The day one update is now available for the Nintendo Switch. It's a quick download that adds some basic functionality to the system. It sets the eshop live, complete with nine listed games. And, oh no... friend codes.
The biggest effect of the update is that it lets the Switch go online. That enables it to pull in stories for its news feed, a stack of promo stories that are visible from the moment you boot up the system:
The news page looks like this. Not much about current events. Sorry, folks, if you were expecting politics coverage or something:
Being able to go online means you can go eshopping, but there aren't a lot of games to buy yet. Also, you can't use the system's screenshot capture button on the eshop, so the only way we can show you nice crisp screenshots of the eshop would be if we hooked up a capture card to the Switch. Now, wouldn't it be hilarious if the one Kotaku staffer who had access to a Switch right now in the 7am hour left his Switch power cable in the office and therefore couldn't dock the system and capture those images? And instead had to use his iphone camera? That would be a real laugher.
Here's the eshop and all of the games available now:
Wii U fans who liked the sliding puzzle that you could play when loading that system's eshop will be crushed to know there is no shop-loading game this time. There is, however, the game of inputting your password in each time you go to the shop. I'm turning that option off right now!
The eshop music, I must note, is the sound of silence. No jingle. No nothing. Bummer.
As with the rest of the Switch's system software, the eshop is very fast. Clicking around is snappy, and downloads for purchases kick in swiftly. In just a few seconds, I was able to merge my leftover funds from my 3DS/WiiU account to my Switch. I bought Snipperclips, and it downloaded in the background briskly.
When you're first going online, you're prompted to input a Nintendo Account username and password. That will set you up for some promotional info about the forthcoming online services for the system, but the fine print is a reminder that almost all of it is coming in the future.
Nintendo introduced lengthy friend codes a few systems ago, requiring gamers who wanted to connect with each other to each put in a code and accept the other's request. This may have made the system safer for kids to use, but it also made it very cumbersome for players to add each other. Each player had to tell the other player their code in person or over email or over the phone or via telegram and then send the request. Who can remember a random 12-digit string? Nintendo dropped Friend Codes with the Wii U. Well, so much for that. Probably that's what kept the Wii U from being a success. So they're back:
Update - 7:00pm: We've finally been able to test the friend code system and were pleased to discover that only one person needs to input the friend code. My colleague put my code into his system to make a friend request. I received the request and accepted. I did not have to enter his code. Not as bad as feared!
Also, Nintendo has outlined some non-friend-code ways that Switch users will be able to link up. In a statement shared with Polygon, they said:
Several methods can be used to add friends as quickly and easily as possible: · By linking Nintendo Switch to your Nintendo Account, your friends from Miitomo and Super Mario Run will appear as friend candidates so you can easily send them a friend request. Also, we are planning it so that friends from social networking services will be listed as candidates, too.
In the future, you will be able to send a friend request to friends associated with your NNID (Wii U/Miiverse) and Nintendo 3DS.
In some games you will be able to use an in-game interface to send friend requests.
You can send friend requests to those who have played with you recently.
You can establish a friend through local wireless communication.
You can also send a friend request by using a friend code.
When adding someone via friend code, leave off the "SW", which is just there for show.
It does seem like you can add people without friend codes if you've played games with them. Hopefully that means you can matchmake with folks, have a good time playing with them and add them. Until we've got Switch games we can play online, though, we can't test that.
The "suggested friends" option at the bottom of the preceding screenshot has the following blurb: "Users who may become friends with you will be listed here. Linking smartphone apps such as Miitomo or Super Mario Run with your Nintendo Account will display your friends from those apps here." That does suggest Nintendo will use Nintendo Accounts to build a shared friends list across different devices connects to the same Nintendo Account, which would be nice.
With friend codes come friend settings and a little more nuance about how your friends can see what you're doing.
The system update also lets you start using micro SD cards and enables sharing of captured screenshots to social media. I only tried the former, so far, eschewing the temptation to blast Twitter and Facebook with all my Switch gaming screenshots. Instead, I copied some to a micro SD card.
It's easy to get shots off the machine and into... Kotaku posts. One of the following shots is from 1 2 Switch, and one is from Zelda. You figure out which is which:
Thanks to the update, you can make Miis for the Switch, either from scratch or from some pre-set lookalikes. Seems like you can also ferry them from other systems via an Amiibo, which is how I hope to grab the one I've been using for years. Miis aren't prominent in the system interface, but presumably they will be accessible in various games. Correction - 7:00pm: The Mii stuff was there pre-update, a peer says. My apologies.
Not much else jumps out. There is no on-board log of how long you've played your games, something that was in 3DS and Wii U. There's no trophy or achievement system. There's no Mii plaza. Nintendo has gone feature-light, which at least has the benefit of making the system run really fast. Of course, the system will surely evolve over time.