I then took out of the dock and walked downstairs. After making myself a human fence to block the boy from roaming elsewhere I continued playing.
I bought a Nintendo GameBoy fanny pack from eBay after seeing someone post an old ad for it in /r/NintendoSwitch. I wasn't sure if the Switch would even fit but it does! You'll have to detach the Joy-Con, of course. Since the weather is frigid at the moment, I've been using my hoodie's pouch to transport my Switch. When the weather gets warmer, the fanny pack will make an appearance. I also have an Animal Crossing bell pouch that I purchased from Etsy but I like the fanny pack more.
I think the super portable nature of the Switch is going to make gaming happen in unexpected places, and more often. I'm looking forward to having impromptu Splatoon 2 battles in an airport or Street Fighter II matches in a line for food trucks.
Being a home console that's also portable, AAA-type games like the new Zelda consume a LOT of power. As a result, the battery life isn't great (I've gotten roughly three hours of Zelda gameplay on a single charge). It doesn't seem that much different from the battery life of a 3DS when playing Super Smash Bros. You'll get a notification that the battery level is low but I usually ignore that until I see it a second time. If I'm in transit, I use my Anker charger to keep gaming.
For me, the battery life hasn't been an issue and that's because I have a laptop with USB-C charging. Whether I'm at home or at work, I always have a charger (I bought two because I kept leaving my then sole charger at home). The addition of yet another popular device with USB-C charging in the global marketplace makes me confident that the future of a single port for
all most electronics will come to fruition relatively soon. Early adopters like myself have to deal with buying temporary plugadoos and such but hey, that's so you don't have to!
I wasn't sure if I would come to regret buying grips for the Joy-Con but after a single Snipperclips play session, I can honestly say it was a fantastic purchase decision. The Joy-Con feel decent without it but with my Jack Skellington-esque fingers, I definitely appreciated the classic controller feel of the grips. My girlfriend has much smaller hands and will not play Snipperclips without them.
The build quality of the Switch is awesome. It's also incredibly light, suspiciously so. You'd think it'd weigh more for what it does. The kickstand on the back is plastic and detachable. It's designed to be easily replaceable and that's awesome because it would suck if you had to replace the console because of it.
There are fan vents on the top of the device and it occurred to me after week one of owning it that I've never heard fan noise. When I've thought to touch the top of it during a lengthly play session I did feel heat and had to put the Switch up to my ear to hear fan noise. I've had a screen protector since day one and somehow let an errant wisp of fabric get in but I don't care enough to fix that niggling issue.
I'm sad that dbrand won't be making Switch skins. This is the design I came up with, to match the awesome marble skin on my MacBook Pro. Welp. At least dbrand is an awesome company.
I've taken so many screenshots of the interface (except in eShop, that's not possible there) and I've got one request for Nintendo. Please make it possible to hide the UI in games when taking screenshots! I complained about this to @jessety and he informed me that you can hide most of the UI in Zelda (you'll just see your heart containers). I just hope more games adopt the "Pro HUD" option that Zelda provides.
I'll end this review with the real reason I bought a Switch: Splatoon 2! If you hadn't guessed by the decal on the back of my Switch, I'm a huge fan of the original for Wii U. 🕸