Nintendo, the longest-running player in the video game console space, could be ready to reclaim its former status with the release of the new Nintendo Switch platform.
The Japan-based company announced plans last week to release the console, a hybrid machine allowing play on both a television and a tablet-like device, on March 3 for $299.99. Hours after the announcement, which came along with reveals of several games slated to be released this year, Nintendo invited the media to spend 4 1⁄2 hours testing out the Switch and a host of games.
amNewYork was in midtown for the event, and here are our first impressions of the innovative game console.
ON THE GO
Taking your game from the TV screen to the Switch’s portable setup is smooth and fast.
While testing out the hotly anticipated “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” all I had to do to make the swap over to handheld was pause the game, slide the small Joy-Con controllers into both sides of the tablet sitting in the console’s dock, and lift it out. From there, simply hold the L and R buttons and press the A button, and you’re ready to play.
It’s impressive how simple it is to take your game with you on the subway or have the kiddies bring a game with them on the drive to grandma’s.
Each game takes advantage of the included Joy-Con controllers in different ways.
The Joy-Con can be used together in a base for traditional play, or they can be held separately for an original Wii-like experience. The Joy-Con can be split between two people for a co-op experience, as well. When the Joy-Con slides into the tablet, it creates an experience similar to playing on Nintendo DS or Wii U.
All setups feel fine for most games, although fighting game fans should know the Joy-Con do not offer a traditional setup for the D-pad.
The $300 price point isn’t outrageous, although no games are included in the package.
What’s more alarming are the prices for additional accessories. The Pro controller carries a $69.99 price tag, $10 more than similar devices for Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. A second set of Joy-Con will cost an alarming $79.99, and it’s $49.99 for an individual left or right Joy-Con.
Those hoping to buy a second docking station will have to forfeit $89.99, which hardly sounds worth it unless the original is gone.
Battery life on the Switch when taken away from the dock seems perfectly fine, based on estimates from the company.
“The system is capable, on a full charge, of playing for six hours,” Marc Franklin, director of public relations for Nintendo of America, told amNewYork at Friday’s event.
According to Franklin, the new “Zelda” can go for around three hours on a single charge. Given that game appears to be one of the most powerful from a graphics standpoint, that’s impressive, although Franklin stressed play style will affect battery life. He also estimated the Joy-Con could go for 23 hours off one charge.