Nintendo Switch Review: The Ultimate Portable Gaming Experience
Even if you’re not much into gaming at all, if you have casually browsed any gadget news websites in the past year or so, then you may have spotted an article or two about the Nintendo Switch, and how it’s one of the hottest gaming devices ever made. You may have even heard about how it’s the very first hybrid gaming device, in that it seeks to offer both a portable and home console experience unlike any other—an unorthodox move that gaming enthusiasts have come to expect from the anti-mainstream Japanese game console manufacturer.
But does the Nintendo Switch actually live up to the hype, especially now that we’re nearly two years into its life cycle? Is it worth buying at all, particularly now that the Nintendo Switch is available here at Poundit, and ordering it is easy-peasy? Or should you be skipping it and go instead for something like a Sony PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One? Read on to find out!
- World’s first hybrid console—get the full console gaming experience at home or on the go
- The only way to play Nintendo’s exclusive library of legendary first-party releases
- Stunning and vibrant graphics courtesy of the NVIDIA Custom Tegra Processor, up to 1080p resolution in Docked mode
- Multi-touch capacitive LCD screen outputs at sharp 1280 x 720 pixel resolution in Portable Mode
- 32 GB storage, expandable with microSDHC cards up to 2TB
- Detachable Joy-Con controllers allow for seamless local multiplayer or relaxed ergonomic gaming
- Rechargeable Lithium Ion 4310 mAh battery ensures 6.5 hours of portable game time, 3 hours for graphic-intensive games at full brightness and volume settings
- Wireless Wi-Fi functionality enabled for wire-free online gaming
- Requires Nintendo Switch Online paid subscription for online play
Console gaming like never before
When you first unpack the Nintendo Switch from its box, you immediately get a sense that it’s different from any other console that you may have encountered during your years of gaming. This is because instead of a black, gray, or other neutrally colored console that you hook up to your HDTV, what you get instead is a reassuringly hefty slab of technology that looks more like a tablet than anything else. Also, instead of a single controller, you get two smaller-sized ones that you attach to the sides of the tablet via a sliding mechanism that locks the controllers with a firm and solid metallic click.
This unique design is all part and parcel of Nintendo’s ongoing console experience ethos: that with every generation of console that they put out, instead of focusing on just delivering better graphics, they also deliver an entirely new way of gaming to their customers. They did it with the Wii with its motion controls, and they did it again with the Wii U, with its tablet controller that allowed you to play without a TV screen, so long as you were within a specific distance with the console box.
The Nintendo Switch continues this trend by being the world’s first console-handheld hybrid. It takes the Wii U’s main idea—that of having the tablet controller that allows a sort of remote play away from the console box and the TV. But instead of being tied down to the console box in the first place, the tablet itself is the console. This allows for full-featured console title gaming that you can take with you wherever you go—whether it’s on the commute to school or work, or far away from civilization during one of your hiking trips.
Let that sink in: full-featured console gaming on the go, unshackled from the TV or the family couch. No longer will you have to make do with simple time-waster games on your mobile phone, or pared-down gaming experiences in your portable gaming device. Instead, you get the full Triple-A gaming experience wherever you want, whenever you want. It’s a dream come true for gamers who just doesn’t have the time to sit down in their homes to play for hours straight like they used to, having to deal with daily chores, obligations, and jobs.
Great as a portable, not so much as a home console
Of course, this doesn’t mean that this particular piece of gaming delight can’t be used as an actual home console. No, it adequately fulfills the other part of its job description, and that’s by being slotted into a dock that comes included in the box. This dock is what hooks up to your HDTV, allowing the Nintendo Switch’s graphics to be displayed on screen for the full console gaming experience—couch involvement and everything.
That said, this is where the console starts to show its flaws. Let’s be clear here: the Nintendo Switch works beautifully as a portable gaming device. The LCD screen is sharp and vibrant, the sound is incredible and detailed, and the controllers—while they take some getting used to—easily allow for heavy precision gaming. Combine this with HD rumble functionality for realistic haptic feedback and a very sharp motion control system aided by precise gyroscopes in the controllers, and you easily have the best portable gaming experience that you will ever experience.
Any rough edges that you may encounter—such as none-too-stellar graphics, random online disconnections in multiplayer games, and the strange decision to go with a split D-Pad rather than a joined one—is automatically negated by the fact that you can take the Nintendo Switch with you anywhere.
However, when you do tie down the Switch to a specific location, i.e. in front of your TV with the controllers in your hands, it’s where those flaws become much more visible and tangible. The graphics, while they do scale up from 720p to 1080 when you go to from Portable to Docked Mode, can still look very last-gen at times, depending on what game you’re playing. Not even the most ardent Nintendo fan will be able to overlook it, especially if you’ve tangled with the Sony PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One before dipping into Nintendo’s flavor of console gaming. There’s just no comparison.
As handy as this feature is, we feel that the Nintendo Switch isn’t really meant to be played as a home console, no matter how much its manufacturer tries to make it catch on. In fact, barring any first-party titles that all but scream for the widescreen—home-console gaming experience such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate—we really recommend using the Switch as a portable instead.
Excellent build quality
With that out of the way, let’s talk about other specifics, such as the Nintendo Switch’s build quality. Nintendo has always been known to make durable and functional hardware, and this also carries over with the Nintendo Switch. Everything that you get in the package oozes the signature quality that the Japanese hardware manufacturer is known for. From the console itself to the controllers and even the hollow plastic dock that you plug the Switch in for Docked Mode, everything feels reassuringly solid and sturdy, able to withstand heavy gaming use. If we have to make a complaint here, it’s that some of the components are a bit TOO sturdy for our liking—specifically, the optional Joy-Con straps that you have to apply via the same sliding rails that you use to connect them onto the console itself. It’s very easy to put them on the wrong way, and very tough to remove them if you do.
There’s also the fact that the tablet console’s kickstand, which deploys from its back and allows you to use it as a sort of miniature screen for those impromptu head-to-head multiplayer matches, is prone to just folding back under the weight of the tablet with enough accidental vibration. It doesn’t really feel flimsy, but it is essentially a thin piece of plastic holding up something quite hefty and full of electronics. It’s bound to fail sometime.
Also, since we know people are going to ask or Google for it: yes, the Nintendo Switch is indeed an auto-volt device and can be used in various countries that follow a range of voltage standards. This means that you won’t need to invest in any expensive surge protectors or step-down adapters for it to work in the Philippines—just plug and play.
Impressive exclusive library of games
Back when the Nintendo Switch first launched, it suffered from having a very anemic game library in that only a few of its first-party titles were available to play. It had no lack of indie games, sure, but for a significant period of its early life, there was almost nothing worth playing on the device, save for the critically acclaimed Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Besides that, there was nothing else.
Now, two years into its lifetime, the prospective Nintendo Switch owner has enough first-party gems to truly justify plonking down the cash for this portable gaming wonder. There’s Super Mario Odyssey, the latest in the legendary line of games starring the world’s most famous plumber. The cult-classic-turned-worldwide-sensation Super Smash Bros. Melee also made its next-gen debut as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with an impressive roster of characters spanning dozens of game franchises. Splatoon 2, the sequel to the surprisingly successful IP that many thought died with the Wii U, is also now on the Nintendo Switch, allowing players to experience a unique multiplayer shooter experience on handheld.
All these amazing first-party titles, and with even more coming in the horizon, makes the Nintendo Switch an absolute must-buy, as it’s guaranteed that you will never be able to experience them anywhere else. This isn’t like a PS4 or Xbox title where it’s inevitable that it’ll be ported to another console, or even to PC; Nintendo exclusives tend to stay as exclusives.
One thing we do have to mention though is that the physical versions of games come in small, postage stamp-sized cartridges. While this allows for some very fast loading times and perhaps more than just a bit of nostalgia, it does present a clear risk of games being easily lost due to their small size. Not only that, but the cartridges are also a clear choking hazard to young children. Nintendo has tried to alleviate this by applying a special kind of coating on each cartridge to make them taste really awful when placed on the tongue, but it doesn’t remove the fact that they can be easily swallowed. If you’d rather not deal with this kind of hassle, you can always just download your titles from the Nintendo eShop.
Paid Online Multiplayer functionality
Another information that you may want to consider before making your purchase is that the Nintendo Switch, as of this writing, requires that you pay for online multiplayer access. Up till last year, this was not the case, with early adopters being able to enjoy free online multiplayer gaming until September 2018. So, if you kept the faith that Nintendo wouldn’t join Sony and Xbox in charging for online multiplayer functionality, we’re sorry to have to break it to you like this.
That being said, the barrier of entry is quite low: only USD 19.99, or PHP 1024, for an entire year. Yes, this is in contrast to USD 59.99 (PHP 3127) for a one-year subscription to Playstation Plus or Xbox Live Gold. More than that, you also get some neat extras with your subscription, such as free access to Nintendo Entertainment System games, a save data cloud function, as well as special offers.
Okay battery life
There’s also the fact that the Nintendo Switch’s battery, while beefy in its own right, leaves a lot to be desired in terms of battery lifetime. This is no fault of its own, though—some games, especially first-party titles, just demand a lot out of the gaming device. With full brightness and high volume settings, the most graphic-intensive games will net you a solid 3 hours’ worth of game time. That’s not too bad, but definitely a bit short, especially if you’re the long-haul gamer type. You can extend it up to 6 hours if you dial down some settings and play something a bit more battery-friendly, such as a 2D indie title, but that’s not really optimal, is it? For the best results, pack an external battery with your Switch.
Final verdict: A gaming must-buy in every sense of the word
Nintendo has always gambled with its approach to delivering console gaming. This worked out for them with the Nintendo Wii, but failed them hard with the Wii U. With the Nintendo Switch, however, this is nothing but another winner, and it definitely deserves a place in your gadget collection as one of the best portable gaming devices ever made. Definitely get it if you’re into portable gaming at all, or if you can’t live without Nintendo first party titles.
If you’re getting a Nintendo Switch for yourself or for a loved one, make it a hassle-free affair by getting it from Poundit! Not only do we offer safe door-to-door delivery and provide full manufacturer warranty for everything you purchase from us, we also guarantee that every item we sell is 100% brand new and authentic.
What’s more, if you use the voucher code REVIEW201910 upon checking out your Nintendo Switch order, you’re entitled to a PHP 882 discount on your purchase! And yes, before you ask, this voucher code still applies even if the item reviewed in this article is marked down, on sale, on promotion, or bundled with other products. Make sure to hurry, though, as the code is only valid from up to 30 days after this article’s date of publishing!