Switch is Nintendo’s eighth home console, arriving almost five years after its predecessor, Wii U. The general disappointment surrounding Wii U stemmed mostly from its lack of software titles and its underperforming hardware. It’s surprising, then, that Switch shares many of the same traits at launch. Currently there are fewer than 20 titles available for the system—few of them original to it—and its power lags far behind the competition. In response, Nintendo has claimed not to be competing with Sony and Microsoft, but of course it is.
Nintendo has taken a new route, sacrificing power to become the first true in-home/hand-held hybrid. Switch functions like a normal console, running through your television and utilizing a controller, but you can also split that controller into two pieces, slide them onto the console and transfer the game image to the built-in 6.2-inch screen. The controllers can also be removed and turned sideways to support multi-player in the on-the-go setup, with the screen standing up using an attached kickstand.
Off the base the Switch looks like a tablet, and a bad one at that. It’s far too fat and small, has just three hours of battery life and has neither a web browser nor a Netflix portal (though both have been promised for future software updates.) That said, the first game I played on Switch, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, could never have run on the weak processors in the iPad or Amazon Fire. The games run on flash-memory-style Switch Game Cards, load quickly and feature near-instantaneous sleep and wake functions. And, did I mention it’s portable?
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild feels fantastic so far (look for my review soon at lasvegasweekly.com) but for the moment it’s the only compelling reason to own the Switch. With more powerful consoles on the market—with larger game libraries, and at comparable prices (Switch retails for $300)—it’s hard to fully recommend the system. Better to give Switch some more time before buying it for yourself or another on-the-go gamer.