For years, Nintendo has been trying – and at times struggling – to deliver a gaming system that can be everything for everyone. From the original incarnation of the Wii console, which to a certain degree helped introduce many consumers to the world of “augmented reality” for the very first time, to the Wii U, which looked to make the previous incarnation more portable and agile; the company’s aspirations for gaming greatness tend to be undercut by either lackluster games or downright poor functionality.
That isn’t to say that Nintendo hasn’t hit it out of the park with new gaming features in the recent past. Just this last December, the NES Classic Edition was one of the top items on most holiday shoppers’ lists, and the success of Pokemon GO and later Go Plus – AR products that Nintendo owns a minority stake in – has ensured that the gaming company has remained both relevant and profitable.
But it’s the newly unveiled Nintendo Switch that has grabbed the gaming industry’s attention of late, as this latest gaming system picks up where Wii U left off and actually succeeds in delivering all of the experiences – portable and stationary – an avid gamer seeks.
For starters, Nintendo has never been a player in the high-quality-graphics game – leave that to the Sonys and Microsofts of the world. So while the graphics may not hold a candle to the capabilities of Playstation 4 and Xbox One, that should mean little to those who bought the Switch, as gameplay has always been Nintendo’s key innovation.
The Switch improves gameplay by allowing the device to transform from a traditional hand-held system to a set-top console, via an incredibly easy-to-use docking station. The two controllers – aka Joy-Con Grips – can detach from the central console to give users a more stylish, responsive and wireless version of their previous-generation Wii-mote. The whole system actually pulls triple duty, as the console itself is basically its own standalone tablet given the Switch’s modular configuration.
What’s most remarkable is how instantaneous and seamless the gameplay is between handheld configurations and being docked. The gameplay can switch from the central tablet to the main screen almost immediately, while the system can recover from sleep mode in a matter of seconds.
Less impressive, however, are issues that are starting to pop up regarding the left Joy-Con controller. Gamers are calling out what appears to be a pretty blatant design flaw, in that the antenna within the left Joy-Con sits right next to the palm of a user’s hand when gaming, practically guaranteeing poor connectivity. Although some gamers have gone to extremes to solder a solution into their game pieces, it’s likely that a redesign will be in the cards sooner rather than later.
None of this has deterred fans from flocking to the Switch, which is on track to beat even Nintendo’s rosiest predictions. But in terms of delivering more than a gaming experience – like including streaming services like Netflix and Hulu for the set-top configuration – the Switch continues to fall short.
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