Nintendo Switch Hands-On Impressions

It’s finally upon us! Nintendo has prepared its next system for market and it’s “switching” up the game. The Nintendo Switch is a hybrid system, seemingly mixing the best of their handheld and portable gaming departments. Games are inserted into the tablet-like device which can be played on the go. When at home, place the system in its dock and you can have your game on the big screen in all of its HD glory.

As with many of Nintendo’s hardware concepts, this can be a bit much to explain. They know this and so they took the Switch on tour to get the device in fans hands.

Now this event was super cool. There were awesome photo ops, (I was fond of the Mario Kart, Inklings, and DAMAGED MASTER SWORD!!!!) and tons of stations to play the launch window games. Unfortunately, breath of the wild was filled most of the time I was there, but I did get a chance to play games in different configurations.

Now I’m not a super terra-flop sorta cat. I’m definitely someone who values a great gaming experience over a sheer graphical spectacle. That being said, I feel that the Switch tech is pretty cool. It didn’t feel cheap or plastic-y I would say it’s more on par with a modern tablet. The device feels smaller than you may think it will feel – which is a good thing. It’s not fitting in a pocket, but neither does an IPad (our phones barely fit in our pockets nowadays). I’ll sound like the rest of the internet, but the click when adding or removing the joy-con was so groovy. It was secure, but not cumbersome. And they feel great in the hands.

The first game I actually got to play was Super Bomberman R, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was what you’d expect – 8 characters in one screen trying to blow each other up. While I only got to play standard VS mode in the original Bomberman level, it was fun. Gone are the days of a realistic “hardcore” Bomberman. Instead, the cartoony nature of the game is amplified by the different colors having their own personalities; a welcome change to the standard color swaps or yore. I was worried we would never see this game again, so no complaints here. Well… my only gripe would be that I played with the joy-con on its side, and while the controller size wasn’t a problem, the lack on a d-pad caused some unnecessary death. Using the analog stick in Bomberman is something that I can get used to eventually, but in this short playtime, I just had to take the L.

Next was Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. My friends and I took to a station designed to mimic airplane seating as we played. A practical way to simulate what I imagine will be a major use for the system. Mario Kart was the only game I played that took a noticeable advantage of HD rumble. HD Rumble causes the controllers of the system to vibrate in different locations at different levels to offer you a greater sense of haptic feedback. I noticed once I entered my first race as I began to rev my engine; the bottom of my controller vibrated to mimic the wheels turning on the screen. As I continued to play through Wario’s Gold Mine, sliding over the tracks would lead to vibrations rippling from joy-con r to joy-con l, simulating the change in terrain.  And the game was gorgeous. It’s running at full 1080 from start to finish, even in split screen.

I later found myself playing Ultra Street Fighter II. Yes… there is a new Street Fighter II game in 2017. The game gives you the option of playing in the classic sprites or with the updated HD remastered style. We played remastered, but it still felt like Street Fighter II. There are two additional characters (color swaps of Ken and Ryu with slightly modified attacks) but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this game is getting DLC with more recent characters adapted to this style. We played with the Switch Pro Controller, which was a joy. The controller packs in most of the functionality of the joy-cons, while having a proper d-pad; something any Street Fighter player will tell you is dire. I initially was disappointed that Nintendo fans are getting a remake of a game so old, but once I got that controller in my hand, I felt at home throwing fireballs and hundred hand slapping.

Nintendo also showed off its newest IP, ARMS. Imagine if Wii Boxing allowed you full control of your character, accurate punching, mechanics, and characters beyond your mii; this is what ARMS promises. There’s actually a deep fighting game at play with ARMS that I’m worried may be lost to most. Gloves are customizable, each with a different affect that changes how you play. Each character has stats that play into the type of player you are. The arenas are destructible in areas, exposing trampolines that can offer leverage in a battle. Add the fact that you traditional controls are an option, and you have a game that can be as wild as the Wii days, but dialed back and modern for today.

Lastly, 1-2 Switch is the game that brings out the party in anyone. With 28 games loaded on the cartridge, the title aims to show off the benefits of every aspect off the Switch hardware. The games our crew player were gunslinger and samurai. Both of these games pit 2 players directly against each other as the look into each other’s eyes and try to predict what will happen. Gunslinger, as the title would suggest, find two friends in a duel. The tension mounts as the players wait for the announcer to yell “FIRE”, at which point, they draw their weapons and shoot. The winner is the first person to fire at a good enough angle to land the kill shot. Samurai was similar, with one player as sensei while the other is a pupal. The sensei aims to strike the pupal on the head, while the pupal attempts to catch the blade with their hand. It’s all about anticipation, the pressure, and the interaction. From what I’ve seen, each of 1-2 Switch’s games has this communal quality, which will lend itself to family gathers, game nights, and I imagine a fair share of parties involving various adult beverages.

While there are still questions regarding long term third-party support, online gaming structure, and if Nintendo can keep their stream of first party games flowing; all in all, I think the event was an excellent showcase of what the Switch is, what it does, and why Nintendo is still relevant in gaming. The fun I had at this event will only be magnified when I’m playing with a large group of my friends.

 

Are you getting the Nintendo Switch on Friday? Add me: CrochetKingpin and lets play!

 

-Dwayne

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