This summer vacation I was fortunate enough to acquire a Nintendo Switch at retail price. While not a full review, I intend to share my impressions of my “Zelda machine.”
Hardware: The system itself is solid. It has a large screen and controls well with the Joy Cons in both docked and portable modes. The kickstand for playing on the go while using a standard controller configuration isn’t bad, but I can see it breaking on many a system with excessive use and isn’t an option I ever intend to use.
There have been multiple reports of scratching the screen while taking the system out of or putting it into the dock, so there are three ways around this: Never put it into the dock, never take it out of the dock (my preferred method,) or buy a screen protector (the recommended option for people who intend to use the system at home and on the go, as Nintendo intended.
The Joy Cons function very well but can be difficult to take off the system (which is good when you are using it as a handheld, but terrible if you are not) and are even difficult to get in and out of the straps. I have not tested this, but DO NOT put the straps on upside down, or they will be nearly impossible to take off.
At the time of this writing, Joy Cons have now been released in six colors: The standard gray that comes with the system, the blue/red combo (and the alternate) that comes with the system, yellow, green and purplish pink. They can be purchased individually as well, and so can straps. I prefer the colors that were available for the N64 to these neon, Splatoon-colored versions, but time will tell what Nintendo does.
The Joy Cons can be attached to the grip controller (which comes with the system) but because of the awkward arrangement you are going to want a pro controller for most games, or to use a separate Joy Con in each hand, which I find much more comfortable and freeing than holding a standard controller on any system.
The Joy Cons can only be charged two ways, either connected to the system or via a separate charger. If you wish to keep playing a game and charge the Joy Cons at the same time, they will charge by draining battery from the Switch itself in portable mode (which can cause even more of an issue with system battery life,) but you will be unable to connect to the dock and play on a TV. If you choose the Hori Joy Con Charging Stand you can charge up to four Joy Cons at the same time, but again you will want to do this while not in use, unless you have spare Joy Cons hanging around.
That being said, the Cons can hold a charge and don’t need to be charged too terribly often. In fact, I only had to struggle with the attaching/unattaching to the docked Switch twice in two weeks before I got my stand, and that was playing Zelda almost every day.
My only issue with the stand option is that upon pulling it out of the box, I immediately thought it was higher quality than the dock.
The dock is, to be blunt, a cheap piece of plastic. You open it up and run the charge cable and HDMI cable through it. There are two USB ports on the front, to which you can attach the charge station (USB instead of a standard AC plug? Not even the option? Really?) and whatever other peripherals you like.
Having missed the initial teething issues, I can’t comment on launch problems, but it is refreshing to have a console dedicated only to GAMES. No Netflix, no YouTube, just games. And while I enjoy these services on my other consoles, when you can get them on your TV or computer already, why would you need them on a device whose primary function is to PLAY GAMES?
So speaking of SOFTWARE, is there anything to play besides Breath of the Wild? Definitely, and it wasn’t until I picked up my second game that I actually thought the system was worth a pickup currently.
Splatoon 2 is more of the 2015 breakthrough IP for the Wii that everyone loved. If you love shooters with a fun flair, this game is for you. If you can’t stand issues with matchmaking or games where you can have the highest kill/death ratio and still end up ranked LAST, it’s probably not for you. But if you, and your team, can keep the objective in mind and paint as much of the arena in your color as you can, then you will win. But if you like forming a team and playing with your mates, you probably want to go to another shooter or another system.
ARMS is a fun fighter that is a cross between Punch-Out!!, Power Stone and Dhalsim from Street Fighter 2. It utilizes the Joy Cons much like I do, so I found it easy to pick up and start (in fact it is recommended over the grip or pro controller options.) You can throw a punch and arc it towards a moving opponent as opposed to having it miss entirely. Throw both arms out together for a grab/throw, and when your meter is fully charged, hit ZR (why Nintendo can’t just call it RT for right trigger I’ll never understand) and punch in a flurry to get multiple hits. Many people say this game was launched incomplete, and while the rest of the characters will be available for download for free, there is enough to do at the beginning to keep players interested. Two major flaws: Ranked matchmaking is locked until you beat story mode on level 4, and the atrocious volleyball “hot potato” mini game. Ugh.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a rerelease of Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U with all of the DLC available right from the start. Great for parties, and it makes great use of the individual Joy Cons as separate controllers. I forgot to list this feature earlier, but it does cut down on the need to buy individual controllers (especially as some are pushing $80 in the current market.)
You can also pick up Overcooked (great party game,) Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, and (Japan Only) the Seiken Densetsu Collection (Mana Collection). On slate (as if it needs mentioning) is Super Mario Odyssey, as well as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (looking forward to that on a Nintendo system) and after a long absence, Metroid Prime 4.
And now, the elephant in the room…how is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Especially given my less than stellar review of Skyward Sword earlier in the year…
It is a great game, but completely undeserving of any perfect scores. Every awesome moment seems to be followed up with a “what the hell was Nintendo thinking” moment.
As a game itself I would be able to overlook some things, but as a ZELDA game it is really hard as it lacks several key elements that make the Zelda series outstanding. There have been times where it was boring and all I did was run and climb rocks, and a game should never be boring.
I’ll write a full BotW review when I beat Calamity Ganon (not a spoiler as they tell you right away this time.)
The bottom line is while the Nintendo Switch is great, do not buy one just for Zelda. Make sure you have two or three games and your purchase will be worth it.
written by Benjamin Adkins