The Nintendo Switch is one of the most interesting games consoles to appear since Nintendo first unveiled the Wii.
By promising a console that can offer us a gaming experience both in the living room and on the go it’s a fascinating piece of hardware that blurs the line between tablet, games console and GameBoy.
Now Nintendo very kindly sent us the Switch a week before release and so we’ve spent the last five days getting to know the console inside and out.
What we’ve learnt has been as exciting as it has been frustrating but overall we’re extremely impressed with what Nintendo has created.
Here are five incredibly important things we’ve learned about the Nintendo Switch.
1. It looks really really good (buy a case)
Allow us to be more specific on this one as we know that’s quite vague. What we mean is, the build-quality of the main console is absolutely superb.
Just holding the console for the first time you’re struck buy a) How sturdy the main console feels b) Just how well built it all is.
The power/volume buttons on the top feel nice and responsive while the cover for the GameCard slot is a hefty chunk of plastic that won’t snap off easily. Nintendo’s even carefully designed a stand that works but will easily snap off and snap back on if you try and push your luck with it.
It is lighter than we expected but the central console has a reassuring weight to it that makes us feel confident holding it in Portable Mode.
2. The JoyCon controllers are wonderful and delicate
We properly love the JoyCon controllers, they’re a stroke of genius from Nintendo.
The design is absolutely spot-on, blending a stylish minimalism with nice responsive clicky buttons that strike a balance between being ultra-portable and yet usable on longer gaming sessions.
What we’re terrified of however is breaking them. They’re pretty dinky, and those sticks simply don’t offer the kind of resistance that you’d want if you’re trying to play a game like Zelda.
It’s clear then that some compromises have been made so while they’re genuinely remarkable products, you have to accept that by making them so portable they’re not the kind of solid, rugged controller you’d get with a PS4, or Xbox One.
Also they’re £74.99 for a pair. Ouch.
3. This is a console for grown ups too
Nintendo’s menus for its devices have always been a matter of taste. From the busy, convoluted designs of the Wii and Wii U to the simple but bafflingly slow user interface on the 3DS.
The Switch then, is a revelation. Gone are the childish graphics, or infuriating loading screens simply so you can view the ‘Settings’ menu. This is crisp, clean and grown-up in all the right places.
Games are displayed with simple clean album art while the bottom buttons give you three software choices and three hardware choices.
There’s a choice between a light and dark theme and then discretely placed in the top left-hand corner is your profile icon – a small flash of colour in an otherwise deeply minimalist menu.
This then is a console that’s as happy in a flight bag as it is in a school rucksack.
4. BUY A MICROSD CARD
What you’re looking at is the storage screen on our Nintendo Switch. As you can see there’s loads of free space, that’s because we only have one game and it’s on a game card.
If however you wanted to embrace the modern world of digital downloads, 32GB of storage suddenly isn’t as great as you first thought.
You see with Nintendo revealing the sizes of some of its blockbuster games for the Switch it looks like a microSD card is going to become a must.
You can of course you want to stick with the classic Nintendo option of having a little book of game cards (a nostalgic and also very reasonable way of doing things if you ask us). The choice is yours though.
5. The screen is great but super shiny
Nintendo has given the Switch a 6.2-inch 720p display, it’s designed to be bright enough to use on the go and yet not so demanding on the battery that you won’t be able to get out of the front door.
We’ll be completely honest here, in our time using it the screen has more than lived up to our expectations.
Colours are well reproduced while the console’s highest brightness level is really quite impressive.
If we have one minor issue though it is that it’s very reflective. All handheld consoles admittedly suffer from this problem but it’s annoying that in developing the Switch Nintendo didn’t spend more time trying to keep the reflectivity down.