Our Hands-On With the Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch Manages to Both Excited and Disappoint

Many events happened this month with the releasing of great games and other conventions like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). To end January on a good note, Penny Arcade had its third annual convention, PAX South. Held at the Henry B. Convention Center in San Antonio, TX, there was cosplay, indie games, merchandise booths and many more! This year, Nintendo entered the show floor showcasing their newest console that’s releasing in March, the Nintendo Switch.

Since the 2016 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Nintendo’s been tight-lipped concerning any sort of details about their newest console. It wasn’t until Oct. 20, 2016 that they finally came out with a preview trailer that gave gamers a little taste of what it can do. Rochellie and O’Dell were lucky enough to get their hands on this unique console prior to the convention center doors opening to the general public at PAX South. Here were their first impressions!

Rochellie’s Thoughts:

As a Nintendo fan, I’ve always been hopeful when it comes to their innovations. I’ve owned nearly every console at launch since the NES. Let’s be honest. Nintendo has never been known for cutting-edge hardware in their gaming consoles. In my opinion, they want to leave their players feeling immersed in their games, and also give the player the freedom to take that immersion on the go.

The Switch is probably the console that the Wii/Wii U wanted to be in terms of execution. Nintendo created a hybrid system to catch the handheld and console alike which is a great idea, but it will alsocreate skeptics in terms of hardware and the fact this system will ultimately put the 3DS in the dirt. However, who wouldn’t want to play console games on the go in replacement of ports to a handheld?

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As far as I can tell, the tablet did not look too heavy and the Joy-Cons looked small. The screen looked a bit better than the Wii U tablet and at a reasonable size. After the details stated at the conference, I just had to try out the console for myself.

The console was much smaller than expected, but kept that sleek modern look to it. The Switch Pro Controller still had that comfortable feel and also kept the sleek modern look with a matte finish. A new addition to the controller is the gyro controls. While playing Splatoon 2, it gave the game a new way of playing. Do you think you’re good enough to play while moving the controller at the same time? This new feature will make it unique in how the player attacks the gameplay.

As mentioned earlier about the size of the Joy-Cons, they were not too small as previously showcased in the trailer and conference. Luckily they can also play as two controllers and the HD rumble feels real ehough to justify the MSRP for them. It’s as if you are actually holding something or can feel something in the controller. Not sure how it will play out in future games, but it’s a cool feature.

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In terms of how intuitive the Joy-Cons were, it followed through with games like 1-2-Switch and Arms. The controllers were responsive and the in-game characters moved along with the player without delay. Next was the comfort grip for the Joy-Cons—another alternative way to play the games. The only concern I have with this form is how close the controllers are once placed in the grip. It works well for people with small hands hence “comfort grip,” but people with larger hands may find this uncomfortable.

Also, I was surprised with how well the tablet looked with the controllers attached on the side pulled from the charging dock. The switch (no pun intended) between the TV to the tablet
was much quicker than expected. Normally there would be a delay if not done properly, but Nintendo made sure the transition was fluid.

The games presented on the screen in 720p looked better in person. The trailers you see do not justify how beautiful the screen and games looked. It is definitely something everyone should see in person when the console demo is finally out in stores. After playing with the console for an hour, all these good things about the console solidified keeping my pre-order.

O’Dell’s Thoughts:

Going into the Nintendo Switch booth, many questions plagued my mind. Would the graphics look dated? Are the controllers simple Wii/Wii U rehashes? And could the Switch be capable of attracting great games not created by Nintendo? The Wii was revolutionary in its own right, but as much as it did wonderfully, there was plenty that held it back. While the Wii U attempted to propel Nintendo consoles into the modern era, it ultimately failed.

Now, in less than a month we will enter the Switch dynasty. I was hyped, dare I say, geeked, when I saw the reveal trailer. While my excitement never died down, my doubts continued to raise daily, until I reached a point of neutrality, gridlocked on my own opinions in my mind. But that all changed when the fire nation attacked, and when I actually got to hold the Switch in my hands.

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Every doubt I had melted away once I held the Joy-Cons in my hands and played their launch title, Arms. Before I delve into the details, there are some key points that should be mentioned. Switch games look dramatically better live than in advertisements. They won’t be rendered in 4K, but they’re noticeably better when seen in person when compared to online videos. The individual Joy-Cons aren’t as small as they look and work pretty well. They wouldn’t be my first choice of control scheme, but they get the job done. The Switch Pro controller may be the best damn controller Nintendo ever made, and the Joy-Con comfort grip may just be the worst controller Nintendo ever made.

The biggest changes with Nintendo are usually centered on the control scheme, which has been unique since the N64 days. The Switch comes with many options that all work for the most part. The ranking from best to worst would be the:

• Switch Pro Controller
• Switch Tablet
• 2 Joy-Cons
• Joy-Con Comfort Grip
• 1 Joy-Con

Everything about the new Pro Controller has been finely tuned. The motion sensor, is, dare I say, superior to Wii Motion Plus. The controller fits neatly in your hands and it smooth to the touch. It should be the default to most games. The Tablet is a close second offering AAA gaming on the go. It is surprisingly light and you lose nothing by having Hyrule or any other world in the clasp of your hands. The only downside is it doesn’t appear to be fall friendly so beware.

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The Joy-Cons themselves are not as small as they look and are finely tuned. When I played Arms I simply tired flailing my fits toward the TV to no avail. With a Joy-Con in each hand I saw that it was capable of tracking the bends in my wrist, and quite responsive to each one of my movements.

One game featured required you to hold the Joy-Con flat in your palm, and then move it around to “feel” tiny balls rolling around in your controller. Though there are no Baoding balls in the controller, the vibration completely sold me on the idea there were spherical shapes rolling around in the casing.They aren’t the best control scheme out of all the ones offered, but they are fantastic at what they do. Unless you absolutely have to you should never play a full game with 1 Joy-Con or the Comfort grip. They force your hands close together and make it awkward to press buttons.

Again, games on the Switch do look current by today’s standards, which was honestly a surprise. I don’t know how it will fair in the future, but it definitely has the polygon power it needs to keep it from looking dated. Arms was the best looking game showcased—just to give you a gauge of how future games may look even better.

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While most of my initial concerns have been addressed, the one thing that blew me away was the act of “switching.” Connecting the Joy-Cons to the tablet and then pulling the console out of the dock for the first time was hard to put into words. It did something that I haven’t felt in a long time. It was ever so brief, but in that moment gaming felt new and exciting as if I was picking up a game controller for the very first time.

If the future software can surprise and delight like the hardware has then I expect big things from the Switch. I personally hope the Switch turns out to be one of the greatest consoles Nintendo has ever produced. Only time will tell. I’m now watching with the rest of the world, and for now I am filled with hope and joy.


As a final point, we think that the Nintendo Switch has a promising future. As long as the Switch receives third party support, then it will bypass the drought of games that its previous predecessor endured. With its release in mid-spring, expect it coming to a retailer near you on March 3rd, 2017.

What are your thoughts on the Nintendo Switch? Sound off below!

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