Nintendo has been around for a long time (over 127 years old) but it wasn’t until the early ‘80s, when they started to get into video games, specifically consoles.

Since then, we’ve had the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), then the Super NES, the Nintendo 64, the GameCube, the Wii, the Wii U and now we have the Nintendo Switch.

Each of Nintendo’s console offers something unique and with the Switch, Nintendo is blending the lines between home and portable console. Nintendo is in a league of their own, they’re not necessarily concerned with amazing graphics, they’re more focused on how people play games and making sure people are having fun using their systems.

In my time using the Nintendo Switch, I enjoyed using it with a few minor annoyances, which I’ll get back to.

Design & Hardware

The Nintendo Switch has an all-plastic body, just like previous consoles. The actual console is the size of a small tablet and that’s important because the Switch is meant to be taken with you.

The Switch can either be played as a handheld console, a traditional gaming console connected to your TV using the included dock or on your tabletop with the console on its kickstand and Joy-Con controllers used wirelessly.

In my testing, I did have a few issues with the left Joy-Con disconnecting from the console when using them wirelessly. As for battery life when using the Switch in Handheld Mode, it gets about 3 to 6 hours depending on the game (I mostly played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Zelda). But since the console charges over USB Type-C, you can easily plug it into an external battery pack.

The screen on the Switch is a 6.2-inch capacitive touchscreen, which does get the job but there’s no comparing the quality of the screen to some of the smartphone screens on the market today. The Switch’s screen is good but not something that is going to blow you away.

On the back of the console, you’ll find the Nintendo Switch logo and a kickstand which was very flimsy and came off easily when just applying a bit of pressure. Beneath the kickstand is where you’ll find the microSD card slot, which you’ll need one because the Switch only comes with 32GB of internal storage and can fill up quickly.

The bottom of console, is where you’ll find the USB Type-C port, so you’ll be able to use a battery pack while taking the Switch on the go. The top of the console, is where you’ll find the headphone jack, the volume buttons and the power button.

On either size of the console, are the Joy-Con controllers which you can use in a variety of ways. Either attached to the Switch, being handheld, as two controllers for multiplayer or in the Grip that makes them more into a proper controller.

Both Joy-Con controllers have a joystick, four buttons that act as A, B, X & Y and a + & – button along with SL and SR shoulder buttons. They also have accelerometers, and gyro-sensors and HD rumble for independent left and right motion controls. The HD rumble  can emulate the “sensation of ice cubes in a glass, as well as water being poured.”

The left Joy-Con has a capture button that you can use to capture screenshots (and soon videos too), the right Joy-Con has the home button and a NFC touchpoint for support for Nintendo’s amiibo figures and there is also a IR Motion Camera that can detect distance, shape and motion of nearby objects.

Overall, the Switch feels solid in the hands but nothing to get overly ecstatic about. The Nintendo Switch retails for $399 CAD and you have the option of getting it with a pair of grey Joy-Cons or one blue & red Joy-Con combo. More Joy-Cons can be purchased later on for $99.99 CAD for a pair of them, they come in Grey, Neon Blue, Neon Red, and Neon Yellow.

The Nintendo Switch is available from Best Buy, EB Games, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart and Amazon.ca (I wouldn’t recommend buying it from Amazon.ca right now because it’s not being shipped and sold by Amazon, it’s being sold by third-party retailers who are selling it for more than the $399 CAD MSRP) but it’s out of stock at all of these places.

In the box, you’ll receive the Nintendo Switch console, the Switch Dock, a Left and Right Joy Con, Joy Con wrist straps, the Joy Con grip, a HDMI cable, an AC adapter.

I also got to test out the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, which made playing games on the console so much easier.

The buttons on the Joy-Cons are too small for my liking, and my fingers started to hurt after a while using the Joy-Cons attached to the console while play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. But the Pro Controller is expensive, at $89.99 CAD, which is more than an Xbox One or PS4 controller. The Pro Controller only comes in one colour option.

Individual left and right Grey Joy-Con controllers can be purchased for $64.99 CAD. The Joy-Con Charging Grip, which will allow you to charge the controllers while using them, goes for $39.99 CAD. If you have multiple TVs in your house and you want to be able to connect your Switch to them, you’ll need to get another Switch Dock set and includes the Dock, AC adapter and a HDMI cable.

One thing to note, is that you will have trouble finding a Nintendo Switch in stock as it’s out of stock everywhere and same goes for some of the accessories. Also, that the Switch does not come with a pack-in game, so make sure to pick a game up when buying the Switch.

Software

As of writing this review, there aren’t that many games currently out for the Switch. Right now, there’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and 1-2 Switch and a couple of indie games on the Nintendo e-shop.

Since the Switch is a portable console, it uses game cartridges, which are similar to the ones for the Nintendo 3DS. Also, under no circumstance, try to taste the game cards, they are coated with benzoate, which is a non-toxic bitterant. This is used to help prevent little kids from accidentally eating them.  I was sent three games to test out on the Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and 1-2 Switch.

1-2 Switch is a good way to show-off the Switch and the Joy-Cons’ capabilities and may be lots of fun with friends and family but the game should have been included in the box as a pack-in game. It doesn’t make sense to me that Nintendo is selling 1-2 Switch separately for $64.99 (which is slightly lower than the cost of other Switch games which go for $79.99 CAD).

Out of the three, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was by far my favourite, as I’m not the biggest Zelda fan.

Playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is similar to previous Mario Kart games and being able to play it on the go, made it all more enjoyable.

One of the biggest thing that has plagued Nintendo consoles, most recently with the Wii U, is the lack of support from third-party developers but Nintendo says that they were “more aggressive” in trying to bring third-party developers to the Switch. There are about 100 third-party games in development from over 50 developers and publishers from such companies as Ubisoft, Sega, Square Enix and EA.

There will be specific versions of games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and a new FIFA game coming to the Switch.

The software on the Switch itself, is very simple, with the games you last played or installed on the main screen and then things like e-Shop, settings, news, power below that.

I had no trouble getting around the Switch’s interface and in you have the option of a light or dark theme. The Switch supports up to 8 user profiles and each can be tied to a Nintendo account.

Each profile can choose either a pre-made Mii or make their own using the Mii creator. The Switch does have an online service or multiplayer or download and purchasing games from the Nintendo eShop. Right now, Nintendo isn’t charging for their online service which gets you access to things like multiplayer, lobby and voice chats but they will start this fall as a subscription.

Right now, the Switch doesn’t have any apps that you can download or even a web browser, which seems like a missed opportunity. Even though Nintendo has said that these things are coming soon.

One thing that really bothered me is the ability to add friends because Nintendo has retained the Friend Codes from the Wii U. It would be so much easier, if you could just enter your friend’s’ username or Nintendo ID to add them. The Switch is region-free, so you’ll be able to use game cartridges or download content from anywhere in the world.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I had a great time with the Nintendo Switch. It’s a good system and offers a unique experience compared to the Xbox One and PS4. But as of right now, I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend getting a Nintendo Switch right now, the biggest reasons being the lack of games and it’s hard to get one right now.

I would recommend waiting until the fall to get a Switch, partly because by Black Friday and Boxing Day, you can get a much better deal. Right now, Nintendo is selling the Switch as just the console without any pack-in games (which Nintendo says it to “keep costs down”) but I guarantee that but the time Black Friday or Boxing Day rolls around, you’ll be able to get the Nintendo Switch for the $399 CAD retail price along with a game included in that price.

Right now, stores are selling the console by itself or the console plus a game at the cost of $479 CAD, which may save you a bit of money than buying both separately but I would highly suggest waiting (if you can). Plus you’re bound to see discount on games for the Switch by the fall. Also, by this same time, there will be more Nintendo Switch consoles in stock and it will be easier to get one.

But if you absolutely, have to have the Switch right now, then by all means, go ahead and try to get your hands on one.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Solid build
  • Easily switches from portable to home console
  • Great screen
  • Unique design

Cons

  • Lack of games
  • Flimsy kickstand
  • Accessories are expensive
  • No pack-in game
  • Joy-Con can get uncomfortable to use
  • Left Joy-Con connection issues

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