Hands-on with the Nintendo Switch at San Francisco’s Fort Mason
We are less than 4 days away from the highly anticipated worldwide launch of Nintendo’s latest console, Switch, and newest installment in The Legend of Zelda franchise, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Last Friday, we got our hands on the Nintendo Switch and upcoming software titles when Nintendo’s preview tour came to San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture.
The $300 home and portable gaming console is a real life Transformer and unlike anything else on the video games market. Thanks to detachable controllers called Joy-Cons on each side of the device, the Nintendo Switch is playable in four dynamic modes: TV mode, handheld mode, tabletop mode, and multiplayer mode. While playing in TV mode was the preferred experience with the Nintendo Switch, it was exciting to undock the device, clip Joy-Cons onto the tablet, and play a massive game like Breath of the Wild on the go.
The core of the Nintendo Switch is a 6.2-inch tablet, falling somewhere between the size of an iPhone 7 Plus and a Kindle Fire. The tablet portion of the device features a bright and vibrant 720p HD touchscreen, kickstand, built-in speakers, headphone jack, microSD card slot for expandable storage, and a USB Type-C charging port.
The Joy-Cons, which look very awkward to hold, are actually comfortable in every mode. We played Breath of the Wild with the Joy-Cons in grip configuration, and with a Switch Pro Controller. The Pro Controller felt right, but the Joy-Cons felt comfortable enough to play for hours with the grip controller.
We also got hands-on with 1-2-Switch, the social dueling game that aims to do what Wii Sports did for the Wii by getting players off the couch, laughing, and tempting everyone around to join in. Players hold a Joy-Con and engage with each other in a collection of wacky mini games. Games include a samurai fighting, eating contests, wild west-style gun duels, and cow milking — seriously. 1-2-Switch is a laugh riot and will surely be the ultimate party game of 2017.
Another two-player game was Arms. Similar to 1-2-Switch, Arms requires each player to hold one Joy-Con and battle it out in a Wii Sports-style boxing match, complete with long-stretching rubber arms, missiles, and more. Arms is another certain hit and party game for the year ahead, and was one of the most memorable games available to demo.
The Switch feels great in handheld mode, with the Joy-Cons attached to each side. The device is thick, but does not feel heavy. It almost feels like a first-generation PlayStation Portable, which isn’t a bad thing considering the power the Nintendo Switch packs in. We got a chance to play the upcoming Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in handheld mode, and we have to say the Switch found the Goldilocks zone — it felt just right.
We did encounter one problem with the Nintendo Switch: When switching from TV to handheld mode during the opening scenes of Breath of the Wild, the Switch died. Not meaning the battery died (it was plugged in), but meaning it died-died. Technicians came out and took the Nintendo Switch apart looking to find the problem, then ended up switching the device out. Nintendo’s events staff assured us it was an isolated problem.
After last Friday’s event, we’re not just excited for the Nintendo Switch. We’re impatiently awaiting its arrival, and can’t wait to play games like Breath of the Wild in full.
The Nintendo Switch will launch worldwide this Friday, March 3rd for $299.99, with the following day one titles: 1-2-Switch, Just Dance 2017, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Skylanders: Imaginators, Snipperclips, and Super Bomberman R. Arms and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will launch in Spring 2017.