A hot blustery and humid day in Sydney sets the scene for the the weekend of gaming and art at the Rooster Teeth Expo. Stepping into the Sydney Convention Centre was a welcome relief as the aircon seemed to be working it’s magic. Going down the escalators and entering the main show floor you are welcomed by vast banners, games and people. The most important of which, for this piece at least, is the towering Nintendo Booth.
The Nintendo Switch was only announced in full less than a month or so ago. While there was rampant speculation about the specs, what it did and what made it special, getting the confirmation was nice. Leading on from the release date and price announcements ($469ish for us Aussies) it is a pleasure to be able to get some hands on time with this cutting edge device.
Walking into the main Nintendo Switch booth I was immediately confronted with a choice, novelty games (where everyone can see you play,) Mario Kart or Streetfighter. Naturally, as I wanted to give myself at least a little time today before I make a fool of myself, I went for the Mario Kart. Initially this meant hands on time going head to head against an adversary using the two mini controllers.
Damn, it was smooth. I never would have expected the mini controllers to be so comfortable to use. They didn’t feel ludicrously small in my hands and nor did my fingers seem to get tangled up. It may just be that I am so unused to using controllers that I just didn’t notice, but I do feel that I could keep playing that for a reasonable amount of time without getting cramped hands.
Similarly, the screen, when detached and being used for multiplayer games is entirely adequate. If you were awkward about sitting close to people then you may have an issue, but for me and a stranger, we were happily able to play without having to sit on each others laps. Once the game is on and the action is live you don’t need to be right on top of the screen like you sometimes need to be when going through the menus. The actions flow and you can just get on with playing with another.
For a single player (or multiplayer with one person per switch) experience, it is also marvellous. It is just like playing on a giant 3ds. Plenty of screen space with reasonable controls on each side of the device. The resolution is wonderful and I did not notice any sort of lag or processing issues, even while I was getting thrashed by the pro’s.
What was more noticeable, from a discomfort perspective, was the space to place your hands when holding the full device was a little small considering the weight of the complete unit. For me it may be more about the size of my hands, but I do think that I would tire out quite quickly. I would be more inclined to use the pro-controller and stand the screen up separately as I feel that it would work better for long trips.
Watching it on the big screen, in its nested configuration was also a great display of its versatility. It looked good, even a little better when dodging around and punching it out on ARMS; a game which is looking super nice I must say.
The mini-games that were being shown off around the booth really reflected the versatility of the two player interactions. On display was a game where you had to guess the number of balls that were rattling in a box. Surprisingly simple until you realise that the there can actually be a significant number for you to count. Can you draw your gun the fastest or catch a sword? My favourite was also the one which was the most entertaining to watch, who can milk a cow the fastest? The mini controllers really allow for hand held experiences, something which I am surprised can be just as engaging as they are.
So coming out of my little testing session with Nintendo, what do I think?
I like it. It is a funky little device which I think straddles a quite nice line between portability and functionality. It seems surprisingly robust and having the ability to get your friends to join you on the fly is just amazing. However, at the current price tag I am not too sure which way I would lean. As per every console, I think that the games are what will be important, and the Switch has some doozies.