With a unique legacy in the realm of video games, Nintendo gave us the iconic Game Boys, Wiis and a host of games like Pokémon, Mario and Zelda. Among the plethora of hardware and game developers, Nintendo stands out as it is an expert in designing and executing the unconventional. Trying to review its offerings is no easy task as this week’s column tries to capture the essence of Nintendo’s console, the ‘Switch’.
Switch’s unavailability in India puts limitations of addressing questions of after-sales service and warranty related concerns. Nintendo’s e-store for games isn’t available in the country as well, and any reason to get a Switch seems extraneous. However, the unique requirements that it fulfils make it a compelling device to acquire.
The Switch I received was for the Japanese market and setting it up was relatively easy. Its modular gamepad comes as two blocks that can be swiped in and out (called joycons) is nifty and surprisingly sturdy. The screen is a 720p 6.2-inch multi touch panel with a USB type-C port and a headphone jack. There is a slot for inserting game cards (picture Game boys), a kick stand and a micro SD slot that is stealthily tucked away. The touch-screen and the joycons are accompanied by a dock that allows for seamless casting of the screen onto any display with a HDMI port.
I docked my Switch with a Panasonic smart TV, allowing both screen-casting and console’s charging simultaneously. After that, docking the console and the subsequent shift in display was almost instantaneous, and seamless. At times, I played Breath of the Wild, often switching between the handheld and docked modes depending on the challenges faced – and the experience was one of true simplicity.
Getting used to the joycons can take some time as the buttons and the multi-direction sticks are smaller than conventional controllers. However, the rib-like frame that comes in the box that allows for joy-cons to be slid in and resemble a conventional controller, shape-wise. The OS resembles Sony’s on the PS4 and is functionally minimalistic.
There is a surprisingly large catalogue of games available for the Switch considering its limited performance capabilities. The access to the e-store was very easy when I chose any country where Switch is officially available, and Nintendo doesn’t seem to be monitoring IP addresses.
Once the Switch is docked, the performance gets better, and the games are extremely vivid on a big display. In the handheld mode, despite the performance dip, the gameplay was smooth and uninterrupted. However, Switch weighs on you after playing for a few hours as the device is quite broad to hold.
Final take away
The battery life is quite good as you can squeeze in 3-4 hours of continuous play without hassles. The modular nature of the device though is inimitable and the resultant experience of gaming on the Switch is one of a kind. By far, being the best portable console out there, it’s a shame that it isn’t officially available in India. With a strong catalogue of exclusive games and the upcoming Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, the argument to owning a Switch becomes more compelling; but do I recommend it? No.