A Switch console that can’t be switched. Preposterous right? Well, not exactly. When the controversy stirred up about the Lite not being able to be docked came about I wasn’t on board with that. The Switch is a portable system as well and that’s its main appeal. Nintendo’s data also shows that a good majority of Switch owners use it exclusively in handheld mode. The Switch itself isn’t the best handheld device. It’s very large, a little heavier than a large iPad and the Joy-Cons aren’t that great (sorry they aren’t). When I can I always use the Switch in tabletop mode with a Pro Controller, or I just keep it docked. When I saw that there was a slightly more powerful smaller version I was excited actually.
When holding the Switch you notice everything right away. The console is about a third of the weight of the original console thanks to the attached Joy-Cons. Yes, people complained about the Joy-Cons not being detachable, but at that point just buy the regular Switch, yeah? The buttons actually feel better than the Joy-Cons themselves. We get an actual D-pad and not chiclet buttons, tighter joysticks, and better feeling shoulder buttons. The screen is slightly smaller, but in the format, you won’t notice. It just looks slick and likes it was always meant to be played this way.
Outside of the slick form factor (it’s just a joy to hold and use), the system boasts better battery life than the original Switch, but an hour or two less than the revised model. The original Switch’s battery life was pretty bad with most games only lasting 3-4 hours. The system still has 5Ghz internet speed, an SD card slot, and a game card slot. This isn’t a digital-only Switch which they could have easily done and didn’t. Outside of all of this, physically the system is rock solid and is only missing the ability to dock. If you can only afford, or only wish to have one Switch, think about how much you will use the system in handheld mode. If the answer is most of the time I would pick this guy up instead honestly. The system isn’t more powerful than the original model but has a more efficient processor allowing for better battery life. My only main complaint is the system doesn’t have HD rumble, so you would need to connect Joy-Cons or a Pro Controller to have that feature. It really sucks, and I miss it, but with all the other pros it outweighs this major con.
I do have to mention that the system only comes with 32GB of onboard memory which is a shame, but large micro SD cards are under $30 these days so it’s not an issue. The $100 price tag difference is great, so with a 128GB SD card, the system still costs less than the original model. I don’t have much else to say about the system except that the new colors and overall sleekness of the system just look better than the original. That flat black tablet against brighter colors didn’t look too hot, but this new portable system with a universal color scheme just looks sharp. I haven’t seen a better-looking handheld since the PSP was released 14 years ago. While the 2DS XL looks super sharp as well, this is clearly Nintendo’s replacement for the 3DS, they just haven’t officially announced it yet.
If you do own two Switch systems I highly recommend having a Nintendo Online account as cloud saves can be transferred between the two systems easily so you don’t have to manually transfer the saves every time. As far as I know, the only game as of this writing that can’t do that is Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Sadly, the game data can’t be transferred so you’re stuck downloading all the software again. Overall, the system has a slightly smaller screen, but it doesn’t feel smaller due to the overall lighter form factor, and the speakers are surprisingly really good as well.
It was strange that Nintendo would pick up an M-rated property, especially one that is as sexualized and gory as Bayonetta. The original game put Platinum Games on the map as a great hack and slash developer. The game was bombastic, fun, hard, fast-paced, and very memorable. The flashy combat and memorable personality and style of Bayonetta herself made her one of the most popular and well-known characters of the last generation.
Bayonetta 2 tries to capitalize on that, but on Nintendo’s home consoles. Thankfully, none of the sex appeal or gore has been toned down which is a huge shock and was what most people were expecting — more of a teen-rated experience or heavily censored. What we get is the same sexiness, blood, and guts from the original. Now, I was never a huge fan of Bayonetta’s story is a bit convoluted. I didn’t quite understand the story until towards the end, but Bayonetta is an Umbran Witch who is the Left Eye of God and the Right Eyes (Lunar Witches) are part of some sort of prophecy. The Aesir God is trying to destroy humans (it’s heavily Norse-based) and Bayonetta is trying to stop said God from doing so. There are a couple of new characters thrown in, but I didn’t care much for the story. It’s a confusing mess honestly.
What is great though is the combat and there’s plenty of it. Light and heavy attacks combined together with a ranged attack make for some of the best combat this side of Devil May Cry. Bayonetta is so agile and looks so good bouncing around on the screen and the controls are incredibly responsive. The key to the battles is the Witch Time dodge mechanic that’s used right before enemies strike. It’s so satisfying to get into a rhythm of slowing downtime for a couple of seconds and attacking. Each enemy has its own attack pattern and you quickly learn when to dodge and slow downtime to build up your Witch Time which is then triggered to unleash heavy attacks. This tight combat system isn’t very deep, but hard to master especially with new moves to purchase. I found myself noticing that you must master this dodge technique or you won’t get very far. It’s the only way to really dodge attacks., but because you have to heavily rely on it that forces you to master it which can make it a core part of the combat system.
The combat goes a little further with Torture Attacks that are optional instead of unleashing your Umbran Attack. These are small quick-time events and awesomely brutal death scenes for the demons and angels. Bosses have their own unique Torture Attack that triggers at the end of battles. Speaking of bosses, I have to say I think there are too many here. Almost every level is either a boss only or consists of multiple bosses from main to mini-bosses. I also think for the short length of the game there are too many enemies here. A new enemy is introduced at nearly every level and they don’t really mix them up much. With so many new enemies you just start to learn their attack patterns and you may never see them again outside of the mini-bosses.
Outside of combat, Bayonetta doesn’t do much. The levels are highly linear with only one way to really go. You can explore a couple of side paths for hidden items that unlock costumes, weapons, and more. There are Muspelheim missions which are challenges spread throughout the game that grant Moon Pearls (Witch Time upgrades) and hearts (life upgrades). There are Remembrance challenges that require you to gather pieces of a chest before time runs out, and these are nice little distractions. There are a couple of levels that have you power a mech and fly a plane, but they are short and not sprinkled in enough. The game doesn’t feel as varied as the first one and I quickly found myself just mowing down boss after boss waiting for something new to happen.
I loved unlocking Nintendo-themed costumes, mixing up my weapons to create a unique playstyle, and watching Bayonetta never gets dull, but it just didn’t feel as memorable as the first game, something felt off. It somehow felt too repetitive towards the end and I became exhausted with the onslaught of bosses, with some repeating multiple times throughout the game. There are co-op Witch Trials which are nice and all, but the core game just doesn’t feel as memorable despite how great it is.
The game looks amazing though and is still one of the best-looking Switch games to date. The framerate is up there at 60 or close to it with no slowdowns. Textures and models look fantastic and the art style is just beautiful and really makes Bayonetta stand out on its own artistically. I did feel some environments kind of blurred together, but overall it’s a treat to look at. Bayonetta 2 remains one of the best games on Switch, and hack and slash games of this caliber are far and few between.
I just want to start with a simple fact, I’m not the biggest Pokemon fan. I grew up with Pokemon in the late 90’s-early 2000s and stopped caring around Gen 3 when I was about 12-13 years old. I followed Pokemon afterward, but the card collecting and anime watching had pretty much stopped. My wife, on the other hand, continues to be a huge Pokemon fan to this day. This is actually the first Pokemon game I have ever finished including getting the legendary Pokemon. It was a chore I will admit. It was enjoyable sometimes and other times I put the game away for a couple of months. It was kind of exciting, then sometimes just plain boring. So, this review isn’t coming from a raging fanboy or a complete hater, so hopefully, this review will help people on the fence.
I’ve played nearly every other game in the series, but not for long. I love the idea of running around a world catching monsters, the problem is the series falls under 30-year-old JRPG tropes that still haven’t really gone away. My biggest hate with JRPGs, in general, is random battles. I feel they are time fillers, something to pad an extra 50 hours onto a 30-hour adventure. I want to explore more and these random battles prevent that when they’re happening every 5-10 seconds. It makes me want to give up, and I usually won’t play JRPGs with random battles. Sword/Shield has gotten rid of that with Pokemon that can be seen in the grass and random encounters that show up like exclamation marks and something following you in the grass. Yes, Pokemon is still confined to water and grass. That solves that major issue which made exploring more enjoyable.
When you explore the Routes, Wild Areas, and Towns, there are random items scattered throughout such as berries, candies, DMs (moves), and various items. You can ride a bike to get around faster and you can also fast travel to discovered areas which is a Godsend. This makes trying to go to certain regions that much faster and simpler to get. Wild Areas consist of level ranges and now that a weather system is in place you get certain Pokemon in certain weather systems for each area. Now, I had to run the system clock around to get to the month when I started wanting specific Pokemon. It’s actually quite fun to go around widdling down health and catching these guys and building up your Pokedex, that’s the entire point of the game.
Now the game had a lot of controversy by not having the full Pokedex of every game prior plus the new ones. It just has a grab bag of some from each generation. For someone like me, it doesn’t matter outside of the first three generations of Pokemon. I also found that older Pokemon were messed with and their looks and types were changed like Rapidash, Mr. Mime, and Ponyta. I’m not really a fan of all this switching around, but it’s not hard to get used to.
Battles are one of the main components of the game and they look nice. I’ll give the game that, seeing these guys in crisp 3D models is great, but the Pokemon battle system is something I’ve grown tired of. I’m sick of all the long animations to get into the battle and all the dialogue boxes that pop up. I know most JRPGs are like this but this is a 30-year-old trope that needs to change already. Some battles feel like they take longer only because of how little input I’m actually giving. When you introduce something like Dyna and Gigamax Pokemon that can grow to the size of buildings and do massive damage, I start to feel this is just filler and nothing that adds anything. These are literally just giant Pokemon that have powerful moves. It never turned the tide of a battle because either I knocked a Dyna-mon out in one hit or I could change too.
The strategy behind Pokemon battling is weaknesses. It’s grown more complicated over the years with additions like fighting, fairy, ghost, steel, etc. I had to sometimes look up weaknesses online to make sure I didn’t waste a move on some boss battles. These were the most challenging in the game but I never died once in my entire playthrough. Sure there were some cheap shots, but I always managed to pull through with most of my Pokemon knocking out opponents in one hit. I could chew through an entire gym leader’s stack with just one Pokemon. The balancing is really off compared to other JRPGs with it being overly easy or unfair. I wound up sometimes with Pokemon that my enemy was not weak against. You always want super-effective moves, and thankfully once you’ve battled that Pokemon once you can see which moves will work against it and which won’t which is super handy.
The visuals are another disappointing feature. They don’t really wow me in any way. They look like HD 3DS graphics and have the same bland anime RPG style that most other games have. It looks decent enough, but I just wanted this game to be the big game-changer that it wasn’t. The Dynamaxing, Wild Areas, and overall small additions didn’t add anything new but gave us the same experience in a slightly tweaked way. At least the menus are more simplified, but things like a cooking mini-game and being able to play with the Pokemon by petting them just doesn’t add to the experience. I felt bored most of the time because of how little player input there is, and I haven’t even gotten to the story.
Pokemon has never had an interesting story, Sword and Shield are no exception. It’s just something to make an excuse for dialog, which by the way, is another 30-year-old JRPG trope, you can’t skip the cut scenes. The first 2 hours of the game drag because it treats you like you’re stupid. With so many tutorials and drawn-out animations, cut-scenes, and dialogue, each Pokemon game is a chore just to start. It should ask you if you have played a Pokemon game before and just want to learn the new features, but they always have to integrate it into a story with dialogue and cut scenes. I honestly can’t really explain the story that much because I didn’t care. You’re trying to become the Pokemon Champion and some bad people get in the way to steal the legendaries away like every other game. Characters have no substance or appeal and there’s no reason to care for them.
Overall, Pokemon is a game that you either love or hate, and somehow I got lucky enough to be stuck in the middle. It suffers from issues in the series that have never been addressed such as the lack of player input, boring battles, story, and characters. I want to care about the world I’m in not just my favorite Pokemon, it has to be more than that for the investment. I want to see a visual change, stop making battles more complicated and make them more interesting, can we go after something besides badges? It’s a fine game and is done very well, but from a jaded Pokemon veteran, the series has just stretched itself too thin.
Platinum Games makes phenomenal action games with a nearly perfect track record. From Bayonetta to Vanquish and beyond, they have proven that 2D action games can be translated to 3D and done well. With bombastic flashy, yet deep combat, gorgeous visuals, and crazy character designs, Platinum Games are at the top of the action game developers’ hall of fame.
Astral Chain, being their latest opus, puts you in the shoes of anime cop twins who have the ability to control Chimeras which are astral beings. You are on a quest to stop a mad scientist from unleashing all of these creatures from the astral world onto Earth after a science experience, in which the head scientist, is trying to perfect the capturing. Well, at least that’s what I think is going on. Platinum games are masters of combat, not storytelling or character development. The game goes on for so long with such little information in between that you sometimes forget what’s going on or what the end goal is.
The characters fall victim to this as well. Your character plus your twin are supposed to be front and center here, but the entire game falls under stereotypical anime tropes and is just downright boring and uninteresting. Each character gets little screen time or even time to grow as the writing and dialog are drab and snooze-worthy. At least the voice acting is halfway decent for a localized Japanese video game, but it’s nothing that you will remember. I just wish the story and characters were as good as the combat as this is Platinum’s deepest combat system yet.
You control yourself plus your Chimera at the same time. Holding down ZL allows you to move the Chimera around and holding down L allows you to take control of your Chimera. You can use it to solve puzzles in the astral planes, but it is vital to use in combat. The system seems a bit complicated at first, but you will slowly get a hold of it. When you flash white you can press ZL to do a combo move with your Chimera and these are key to mastering to win. You have a light and heavy baton plus a gun, which I found completely useless, as well as healing items and buffing items. You can switch between five different Chimera that you acquire throughout the game and these cover all bases of combat. Sword is a fast-paced light damage Chimera, Arrow is the only long-ranged one, Beast is a fast-paced zippy dog, Arm is a slow trodding heavy hitter, and Axe is the heaviest and slowest but provides a shield.
It’s important to use each Chimera based on your enemies, and you also have to level them up and assign bonuses and abilities. You can level up your weapon at the PD headquarters after every chapter, but you can’t buy new weapons and there is no armor in this game. Any clothing is cosmetic only sadly. There is one feature that allows you to “maintain” your Chimera but rub crystals off their body, but I saw no benefit to this, or I completely missed the point of it. Fighting through the main campaign isn’t the only thing you can do. There are side quests and missions in the large hub areas such as solving quizzes to various arena challenges and even some light investigative work. This requires you to talk to people and gather keywords to advance the quest. It’s fun and interesting at first, but these same half-dozen quests repeat through the whole game and grow tiring after a while. The only reward is XP or items really, nothing too special.
Then we come across the other issues with Astral Chain. The game bounces between fighting on Earth and the astral world which is nice, but they both get tedious after a while. The astral plains are just fighting challenges and puzzles that require shooting down things with arrows, slicing doors, pushing blocks around, etc. They break up the monotony but later become part of it. The most interesting parts of the game are so far and few between such as the high-speed bike ride through the tunnel, the scripted events, and the massive boss fights. Most chapters are just investing and then an astral plain area to acquire the next Chimera.
My next complaint isn’t just the drab story and characters, but the visuals are very bland and anime-inspired to a fault. There’s no unique look or visual style like Bayonetta, there’s nothing memorable here. All the astral levels look identical, and the same few hubs repeat in every chapter. Everything looks either too realistic for this type of game or just looks too much like a cookie-cutter anime. Even the enemy designs are boring outside of some of the bosses, everything in Astral Chain just kind of blurs together after a while.
With that said, the combat is fantastic, and it’s enough to play through the 20-hour campaign. Ignore the boring and unfocused plot and characters, and the generic visuals, and just concentrate on some good ‘ol bombastic combat that we really don’t get anymore. The game looks good technically for the Switch with nice lighting effects and good-looking models and textures, but I wanted more scripted events and cutting down on the fat with bloated side quests.
The Switch had a rocky first couple of years, but 2019 has seen the Switch coming out swinging as Nintendo’s best console since the Wii. The first party games trickle in nicely, but we are getting many ports and some great exclusives from third-party developers that most Nintendo fans would only dream of having. There were actually a couple of games that didn’t make the list as there were just that many awesome games on the system this year.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Link’s Awakening isn’t just a remake, but a re-imagining of the soul of one of the most beloved games of all time. That’s a lot of pressure and not easy to do, but Nintendo just seems to have a magic wand they can wave and can do no evil. The game is beautiful, the puzzles are engaging, and the magic is still there even after all these years.
Nintendo always has a knack for making one huge innovation to their franchises per console cycle and the Switch is no exception. Odyssey is a well-crafted game taking many years of experience and gameplay honing and creating one of the best video game experiences in the last decade. Odyssey is massive with dozens of hours of content and a variety of things to do.
Like all Mario games, there’s not much of a story, just your typical Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach story again with no cut scenes or anything else, but that’s fine as Mario is all about the gameplay. The main gameplay hook in this Mario game is his hat. He can throw it to take control of enemies, for combat, and to get out-of-reach items. The hat works so naturally and feels great to use that I never had any issues. Once you arrive in the Cap Kingdom you will be leaping and bounding similarly to Super Mario Galaxy in the way Mario moves and jumps. Taking control of certain enemies gives you special combat abilities or allows you to access certain areas Mario can’t. It’s so much fun and I always looked forward to the next thing I could control.
Another element is the new 2D levels. These are hidden throughout the game and give you moons that are needed to power up your Odyssey ship to get to Bowser. There are 880 moons in the world. I know it’s a monster of a task, but it’s so much fun. Your first playthrough allows you to get the first batch, then after you beat the game, there are meteor rocks that you can smash in each world and they send the rest of the moons flying. Anyways, these 2D levels are just like the 8-bit games with Mario wrapped around the 3D world jumping and hopping along.
Mario can also swim, fly (with controller enemies), and pretty much do anything you can imagine as the game is so varied and there’s so much to see and do. Not one world is alike and each one has new things to do and discover. Mario can also change his hats and outfits this time around by buying them with coins or using special world-specific coins. Some outfits are needed to access bonus areas. These bonus areas are actually the most fun and challenging, but well worth it for the moons.
There are boss fights with Bowsers minions the Boonals which are evil bunnies. The boss fights are really easy and so is Bowser at the end of the game. It’s clear that the game doesn’t rely on bosses for challenges as some bonus areas had me stuck for over an hour restarting until I got all the jumps right. Thankfully most of the game is a perfect challenge and some of the challenges are just figuring out how to get to the next moon or bonus area. Some are in plain sight while others require you to think a little bit and do certain things. There are music note challenges as well as scarecrow timer challenges. All of these things combined make for an exciting game that is incredibly hard to put down.
I really can’t find anything negative to say except that all you do is collect moons and there’s no other end goal. There are at least fast travel points in each world so even that isn’t a problem. The visuals are fantastic and the entire games just feel alive with character and personality. It’s hard to hate a game made this well, 30 years of perfection really shows with zero control issues, framerate problems, or anything else. No matter how you slice it this is essentially a perfect game. The amount of variety just boggles my mind and I don’t know how the developers managed to make every bonus area, challenge, and world completely unique, especially to house 880 moons.
Overall, Super Mario Odyssey is a must-own for Switch fans and a good reason to buy one. There is no other platform that offers this kind of gaming perfection other than Nintendo. They are masters of video games and it shows in every one of their unique main title games.
This was one of the strongest console launches I can ever remember. For a first-year, Nintendo pumped out some fantastic games, as well as the strongest third-party support they have had in a decade. The system still has room to grow, but so far it’s impressive.
The Switch had a good year but was mostly filled with more ports and remasters, and Octopath shows Square still love Nintendo and can make amazing RPGs. While the game still feels old-school, there’s enough story and great characters to keep you hooked for hours.
This was one of the strongest console launches I can ever remember. For a first-year, Nintendo pumped out some fantastic games, as well as the strongest third-party support they have had in a decade. The system still has room to grow, but so far it’s impressive.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild isn’t just a superb open-world game set in the Zelda universe, but it changes the Zelda formula forever. One of the most popular and well-known franchises in entertainment history has just changed everything on the Switch, which is the biggest deal since Ocarina of Time nearly 2 decades ago. It pushes the Switch to its limits, looks gorgeous, plays amazingly smooth, and is so immersive and deep.
Colors: Gray Joy-Con version, Neon Blue+Red Joy-Con version, Red Joy-Con version
I wasn’t a believer. I saw the Switch as a gimmicky train wreck straight into financial debt as Nintendo revealed the system last year. The concept was neat, the first home console was built into a tablet which felt like the last 2 Nintendo consoles smushed into one. The only issue that still remained was graphical power and online play as Nintendo is notoriously known for not doing well in these two departments.
Fast forward over a year later and I have one sitting next to me. To be honest, it was a spontaneous purchase during Black Friday weekend as there were more and more games coming out that I really wanted to play. It was still a gamble as there’s a huge divide on the Switch. Nintendo fanboys refuse to admit faults in the system, and naysayers refuse to admit the originality and fantastic games that are available, as few as there are.
As I opened the box I was actually surprised by how much smaller the system was than I originally thought. I thought it was going to be some hefty, unwieldy thing with controllers slapped on it. The tablet is just slightly bigger than any standard 7″ Android tablet on the market (Nvidia Shield K1 for example) and looks sleek, ergonomic, and not too heavy, really. The buttons are nicely laid out on top of the unit with volume control, power, the card slot, and a headphone jack. There’s a USB-C charger power at the bottom as well as a kickstand. They seemed to have thought of everything and didn’t overthink too much else, which is surprisingly nice. The system is meant to be used in landscape only so this helped solidify their design ideas.
Once I popped the Joy-Con controllers out I was also surprised, these things are surprisingly small and light, but also feel nice and have great ergonomics. These could have easily been messed up and killed the system, but it feels like the Wii Remote mixed with 3DS buttons, which is a good thing. It’s also designed with offset thumbsticks like the Gamecube controller which is a huge plus here. The aligned sticks on the Wii U pad were uncomfortable. The design is also meant to be symmetrical so each controller can be used separately. The left Joy-Con then turns the directional buttons into face buttons, but the only small complaint is that the left stick is closer to the edge of the controller while the right is further in, so playing Mario Kart, for example, made me want the right Con so my hand didn’t cramp. There’s also an issue with the screenshot button (which works amazingly well and just like it should) not turning into the Home button.
Joy-Cons: Is the Name a Premonition?
The controller frustrations aren’t really all of that, the Cons are interchangeable with a grip that turns these things into an actual controller, they slide right in, but the release button on the back is small, and hard to get a grip on without pressing buttons, and having to take them off to slide them on the tablet in docked mode to charge is annoying. Then you have the side rails with the SR and SL buttons for playing with the controller landscape or separately for motion controls. These rails go on easily but are a pain to get off and I’ve scraped and cut my fingers pulling these off. They are tight and require more strength than needed to get them off. The easiest mode to get these out of is tablet mode. Sliding them on the side of the tablet is easy enough as well as getting them off. I just wish there wasn’t so much configuring for each game as with Skyrim, I had to slide the side rails off to put on the grip as I was tired of holding them for motion controls. Then I had to slide them off the grip and onto the tablet when I went and played in the bedroom.
Switch: The New DS
Speaking of tablet mode, this is the main attraction of this system. Nintendo wanted the power of a home console in your hands, and this is the first time it’s done correctly. The PSP started this by being sold as a portable PlayStation home experience, but it didn’t have the power or the controls to do this correctly. Sony sold that same idea with the Vita, and while it did have both, the pirating from the PSP caused developers to back away. Nintendo has never sold their portable systems as home experiences, but here we have it. The games play in 720p while undocked, which is a bit disappointing seeing as tablets can display up to 2K resolution these days, but a lot more power would have to be built in causing bulkiness, less battery life, and more cost. It still looks clean and crisp in this mode and most people won’t notice.
The Big Screen
Docking the console is easy enough, but there was another problem here. There’s no click, no satisfying “snap” of the system connecting to the charge port, and no sound or feedback of any kind. The system kind of just flops in the dock and rests there. The only indication is the green light flashing on the dock and that’s it. This could have been done much differently, with better feedback. While docked, games usually run in 1080p, but with some graphical hits like frame rate cuts or aliasing. The Switch is intended to perform better in the docked mode as the CPU isn’t underclocked to save battery life, but there are varying theories about how all that extra power is used to render the picture in higher resolution and not really performing better. It’s something Nintendo needs to iron out, and even 8 months later, it’s still a tad bit of an issue. Battery life is also not that great in portable mode. You will maybe squeeze 4 hours out of the system on a game that doesn’t push it to its limits. I haven’t been able to time it just yet so I will update this as time goes on to see if I can get 4+ hours.
Under the Hood
Let’s take a look at what runs this device first. For starters, the system has 4GB of RAM in the form of LPDDR4 which is what is seen in phones. I was surprised to not see X RAM which is much faster, but it’s a good start. The system has an Nvidia Tegra X1 chipset which is seen in the newest Shield device from Nvidia. It has an 8-core CPU running at 1.20GHz, and the GPU is Maxwell-based running at 768MHz docked and 384 undocked, and has a 6.2-inch screen in 720p. As you can see it’s a very powerful portable device, but clearly doesn’t have any power close to the other competitors, but can easily be seen as the most powerful tablet on the market. Why Nintendo chose off-the-shelf parts instead of custom hardware is very interesting, it definitely is easier to program for. The SD slot can hold up to 2TB (which isn’t available yet) in microSDXC format.
Let’s talk about the software. The Switch features a much more streamlined UI over the Wii U. No longer is a huge ring of bubbles with Miis running around everywhere. We get a clean and minimalist UI that just shows a row of “blocks” that are your games. Near the bottom, you can select settings, Joy-Con arrangement, eShop, and brightness. I love this UI and it’s even better than the 3DS UI. This is designed to be easy to navigate with the touchscreen in portable mode. Another nifty feature is being able to “archive” games, so when you’re done with them you can delete the game data, but it will keep all your saves to free up HDD space. If you run out of the 24GB (8 are taken up with OS) you can insert a microSD card which is something that was much needed on the Wii U and really hurt sales. 24GB is plenty for physical games, but if you have a large digital collection you can move screenshots and those games onto that SD card which is awesome.
So, Is It Worth It?
Overall, the Switch is well worth the $300 purchase if you like all the games available. If you’re just a Nintendofile or just like one genre of a game then you should stay away. This is a great system that is revolutionary in its own right that takes a traditional home console and takes it on the go, but with the usual sacrifices that Nintendo is willing to make. It’s not very powerful (for a home console), the Joy-Cons are cumbersome to configure, the battery life isn’t too great, and the graphical difference between docked and undocked varies way too much and needs to be ironed out. There’s also the lack of games mentioned which has been an issue since the Wii. The ones that are available are fantastic, there aren’t a lot of games that are downright awful on this system, with Nintendo’s own games being some of the best games in years, period.
To Nintendo’s credit, people are giving this system a harder time than it deserves. The Wii U deserved all the backlash it got, it was a terrible console, that was terribly marketed and executed. The Switch is actually trying to be something completely new with some of Nintendo’s past, and best, ideas at play. With the support of more third-party developers (as we’re seeing as the year comes to a close) Nintendo could be back on track as the best video game company out there. Only time will tell, but they don’t have long.