I was recently had the opportunity to attend the Nintendo Switch premiere event in London, which offered a number of fans the chance to get their hands on Nintendo’s latest console and a sampling of the first and third-party software it has to offer.
The day not only provided a great opportunity to learn more about what the Nintendo Switch can do, as well as the games that make use of its unique hardware features, but to see the first-hand response of fans from across the UK to the system in the run-up to its fast approaching release date of March 3rd.
I’ve compiled some fairly comprehensive impressions based on the console itself, as well as each of the games I had the chance to spend some time with. If you’d like to share your own opinions on the Switch and its announced games, feel free to get in touch via Twitter or leave a comment below. Otherwise, please enjoy!
First thing’s first, the machine itself. The Nintendo Switch’s main draw is the ability to instantaneously switch between home and portable gaming with relative ease, and I’m pleased to say that this feature is executed almost as smoothly as the system’s trailers would suggest. Bar the requirement of a simple button press after removing the Switch from its dock, I found that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild transitioned between screens as quickly as I was hoping, and it was pretty sharp-looking to boot. The game ran well, with no stuttering or slowdown that I noticed throughout my twenty minute demo. With this new hardware, a console-quality experience can seemingly be had anytime or anywhere, and that’s just plain impressive.
My time with the Nintendo Switch hardware begun with the Pro Controller, a fairly pricey peripheral that offers a button layout and physical shape more traditional to what you’d expect from a game controller. If you’ve ever used the Wii U’s Pro Controller, you should know what to expect, although the addition of a gyroscope and NFC functionality contribute to making the Switch equivalent a beefier control option, both physically and in its technological capabilities. The whole package felt sturdy, with the face buttons firm and the control sticks offering a generous amount of resistance – the variation in their placement, however, will likely be something that causes discomfort on first use after a generation of symmetrical sticks from Nintendo.
Next came the Joy-Con, small handheld controllers that can be used individually, as well as attached to the Switch’s screen or in a separate grip for a traditional control style not unlike that offered by the Pro Controller. Generally speaking the control sticks and buttons felt the same as on the Pro Controller, with the stick placement a little jarring at first but soon becoming second nature after 10 minutes of Zelda.
However, it was when I got the separated Joy-Con controllers in my hands to play ARMS that the console’s unique controllers option began to shine – responsive and comfortable, especially with the additional wrist-strap that slightly increases their size, and not to mention sporting features such as HD rumble and a motion-tracking IR camera that can simply be described as amazing, it made me realise that perhaps we’d been sleeping on one of the Switch’s best features all along.
There’s no denying that portability will be the Switch’s most appealing ‘gimmick’ to many, but having spent some time with some truly original methods of control, I strongly advise you – don’t sleep on the Joy-Con. There’s the potential for some truly incredible things packed inside of those little things, something that’s perhaps better to understand when taking a look at some of the games that use them.
I want to start with ARMS because ARMS is the bomb.
I’ve already talked a little about ARMS on Twitter, because out of all the games I played at the premiere, it was the one that I most wanted to go to people with and say “you need to play this”. It’s a brand new first-party IP described by Nintendo as a mixture of punching and shooting (although I’d probably lean more towards the former), and seems to be another foray for Nintendo into the alternative fighting game genre, which is always exciting to see.
One of the most satisfying things I found about ARMS was that as soon as I had the Joy-Con in my hands, I felt like I knew exactly what to do. This may sound obvious, considering it’s a motion-controlled game about punching, but the controls for both attacking and moving around each arena felt intuitive, responsive and wholly satisfying. It’s a game that almost anyone could pick up and enjoy, but I can feel there’s a level of depth to its mechanics that will be interesting to explore – I like to think that with a solid roster of characters and the right amount of balancing, this would make for a highly competitive game that would be as fun to watch as to play. Continue reading