The Crescendo of Nintendo? A Tour Of The Nintendo Switch And Related Accessories
Electric Travels | Jul 5, '21
Like a fine wine, the Nintendo Switch seems to only get better with age. A masterclass in combining portability, enjoyability and modernity, to call the Switch a satisfying device would be selling it short.
I still remember my first gaming experience back in the Summer of 2004. I was in the back of my parents car driving around the British coastline, playing Need For Speed on my two-button Nintendo Gameboy Advance – I was happy as Larry. A decade and a bit later, on March 3rd 2017, the long awaited Nintendo Switch came out; a device that, compared to the Advance, was ironically far, far more sophisticated. As I write this today, over 85 million of us have bought a Nintendo Switch: one of the most popular machines of its kind. I hadn’t played with a handheld gaming console since my Gameboy saga, so when I picked up the Switch for the first time I was just gobsmacked, blown away by the prowess of this device – I was playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt whilst at the dinner table. It didn’t feel quite real.
Over two years later, on the 20th September 2019, the Switch Lite was released – a console capable only of Handheld play whereas its sister console could be switched between a triad of TV, Tabletop (tablet) and Handheld modes. The Switch utilises a Docking station allowing it to fluently link up with a TV through HDMI cabling, a kickstand wherein it can rest on a tabletop and act as a tablet and of course it can be held in the hands of the user as well – a thoroughly versatile product capable of being used virtually anywhere, certainly worthy of the label Switch.
How does the Nintendo Switch look?
Feeling like an excited kid on Christmas Day, as we open up the box and packaging we are immediately struck by the elegant design of the Nintendo Switch, possessing a professional looking matte finish in various vibrant colours – my favourite being the neon green. In our grasp the device is not cumbersome or heavy as many handheld devices are, sitting well in the hand whilst being light enough in weight that the owner might take precautions so as not to bend it, though the risk of doing so is not really realistic. The reduction in weight leaves the mind only to focus on the game itself rather than any potential awkwardness in handling. The screen is deftly hugged by two satisfyingly slide-on-slide-off slots named Joy-Cons that contain the buttons used for actually (or recording using the Capture feature) playing the game whilst acting as separate entities entirely – a really inventive concept. These nifty little things can be removed from the screen and metamorphose into two mini-controllers capable of operating simpler games like Mario Golf: Super Rush, or they can be attached to a Grip frame to create a quasi-controller – a halfway between the standard Joy-Con arrangements and the Pro Controller. The pioneering design of the Joy-Con effectively allows all gaming preferences and needs to be met, elucidating further why the Nintendo Switch logo echoes the Karmic Ying and Yang symbol; a dualistic concept perhaps used in this instance to convey the idea that every sum of the Switch works together to create one marvellous whole – that opposing elements can operate as one – or perhaps I am a romantic who likes to over-analyse logos? Who knows. The fact that Joy-Con doesn’t possess a traditional D-Pad might to begin with be a little perplexing, but once we consider that each half of the controller can be handily split and used individually we can understand the reasons behind the D-Pad’s absence. If the D-Pad is a make-or-break scenario for you, take a look at the Switch Lite which does bring a D-Pad to the table, quite literally if you use the Switch in Tabletop mode. Each half of the Joy-Con contains a controversially placed (but only on first glance) Analog stick and four A-B-Y-X buttons, I found the positioning of the Analog sticks to start with slightly unnatural due to my years of conditioning to the ever-so-slightly differing Xbox controllers, but my brain quickly followed suit; a day’s effort for a lifetime of portable fun. For those fiercely loyal to the traditional makeup of the Xbox or Sony controller, the aforementioned like-styled Nintendo Switch Pro Controller might well prove to be your saving grace.
'These nifty little things can be removed from the screen and metamorphose into two mini-controllers capable of operating simpler games like Mario Kart, or they can be attached to a Grip frame to create a quasi-controller – a halfway between the standard Joy-Con arrangements and the Pro Controller.'
What about charging and battery lives?
The fact that different Switch box colours can consequently lead to differing battery lives might present room for confusion, which is exactly why we have our Red Box editions clearly marked (coming in Red and Blue, Grey and Neon), averaging a respectable nine hours of gameplay battery life as reported by Nintendo, though keen gamers report slightly less: around 6 hours depending on the game in question. Both the Switch and the Joy-Con are charged by a now-ubiquitous USB-C lead, a respectable move from Nintendo for it encompasses a mix of recent technology, the convenience of the user and their respective budgets: not everyone has the money for replacement proprietary chargers, but most will be able to get their hands on an USB-C. We can either charge our Switch (and the Joy-Cons) by placing them together in the dock or by placing the USB-C into the Switch as we play in Handheld mode on the sofa, or we can use a Battery Pack or Charging Grip to charge our Joy-Cons alone. The only time we cannot charge is when in Tabletop mode due to the placement of the charging slot, but this should not be a huge issue for most of us. I was in fact pleasantly surprised by the Battery Pack (especially so as it even came with batteries already, good job Nintendo!) as I had expected it to be a bit clunky and awkward, but it sophisticatedly slides into the Joy-Con in much the same nifty way as the Joy-Con slots into the Switch itself. Sporting a gripped matte-Black design, the Battery Pack looks far more elegant than I had anticipated when attached to my neon pink and green Joy-Cons. I keep mine safely
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