At today’s Nintendo Switch event in New York City, both members of the press and select diehard fans of the house that Mario built were able to get their hands on the upcoming home console/handheld hybrid.
Unfortunately, every single unit was held down by a security bracket, one made of metal, meaning it was rather heavy, so it was impossible to get a true feel of the system’s weight in handheld mode. Though one was able to deposit the console into the cradle and remove the Joy-Cons. A snug connection is made once the screen interfaces with the USB-C connector. Small buttons on each Joy-Con releases the connection, though one needs to hold the docked screen to pull the controllers away, otherwise the screen plus dock will go with you (even the added weight of the bracket wasn’t enough to ground the unit).
The Joy-Cons themselves are surprisingly comfortable… provided if you have small enough hands. I spoke with another journalist and his primary beef was with the diminutive inputs, due to his large hands. Alas, they are comparable with the sizes of your average North American male. And for those wondering, when the Joy-Cons make contact with the screen, there is an audible click. Fans of old Japanese flip phones, which produces a comparable noise when opening, will be especially delighted.
Whereas the Wii Remote sleeve was an add-on that many did not care for, the strap accessory for each Joy-Con is a must use. It adds just enough extra dimension to make each controller easier to handle, though it may not be enough with those with aforementioned large hands. The straps also make the top SL and SR buttons easier to access. It’s also worth noting that the Neon Blue and Neo Red colors are far nicer in person than in photographs, though the lighting of the venue may have had an impact.
In addition to playing a game with both Joy-Cons freely, I was able to play that same game Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with the Joy-Con grip, which was quite comfortable. Even more so was the Pro Controller, which also looks far nicer in person than in pictures. As one Nintendo rep noted, it is somewhat reminiscent of the see-through controller that the company once upon a time produced the Nintendo 64. The sticks on the Pro Controller have a surprisingly amount of resistance, and the unit itself has a far more considerable amount of weight then one would expect. It will be more or less a must own for those with large hands. Though as nice as it is, it’s retail price of $70 still seems a bit unjustified.
The image quality on the Switch screen is very nice, viewable from a wide variety of angles. The screen’s unit also gives force feed back, though it’s not nearly as nuanced as the Joy-Con’s HD rumble (more on that in a bit). Though was a somewhat perceptible rumble that wasn’t contingent upon gameplay could be felt, which is the internal fan, with a small exhaust at the very top. Or at least that’s what it appeared to be; I could not get any representative to verify what it was exactly. It’s also worth noting that, as we’ve seen already in photographs and video footage, a small portion of the screen is meant to be exposed while docked. One Switch, which in handheld mode, was quite warm. Though this was towards the end of the event, when that unit was no doubt in use for several hours playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It wasn’t boiling hot, but typical of a smart phone after intense usage.
I played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and when it comes to the technical side, the demo ran at a very smooth clip, with no detectible stutters or frame drops. It goes without saying that play Zelda on a big TV allowed one to fully enjoy the visuals, but the chance to play a new Zelda on essentially a handheld was quite the thrill.