Nintendo Switch hands-on review: We went hands-on with the new Nintendo Switch at the home console’s UK launch event. Here’s everything we learnt from our encounter.
As we’d learnt previously the console itself is an Nvidia Tegra-powered dockable tablet with a 6.2-inch 720p HD touchscreen. It sports a black plastic and brushed metal body with an integrated kickstand and various elements along the top including a game cartridge slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD card slot, power and volume controls, and a grill to keep things cool. It’s not particularly pretty to look at, but it’s certainly functional, although narrower bezels would have been appreciated.
Rails down either side let you slide in the Switch’s Joy-Cons – two detachable controllers that can also be slotted into a separate gamepad arrangement or with certain games, operate as two independent controllers.
The left Joy-Con includes a capture button to share gameplay screenshots to social media, whilst the right has both NFC support for Nintendo’s Amiibo figurines and an IR motion camera. It adds the most intriguing functionality to the Switch’s repertoire, as it’s capable of basic gesture recognition (it can discern between the hand signs used in rock, paper, scissors) and it can also measure its the distance from a player’s’ hand.
Both Joy-Cons also pack advanced rumble features that can convincingly simulate sensations like ice cubes sliding around in a glass, as well as accelerometers and gyroscopes for independent motion tracking. Elements that could lead to some unique game mechanics if developers leverage them effectively.
With regards to battery longevity, Nintendo says that the main console should offer up between two and a half and six hours of playtime on a single charge, depending on usage, with the controllers expected to last just as long. The Joy-Cons charge when docked with the Switch itself or when set within the Charging Grip, but we’re yet to learn how long both the Switch console and each Joy-Con takes to fully charge.
When you’re not gaming on the go, the Switch slots into an included tabletop dock which then pushes video out to your TV via HDMI while charging over Type-C USB. Connectivity is principally governed by integrated 802.11ac WiFi, which allows for up to eight Switch consoles to join together for wireless local multiplayer.
For those after a more reliable connection method, you’ll have to be prepared to fork out for an additional Type-C to ethernet adapter, a strange decision as it’s unclear what prevented Nintendo from integrating an ethernet port into the dock, save for the pursuit of a little extra cash through adapter sales, Apple-style.
Nintendo Switch UK hands-on review: Games and gameplay
With regards to games the Switch’s launch lineup is spearheaded by the new Zelda title, Breath of the Wild, but the company has also been showing off other first-party offerings like Splatoon 2, Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey (the trailer of which dropped on announcement day), along with some new IPs in ARMS, Snipperclips and 1-2-Switch; a set of minigames designed to show off the abilities of the Joy-Con controllers. You too can try catching a samurai sword or milk a cow whilst staring into the eyes of your opponent, it’s a fun, but surreal experience.
Beyond that, Nintendo’s already promised that third-party titles from the likes of EA and Bethesda are also on the cards, although we don’t have any availability information on those as of yet.
The Nintendo Switch is an interesting take on the home console executed in Nintendo’s typical offbeat fashion. It’ll be hitting stores in markets including the US and the UK on March 3rd, with a price tag of £279.99.