By Patrick Hawes-DeFrias
A bit over a month into the Switch's life, I've had plenty of hands-on time with Nintendo's latest console... handheld? Let's just go with "game system" for now. Today we'll take a look at the Switch’s design, compare it with control styles of other systems, and analyze its features. Let's begin!
The first question most prospective buyers of the Switch will have is "how small are those controllers?"
The answer? Pretty darn small, actually.
, but not a bad showing all-around. I'd guess that either handheld mode or this controller layout will end up being the most widely-used option Switch users will operate the system with going forward.
Of special note: the Joy-Cons charge by being attached to the Switch. Meaning, you CAN'T charge them while using the Grip, or just while using them apart from the Switch. So, if one or both Joy-Cons runs out of power, you'll either need to play in handheld mode, change controllers, or stop playing for a while. There is a version of the Joy-Con Grip called the Joy-Con Charging Grip, which can be plugged in. I haven't felt the need to get one yet because the Joy-Cons do last for several hours before needing a charge, but it is something worth considering for a new customer.
. Here, you can see that since each Joy-Con is a controller in and of itself, they each have little bumpers at the top. Now this is a bit awkward, but that's where these attachments come in:
So as you can see on the right, there's the white tab conveniently labeled LOCK. Now, I would like to use these attachments, because sometimes I feel like using the Joy-Cons without the Grip, and the added size the straps give makes them feel better in my hand, but there is a slight issue with the lock. When you push the lock in, it causes the two pins in the strap to move in, locking it onto the rail. Problem- the pins never fully retract even when unlocked, meaning that you kinda have to force them off, and again, I end up feeling like I'm going to break something. Two final things to note about the Joy-Cons. The controllers are, of course, asymmetrical, in order to work as both one combined and two separate controllers. Well, unfortunately this leads to an issue with the right Joy-Con. The analog stick is in the middle of the controller, so if you're playing a multiplayer game, whoever gets that controller will have an awkward time. Lastly, the Switch, as you probably know already, has an NFC reader just like the WiiU. But the reader is in a very bizzare place, the right analog stick. So for all you Amiibo collectors out there be warned- it's incredibly difficult to use the reader if you keep your Amiibo in the box. You'll have to bend the bottom of the box and line it up just right. Now, if you're using a Switch Pro controller, thankfully the NFC point is right in the middle of the controller, so there's likely far less hassle.
The verdict? The Nintendo Switch is a fascinating and revolutionary piece of hardware, but being the first of its kind has also rendered it quite awkward. There's several design decisions that work against the system, but this is balanced by the fact that the base concept is just so strong. Is it worth getting the Switch right now? I personally don't have any regrets getting it day one, but there's merit to holding off. If you don't have a WiiU and want to play Breath of the Wild, I'd say sure, go for it, since you'll get so many hours of enjoyment from that game it'll be time for the next Switch release before you know it. Otherwise it would probably be a better idea to wait until more games come out, because by then I'm sure the Switch will start being sold in bundles, such as with Super Mario Odyssey, and you'll be able to get a better deal.