With the holiday season descending like a plague of Egypt, the time has come to decide what to get our loved ones, and one of the biggest gifts is Nintendo’s newest video game system the Switch. Since its release in March, I’ve had time to put it through its paces, let the library build, and see what the system has to offer.
When docked in its cradle, the Switch plays like any console on your TV in 1080p HD. However, the two halves of the controller, dubbed “Joy Cons,” can slide onto the system’s sides, the tablet-like system can be removed from its dock, and games can be played on its 6.2 inch LCD touchscreen. What all this means is that the system gives you console-quality graphics and gameplay while weighing less than a pound. It comes with 32 GB of internal storage, with the ability to upgrade microSD cards for more, and one set of Joy Con controllers. And while the Switch doesn’t come with a game, there are bundles packing it with games like Super Mario Odyssey.
So much for the technical specs. How does it play and look? The Joy Cons are solid despite their size, feel great in your hands, and even feature the Wii’s motion controls without the need for an awkward sensor bar. Their small size will be a problem for the monster-handed among us, though. Thankfully, the larger Pro Controller, comparable to those of the Xbox One and PS4, is also available separately. Sleek and minimal, the Switch is a well-designed system, feeling both modern and classic. Graphically, it’s comparable to the best games of the WiiU and previous generation. Power is sacrificed for portability, so games like the port of last year’s Doom are less impressive than their PS4/Xbox One versions. When docked, visually intense games can suffer rare frame-rate drops.
Then there’s the game selection. The WiiU was famous for a dearth of worthwhile titles, which the Switch has solved by launching alongside game-of-the-year contender The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with Super Mario Odyssey following a few months later. Combined with a strong selection of indie games like Stardew Valley and ports of games such as the WiiU’s Mario Kart 8 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the system has built up a strong library in less than a year. The Switch also looks to have a healthy amount of third-party games, with this year’s Wolfenstein II on the way. That’s not even including Nintendo’s library of classic games with its premium online multiplayer function (à la Xbox Live), scheduled next year.
Instead of supplanting your PS4 or Xbox One, the Switch is going to make a new place in your gaming space, one that lets you move play from the TV to the couch when, say, your girlfriend wants to watch Netflix. It provides mobile gaming that smartphones and tablets can’t touch and feels like the best parts of Nintendo’s consoles and handhelds rolled into one. Most of all, it’s worth the price tag to play some of the best games of the year practically anywhere you want