It’s been a week since Nintendo unleashed the Nintendo Switch. Primed to blur the line between home and portable gaming, the Switch is the natural evolution of a gaming brand that has, at one time or another, dominated the two separate realms of the hobby. By design, the Switch shows Nintendo’s confidence in mobile gaming — which has evolved in recent years thanks to smartphones — as achieving a high enough fidelity to rival the sophisticated machines in the living room. But after a week in the hands of consumers, one simple question looms large: Does it live up to the hype?
Critical reviews of the Switch have been a mixed bag that tend to err more on the side of optimistic promise than outright disappointment. In short, the Switch is a case of almost, not quite, but time will tell, and things are looking good.
Currently, Nintendo users have found the seamless transition between portable and home console very novel — and very exciting. It’s far better than the Wii U, Nintendo’s last console, which had a tablet-like controller but was limited in its technical capabilities. Coupled with confused branding and Nintendo’s Wii U is commonly considered an unfulfilled failure.
Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku commended the Switch because it “does this one fundamental thing very well,” noting the freedom of taking The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild along for a weekend trip without downgrade was “remarkable.” But, novelty fades. Hamilton added the Switch “is a beguiling, flawed piece of hardware” and that this first iteration will “likely be remembered as a first generation console that wasn’t quite what it could have been.”
Ross Miller of The Verge echoed these sentiments, saying:
“The Nintendo Switch is a machine borne of a company looking both to its past and future, and I genuinely believe that it has innovated upon some of its best ideas. I’m just not sure it’s fixed some of its worst.”
Kyle Orlando of Ars Technica had similar thoughts, saying that Nintendo’s console is “an interesting hybrid that seems to pull portable gaming upward more than it drags home console gaming downward.” He adds:
“While the Switch probably won’t ever be fully adequate as your only game console and some questions about controls and software support remain, the ‘new hardware system with a brand new concept’ that Nintendo first announced in 2015 is in many ways the most interesting piece of gaming hardware in decades.”
In its first week, the Switch’s library is anchored heavily by the very, very great The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild while the rest is a large swath of adequate to blah. Like the early days of the Wii, most of the Switch’s games are glorified tech demos like 1-2-Switch and Just Dance 2017. It also has indie darlings like Shovel Knight and World of Goo and guaranteed kids’ franchises like Skylanders. But besides Zelda, this isn’t a strong library. Your Mario Karts and Smash Bros. are absent, but they’re almost certainly on the way.
And why would they lie?
Zelda is a high point for the Switch, but the console itself is winning people over.
Fans’ responses to the Switch are positive enough that they’re excited by the promise of future game releases. It seems all but a guarantee that the Switch port of Mario Kart 8 — slated for April — will be a summer staple at BBQs everywhere.
Aww, young love.
Of course, the Switch’s portability has made it a key selling point and people have taken notice.
That’s right: You don’t have to zombie scroll Facebook at the dentist’s office anymore!
At the same time people are loving their Switch (though not enough to lick them), there are those who think the console is a disappointment. They may be Debbie Downers, but their thoughts aren’t entirely unwarranted.
The controller has stuck out as a point of criticism.
Reviews that went online sounded negative, but they were more like hesitantly positive. Still, for a little while, word caught on.
There was just no pulling punches.
The Switch’s biggest criticisms are its games library, which has a distinct lack of a Virtual Console, as well as unclear online functions. But the Switch set out to do one thing, which was to break down the barrier between what’s possible in home gaming and on-the-go. So far, the Switch has done that very well. The Nintendo Switch is a new console, but we’ve seen consoles get new models in the past. The Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, both more powerful than the Wii U, still received upgrades in the form of the Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Pro, both slimmed-down versions of their original iterations with 4K capabilities. Nintendo has released upgraded models of its handheld DS system in the past. It’s too early to tell, but don’t count out a “New Nintendo Switch” in some future.