Nintendo Switch Review: Charming, but incomplete, piece of hardware

The Nintendo Switch is a fascinating piece of hardware. Being able to seamlessly transition from playing docked on your home TV to in your hand is one of the most amazing things I’ve come to witnessed in my gaming experience. While Nintendo’s newest console doesn’t go without its fair share of shortcomings, the overall experience that I’ve had with the Switch has been delightful.

Full disclosure: the last Nintendo system that I owned was the Game Boy Advance and the last home console was the N64. So, you could say that I’ve been a bit out of touch with what Nintendo has been doing nowadays. Once I saw a quality bundle, I pulled the trigger and purchased the neon Joy-Con Switch that came with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Arms.

Upon receiving the Switch and holding it in my hand, it felt strangely right. I was surprised by how comfortable it was to hold and maneuver the Joy-Cons. The only negative about the Joy-Cons is how terribly small they are if you play couch co-op. My girlfriend Blanca and I played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe together and holding a single Joy-Con made me realize how it would feel to be a giant. Other than the small Joy-Cons, the only other caveat to having the Switch in handheld mode is the battery life. On average, my Switch has about four hours of battery life un-docked. While that might not seem a lot, especially with the DS having nearly 10 hours of battery life and 19 hours if you turn off the back-light, having only four hours isn’t a deal breaker. The only instances where I would play the Switch for that long a period of time in handheld mode would be on a long car ride or flight.

After seeing how gorgeous the screen looked in handheld mode, I was eager to see how the Switch would look on my normal TV. Before I tested it out though, a co-worker informed me of the high possibility that my dock might be warped. He said many Nintendo Switches have been shipped containing a defective dock that slightly warps the screen. Luckily, my dock did not appear to be a faulty one, but how does a manufacturer release a product like that? With the long list of features missing from the Switch, including the highly-touted Virtual Console, it doesn’t help matters when there are multiple cases of defective pieces of hardware. Various reports have indicated though that Nintendo is making an attempt at repairing consoles that have had a warping issue.

It was important to me that my dock wasn’t warped, because I ordered a Pro Controller for my Zelda adventure. I’d read that the Pro Controller was actually pretty nice compared to Nintendo’s previous controller iterations; possibly, because the Pro Controller a standard gaming controller. Essentially a Xbox 360 controller with the Nintendo stamp on it, the Pro Controller felt really nice in my hands, comfortable and sturdy. I’m glad Nintendo released a more “normalized” controller, it’s a great option from the gimmicky Joy-Cons. But please, to whomever is in charge, can we talk about the button placement? We have three different console manufacturers in Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all using very similar buttons but all placed differently; not like that’s confusing or anything. The big issue with Nintendo’s controller design is how they have the “confirm” button on the right and the “cancel” button on the bottom, while PlayStation and Xbox have their “confirm” buttons on the bottom and their “cancel” buttons on the right. The amount of times I’ve selected something to confirm but canceled and vice versa is a ridiculous amount. I know it won’t ever happen, but how nice would it be if these three companies came together to agree on a singular controller design? Oh well, a guy can dream.

Aside from the controller design, my biggest gripe with this console, the Nintendo Switch is a quality piece of equipment. I was skeptical to say the least when it was first announced, but given my time with it I’ve come to see how unique it is. My personal satisfaction with the Switch might be tailored differently, because I don’t plan on utilizing any online features with it. I’ll stick to my PS4 and Xbox One S for my online gaming experience, but the Switch does an excellent job filling in that premier solo/couch co-op vacancy in my heart. And that’s why the Nintendo Switch is both a perfect, but imperfect system. Put in the right situation, the Switch checks off all the boxes and excels as a high-quality, secondary console. It will not, however, be a primary option for gaming. Even with its killer software, Nintendo has far too many annoying little imperfections that restrict it from achieving true premium console status. If Nintendo embraces this newfound role in the gaming landscape, the Switch will continue on this torrid pace out of the gates and sustain an enjoyable life.

Final Score: 8/10