Many people believe that Nintendo is trying to fight a battle against Sony and Microsoft, or competing to have the best graphics or specs. The reality is that the biggest competitor of Nintendo is itself.
The numbers don't lie, the Wii U was a flop. What Nintendo wanted to do with the Wii U conceptually felt short and underdeveloped. Even with their best efforts to ship exclusives, the expectations, design and limitations of the Wii U were extremely disappointing for both developers and gamers. This is not the first time it has happened with this type of hardware, but, as a proud Wii U owner, it was a defeat.
Don't get me wrong. I have owned most Nintendo consoles and handhelds since the NES, and I have been a fan of all their franchises, but sometimes it is hard to understand the logic in their unbelievable business decisions. Their stubbornness about only focusing in polished, refined and fun game experiences can be mind-boggling. The specs and components to make a potent console is clearly not their priority.
It was apparent that Nintendo's focus has been shifting from the moment they announced the Switch. For the naked eye this might have been another failure, but the sales are speaking for themselves. Nintendo is showing that they are listening.
From their presentation in January, it is not only about family or party games anymore, it is also about their fans, about the love for games and having fun, to play them whenever, wherever. This approach makes it appealing for everyone, for both hardcore gamers and casual gamers, for people who like handhelds, for people who like to play on their iPads, for people who enjoy playing on their TVs. All of this with the classic and expected Nintendo "package".
With the Switch, Nintendo is trying to redeem themselves from all the mistakes they have made, and, at the same time, bringing all the good things that gamers loved about their consoles.
What I Love
Portability and versatility. This is Nintendo's main selling point. How you can "switch" between playing on your couch, playing on the go, playing while traveling, playing with your friends. Experiencing both single and multiplayer games in the exact same way you would at home, but everywhere. This is apparent the moment you are playing and need to switch from place to place. Even more, designing it like this is progressive and astute, allowing anyone who buys the console to play it however they want.
Screen visual fidelity. The screen visuals are crispy and vibrant. It is no retina screen, but for the value and wide target audience, the quality it delivers is outstanding.
Weight. Coming from the Wii U, my expectations for the Switch's weight were kind of low. The Wii U's weight was light and its physical structure was weak and screechy. The moment I held the Switch in my hands for the first time it was definitely different. Higher quality, heavier, sturdier.
Pro Controller. They really knocked it off out of the park for this one. One of the best controllers I have used.
Price. I believe the $300 price point is fair for the value that the console provides. Might be a bit steep for some folks out there, acknowledging that the regular PS4 is $250. But remember that this is new hardware, not 2013's hardware. It costs Nintendo an approximate of $257 to make.
Expandable memory. The fact that Nintendo is future proofing expandable memory with new and unreleased upcoming models is a testament of Nintendo's decisions being more forward-thinking and user-friendly.
Zelda is a console seller. I already wrote a review of Zelda: Breath of the Wild explaining why it is worth your time. If you don't already own a Wii U, you can justify buying a Switch just to enjoy Breath of Wild.
Neutral and Nice to Have's
Better Joycon grip. Handheld mode is a little bit uncomfortable, a better grip would enhance the on-the-go experience.
Plastic screen VS glass screen dilemma. The trade-off they made for the screen is understandable, taking in consideration the price and wide target audience. Imagine having a Pro version of the Switch with a glass screen and higher quality materials overall, including metal finishes and the like. A man can dream.
Upgraded Docks. I love the dock concept, and I love the fact that I can get as many as I want for my place since I like playing on the couch with a big screen more than anywhere else. I have contemplated with some friends that Nintendo's opportunity to release an updated dock with 4K capability or internal components to improve processing power of games would be a smart thing to do. I personally ignore how the components in the console work with each other for this to be possible, but the way I'm thinking about this is how Razer's Blade and Razer's Core work together, or the PSVR kit works with the PS4.
Bigger disk space. 32GB of disk space in 2017 feels like a joke, honestly. Even my phone has more space than that. I see this problem a lot with hardware nowadays. 64GB would have been way better and affordable, and considering the Wii U was 8GB and 32GB, maybe they could have released a Pro version of the Switch with more capacity and that glass screen I mentioned. ;)
What Can Be Improved
Battery life. I am not a full-time handheld user for the Switch, but when I have to use it undocked, battery life is just absurd.
More affordable accessory prices. $80 for a controller is high, even for how good the Pro Controller is.
Image quality from docks. I have tried the dock in a 1080p monitor and a 4K TV and in both there are graphical distortions that are bothersome once you notice them. There are games that handle graphics differently. One example of this is Snipperclips, as it keeps the graphics' sharpness intact. Even the Switch's home screen suffers from this quality problem in a monitor. I believe, however, this can be easily patched.
Overall screen and dock design. I'm talking scratches. I have had my phone for a year now and I still don't have a single scratch on the screen yet. I don't even have a screen protector either. Having to get a screen protector from Amazon or GameStop because the screen is plastic and might get scratched by the dock is foolish.
The fact of the matter is that the Switch is a console designed for everyone. It is covering every single possible scenario for both veterans and new gamers' ideal setup. This concept is very clear for someone that comes from a lot of different circles and everyone's tales about how different and unique their gaming experience is.
The benefits of the 'Grab & Go' concept were clear to me the very first week I got it. I had to go to PAX East but I wanted to keep playing Zelda. The fact that I could just take it out of the dock and keep playing it every day, while traveling or not, with the same visual fidelity and quality of a home console, was when I realized I have made one of the best purchases in a while.
Also extra points because I can use it while I poop.