Nintendo Switch Hands-On.

Today I was able to attend an event by Nintendo in Birmingham of all places, and over two hours, I was able to form an early opinion on the Switch, and a few games.

It was held in a ‘club’ called Boxxed. We didn’t wait long, as it was from 12:30 until 14:30. The queue almost reached the stretch of the street, which to me at least, shows there’s some demand here, unlike the Wii U.

Half twelve we walked in, and it’s just one large room with many areas to see, while you’re given a card where you can guarantee yourself a time to play Zelda.

The games I tried were:

  • ARMS
  • Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Splatoon 2

There won’t be in an in-depth opinion on these. If you want them, go to Tired Old Hack. Essentially these are my short opinions on the ten minutes I had with each of them.

ARMS – It surprised me. The tracking and the sensors are spot on. They way you can naturally curve your movement for a curved punch is great. Before I tried it, I thought it was just an enhanced ‘Wii Sports’ boxing game. But this is one of those games where you need to actually play it to understand what I mean. There were special attacks by pressing the trigger buttons, while having them both joined together horizontally made you block. I tried three matches, and they became more and more intense, or fun. Overall, it was the game that surprised me, and something so simple was so fun. Almost something that may have worked on the Wii, but not as precise.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild – I’ve never been keen on the 3D Zelda games. To me, they’ve all felt linear, all felt they drag on too long, whereas if you give me Links Awakening or Link to the Past, I’m happy. But the two times I had the chance to play this, I was impressed. You could go anywhere. He can climb, he can jump, he can knock open treasure chests with his bare feet. I was aware that this version is one from last year’s E3, essentially a fast port of an early Wii U version, so the resolution wasn’t the greatest on this television. But it was fun. It made you curious of whats actually at that mountain. It also looks to me as if it’s the first entry where it’s ‘grown up’. That it knows what works, what doesn’t, while also introducing features that are inspired from other games. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is one I remembered while playing. It’s got an ‘epic’ feel to it, which is why i’m being swayed to ordering it on launch day.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – It’s the same Mario Kart 8 you love, with more characters, tracks, and you can now take it with you. It was a multiplayer game, so there were eight of us playing it at once. No lag, and having this in handheld mode, the screen impressed me as to how clear it is. Alongside how comfortable it was controlling it, I can see myself playing this on breaks on the day job.

Splatoon 2 – My least favourite. It had motion control, similar to Starfox, where you have to move the controller to aim. So everytime I tried to aim with the right analog stick, I just couldn’t. I asked if this can be turned off, but only in the full game it can be. A unique game and I liked how you were meant to cover the map in your team’s paint colour, instead of having to attempt headshots, but not one I’ll be going back to.

The Switch.

It’s smaller then you think. There’s no latch when you dock and pull it out. It feels magnetic, in a way how it is when you clip an iPad case on to the side.

The display size is between an iPhone 7 Plus and an iPad Mini. That’s the best way I can only describe the screen. But it’s just the right size, otherwise people would be clamouring for a Nintendo phone, or classing this as a ‘phablet’.


The neon and blue variants looked great, and every button felt good with a good click. The d-pad has always been a concern for me, and I always try to give one the ‘Hadouken’ test.

How Down, Down-Right, Right, would be. But it passed.

Holding them both like a Wii controller and nunchuck felt natural. It fit into my hands perfectly, even if my fingers are inhumanely long. Holding them this way, you still knew which buttons you were pressing without having to check.

Using just one of them felt good too. I thought using it this way would be distracting. You can’t use an analog stick for every single game, while the position of where it is on the red controller seemed off to me. But, again it worked. It was comfortable and didn’t feel squashed. The idea you already have a two player game ready, at anytime wherever you are with these, is very appealing.

Joycon Grip

Slightly narrower than I thought. This was when I played Splatoon, so whether this was because of my increasing rage with the motion option being on, it felt odd to use the joy cons like this. But this is more of a ‘to be continued’. The d-pad still felt fine, it just felt like I was using a slightly-squashed Dreamcast controller.

Pro Controller

This felt the best out of the four variants. The d-pad was great, and it had a better grip than the others. It feels almost as good as the DualShock 4, my favourite controller. There’s not a lot to say here, other than it was comfortable, and the d-pad was better. But for £64.99, I’ll wait until it drops in price.

Overall, I came out of the event impressed. I’m still at a loss to see how the online service will work, and if there will be any Day One Virtual Console games. But just using the system and seeing these events held, tells me that Nintendo are trying to genuinely convince people that it’s the next step for them. They’re aware of the eco-system they have, and they are listening.

It’s definitely a console.

Having it as a handheld is just an added benefit here. It’s why the battery life is only around four hours. But I can see myself using handheld mode in a break for Mario Kart, and carrying it on at home later that evening. That’s what it allows. If you’ve brought it on holiday, it’ll be something to use for the flights (granted you have a power pack ready), but again, this isn’t a Game Boy.

Remote Play on the PS4 and PS Vita did allow you to take the game with you. But dependant on Wi-Fi and effort, you only had mild success with this.

This is the next step in that regard, and I’m expecting some kind of ‘Nintendo Direct’ to explain the services itself and just how it will work. We’re still in the dark as to if we will be able to play ‘online’ at launch. If not, that may dent demand and some positivity surrounding the Switch.

But for now, I’m convinced, and you should give it a chance once it’s released on the 3rd March.


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