The Nintendo Switch: Australian Impressions

The Nintendo Switch: Australian Impressions
Image: Kotaku
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So we’ve had the Nintendo Switch around the office this week. We’ve had the chance to run around Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And we’ve had time to plug it in and out of the dock, play with the Joycons and mess around with the menu.

But has that changed anyone’s opinions on the Switch? I took it around the office to give everyone a test drive, and here’s what we thought.

Mark Serrels, Kotaku managing editor

When the Switch arrived in the office I was excited. I’m always excited for new consoles, but particularly new Nintendo consoles. It’s just the design, the feeling of turning them on for the first time — it’s all very unique and experiential.

The Switch is no exception. I got excited by how small the box was — not the console, the actual box it comes in.

It’s so strange, I’m used to console boxes being bigger.

It’s almost more like a handheld box, which really speaks to the function of this console — what it’s for and how we’ll use it. The Nintendo Switch itself, the screen and the controllers, is way smaller than I expected. This took a bit of getting used to, but now I like it. I worried it might be a little too clunky to take on public transport. I don’t have that worry any more.

I’m hyped about having premium Nintendo experiences on the move.

I’ll be buying a Switch day one. I’m looking forward to living with it, and having it be part of my daily routines. I have a feeling it’s going to transform a lot of my gaming habits for the better.

Alex Walker, Kotaku editor

The Switch dock, with a small tub of International Roast Garbage(TM) coffee for comparison.

There’s a huge difference between holding a Switch out of the box versus playing with one at a preview event, when it has a massive security latch bolted onto the back.

It’s a light piece of hardware. And it’s a small piece of hardware in the flesh. Until you have that in your hands after a few hours, lying in bed or on the couch, it doesn’t become entirely clear.

I don’t want to be playing Zelda on a big TV. I want to take it to the park while the sun goes down. I want it in the kitchen while a pot bubbles away on the stove. In the pub while I wait for a schnitty to come out.

With only Breath of the Wild to play before launch, it’s hard to say whether I prefer the Switch in tablet mode or on a big screen. Zelda certainly looks better on the tablet: shapes seem a little sharper, textures a little clearer. You still have all the standard issues to deal with – the odd texture popping in, occasional frame rate drops, low anti-aliasing – but it’s a prettier, more robust version of the game than what you’d get on the Wii U.

And let’s face it, it’s also a goddamn Zelda game. Which looks beautiful, by the way.

On a more practical level, the Switch OS is nice and snappy. The touchscreen feels responsive, although I would have preferred it if Nintendo shipped the switch with a protective film (the same way smartphones do). It’s a fingerprint magnet, and even after a day’s use the screen looks quite muddied. It’ll be interesting to see how it holds up over time. Screenshots capture real fast too; although it’d be nice if you could plug your Switch into the PC via USB-C and get them off the internal storage that way.

Having taken it out of the packaging, I’m also a little worried about build quality. There’s a quirk with the Joycons where they sound like they’ve latched in, but they’re actually not until you push them a fraction further. There’s also been queries raised over syncing issues with the Joycons, and the thumb sticks on both Joycons feel like they’ll wear out real fast.

I’m not fully comfortable with the way my right thumb hovers over the thumb stick and buttons on the right thumbstick. It’s weird having my thumb hover over, or be slightly touching, the stick while I’m trying to run or climb something in Zelda. And the kickstand seems fairly useless at this point – it doesn’t recline back near enough to be useful.

For now, I’m excited to be able to play Zelda in bed, Mario Kart on the train, and all the other indies along the way. But a real test of the Switch is yet to come: how effective the local multiplayer functionality is and how well the online infrastructure holds up. And let’s not talk about the Virtual Console stuff.

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Campbell Simpson, Gizmodo editor

Image: Kotaku

I didn’t know what to expect when Alex handed me the Switch to try out. I’d really only seen front-on photos of it, or marketing shots. When I held it for the first time, I had these thoughts, in this order:

Huh, it’s wide. Huh, it’s thin. Huh, this screen is quite nice. The joysticks are weirdly placed. Why have the A and B buttons been switched? (To be fair, the A and B thing is just a hangover from not having played a Nintendo console since the Wii, having been seduced by the Xbox One S.)

It’s well put together, and the idea is very cool, but … in person, I still remain to be convinced of the utility of the Switch. I’m going to wait for some more games to be released before I consider committing hard-earned dollars to it. I don’t have a need for it personally, because I live on my PC or I’m actively travelling (driving) rather than passively (train or bus) or I’m at home in front of a console, so the extra value that the portable Switch has is lost on me a little.

Graphics and raw horsepower? More than enough; enough that it’s not a problem worth your attention. For a handheld, it’s gutsy. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the graphics in Breath of the Wild when I was playing the Switch as a handheld. When it was docked into the cradle — with the subsequent boost to processing power — it seemed to run a little smoother, although maybe that was the TV’s refresh rate at work.

Pulling the Switch out of its dock using the Joy-Cons? Very cool. Every other thing to do with the Joy-Cons? Not very cool. Clipping them into the Joy-Con grip was finicky, taking them off the Switch was finicky. Everything seems reasonably well built, but I’m confident someone will snap off that off-centre rear flip-out stand within a week of launch.

We’ve got a whole bunch of screenshots from the UI and Breath of the Wild to share, but the Switch needs a system update to support microSDXC cards (think 32GB and larger). And you can’t get the system update until tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted.


  • Biggest issues seem to be joy cons or the kickstand. As someone who will probably play this almost exclusively docked with a pro controller, I have no qualms about picking up my pre order tomorrow.

    • I harped on about it in the Review article, I’d like to know more about the heat and fan efforts, the other consoles (and my PC) get very hot and make a lot of noise, when strained.

    • The flimsy kickstand is actually designed as a sacrificial point of failure to save the console chassis should it be docked with the stand open.

      As long as it works, its flimsiness doesn’t concern me.

      I hope a bit of gain boost adds more range to the joy-cons. I get that as a portable it doesn’t need house-wide coverage, but the wiimote seems to have loads of range on older BT tech.

  • My biggest concern with this article is why the fuck Alex has a can of dirt concentrate, aka International Roast?? Do you share your coffee with people you don’t like? I demand answers!

  • Nintendo and Nestle’ could get together for sponsorship deals.

    “We are pleased to announced our new joint venture: The Nes-Quik”

  • Reading all of these reviews has sent me on a topsy turny journey as to whether I buy the Switch or not.

    Two weeks ago I was convinced I was going to trade in my Xbox One and all of the games to try and pick up the Switch, a week ago I had convinced myself I didn’t need it and that I wouldn’t buy it at all.

    Now after reading these reviews, I’m thinking it’s better to hang on until the fallow period is out and pick it up when there’s a bigger catalogue of games.

    • Doesn’t hurt to wait a while. See if six months down the track updates and game releases haven’t swayed opinion.
      Might be worth keeping in mind that Kotaku’s release reviews of the PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U advised none were must have devices, it took a minimum of a year before their opinion changed.

        • Nintendo rarely discount their consoles. The Wii U is like $429 with 4 games at EB right now. Hopefully they throw a bundle or two together at some of the retailers though.

          • No, but places like Target and Big W will often sell them below cost during their toy sales to get you into their store. Not to mention 6 month layby

  • The touchscreen feels responsive, although I would have preferred it if Nintendo shipped the switch with a protective film (the same way smartphones do). It’s a fingerprint magnet, and even after a day’s use the screen looks quite muddied.This is probably one of the biggest disappointments for me, the switch (heh) from resistive to capacitive touch screens. Would’ve liked for it to at least have had a slot with a stylus.

    • You don’t need a resistive touch screen to support a stylus though. There are alternatives like the Wacom digitiser tech used in Samsung’s Galaxy Note phones.

      In general, I prefer capacitive touch since it registers with a simple touch rather than having to apply pressure to the screen. It makes it a lot easier to carry out gestures.

      • I don’t think I’ve used a capacitive stylus that wasn’t awful to use, but I guess there must be some that exist out there somewhere. Mainly I hate capacitive because of fingerprints, but also because my fingers are haunted and just don’t work with them. Triggers as a touch when I’m not actually touching the screen, thinks I’m not touching when I am, absurdly hard to actually hit the spot I want half the time. Resistive is great because you don’t need a special (and pricey?) stylus to use them, half the time if it’s just a quick thing I use a quick jab with my fingernail instead. No smudge, guaranteed registration, guaranteed accuracy. Perfect.

  • Presumably the problem with SDXC cards is the exFAT file system rather than the size. If they don’t get the update out in a reasonable time, reformatting a card as VFAT might do the trick.

      • The specification for SDHC cards say that they should use the FAT32 file system, which can be traced back to Windows 95, and in turn is a relatively trivial modification to the older DOS file systems (FAT16 and FAT12). In contrast, the SDXC spec instead says that cards should use the exFAT file system, which Microsoft created in 2006.

        With that said, all the cards present to the operating system as block devices that could hold any file system. A device that supports SDHC and SDXC cards will need to support both the FAT32 and exFAT file systems, and will most likely be able to read either file system on either card type.

        If Nintendo hasn’t finished the SDXC support, then the missing feature is probably the exFAT file system driver, which is why I suggested reformatting the newer cards as a possible work around.

  • hey! Leave my beloved International Roast alone. Two spoons of that with no sugar or milk and just hot water……heaven.

    *flame shield up*

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