When the world is poised for the release of a new Nintendo console, it’s understandable for consumers to have their hearts in their hands. The last two or three consoles released by the gaming titan have been riddled with quirks, trade-offs and subversions of what to expect from typical consoles.
Unlike the release of the more conventional Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch invites a bit more scepticism, mainly because, like its predecessors, it doesn’t follow the rules of what you’ve come to expect from a typical play-at-home system, both for obvious and less conspicuous reasons.
So, to help our fellow gamers in the market, here are ten points of interest that consumers may want to know before splurging on their new Nintendo.
1. The library is getting there.
As a still-loyal Nintendo fanatic myself, perhaps the biggest draw of a new Nintendo console is that it means current-gen game titles, and beloved exclusives, like Super Mario and Zelda. In fact, the latter, as most of you will know, had their new game Breath of the Wild poised for release alongside the Switch, and why not? With the review sphere currently going ape for the new game (98% on Metacritic), there has never been a stronger case for a console-seller.
Ultimately, it’s completely up to the gamer to discern whether Breath of the Wild will warrant the price tag. The game was also made available on the Wii U, so there are options outside of the spiffy new Switch. Like all recent Nintendo consoles however, it’s third party support that keeps us cautious. As for its library upon launch, it’s inevitably going to get bigger, but… Well, we’ll just leave this here:
The entire Switch launch library
- Just Dance 2017
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Skylanders: Imaginators
- Super Bomberman R
- Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
- Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
- FAST RMX
- I Am Setsuna
- World of Goo
- Human Resource Machine
- Little Inferno
2. Pricing & Accessories.
The Switch’s pricing will obviously depend the country of purchase. For our Aussie readers, retail pricing is set at $469.95.
Here is a list of retail launch pricing elsewhere:
New Zealand: $549
Japan: ¥29 980
When adjusting for inflation, the Switch still one of the cheapest consoles available at its launch. The real pricing heft of the console comes in its unique accessories:
JoyCon: A$119.95 / US$79.99
Switch Dock: A$129 / US$89.99
JoyCon Strap: A$15 / US$7.99
Pro Controller: A$99.95 / US$69.99
Wheel Accessory: A$24.95 / US$14.99
A/C Adapter: A$39.95 / US$29.99
Carry Case: A$29.95 / $19.99
JoyCon Charger: A$39.95 / US$29.99
We’re not including every currency, but you can see still where the real expenses lie. Though, any Switch owner privy to accessory pricing will probably be coveting the condition of their JoyCon. Maybe it’ll just even out over the long run…
3. The Hard-drive, Micro SDs & installing games.
The Switch’s hard drive is notoriously small, at 32GB. Prior to the week before release, the media blew up about Breath of the Wild’s 13.4GB taking up over a third of the system’s space. This further called into question exactly how gamers were supposed to cope with the limited space, with games like Bethesda’s Skyrim slated to come out later in the year.
However, just before the release of the Switch, some clarifications were made. As you may already know, like the Wii & Wii U before it, the Switch’s space is expandable, in the form of SD cards. This time, of the micro variety. Unfortunately, these are sold separately, but the news offers relief contrary to the initial uproar, and nowadays, micro SD cards can come relatively cheap.
In addition, Breath of the Wild will obviously still demand the 13.4GB of storage space, but only if you don’t purchase a hard copy. Comparable to the PS4 and Xbox One’s system of installing game files for performance adjustments, whether the game is downloaded or on disc, Nintendo should be commended on this difference. Like most differences between Nintendo consoles and their competitors, this change is more a difference in method than a detriment.
While Nintendo’s own micro SD cards will bear a large price tag, most, if not all third-party options will be both cheaper and just as compatible. Smart buyers will already be well aware of the slew of options available, but if you’re struggling, Digital Trends have curated a great write up to get you started.
4. The battery.
One of the Switch’s primary draws and marketing points was its ability to provide a console quality gaming experience away from home. Instrumental in the success of this experience is the Switch’s battery life.
As expected, before release, Nintendo release their claim for battery life, stating that the system should run dock-less for 2-6 hours. Games like the demanding new Zelda title were estimated at around 3 hours, while less-so titles like Snipperclips at around 6 hours. Clearly, the media was keen to put this claim to the test.
peeps at Finder included in their review a pretty comprehensive test of the tablet’s battery. At full brightness, Breath of the Wild ran for 2 hours, 40 minutes before the team began scrambling for their A/C adapter. The YouTube channel, GameXplain also ran a pretty good pre-release test, quoting their 15% low battery warning popped up at the 2 hour, 9 minute mark and a 5% notification less than 15 minutes later.
Note these tests were done with the most demanding variables possible. Battery life can always be improved by lessening brightness, turning off online capability and playing less intensive games. But these Breath of the Wild tests do call into question how well the battery life will fare in the long run. The battery is also said to “take ages to charge.” The folks at Finder claim that even when charging via the A/C adapter, the battery life continues to drop. “We hit about 5% battery when we reached for the USB-C cable plugged into the wall. While the Switch assures us that it's charging, the battery continues to drain. The only way to keep playing is to head back to the dock.”
While these tests currently indicate Nintendo was right on the money with their claim of minimum battery life, it does provoke long-term skepticism, like the fact that batteries inevitably deteriorate…
5. The hardware, the joy con, and current issues.
More so than anything under the bonnet, Nintendo’s hardware is always its distinguishing feature. Who could forget the WiiMote and Nunchuk? The Switch is no different. Whether it’s the docking system, the versatile JoyCons or the touch screen of the tablet, Nintendo’s unique flourishes in hardware are still alive and well.
This always creates troublesome variables, though not always at the fault of Nintendo (YouTube was once saturated with videos of Wii remotes flying into TVs, or the weird ergonomic transition between a GameCube controller and a Nunchuk).
This time around, the Switch has hit some unfortunate snags. In their defence, initial releases of consoles are all plagued by issues.
For starters, users around the globe have been reporting “blue” or “orange screens of death”, often resulting in replacements being issued. Since release, Reddit has cited a fix for the orange screen, and while a relatively low amount of people are reporting these issues, it’s still troubling for Nintendo.
The dock for the Switch’s main unit also is said to scratch the tablet, should it not be placed inside precisely. While a matter of opinion, without a screen protector, people are also labelling the tablet as a “finger print magnet,” though a simple screen cloth should suffice as remedy.
Perhaps the most perturbing issue currently facing the hardware is the loathsome JoyCon connectivity issue, directly citing the left JoyCon in almost every instance. Various reports of inaccuracy and even desyncing has plagued the device since launch. Nintendo has since responded, telling Polygon “we have received some reports and are looking into it.” We’ll see how this particular issue is confronted in the coming months.
6. The Switch experience.
Across all review spheres, a common ground has been reached: Playing a console game outside the house is awesome. The fact that you can take a game the size of Breath of the Wild wherever you go is a pretty damning feat for Nintendo to bring to console gaming.
With the simple addition of a kickstand, the Switch doubles as console AND a screen, allowing for handheld single player or a mountable tabletop setup for multiplayer. Want to smash out some Mario on the train? Slap in those JoyCons and go. Having a small chill and BBQ in the backyard? Chuck your Switch on a coffee table for some 1-2 Switch party games.
Regardless of small battery qualms, in its release, the Switch is still ideal for mobile play. The screen boasts a vibrant 720p, 6.2-inch display. It’s light and equipped for disassembly. Glare is reportedly non-existent with the screen’s brightness being substantial enough to negate vision issues.
The only test left is of time. For the long haul, it’s still vague as to whether the battery life will be enough to balance performance and convenience. The fact remains, Nintendo has given us an experience that no other console can currently replicate.
7. Transferring save files.
Don’t you hate formatted hard drives? As a mac user, I keep most of my stuff backed up with a portable Seagate, but am always confronted compatibility issues when wanting to copy something onto a Windows computer. There are work arounds, but it often leads to frustration, like wasting hard drive space on partitioning.
Unfortunately for Switch users, they’re up for a similar problem, but there’s no current work around, and it has nothing to do with compatibility: Nintendo Switch save game files cannot be copied off the Switch. This means, should your console be replaced, lost or stolen, your progress is kaput.
You are still able to easily copy screenshots of your gameplay and share them, as well as being able to choose where they are automatically saved and view exactly where you are copying your photos. Unfortunately, save files were not given the same treatment.
Other current-gen consoles have remedied this with a simple Cloud-save system, allowing users to simply log in with their account, then given to anything they’ve uploaded to the cloud. There has been no announcement of any such addition to the Switch.
In the past, Nintendo has been prone to babying its player base, assuming the less they need to think, the better, especially with options like hard drive/memory card management. It seems their mantra has endured to the Switch’s capabilities.
8. Online & "Fall 2017"
As promised, Switch users were greeted with a Day One patch activating the console’s online capabilities. Games with online multiplayer are now currently available to play in full, the EShop is up and running, and players can now connect and befriend each other.
Nintendo will also be rolling out their paid subscription service in “Fall 2017,” assumedly Spring in Australia, with a free-trial version currently available. This is a list of services the paid and trial versions will provide:
The currently unnamed service seems to be bringing a lot of things not at launch to the table. Thankfully, Nintendo will be implementing voice chat, though not for months, and with the necessity of a service subscription.
Subscribers are also treated to a free monthly game, however this comes with caveats too. To start, as far as we know the monthly game (singular) will be either a NES or SNES game. No other platforms have yet been mentioned. Another condition, contrary to comparable services like PS+ and Xbox Gold, is that this game will only be available to play and complete for the month it is available, rather than so long as you sustain your subscription.
Separate to the paid service, another of Nintendo’s idiosyncratic features has made its way to online: Friend Codes, those loathed, overlong sets of digits, that could easily be replaced with an “Add Friend” function.
Online functionality and support has never been a huge priority for Nintendo, however, nor for its fans. To avoid more comparisons, it has also been widely considered to be out of the Microsoft-Sony console race, present since the release of the original Xbox, so it begs scrutiny on whether its online functionality should be directly compared to two long-running services. The subscription is also yet to be priced, so ultimately, we should hold off on counting chickens until they hatch. Though, like its battery life, Switch’s paid online service has an unclear forecast.
9. Power comparisons – other consoles, load times, etc.
To reiterate, it’d be fairer to juxtapose the PS4 against the Xbox One, than either against the Switch. Nintendo has never really been interested in following the rules Microsoft and Sony adhere to.
With the Switch, Nintendo has once again traded power for novelty, namely portability. Because of this intended innovation, Nintendo have restricted the power and build of the Switch to accommodate an all-round success on the exhaustive checklist the console demands. And consequently, the Switch will simply be incapable of running certain games developed for Xbox and Sony’s current consoles.
Whilst providing a reason, this doesn’t exactly state how the Switch differs in specifications to the other consoles of the generation. So, for the gearheads, we’ll provide an unofficial table that states exactly how the Switch differs in specifications, curtesy of TrustedReviews:
10. Yes, the cartridges taste terrible…
Ok… Without even asking, I can guarantee you that everyone here at GamersClassified is baffled by the flood of reports about the Switch cartridges tasting bad. It’s kind of like that Portal joke, if you left the Fact Sphere talking long enough: “The first person to prove that cow’s milk is drinkable was very, very thirsty.”
Let’s just set the record straight now. Yes, the cartridges taste bad. Yes, it’s to deter kids from shoving it in their gobs. And yes, journalists, YouTubers, bloggers and gamers are testing this ostensible theory themselves.
Nintendo has since confirmed the intentional taste, along with the reason for its implementation: “To avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion, keep the game card away from young children… A bittering agent (denatonium benzoate) has… been applied to the game card. This bittering agent is non-toxic.” According to another report from Philip DeFranco, it’s the “most bitter substance known to mankind.”
Apparently, the substance was accidentally manufactured when Scottish researchers were experimenting with altering an anesthetic for dentists. Variants of denatonium are used in everyday things too like liquid soap, shampoo and rubbing alcohol. But no, we must test this ourselves in the name of Science!
It’s just a little cruelly ironic that with this chemical, Nintendo wanted to deter children and instead, just ended up incentivising grown men and women… Not that it’s in any way Nintendo’s fault.