Nintendo’s forthcoming home console, the Switch, has finally formally launched, but for all questions its arrival has answered, it’s also raised a number of new ones.
6 things wrong with the Nintendo Switch: The dock
The Switch’s main hook is its hybrid functionality as a home console that can instantly become a portable gaming machine. It connects up to your TV by way of an included dock that plugs into the tablet portion’s USB-C connection allowing for power-in using the included AC adapter as well 900p video-out by way of a full-sized HDMI connection.
On the upside it keeps all of the necessary wiring for the Switch (when docked) neat and tidy, but how do you feel about forking out $90 (around £75) for the privilege of setting up another dock elsewhere in your house? The prospect of having docks to easily slot the Switch into throughout households with multiple TVs seems pretty appealing, but at its current price, we would have much appreciated having the ports hard-wired into the Switch itself with a plastic dock that simply holds the console in place when needed.
6 things wrong with the Nintendo Switch: Storage
Key rivals Sony and Microsoft’s respective current-gen consoles feature internal storage options ranging from 500GB right up to 2TB (in the case of the Xbox One S), the Nintendo Switch comes with just 32GB. Now, this wouldn’t be an issue if the games were proportionally smaller in file size too, but that simply isn’t the case.
Whilst games bought on card (remember Nintendo is ditching disks in favour of cartridges for the Switch) shouldn’t take up any internal space, downloadable titles fill up the local storage unless you slot in a microSD card. If downloaded launch title Zelda: Breath of the Wild comes in at a sizeable 13.4GB, which paired with the Switch’s internal file system and operating system accounts for about half of the console’s total local storage.
Whilst slotting a microSD card into the Switch isn’t a massive undertaking (it theoretically accepts cards up to 2TB), it’s a hidden cost that most owners will likely have to fork out for early on in their Switch’s life.
6 things wrong with the Nintendo Switch: Batteries and the Charging Grip
The Nintendo Switch’s ability to transform into a portable gaming machine at a moment’s notice is undeniably cool, but there is the question of battery management when cutting those wires. It’s a problem that Nintendo has suffered from more readily than its rivals, whose console’s controllers can be powered directly using via any microUSB lead.
The previous generation’s Wiimotes relied on AA batteries and whilst the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers boast 20 hours of use on a full charge from their integrated Li-ion cells, there’s no way to power them back up directly; they have to be connected to the Switch itself or the new Charging Grip, which we recently learnt, isn’t what’s included in the box as was previously thought.
To charge the Joy-Cons without having them docked to the Switch in handheld mode will set you back another £25, so don’t forget to slot them back into the console when you’re not using them or you might be waiting for a while before you can play again.
6 things wrong with the Nintendo Switch: Experimental features
Whilst most of what the Switch offers is pretty self-explanatory when you see it, in true Nintendo fashion, this console does come with a few wacky features as well. HD Rumble is legitimately impressive, simulating the sensation of various handheld objects, like a glass with ice cubes sliding around in it, whilst the infrared camera on the right Joy-Con has the ability to recognise basic hand gestures (such as rock, paper, scissors).
If launch title 1-2-Switch’s is anything to go by, first-party titles will utilise both of these intriguing technologies to great effect, but based on the company’s previous systems, we’re left wondering whether third-party developers will want to spend the time and money developing for these specialised aspects of the Switch’s hardware.
6 things wrong with the Nintendo Switch: The games
The launch titles
At the UK launch of the Nintendo Switch we were treated to a selection of the new console’s launch lineup including Zelda: Breath of the Wild, 1-2-Switch, Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and ARMS to name but a few. Considering Skyrim featured so prominently as part of the Switch’s teaser trailer, it seemed strange that all of the demos available at the event were decidedly in-house only.
We’re hoping that come the console’s formal March 3rd launch date, we’ll have more games to look forward to beyond the standard fare of Link, Mario and classic virtual console titles from third-party devs (a contingent Nintendo has always struggled to attract).
‘Free’ classic games
The ‘Nintendo Switch Online Service’ as it’s known, for the time being, will operate as a free trial when the console hits stores and become a paid service when it officially launches sometime in autumn 2017.
As well as accommodating online multiplayer and other services that connect players, including a smartphone app that you can use to notify your friends when you’re playing, the NSOS is said to offer a “free” classic NES or SNES title to players each month, however, it comes with a notable catch that has taken many by surprise, particularly those used to the free games schemes available on the Xbox or PlayStation.
Whilst those services give players free legacy games to download and keep forever, Nintendo’s take is more of a free rental, letting you download and play an entire game for free, but only for a month, after which you’ll be pushed to buy the title in question should you want to keep playing.
It’s a disappointing move on Nintendo’s part, but a decision that might seem more reasonable once the price of the Switch’s online component is revealed.
6 things wrong with the Nintendo Switch: Streetpass and Miiverse
Contrary to initial predictions, Nintendo is firmly billing the Switch as a home console, despite its portable credentials. As such it won’t support Streetpass or Miiverse, two experiences that will remain exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS and its rumoured successor.
At this early stage, the Switch appears to be an appealing console boasting versatility and ingenuity in its design but the sting of hidden costs might surprise those eager to take Nintendo up on its latest offering.
Read next: Nintendo Switch vs 3DS XL: Which is best?
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