The Switch lets you play games at home on a TV, on the go as a handheld, or with your friends as a tabletop device. It’s such a crazy concept, but what’s crazier is that it works perfectly.
ONE OF life’s interesting challenges is trying to explain Nintendo’s videogame consoles to non-gaming friends without sounding like a crazy person. 3DS: “the top screen is 3D but you touch the bottom”. Wii: “you swing this stick around and pray you don’t accidentally smack someone”. Wii U: “it connects to your TV, but the controller also has a TV.”
The new Nintendo Switch is just as bonkers to describe: it’s a home console that you can plug into your TV and play from your couch. It’s also a portable console that you can take with you, akin to a small gaming “tablet”. And it also has a tabletop mode and two detachable controllers, so you can, at any time, enjoy multiplayer games with friends.
But honestly, it’s worth sounding like a crazy person, as long as I help people understand what an amazing little device this is. The Nintendo Switch is a new kind of hybrid videogame console that can easily switch (ha) roles by swapping in various component parts.
The “main body” of the Nintendo Switch looks like a mini tablet and can connect to your TV by plugging into a charging cradle. The JoyCons – perhaps the most unique feature – are a pair of wireless controllers. You can attach them to the optional grip to make a “standard” game controller; or hold one in each hand like a Wiimote and nunchuk; or attach one to each side of the main body to make the Switch a handheld device; or just lend one JoyCon to your friend so you can both, say, race each other in Mario Kart. Yes, local multiplayer is built into the DNA of this console.
Of course, hardware features are just one part; whether a console is worth owning depends entirely on its games. And is the Switch worth it? If you’re a Zelda fan, you wouldn’t even need this review – you’re probably already playing Breath Of The Wild, which is an amazing single-player adventure in a beautiful, living open world.
If you’re keen to game with family and friends, I can recommend Snipperclips (a co-op puzzle game where you, er, snip your friends), 1-2-Switch (a mini-game collection) or Bomberman R. The Switch is definitely worth owning, but you don’t necessarily need to get it right now. A lot of big titles are coming later this year – such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in April – so if you avoid rushing to secure a hard-to-get Switch now, you’ll have a larger game library waiting when you do.
And great news for long-time Nintendo fans: Switch games are now region-free! So when Japan releases another Hatsune Miku game, you can play it on a UK console. You still won’t understand a word she says, mind you.
A few issues to note before you buy a Switch, however: first, the Switch in handheld mode is nowhere as compact as the 3DS, so you’ll need a proper carry case/bag and possibly an extra USB-C charger. (I get about 2.5 hours playing Zelda on the go.)
Second, you may experience sync issues if you use the JoyCons wirelessly from a significant distance; Nintendo’s still investigating these reports.
And third, unlike most other consoles, the Switch currently doesn’t support non-gaming apps. This is a shame, because the device seems perfect as a multimedia device for, say, streaming Crunchyroll.
The next time somebody asks me to describe the Nintendo Switch though, perhaps I’ll just say this: it’s a videogame console that lets us play great games anywhere we go. And given Nintendo’s pedigree, we can expect to play some very, very great games.
Pros: It’s perfect for gaming at home, on the go, or with friends; promising library of game titles.
Cons: It would have been perfect as a multimedia tablet too, but alas, no non-game apps.
Videogame console (home console & portable)
Rating: 5 stars
Price: Not officially launched here; imported units cost about RM2,300