In terms of hardware design, this is the closest Nintendo has come to becoming Apple. It’s a very slick and modern little device that doesn’t look like a toy. It wouldn’t look out of place sitting next to other gaming tablets like Nvidia’s Shield. The JoyCons can be a little small for larger hands, but the included grip turns it into a traditional controller. A “Pro Controller” is available for $70, and it’s easily the best controller Nintendo has ever done. Free of gimmicky button configurations, it’s a very useful gaming pad and it’s highly recommended if you’re going to be doing serious gaming.
One thing I really like about the Switches dock, and it’s a very minor thing, is it has a built-in cable management hole for the HDMI and power cables. It’s something small, but that was nice to see.
The system’s interface is also a huge growth from the issues the Wii and Wii U had. It’s absolutely simplified, and again it’s a lot like what you’d expect from a tablet OS. It’s also very fast. System updates can take less than a minute (they were instant on my fast connection) compared to the Wii U updates that would take absolutely forever to download and install.
The UI is also early. There are some features you’d like to see that should come in updates, but for a launch with only one really major game worth playing it works for now. The biggest omission right now is with the file management for your saves. There’s 32GB of storage on the system and it supports MicroSD cards. Your saves go to the system memory and everything else can go to the MicroSD. The issue is that you can’t move saves off a Switch right now.
I believe Nintendo is scared that if they allow you to put a save on a removable MicroSD it opens things up to modified saves and even homebrew hacks, but they do need to figure out a way to transfer saves. Cloud saves are coming via Nintendo’s paid online service later in the year, but right now all of your saved games are stuck on the system.
Of course the other big issue is a lack of things to play on the system. Right now there’s the best Zelda ever made, a great new Bomberman, and some filler. The great indie Shovel Knight is already out, and other indies such as Blaster Master 0 are coming really soon. The next big release is Mario Kart 8 at the end of April, it’s a game that Nintendo could’ve easily launched the system with, but it’s obvious they’re holding it so people have more time to play through Zelda.
But the system’s first year is looking stronger than any Nintendo console before it. Aside from all of the indies and ports like Skyrim, Nintendo’s first party output is releasing a Zelda, Mario Kart, Splatoon sequel, and a brand new 3D Mario all before the system’s first holiday. That’s a shocker when it comes to Nintendo and releases.
June in E3 will be very telling to see what else is on the way, especially next year (such as Retro Studios’ new title), but if you’re happy with an absolutely perfect Zelda for a couple of months; the Switch is the Nintendo system that has learned from the Wii U mistakes and is a promising new future for Nintendo.