The Nintendo Switch Premiere

Today I got to try the Nintendo Switch first. Or at least, in the grand scheme of the universe, I was probably one of the first few. Near the front of the line, at least. I got up at 5am just so I could say that. Ugh. Anyway, it was a merry little troupe that travelled to London to take part in the Nintendo Switch UK Premiere.

Tickets were given out by competition, so perhaps you know someone who went. I hope so. I hope you went, actually, because the whole event was a blast – like a micro convention entirely dedicated to the new console and probably just airlifted from E3 from the look of everything. With access to a host of new titles and a bunch of old and improved ones alongside it was genuinely thrilling to be ushered into Nintendo’s typically fantastic hype machine. Alas, even though the numbers were controlled by Nintendo it was still pretty choked. More than choked, in fact: throttled around the access to Zelda: The Breath of the Wild. Nope. I didn’t get a chance to try everything (so rarely does anyone at these things) but what I did try left me confident that the Switch has the potential to be a real success in the home and portable market.

Breath of the Wild really was the star of the show, at least as far as Nintendo need be concerned. It was a bugbear for me though; despite my efforts I didn’t get a chance to sit down with it. The lines to access it were immediately full, as you can imagine. I stood in line for an hour or so watching it, however, and it’s a testament to how good it looks that I can walk away with my appetite for it at least partially sated. I hadn’t seen anything about it before, as I missed most of the announcements, but Arms has me intrigued. Arms?! No, not the ones connected to my torso but the ones attached to the crazy, Blizzard-school-of-design looking characters who fight each other with extendable arms like Stretch Armstrong.

Speaking of, I hope to god they get that licence involved because that would be pitch perfect. Not sure it’d fit with the aesthetic though.

Arms plays a little bit like a multiplayer version of the Wii’s Punch Out, with jabs being made with a wireless controller in each hand and blocking, strafing and jumping playing deeply into the strategy of beating your opponent. The extendable arms make the sense of environment more important than a Boxing Ring, however, and even in the brief demo there were springs to bounce off of and different elevations to fight around. Movement was a bit fiddly as it’s tied to tilting the controller, but more power to anyone who is that well composed. My arms and hands tend to forget that they are being asked to do multiple things at once. A problem with motion in general, so if that’s ever been an issue for you it’s probably going to continue to be with the Switch.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe probably needs no further explanation other than that it has a battle mode, and yes you can play with (I think 8) other players locally. No split screen, that whole screen is yours! Same with Splatoon 2, if they are changing much it’s only going to be small improvements on the previous release. I suppose when a game comes out at such a high level perhaps that’s all you can expect of a sequel.

The new Mario title was shown, the same trailer we saw a couple of nights ago, boy does that look weird. Did we talk about how weird that was? I was hoping we might get a peek at something more, but instead we had 1 2 Switch. 1 2 Switch is, without question, one of “those games”. The ones you buy at launch, with maybe one or two mini-games that you might look back on fondly one day. Maybe that Milk one? But only because it makes you look like you’re masturbating. Still, it’s also one of “those games”. The one you put in the console when you want to show it off to a friend who somehow missed all the PR. It’s a technical showcase, with all of the positives and negatives. You know what to expect if you’ve played Wii Sports, Nintendoland, Playstation VR Worlds or whatever garbage Xbox put out for the Kinect.

All that said. I’m actually not sure the biggest surprise of the show was any of the software titles being shown at all.

What really surprised me was the teeny controllers you can pull off the sides of the Switch with that dumb name. Against everything I suspected, they were more a “joy” than a “con”. The happy little prisoners were my biggest reservation about the console and their price seemed like an absolute piss-take. What I’ve come to accept is that they are, at least to my appraisal, really well made little pieces of technology. Venue hosts were eager to stick them in your hand and pushed maybe a little too feverishly about the “HD rumble” they were putting out. The “HD rumble” is fucking cool, by the way, but calling it “HD rumble” is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Sure, Nintendo guy, when I move the controller round it feels like there are balls inside of it. I don’t want to admit it, but I can count the balls. That’s awesome, and I guess I’d never thought of kinetic feedback being used like that, but stop saying “HD rumble”. It’s fucking weird.

Anyway they feel great, the buttons are a little small but they’re far more comfortable than my 3DS and titles like 1 2 Switch give them a sense of life outside of being a poor half-controller destined to be abandoned for the pro controller.

So if you couldn’t tell, I feel rather positively about the Switch and I think it’s become a must buy. Which means money. So, could you maybe click on an advert or something? Pretty please?