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Nintendo Switch impressions: Out of the box and into our hands

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Written by Kamil Arli

Tech Columnist KYLE ORLAND published an article on the Nintendo Switch. 

We’ve had the Nintendo Switch here in Ars’ orbiting HQ for a few days now, and while we’re still working on a more thorough review ahead of launch, we’re now able to share some initial impressions of the final retail system to add to our hands-on time from last month.

SO FAR, TESTING OUT THE SWITCH HAS EXCLUSIVELY MEANT PLAYING THE LEGEND OF ZELDA

So far, testing out the Switch has exclusively meant playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the only one of nine confirmed launch games we have our hands on as of yet. Any significant non-gaming or online functions are tied to a “Day One” system update that likely won’t be available in time for pre-launch reviews. Further thoughts on the experience of motion controlled games (like 1-2-Switch), or games that support individual Joy-Cons held horizontally (like Super Bomberman R) will also have to wait.

WHERE BREATH OF THE WILD ENDS UP BEING MUCH MORE STRIKING

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Where Breath of the Wild ends up being much more striking is in portable mode. I’ve primarily tested the system on the Switch’s 6.2″, 720p screen as I’ve travelled for work over the past few days. The screen’s size and relatively high-resolution means elements like text, health displays, and button prompts can be both small and clearly legible. After years spent tolerating Nintendo portables with relatively low-res screens and big, pixellated graphical elements, the level of fine detail that can be held in your hands is a wonder.

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My favorite way to play Breath of the Wild so far is with the Joy-Cons detached from the system, held one in each hand. You can connect the individual controllers to a centralized Grip to make them feel more like a standard dual-stick controller, but I’m not sure why you would want to. Held separately, you can lounge around comfortably with your hands and arms resting literally anywhere, rather than having to scrunch them together directly in front of you.

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THE EXTREMENLY THIN AND SMAL JOY CON CONTROLLERS CAN BE A LITTLE HARD TO GET A SOLID

That said, the extremely thin and small Joy-Con controllers can be a little hard to get a solid grasp on when they’re not connected to a controller Grip or the tablet system itself. The rounded corner of the controller ends up crooked in the very center of your palm, which has to offer most of the support as your fingers struggle to wrap around the tiny base. It’s not uncomfortable by any means—the Joy-Cons are so light you’ll practically forget they’re there—but it still feels a little odd, like trying to hold a Milano cookie when you’re more used to holding a thicker Twinkie.

The one exception to that solid build quality, so far, is the extremely flimsy kickstand on the back of the unit. In about two days of frequent use, that thin, roughly one-inch wide piece of plastic has already broken off two times under normal use. It’s easy enough to snap back into place, in any case, but it’s enough to make you worry about putting any accidental weight on the system when it’s propped up.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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