Nintendo Switch Hands On
I’m Gonna Touch You
I attended a hands-on preview event in Manchester earlier on and tested a few games out on the console to see how it all shapes up. I’ll go through each game individually as each one had a different feel to the last which made for an original experience overall which for Nintendo at this point is second nature.
The first game I tried out was the upgraded port of Mario Kart 8 subtly titled Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Not the most original of titles to start with. Overall just a slightly tweaked version of the Wii U, which isn’t a bad thing as that game is still one of the strongest Wii U titles, and without a doubt the best Mario Kart game we’ve had since Mario Kart 64 (sorry Double Dash you know it’s true).
For this game Nintendo had 8 different switch consoles set up in a circle so we could battle each other in a multiplayer race. I got to try out one of the new characters on display – Inkling Boy from Splatoon and used his bike the Inkstriker.
Both character and bike seemed to play quite well and the addition of the double-power up feature was nice even though it’s pot luck whether you get the double boxes as they are in line with the standard ones. Playing the game on the actual handheld offscreen looked fantastic and won’t diminish the gameplay in the slightest.
The picture quality was as good as playing the game on a standard tv and overall looked sharper than the Wii U version so this definitely looks like an upscale version and not just your standard run of the mill HD remaster ala Return to Arkham.
Game number two was Splatoon 2. Being a huge fan of the first game I was very excited to try out this sequel to see if it could live up to the standards of the first. It did not disappoint. They had the console set up differently for this game as we got to play with the Joy-Con controllers in the Joy-Con grip setup which was nice to test out.
I was always very curious about these controllers as the JoyCons do look quite small but once again Nintendo did not fail as in the grip it felt very comfortable and light but also incredibly sturdy at the same time.
I got to play on two different matches during this session and tried out a new weapon in – The Splat Duellies, a double pistol combination you can use. These new weapons made for a more intense match overall when you mix in the new supermove ability to which allows you to destroy huge portions of the map with your ink from the air in a slow motion style assault.
Incredibly fun like the first game but the motion controls seem a lot more fluid and gameplay is more evenly paced and easy to pick up.
Next up was a couple of the mini games from 1-2-Switch. This was a game I wasn’t really sold on from the presentation a few weeks back as it looked very gimmicky. How wrong I was playing on this as for a straight up fun party game it was incredible.
I played three different mini games – quick draw, milk and weight detection. Quick draw was a cowboy western standoff, simple but effective and all about the timing. Weight detection involved giving your joy-con a rattle to guess how many metal ball bearings are in the virtual box on screen which used the technology they described in the presentation explaining how you can feel ice cubes in a glass.
On the presentation it didn’t sound like it would make sense but giving the joy-con a little rattle really did feel like you could feel numerous balls moving around inside which really hit home how this new rumble hd technology really works. Lastly was Milk, the game that has been subject to many a comment or meme on the interwebs.
It was super fun but probably the most awkward I have ever felt playing a video game as simulating milking a cow with the controller whilst looking someone dead in the eye was definitely an experience probably best had after a few drinks on the Switch. What could have been a disaster of mini games ala Wii Party has now turned into a masterpiece of mini games ala Wii Sports. A day one purchase for sure!
To Arms, Two Arms
Now we move on to Arms. Nintendo’s new fighting game IP. Another simplistic concept, you play as a fighter fighting another character like most other fighting games yet the difference is your arms basically giant springs with different styles of weapons for hands.
This was the most active of all the games I demoed as it involved punching and moving around with your arms to perform different styles of attacks. I tried out a character that wasn’t shown in the trailer called Ninjara who was more of an evasive player focused on speed instead of strength and also has saw-blades for hands instead of boxing gloves.
This game focused more on the motion controls and ZL/ZR triggers than the other games for special attacks and aerial movements. Whilst an enjoyable game this was probably the weakest showing I thought but probably not helped by getting absolutely trounced by the opposing player.
Breath Of Fresh Air
I left the big one to last – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the whole reason I went to this event in the first place. Time slots where allocated to this demo for 10 minutes per person upon entering the event but I managed to get my standard 10 minutes about an hour in and then in the last 25 minutes of the event got to dive in to a full 20 minute sitting as the event was dying down.
From the short 10 minute showing first I was incredibly impressed with sheer scope of the game but not long after exiting a cave you start in and getting to the Grand Plateau I found after killing my first Bokoblin and speaking to a mysterious Old Man you come across (past Link maybe?!?!?!) and seeing the freaking Temple of Time in all its ruined glory my time was up.
This was devastating as I felt I hadn’t even scratched the surface of the demo so going back at the end gave a much better experience. The staff member who was supervising my second play advised me not to waste time finding Link’s clothes or speaking to said Old Man and instead to veer left to the first Shrine of the game.
Entering the Shrine I found my first new weapon a magnet like device which allows you to remove walls and floor pieces to make new paths or just pull doors wide open. A completely new Zelda experience which at the same time felt very nostalgic.
The open world mechanics of the game seemed very strange though with the fact you have a stamina bar and when climbing or swimming if you run out of stamina you either fall to your demise or drown makes this a new take on the franchise.
The game looked stunning and played wonderfully, seeing the Grand Plateau in full HD with Death Mountain looming in the background was out of this world and the fact the small area I got to see was only 2% of the world map really showed how big the scale of this game is going to be. The long five year wait for this game is almost over and many like me bought a Wii U specifically for Zelda so it is a sore spot the definitive version will not be on the Wii U but from playing the game first hand I can tell it will not look as crisp as this version does.
I was always a tentative day one buyer for the Switch, but this short two hour test has made me a definite day one buyer. The console is sleek and stunning to look at. The off-screen handheld play is ridiculously good looking and smooth. The joy-cons feel extremely comfortable with or without the grip.
The pro-controller like the Wii U version is as good if not better than the standard controllers for the PS4 or XBOXONE. Graphics wise is considerably higher than the Wii U as Breath of the Wild alone looks like a true next-gen game and even Mario Kart has a significant jump in looks. Whilst it may not seem as powerful in the long run as the competition I think Nintendo has really hit it out of the park with this one, and is positioning itself back at the table in a big bad way.
Where the Wii U ultimately fell, I can see the Switch succeeding. I challenge anyone to play even one of these games on the machine and not instantly feel the joy of Nintendo of old finally coming back. Nintendo have Switched it up big time with this console and I would not be surprised in the slightest to see Sony and Microsoft take note and seriously consider getting into the home console-handheld hybrid territory in the coming years.
Nintendo welcome back.