A week isn’t that long in the lifespan of console hardware, but I thought it was long enough to give more thoughts after my day 1 writeup. I’ve noticed more things, played more games, became a Pro, and felt more Joy. Perhaps the most significant thing however, is that I haven’t actually turned my Switch off. Sleep Mode is so good, that at first I didn’t even realise the difference between Power Off and Sleep Mode. It’s so good, that there IS no Power button on the console. If you want to power off you have to hold the Sleep button for 3 seconds, like some secondary function. Open your eyes, Switch.
I was playing Shovel Knight in bed one night, then put it on the desk and hit “power” as I dozed off. When I woke up only 3% of battery had drained. Seemed completely normal for idle hardware to lose a tiny bit of charge. But no, when I turned it “on” I was able to resume in the middle of the game and THIS is sleep mode! Absolutely incredible. When I do this with Zelda I’m not even ready. Wii U used to give me 40-60 seconds to sip my drink, put it down and get comfy, but suddenly Link is looking at me ready to go.
Give me a second mate. Eat some grass or something, and I’ll be right with you.
Zelda does have an initial load time, but when resuming from the menu or sleep mode it’s instant. There’s almost no reason to close the game if you are binging on it which is great news for Mario Kart or Splatoon addicts. If you’re worried about power usage in sleep mode, it’ll cost you about 1 cent to leave it on for a whole month.
Hardware & Tear
I’m thankful to report that after one week, my Switch is still in perfect condition. No screen scratches, no Joycon interference, no stands breaking and I haven’t accidentally eaten my Zelda cartridge. I might be lucky, or the reports might be exaggerated bullshit. The only negative Switch articles right now are putting a magnifying glass on these potential problems, because the launch was so damn flawless. This is an accomplishment. There is always going to be negative press about Nintendo, so when this is it, I have to assume it’s by the numbers. They gotta find something, and people will react strongly to a picture of a scratched screen. Of course, some people have been unlucky and I’m sorry, but it’s not an anomaly in the tech world and there’s no evidence of ANY widespread Switch problems.
The screen on mine feels bulletproof. I wouldn’t shoot it with a bullet, but it feels rock hard like my mobile phone screen which I carry around in terrible conditions daily. If I show even the slightest care with my Switch then I think it will be fine. No scratches, and it doesn’t seem to attract dust either. The screen is so bright and perfect that I’ve only noticed fingerprints, and that’s when the screen is off. It’s always square fingerprints in a perfect line, from when I’ve been typing on the Switch keyboard.
My stand works like a stand, and I’ve played some Fast RMX with it with no problems. I haven’t tried to snap it, but I’m sure I could if I wanted to prove a point. It’s a plastic stand, nothing more and nothing less. I stand by my stand, as it stands to reason that if it does it’s job as a stand then I can stand it.
Pros & Cons
I’ve finally had some good time with the Pro Controller and it’s really comfy. I love how solid and curvy it feels in my hands, it’s great for long play sessions in both Fast RMX and Zelda. The analog sticks feel amazing, and the face buttons are a good size bigger than the tiny Joycon buttons. That said, it does have a few flaws. Firstly, the rumble isn’t quite as good. It still has HD rumble, but it’s nowhere near as strong or cool as the Joycons. This might be just determined by the way you grip it, but that’s still a fair assessment because it’s impossible to wrap your hands around the Pro Controller in the same way.
Secondly, the dpad on the Pro Controller is crap. I’ve read lots of different opinions on this so it’s possible there are different builds out there, but I can say for a fact that mine is too stiff. I can’t press up half the time, without accidentally pressing right or left. The whole dpad just sinks into the controller. This happens a LOT in Zelda BotW when I’m trying to open my menus and the wrong one comes up consistently. It’s a really bad, almost unusable dpad for me which was ironically the reason I bought a Pro Controller in the first place, for the dpad.
Luckily and SURPRISINGLY, the Joycon dpad is fantastic. I thought it wouldn’t be a “real” dpad because the buttons are separated, but it still feels like one. The different inputs actually feel accurate, and you can still easily press two directions at the same time because of how small the buttons are. I can imagine speedrunning Super Metroid with this which is the most intense dpad experience I can think of. Very happy. I primarily play Shovel Knight and Blaster Master Zero with the Joycons in the grip and it feels natural. I am not even conscious of the separation in the middle, because they function the same as what I’m used to. You can reach everything, and you also can’t press anything by accident with the gap there.
HD Rumble really depends on the game. Zelda barely uses it at all, Shovel Knight doesn’t use it, Fast RMX has some good moments with it, and Blaster Master Zero OWNS it. This game rumbled so hard I shat myself. The first time I died outside the vehicle, my controller felt like it was exploding. It made a really loud sound along with the strong vibration. It was a new sensation, like I dropped the controller when I didn’t. In addition to that, it has really strong “expanding” vibration when alarms go off, and smaller unique ones in other places. It’s not the perfect use of HD Rumble because of how ridiculous it is, but I’m glad they went crazy with it because it shows off the potential, and the huge variables with its strength.
A company run by magicians and a kingpin. I liked HD rumble, but didn’t take it that seriously until I bought Blaster Master Zero a few days ago. To put the impact into perspective, I have to turn this rumble off while playing at night so I don’t wake people up. Well worth $13 AU / $10 US for an HD Rumble experience with a fun game to beep and boot. Speaking of games.
Games Games Games
We all knew what games would be launching with Switch, but as the week has gone by it has sunk in just how good they are. This is always what makes or breaks a console. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is absolutely phenomenal and might actually be the greatest game ever made. I don’t know if I would say that personally yet, but it’s a statement I just can’t disagree with. The more I play, the more I want to play, and I’m reaching that same level of obsession that Xenoblade Chronicles X drilled into me when I 100% completed that game. It’s so much fun and I already know I’ll be playing it all year.
Fast RMX might be the best portable racing game ever made, a big improvement on an already outstanding game. I have played about as much of this as I have Zelda which I never expected. They nailed every aspect of this game, controls, graphics, multiplayer, sound. It’s the most exciting launch game since Excite Truck.
Specter of Torment is an outstanding game that reminded me how good Yacht Club Games are. I absolutely love Shovel Knight, and Specter Knight controls so well that I prefer this campaign to the original now. Shovel Knight is a big game that too many people are overlooking, perhaps because the NES aesthetic looks so simple. It goes above and beyond that with high-quality level design and creative movement you would find more at home in the SNES era. Very few Indie platformers have this amount of depth in the gameplay, and it’s very fun and accessible. Furthermore, this game looks PERFECT on the Switch screen. I can’t believe how amazing 2D games look in general. It’s like pixels don’t exist and it’s a perfect painting. Just seeing this, is what also sold me on Blaster Master and perhaps every 2D game going forward. They feel like they belong there.
I tried to play 1-2-Switch by myself and all I experienced was regret. This game is not even possible with 1 player which I should have known, but it’s a sad display. I put a Joycon in each hand and beat myself in Quick Draw, then cried in the corner and put the Zelda cartridge back in. At least Quick Draw functioned well, by measuring your angle with gyro to make sure you don’t cheat. My right hand cheated so my left won by default.
When trying to decide what game I’m playing tonight, it finally hit me that I’ve got some of the best games in the adventure, racing, and platforming genres right off the bat. I want to 100% all of them, do writeups, play Fast RMX online obsessively, even speedrun Specter of Torment. All while somehow working 6 days a week, because I can take my Switch in the car. Friggin amazing. There isn’t a big catalogue of games yet, but there’s certainly some high-quality gameplay to sink weeks into. Bomberman and I Am Setsuna both look fun and I haven’t played them yet. Every week from now on, it looks like they are releasing at least one good game. The ball has started rolling and you better jump on before it crushes you.
Life Without Miiverse
It sucks. This is the worst thing about Switch, the hole in my heart. The new screenshot button is great, but I have 200 screenshots and nowhere to put them. Nintendo wants more exposure on Facebook and Twitter, but when I post there it just feels like spam. You can’t have conversations there, draw pictures, and the text limit on Twitter is painful for my brain. I’m still enjoying sharing the occasional fun pic, but I can’t really put as much thought into it, or get replies from as many people playing the game. There’s no community feeling whatsoever on the system itself.
On the other side of the coin, I do not miss the Activity Log. I used to look at it a lot on 3DS and Wii U, but it’s nothing more than a bad habit. Games are experiences, not statistics. It’s not a huge deal but it has improved my mood and outlook a little bit. I wish Play Activity was removed altogether to be quite honest, let people talk about games instead of displaying them. Oh right… no Miiverse. Please bring it back Nintendo. I went back to the Miiverse, and it’s a mess right now. Random communities like Chibi Robo: Zip Lash are being used for Switch hardware discussion. I have a feeling if Nintendo doesn’t plan on revamping it, it’s going to be nuked.
Miiverse and community woes aside, the console still has a welcoming personal feel to it.
I love my Switch, this menu already feels like home. The News section is a great way to avoid the gaming media entirely, and it’s great for info on new games. It made me smile seeing a notification that Blaster Master Zero was out today, every single Switch owner online is going to see that. Many Wii U casual owners didn’t even open the eShop, and how many Wii owners do you think knew about the WiiWare classics? Not enough.
I wasn’t sure what the single strength of Switch would be before I bought one, but now I get it. You can play a game how you want, and where you want. It’s the ideal games machine with no other steps in the way. It only has one screen, but it’s the best screen you could ask for. It prioritises games above all else, and that feeling when you sit on the couch and resume Zelda instantly is magical.