In just over 24 hours, North American gamers will finally be able to get their hands on the Nintendo Switch. While midnight launches are sure to be packed across the country, many consumers still don’t have the answer to a very basic question: Is the Switch worth it? It seems the answer you’ll get depends on who you ask. With reviews pouring in, it seems fitting to package them up and recap the good and the bad in a Nintendo Switch review round-up.
Nintendo Switch Review Round-Up: The Good
Overall, it seems just about everyone is unified in praising the Switch’s key concept: Console gaming on the go. The Switch’s main function seems to work perfectly. Polygon put it “elegantly” in their review, saying “Holy shit. It works”. Andre Segers over at GameXplain says in his video “(The Switch) is super versatile. You can play on the TV, you can play in handheld form or in table top mode with a kickstand… The Switch is really all about options and you can play it however you want. It can do things that no other console or handheld has come close to doing, and that’s super neat.”
The UI interface has also received mostly positive feedback. Segers says in his review that this is Nintendo’s best UI to date, and Polygon largely agreed. Their biggest complaint about the interface was the relative lack of Nintendo charm compared to other consoles. Reviews all say that Mii characters are no longer as prominent as they once were, be that good or bad. In his largely negative review, Vince Ingenito of IGN said the UI was quick and snappy.
Switch’s sleek design has also garnered positive feedback. Most reviewers say the console looks like a cool piece of tech, and Polygon had an interesting take on it. They wrote: “Nintendo’s first console, the Famicom, was redesigned for the American market as the NES, aping our country’s love affair with another piece of serious contemporary consumer electronics, the VCR. And the Switch, more than any Nintendo console since the NES, feels like an inheritor to that legacy.” GameInformer’s Ben Reeves added “The tablet features a sturdy construction and simple design, and is only slightly heavier than tablets of similar size. The unit’s volume buttons produce a satisfying click, and the power button is recessed, which helps prevent the system from turning on and off accidentally.”.
Nintendo Switch Review Round-Up: The Murky
YouTuber ProJared sums up this part of the round-up perfectly saying “I like it… with a really big asterisk at the end of that statement”. There’s a lot we don’t know about the Switch just yet. Nintendo will be releasing a day-one patch that updates the software (adding eShop and more). The online offerings will be further outlined in the future, and those may make or break the console.
The Pro-Controller has also received its fair share of praise and criticism. GameInformer’s Reeves says “The Pro Controller has a much more comfortable form factor that feels a lot like the PS4 and Xbox One controllers, but it isn’t as polished as Sony or Microsoft’s offerings. The d-pad is stiff and its shoulder buttons are digital instead of analog triggers. However, the sticks feel good and the face buttons are nice and sturdy. After several hours of game time, we were grateful to have the Pro Controller, and we continually went back to it over the Joy-Cons.”
From the reviews I’ve read, the processing power seems tough to gauge. Most reviews said the Switch runs the massive Breath of the Wild at a solid frame rate. It’s 30 fps and 900p while docked and most critics say the game runs beautifully. Ingenito, however, writes “Breath of the Wild, which was developed simultaneously on the Wii U, seldom quite makes it all the way to 30 frames per second in TV mode, and it even dips far south of that when lots of particles or physics objects are on screen at once.”
The Switch dock doesn’t seem to be amazing or terrible. It only has been mentioned in passing in reviews, with many saying it feels cheap. The back hides wires and cords and is visually appealing, so that’s something.
Lastly, there’s a discrepancy on whether or not the Switch can fit into large pockets. While that may not seem like a big deal, it is the difference between needing a carrying case. According to GameSpot’s Jimmy Thang, even with the Joy-Cons attached the Switch can be carried in your pocket. Ingenito says that’s not possible, however, and suggests you buy a carrying case.
Nintendo Switch Review Round-Up: The Bad
By far the most important failure of the Switch appears to be the left Joy-Con. Every single review I’ve read has reported serious problems with its connectivity. Segers did an interesting test on GameXplain that pinpoints the issue. When your hand, or any other object, obstructs the signal the Joy-Con stops working. ProJared says he experienced serious freeze-ups that effected his Breath of the Wild experience.
The Joy-Con issues don’t stop there. While initial reports claimed the controller was appropriately sized, many are now disagreeing. Reeves says that playing with the Joy-Cons for over an hour is uncomfortable and causes cramps. The control sticks have also received poor feedback. On the bright side, the HD rumble feature has been well-received, but that hardly makes up for a bad controller. The Joy-Con Grip has gotten better reception, but only slightly.
Some archaic design choices also hold the system back. ProJared makes a compelling point when he confirms the Joy-Cons don’t have a power button for the console. It’s a small grievance, but definitely a poor omission.
Nintendo confirmed that the Switch would come with 32 GB of internal storage, but that’s not enough according to reviewers. Breath of the Wild takes up 13.2 GB of that storage, and about 7 GB are already being used when you unbox the console. For those who don’t download a lot of DLC or don’t mind buying SD cards this isn’t a big deal, but it’s worth noting.
Interestingly, the kickstand has also been universally panned. Both ProJared and Polygon report that the kickstand can easily snap off, limiting the effectiveness of tabletop mode. You can snap it back into place, but the stand currently covers the Micro SD slot. It’s reasonable to assume that this could result in dropped cards and lost data.
Lastly, the battery life. The Switch’s ability to shift between handheld and home-console works like a charm, but the battery leaves a lot to be desired. Breath of the Wild lasts just under 3 hours according to Polygon. USB charging cords can alleviate this problem, but Ingenito makes a fair point saying this hurts the overall portability of the device.
Nintendo Switch Review Round-Up: Should I Buy One?
We’ll have our own review of the Switch up as soon as we get some time with it to give you a firm answer. But from the reviews I’ve read the answer seems to be: “Yes”. Not a resounding “of course!” but a “yes” nonetheless. Destructoid’s Chris Carter enjoyed his time with the Switch and writes, “While I would pick one up at launch, don’t feel bad if you’re waiting for the right time to do so.” ProJared takes a different stance, suggesting fans wait for features to be patched into the console and for more games to launch. Ingenito’s 6.7 score at IGN was the only number score I found, and even that was tentative. He wrote “(The Switch) is nicely built and cleverly designed to be used in a variety of ways, but the bottom line is that the Switch doesn’t do any one of the many things it can do without some sort of significant compromise.”
I’m sure there are highs and lows that I’ve missed, so please check out these reviews for yourself. We’ll have more on the Switch in the weeks and months to come, so check back later next week for our Outerhaven review of the Switch and Zelda: Breath of the Wild!