As you may know, Nintendo is currently holding hands-on events for its new console in several German cities. We here at Fandom were at the event in Berlin and got a glimpse at how the system works and which games Nintendo fans can look forward to!
Much about the launch of the Nintendo Switch recalls the launch of the Wii ten years ago. A revolutionary new game system for the whole family with innovative mini-games, a few bigger titles and various retro games. But what became a huge success story for the Wii might not be reproducible for the Switch.
A Fresh Wind In Hyrule
The event in Berlin gave good insight into the near future of the Switch. Probably the most eagerly anticipated game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had a large dedicated area decorated with trees, where you could spend about twenty minutes immersed in the new, open world version of Hyrule. The game is played using either the Joy-Con controllers with the grip, or the more classic Pro Controller. This, by the way, does not come with the system and is priced around $70... which, for me, is quite disappointing. But it’s difficult to fault Nintendo for wanting to push their new technology, the Joy-Con Controller. Using the Joy-Cons with the grips feels good in the hands, even if it is somewhat narrower than console players are used to. The asymmetrical arrangement of the analog sticks disturbed me a bit at first, but I got used to it relatively quickly.The new Zelda title has already generated plenty of excitement thanks to the Exploration Gameplay trailer and first impressions of the game do not disappoint. The makers remain faithful to the slightly coarser anime look of the characters, but they are very masterful in their atmospheric open-world design. When Link awakens from his 100-year sleep, he dons what amount to pair of small rags for clothing, then makes his way into a world of ancient ruins, blowing grass and wide ravines. The spirituality factor has definitely been turned upside down. The huge area seems almost a bit overwhelming, but ultimately you can not wait to explore as much as possible. Eventually you find a horse and that speeds things up a bit. Zelda truly inspires, as expected - however, the title will also be released for the Wii U. For those who have the last Nintendo console still at home, there’s really no compelling reason to upgrade for the Switch version.
1-2-Switch!Even if Nintendo's most ardent fans (e.g. me) are probably most excited about Zelda, this is not the game that demonstrates the new characteristics of the Switch best. The Wii Sports equivalent is 1-2 Switch, a collection of mini-games that really utilize the unique characteristics of the system best, as far as playing with the Joy-Cons is concerned. Over 20 games are included in the bundle, which allow you to, among other things, milk cows, dance, fight, duel, or hang up a telephone especially quickly! The last example shows that the quality of the mini-games varies dramatically, and while some of them are a lot of fun, at first glance, there’s nothing comparable to Wii Sports tennis or bowling. However, a game with the simple name of "Counting Balls" where you have to count…(you know what to do, right?) is particularly convincing. You can only do this by concentrating on the vibrations in the Joy-Con. This works amazingly well and presents perfectly what the makes the switch particularly unique. For this purpose, however, it would have been more than desirable to sell 1-2-switch, like Wii Sports, as a bundle with the console. Instead, players must spend $50 to purchase it separately.
Never Ending Mario KartAt the Mario Kart station I could finally try the Switch in handheld mode and the first impression was: it’s hard! That may be because testers were not able to use it with the Joy Cons unobstructed. Altogether, it’s somewhat weighty and especially compared to other common handhelds, it strains the arm muscles significantly more. Otherwise, it fits well in the hand and the screen quality does not disappoint. However, given Mario Kart’s graphics, that isn’t the biggest challenge. The idea of being able to take the game from the home TV anywhere is definitely alluring and a smart move on the corporate side – but the idea contingent upon the battery life, on which Nintendo has not yet been given any definitive information. What’s disappointing however is that you can not exchange or replace the battery, which for traveling long distance would be useful. This is definitely a negative. The same problems also affect the otherwise really great tabletop mode, when it’s not connected to a TV and two players can play with the Joy-Cons in front of a kind of mini homescreen.
Expensive PromisesOverall, I liked the Switch, but the games presented did not convince me that it's a necessary purchase right now. Zelda is wonderful and (the as-yet unplayable) Super Mario Odyssey looks great, but it would have been braver of Nintendo to release a few new titles that really show off the innovations of the new console. The 1-2 Switch mini-games are fun, but will not hold people’s interest for more than a few hours and ultimately promise more than they deliver. There is hope for the system with games from 3rd party developers, but it remains to be seen how many are fully on board.
A big drawback, as has been mentioned elsewhere, is the price. The $300 price tag for the console alone could almost be forgiven with the argument that the system’s innovations balance out the superior performance of the competition. The accessories, which are not just bonus luxury items, are, however, so pricey that the expenses quickly add up, especially when you factor in the games. One can’t help thinking that the Switch is going to have a somewhat rocky beginning. Let’s hope that Nintendo can overcome it. Will you be buying the Switch?