Over 2 years ago I wrote an article called "Envisioning Nintendo's Next Generation Handheld". It was what I wanted from Nintendo. I didn't believe the next handheld would also be the next console release for Nintendo as well.
Nintendo Switch feels like what the company has been working towards for years. Nintendo has been the dominant player in the handheld market for years and for them to abandon that audience and go towards a standard home console would be a mistake. While Nintendo markets Switch as a home console you can bring on the go, for me it's much more of a handheld. Playing with the Joy-Con attached directly to the console is how I've been spending the majority of my time playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Switch hardware is quite a step up from the Wii U Gamepad and 3DS. Joy-Con feel very sturdy and comfortable. The material used on the Joy-Con and back of the tablet is a huge improvement from the Wii U gamepad. Not only does it achieve a better grip but also hold less finger print and smudges. Controls on the front of the Joy-Con feel great. I'm really enjoying the new joystick positions and feel. The ZL and ZR shoulder buttons are positioned very well but I find myself really having to stretch for L and R.
The tablet portion has the same size screen as the Wii U Gamepad but visually is a huge improvement. Colors on the Wii U Gamepad looked washed out and dull. Switch's screen is vibrant and much more natural looking. The resolution has also been upgraded from 480p on the Wii U Gamepad to 720p on Switch. Viewing angles are much better on Switch which is important when playing multiplayer games. Speakers are good but don't feel like huge improvement from the Wii U Gamepad. They're plenty loud when in a quiet room but sound a bit thin. If you plan on using the device in kickstand mode, you'll want to invest in a third party stand. The kickstand works on a flat surface but having only one viewing angle is an issue.
Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the hardware. The screen was smaller than I expected but perfect for playing on the go. Joy-Con are extremely comfortable even when held separately in each hand. For added comfort, attaching the the included straps are a nice edition. I did this while playing Snipperclips with two players. The Joy-Con are small but actually very comfortable. I'll be interested in how this will feel with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I spent a little time with the Joy-Con attached to the included Grip. This worked just fine but I actually preferred playing with the Joy-Con separated.
One of the biggest issues with the Wii U and 3DS was how slow it was navigate the system. With Switch, Nintendo has taken a bare bones approach with software. There's really not much to the navigation and that is fantastic. Jumping into a game is extremely quick. When the console is in sleep mode, you can wake it up and instantly start playing a game. There's no waiting which is what I love the most about the system. Load times are minimal and there's no need to install physical games to the system. Just pop in the card and start playing. I can't stress enough how enjoyable the system is to navigate. Everything loads quickly and the design is extremely fresh for a Nintendo system.
Nintendo Switch seems like a reset for the company. They took the best aspects of their past systems and rolled them into Switch. Handheld mode is the real winner here. Taking a console game like The Legend of Zelda and being able to play it anywhere is a game changer. While not as powerful as the PS4 and Xbox One, it's tough to say if we'll see third party games from those consoles on Switch. You'll no doubt see all of Nintendo's heavy hitters on Switch and with only one platform to develop for now, it will be interesting to see what they'll be able to accomplish.
Most people will be waiting until the holidays to pick up a Switch. Like any new console, games are limited at the moment but with more being released throughout the year I believe it will be at the top of many people's lists. Bottom line, Nintendo Switch looks to be the best launch for a console in the company's history and depending on future games it might be the best console they ever released.