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I'm just going to buy one ship a month...

Matt's One Week Switch Review

Disclaimer: The following is written by an opinionated oaf and should not be taken particularly seriously. If you get offended, it's your own fault for reading it and taking shit seriously. No facts were considered, opinions withheld, spelling checked, and certainly no proof reading occured. Read at your own risk.
I think what that really gets to me about the Switch is the complete lack of support for Bluetooth audio. I never imagined that on an under-powered, over-priced games console, no support for Bluetooth headphones would be the single most negative, but I think it speaks volume for the lack of thought which seems to have gone into the Switch. When the console has Bluetooth already, albeit an older standard, it screams Laziness to me.
 
This probably isn't going to go down well....
 
1 week with the Switch. I've said this before, but I'll say it again as it may be relevant to "opinion". I didn't really care if I got a Switch or not. The fact I have one can be traced back to last year when I stumbled on the Gameseek £198.50 Switch pre-order and decided to take a punt, figuring I'd see how it ended up being once officially priced (I was thinking lower). I didn't realise the money would be taken at the time I pre-ordered. 
 
So Nintendo give it a ridiculous £279.99 price point. That's more than a PS4, which is crazy - yes I know it's a handheld as well, but in terms of raw power, it's kind of a joke imo. The specs are pretty much in line with an underclocked nVidia Shield.
 
Which is ridiculous. 
 
I digress, we'll get to the lack of power soon enough. Back to "How Matt got a Switch"....
 
Gameseek come out and say they'll honour the thousand or so pre-orders they took. Now, there's no way I'd pay two hundred and eighty quid for a Switch. Even at £198.50 I thought it too much, but relatively speaking it was a bargain.
 
So fuck it, I kept my pre-order, and come launch date, the Switch landed.
 
 
I love new hardware. Opening the box, seeing it in the flesh, the first time holding a new piece of kit, these are the moments tech geeks enjoy. Yet I wasn't my usual climbing-up-the-walls self while waiting for the Switch to be delivered. And when it did arrive, I wasn't bouncing around with excitement. 
 
I am not exactly sure why. Maybe because the Wii was of zero interest to me, and the WiiU underwhelmed, I just wary of another Nintendo machine I didn't really get a lot from. Maybe the hideous Nintendo prices - I may have the console at a relatively good price, but I know long term Nintendo first party AAA titles don't come down in price so I don't usually pick up a lot from them - I find it hard paying full price for a title, I usually wait a few months and pick them up at halfprice. The really high buy in of accessories for the Switch did not sound good - £65 for the ProController, £90 for a second dock. Ninety fucking quid. Nintendo are taking the piss.
 
The launch titles looked lacking. Obviously there was Zelda, and again, I'll get to that in time. Other than that? Snipperclips looked a nice little digital title, Fast RMX racing I had the "original" on the WiiU so figured I'd get that as it was improved with loads more tracks. I wanted Bomberman but forty fucking quid for Bomberman, in 2017? Which runs at 30fps.
 
Bomberman, in 2017, runs at 30fps.
 
I'm pretty sure I could put together a decent enough clone in Unity in a month, running 60fps. On a bloody mobile phone.
 
In the end, I opted to get the ProController due to reports of signal issues on the "left JoyCon", and due to the nature of my lounge, the consoles sit a bit behind me to the right, away from the wall mounted TV. I felt sick paying £65 for a controller, but as you'll find out, that's turned out to be the best thing I purchased.
 
I keep losing focus here.....
 
The console arrived. I opened the small box. I'd never seen a real Switch before, and right away I was surprised at how the small screen is. I don't know what I expected in fairness. The screen itself is nice when running. 
 
With the Joycons mounted on the side, I found the device as a handheld a little unwieldy. I didn't sit comfortably in my hands, and I find myself getting cramp pretty quickly - then again I get cramp on all the handheld consoles, that's why I always get extra grips for put on them. The total width of the Switch as a handheld is also a bit of a push for me, I didn't think it was well balanced and then I realised that there's quite a bit of flex between the Joycons and the Switch screen. I'm not exactly wrestling the console around, I'm not going out of my way to bend anything, but that bit of flex isn't great.
 
The Joycons themselves, well the analogues are probably the best on any handheld device, but compared to a regular gamepad, I think they are poor. Not a great range of motion, motion is janky and not smooth, and stick-click are far too sensitive. When taken off the console and put in the included controller-grip, they become more manageable with a proper "grip" in your hands allowing better small motor-skills, without having to worry about holding the entire console [as you do in handeld mode].
 
Another Joycon configuration is using them one per hand as a split controller. This is wonderfully comfortable, but again I find fine control isn't great. Maybe it's an age thing Smile Without the opposite hand to apply a natural opposing force, I find thumb control not as accurate. As I said, that may well just be me.
 
The final Joycon configuration is two player, one each held horizontally. Like a mini SNES controller. This works well enough, maybe because you have 2 hands on the controller now. It's cramped but not uncomfortably so, and having 2 player "on the go" gaming will, undoubtedly, get some use in the future Smile Everyone knows how I love co-op gaming.
 
A concern while the Joycons are off the device, is the little grip / wrist strap / L1 R2 adaptors you slide on and off. The idea is simple enough, slide the Joycons off the Switch, slide on this little grips to make the Joycons a bit larger. Trouble is, you can put them on upside if you're not concentrating. There's no mechanic to stop this, it slides on upside down just as easily as it slides on the correct way.
 
And once upside down, it gets stuck! I got mine off with a bit of brute force, but it wasn't easy and not the amount of power many people could apply. Looking on YouTube, there are some suggestions to get it off with a small screwdriver pushing down some latch. Great design there for the kids, Nintendo. The whole console has this air of Beta Hardware. It feels like a great idea which were never fully thought out.
 
Then there's the table stand on the Switch. Mine is stuck. I need a knife to pop it open. Other people report there one is loose and hangs off. The Micro SD card sits behind it, so it is needed as a cover.
 
Should mention, due to some bollocks design choices, the Switch charges on the bottom of the device, which means Tabletop mode, you can't charge it. All they had to do was put the USB-C plug at the top of the device, and have you dock the Switch upside down. Probably solved!
 
A big, big concern is the dock. Before I get to the main issue, I would like to remind everyone that a spare dock (which would be handy around the average household, this is a portable machine, it would be nice to be able to dock it on more than one TV) costs £90. Nintey fucking pounds. And guess what? It's a piece of shit. The plastic is cheap. Online people have cracked them open, and inside the poor shell is a little circuitboard which I believe does some funky thinks so the USB-C can output HDMI as well. Add a PSU to it, how the fuck do Nintendo warrant £90? 
 
And to top it all off, the dock has perhaps the biggest design flaw of the whole thing. You slide the Switch inside the dock, and my first thought was "This is going to scratch the screen!" And sure enough, a quick look online and people have scratched their screen. After a few days. Sure, Nintendo fans are blaming "careless users" but it's a design fuck up. Why not a dock that folds up? Why even have a front cover on the dock in the first place? Why not may it a cm wider and put a cover / some material on it that won't scratch?
 
And due to some wonderful quality control, some people have docks that are narrower on the top than the bottom, making scratching more likely. Mine isn't great, and there are worse examples out there. My solution for the time is gaffertape, which has been scientifically proven to solve absolutely any problem you may ever have. I have a tempered glass screen protector coming, but I really should not have to get one.
 
It looks like a professional solution.
 
 
 
 
I'm not sounding too enamoured am I?
 
The OS is as barebone as it gets. Games on a screen, that's your lot. Yes, a browser and media players will inevitably come later, but come on, I really think they should be standard AT LAUNCH. And I'm saying this, I tend to scoff at people who put media functionality as a reason to get a games console, but in this case, it's a fucking tablet device without any tablet functionality. In 2017.
 
And so the lack of Bluetooth headphones. It's a fucking portable, handheld device with Bluetook. And you have to plug headphones it. That really gets to me, for whatever reason. It's stupid, it's an oversight, it's ill-conceived, it should be there as it's such an obvious omission.
 
Ever get the feeling Nintendo put the console out this financial year for reasons? If they'd given it 6 months, they could have resolved many of these issues, and had a better launch line up.
 
I guess I best get on with the games, which I'm going to list in the order I played them.
 
Fast RMX Racing
 
Seems I either forgot why I only played this twice on the WiiU, or I believe I read somewhere that the devs acknowledged the failings of the WiiU version and were fixing it?
 
Either way, I regret buying this, and let me tell you, this game should be right up my alley. A futuristic racing game, without spammy weapons, and with a bit of ship colour swapping going on to keep you on your toes. The description sells itself immediately.
 
The game handles much like Wipeout, which is no bad thing. But the tracks, imo, are too narrow. I prefered Wipeout on the PSVita to the PS3 because of the wider tracks. Maybe I'm crap at this type of game these days, but I don't want to scraping walls too often. I like blasting down a track passing over vehicles, space to move. Sure, some narrow sections, but not all the time.
 
My main issue with the game, and it was the same issue I had with the WiiU version, is the utterly bollocks design decision to put obstructions on the track. You're travelling at, what, 600+mph? Something crazy. And there's shit on the track. One track has a few a walking mechanical creature things, clonking their way over the tracks like cattle. It's a crazy design decision, as they move, you can come round a blind corner straight into a massive leg with no chance to get round. Then there's a tubular track, like F-Zero had, and you can go over the a hill section to come face to face with a fucking wall. Now, when you get in the groove and you successfully navigate through a few pillars, it's very nice, but I feel these kind of segments should be shortcuts for skill players, not the "general track area".
 
The game it littered with bad design decisions. Seems if you get hit at all by a car boosting, you spin round a few times and lose loads of speed. It's frustrating, everything happens very quickly, you can't prevent getting hit up the arse. When you crash at these crazy speeds, there' no sense of impact, your car pretty much stops dead and teleports out of existence. It's a dull way to crash.
 
I like the colour swapping mechanic; red and blue, your vehicle switches between the two which is used for boost pads and jump pads. I'm not keen on the jump pads, but I can see how they work.
 
Somewhere in here is a good game. Make the cars turn a bit quicker, make the tracks wider, lose the bullshit obstacle nonsense, and fix boost collision issue.
 
As it stands, I can't recommend it. Should have waited for RedOut which I don't own on the PC and I think is out on the Switch really soon.
 
Next I played....
 
Snipperclips.
 
One of those games you play and immediately think, "How fucking obvious an idea is this!" 2 player co-op, though you can play it with one, and there is a 4 player mode mixed in there as well which I have not touched. Puzzle solving with a friend, sounds like fun.
 
And it is. Now I have only spent a small amount of time on it, but the concept is wonderful (cut patterns out of your friend!) and in the first section of levels I have played there is already a load of variation and invention in the type of puzzles you face. Control is a bit spotty, though this may well be the twitchy Joycon analogues getting in my way. If there is one game I'd recommend for the Switch, this would be it. It's a nice little downloadable title.
 
 
"You'd only recommend one game?" Above all else, yep, Snipperclips to me encapsulates what I see the Switch being about. Of course there's a monster title out for the Switc already. I'm just not gushing all over it.. This really is not going to end well....
 
Zelda: Breath Of The Wild.
 
Scoring 10 out of 10 with pretty much every legitimate reviewer, you ever get the feeling that you must be doing something wrong? That's me with Zelda. I can only assume I'm not getting it.
 
Or that reviewers and The Whole Internet are on a nostalgia trip and overlooking some of the many issues I have with this title.
 
Let's start of positively. It looks very nice, especially Handheld. I like the cartoon styling, possibly because it is shading the characters and environment in a way I have been trying to get Shaderforge working in my own little game (and failing so far!). The lanscape is large and memorable, the environment has the "best" grass I've seen, certainly from a stylistic opinion - I really like running through it, seeing it part ways; the mist on the ground, the lighting, the enivornment is very nice.
 
It falls apart somewhat in Console mode, where the machine can only manage 900p and framerate tanks in certain areas. First gen title I know, but the flagship title is running sub-HD with significant frame drops? And people thought this machine would be getting third party support with the latest Current Gen titles? Yeah, good luck there.
 
I've pumped a good chunk of time into this. 15 hours maybe 20? Unfortunately the game is not clicking with me, at all. I'm not Hate-Playing it at this stage, I'm putting more and more time in desparate for it to Click so I can enjoy it like, apparently, everyone else in the known universe. I want to love the game, instead I'm playing a game full of jank and frustration.
 
A lot has been said concerning breakable weapons. I've read it's there is add realism, but in a game where I can pause to instantly replenish health, change armour, and I'm carrying about 3 tonnes of gear at any point in time, I really cannot buy in to the Realism perspective. I understand breaking weapons keeps you using other weapons that are dropped, I like that concept, but the reality is different. Weapons break far too quickly. Far, far too quickly. If they lasted 3 orr 4 times as long, I think I'd like the system. As it stands, having to switch weapons mid battle is a chore and breaks the flow of the combat.
 
Assuming the combat has flow. I find it disjointed and frustrating. I get one-shot killed all the fucking time. I didn't think I'd be plying Dark Souls here. I probably just suck at the game, and a quick look online seems to indicate that I am indeed playing the game incorrectly - I should be loading up on Elixirs, which I can make with the shit tonne of ingredients I have collected along my way. That's great and all, but mixing food doesn't add meals to a recipe book, it's just not user friendly. Icould look online but I should not have to. I may well have missed something entirely in the game.
 
I keep hoping it will all click. I must just be playing it wrong, that's the only plausible explanation. It can't possibly be that everyone else is overlooking the jank....
 
Walk up to a chest, open it up, new weapon inside... "Your inventory is full".... chest automatically closes. I have to go press +, navigate the clumsy menu (seriously, why do L and ZL do the same thing in these menus, why can't one of these be used to fast flip between Types of items?), select an item, drop it, then re-open the chest, get told the same shit I was told 10 seconds ago, then grab the item. It's clumsy, it's not immediate. You should be able to drop items via the quick weapon select menus, but no.
 
As I've said, I find the combat hard. The camera does not help one bit. So basically, ZL is aim (oh, completely forgot to mention, the Switch has NO analogue triggers, all for are digital.... arghhhhh). Nothing new there. In a third person game, when you press Aim, the aim camera should move to face the direction you are looking at. It should NOT move the camera to face the direction the character is facing. It's fucking ridiculous.
 
I'm writing this screaming, "IS IT JUST ME??" I don't understand how this shit is ignored. I'm astonished people making this game didn't fix it, maybe you get used to it.
 
I imagine most of my menu-navigation-kit-management issues are related to the game being designed for the WiiU. I imagine the gamepad was used for menu navigation, and that was quickly ditched when the Switch version became the focus.
 
So yeah, Zelda.... I want to like it. I was fighting some mini-boss in the Zora domain, and getting no-where. I got through EVERY WEAPON I have, and only get him down to 1/4 health before my weapons have all broken. Bombs don't seem to do much effect, and I can get insta-killed. Solution was to mix up some meals, turns out even a low grade Defense boost meal cuts damage down hugely. Kind of broken.
 
Oh fuck I should quickly bitch about the Lightning. The game leans on the environment. You are hunting, you can't climb much in the rain, that kind of thing. I find this aspect interesting, even though it' undercooked (if they are going that way, they should slow down the passing of time, and add hunger an thirst, that kind of thing). A great example of this janky gameplay I keep speaking of, seemingly in isolation, is Lightning. Heavy rain, you start seeing lightning strikes - it looks great by the way. Then your armour / weapon will start sparking, and maye 10 seconds later you get insta-killed by a lightning strike. The solution is to take off all your armour and weapons, but here the game illusion breaks down greatly for me. You have to paused the game, undress, go through a few menus to take off everything, and then stand there in just your pants. It's a slow process, and I think completely unnecessary for the game - a poor implementation of an intereting idea. See, I'm taking off all my metal items, but where the fuck are they going? I'm still carrying them.
 
For a game that seems to want to push the environment in a "realistic" way, these gameplay tropes contradict it too much.
 
It must just be me. Every other fucker loves the game.
 
I really like the gliding mechanic, it's nice floating through the air, it could do with a way to get a bit move elevation, like diving then pulling back up. So close.
 
I often find the closer something gets to be brilliant, the more daft little issues frustrate me. Zelda could be brilliant. It's got all the ingredients there. I just can't overlook the jank. A better menu system and quick weapon select system (how about weapon priority so in combat, if a weapon breaks, it auto switches out), more weapon durability, weapon repair, recipe book, more endurance (it drains too fast imo)..... I think the game holds back my enjoyment by being stingy, just when things should be getting brilliant the numbers run out and you have to stop doing whatever you were doing. Too many limitations in an open world game....
 
Look, it's a good game, some wonderful things going on and there are loads of little touches to make you smile. It just could have been much better for me with some changes.
 
 
End of April I think the Switch will be loads of fun - Mario Kart 8 comes out! I've played it quite a bit recently on CEMU and it looks awesome at 4k downsampled to 1440p, far better than it looked on my WiiU. I'm mainly looking forward to the "new" (actually, it's the original) version of Battlemode, instead of the shit they put in the WiiU version. Love battlemode, and I can see the Switch tabletop mode being great to have a quick 2 player game on.
 
Other than that... I can see the Switch being a great console. In the future. In a hardware revision. It's always going to be underpowered, that's a real shame, but I like the idea of a portable, local-multiplayer machine.
 
But I really can't recommend it at the moment. There's not enough software on it to overlook the glaring hardware issues, and it's too expensive.