Reacting To: The Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is a console unlike any other, and I’m not saying that because a Nintendo representative told me to. The Nintendo Switch is an experiment in gaming hardware, and it shows. The Switch pushes the limits of conventional design, but just like the 3DS, there are a lot of kinks Nintendo needs to refine before the experiment can be considered a success. The Switch is capable of what it’s advertised to do, but it’s the little details that hold it back.

You’re probably thinking I’m disappointed with my purchase, but I can assure you, I have enjoyed every minute I’ve spent using this console. So, let’s get the negatives out of the way before I gush about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for 12 pages the editors will inevitably cut out.

The Switch’s shortcomings are in no way detrimental, but a few of them come close. You can’t charge the console in kickstand mode, you can’t transfer saved data between consoles, the joy-con controllers are coated in a cheap material that can’t withstand adhesives, attaching the wrist straps is overly complicated and the system currently lacks a web browser. But here’s the real kicker — the Nintendo Switch has a screen made of plastic, as opposed to the glass used in most smartphones. This means the screen is easier to scratch than most mobile devices. There have even been reports of the screen getting scratched after repeatedly taking the system in and out of the dock (see update). All of these issues combined make the Switch feel more like a prototype and less like a finished product. Having said this, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time I’ve spent with the Nintendo Switch.

The Switch offers a play experience unlike anything I’ve seen before. The versatility of the Switch is outstanding, and its launch titles, 1-2 Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild allow it to flex its muscles on day one. With the click of a few buttons, you can go from exploring Hyrule in the comfort of your bed to challenging your roommates in a myriad of high energy party games. I’m still not sure if I should keep my Switch in the living room, on my desk or in a portable case. Luckily switching back and forth between these modes is easy and satisfying.

The joy-cons slide into place on either side of the console with relative ease. You’ll know if you’ve pushed the joy-cons in all the way thanks to a pleasant, audible “click” made by a locking mechanism holding the joy-cons in place. The console’s “switching” gimmick works better than expected. I just wish that the rest of the console was as well thought out.

So the question stands … should you buy the Nintendo Switch? If you own a WiiU and you’re itching to play the latest installment of the Legend of Zelda — as you should be — I recommend picking up the WiiU version. If you don’t have a WiiU, I recommend waiting. As it stands, there’s not enough software to warrant paying $300 for a console with so many shortcomings. Many of these issues can be fixed with software updates, but I think we’ll see an updated version of the Switch in the near future.

Update: In an interview with TIME magazine, Nintendo of America President Regie Fils-Aimé says Nintendo Switch tour members hadn’t seen the Switch screen getting scratched by the dock, “We have done, as you know, literally hundreds of events, starting with our activity back in January, and most recently the various tours that we continue to take the system out on,” says Fils-Aimé. “As soon as I heard of this report, I asked my teams, “Have we seen this in our own experience?” And the candid answer has been no.”

I’ve docked and undocked a couple dozen times without any issues, and if that doesn’t convince you, you can check out this guy with the courage/free time to do it 100 times. My experience combined with Regie’s response leads me to believe the ‘dock disaster’ was a whole lot of nothing. If you want to pick up a Nintendo switch, I’d say go for it. Just keep in mind that buying any kind of hardware early comes with its risks.