As recent as 2014, Nintendo experienced one of its worst financial losses in the company’s history—they had to slash their forecast for the Wii U by as much as 70 percent, and even their more popular 3DS system didn’t meet its quota. Mobile gaming, it seemed, was not in the cards for Nintendo’s future.
This prediction would have been accurate if the company just followed up with a successor to the Wii U or the 3DS. Instead, the company asked itself, “What new experience can we create?” And thus, the Nintendo Switch was born.
Transform and roll out! The Switch’s unique selling point is its multiple modes. It can function as your typical game platform connected to your TV (TV Mode). You can bring it with you whenever you need to leave the house with its Mobile Mode, and play together with friends using the Tabletop Mode. This “transformability” answers a very real need for gamers—for many years, I’ve wanted to bring my PC or PlayStation when I go on vacations, but my gaming setups are too bulky and not at all portable (even gaming laptops are a pain to lug around). The Switch is perfect for gamers on the go who don’t want to compromise on their gaming experience.
Surprisingly strong. On paper, the specifications of the Nintendo Switch isn’t all that impressive. That’s why it’s surprising what this little console can do. Turning it on and getting a game to load is remarkably quick—comparable to a top-of-the-line PC setup, to be honest. The display on the console is decent, and when it’s docked and connected to the TV, frankly, it exceeded my expectations. My wife actually said, “It’s like a movie!” And while there are a few framerate drops here and there, it doesn’t reach the point of annoyance.
Sweet spot. An early concern about the Switch is its limited library of games—which is ridiculous, considering that there’s already more than 250 games available for the console and another 50 or so that you can already pre-order. What’s more, the breadth of the games cuts across demographics. From Chess to Mario Kart to Minecraft to Skyrim, there’s something for everyone, from kids to adults and casual gamers to the hardcore adventurers. The Switch is a bridge that brings gaming not only to serious gamers but also to those who just need to pass the time during traffic.
Joy or Con? Joy-Cons, the Switch’s controllers, are admittedly far more sophisticated than their predecessors, the Wiimote or nunchucks. They have accelerometers, gyroscopes, motion IR camera, and even an NFC for Amiibos. For such a small thing, they pack quite a punch—especially since their batteries can last up to 20 hours. Upon actual usage, however, some problems become apparent. When they’re detached from the console, sometimes the Joy-Cons get de-synced and disconnected. Also, because they’re small, the controllers could feel awkward when you’re using it in two-player mode. The Left and Right trigger buttons can also feel inelegant.
Design hits and misses. As a hybrid game console, the Nintendo Switch is exciting and an even better user-oriented product. But it IS a Nintendo product, and that basically means there’s bound to be some kooky design ideas in there somewhere. Aside from the small Joy-Cons, the power and volume buttons can be hard to reach. The microSD slot gets exposed when you pull out the built-in stand, which, by the way, doesn’t feel as stable as it should when you’re using it. There’s no wireless connection for audio, which is a real bummer. [Ed’s note: The Switch’s firmware was updated to support wireless audio connection. However, you would need to attach a Bluetooth USB dongle that comes with the headphones you’re using.]
I like that the screen was big enough, unlike the screens of other mobile gaming devices from Nintendo and from competitors. And while the 720p resolution and color display were inspired, playing under direct sunlight (something unavoidable when you’re on the move) can be a problem. Last, the 4,310mAh battery may be passable for smartphones, but for a dedicated gaming device, more is definitely better. It might last your MRT rides to and from work but for longer travels, it’s not going to be enough. Fortunately, Nintendo made the infinitely wise choice of using a USB Type-C port so charging the Switch is easy, convenient, and quick.
Play with others. Moving away from the stereotype of the loner playing with his gaming device in the corner, playing with others is ingrained in the Switch design. You can play it like the Wii, using motions to play with and against other people. You can also take one Joy-Con and give the other to your friend and do battle on Street Fighter or Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. If you’re feeling more social, connect through Wi-Fi or find local players and connect up to eight players together for a match of Splatoon or Mario Kart. It all makes sense—you’re supposed to take the Switch with you when you leave the house. When you meet friends, you can all whip out your Switches and get the party started.
Money. Money. Money. If you think of the Nintendo Switch as a home video game console that you can easily take with you wherever you go, then the almost P19,000 price tag is more than reasonable. However, when you have a Switch, you’ll need Switch accessories and peripherals. Screen protectors, carrying cases, pro controllers, Joy-Con battery packs, Joy-Con charging grips, memory cards, Joy-Con wheels… the list goes on. And don’t forget about the games—the popular titles go for around P3,000-P4,000. The Switch is great—but it could cost you.
Last year, I bought a Nintendo 2DS because I was going to vacation in Canada and I had sepanx for my PC. I ended up using it for a grand total of three times. The Switch is different. It doesn’t feel like it’s only for kids, it has a good library of games, and it’s really fun. With the horrible, seemingly unending, and worsening traffic in Metro Manila, having a portable gaming system that’s powerful enough to play awesome games like Skyrim is a must-have.
|Type||Hybrid video game console|
|Display||6.2” multi-touch capacitive touchscreen (1,280 x 720 resolution)|
|Processor||NVIDIA Tegra X1 octa-core|
|Video Output||Up to 1080p via HDMI in TV mode, up to 720p via built-in screen|
|Storage||32GB internal, expandable up to 2TB via microSDHC or microSDXC cards|
|Game Format||Nintendo Switch game cartridges, downloadable|
|Connectivity & I/O Ports||Wi-Fi 802.11ac; Bluetooth 3.0 (for Joy-Con); NFC; USB 3.0, 2.0, Type-C; headphone jack|
|Dimensions & Weight||9.4 x 4 x 0.55”, 0.88lbs (with Joy-Con attached)|