So let's cut to the chase; if you recognize my username at all, you probably know I'm big on Nintendo by now. So to be invited into this event largely due to my current employment was a very welcome treat. My manager and I attended the event together in, interestingly not Nintendo NY store but rather a rented out hotel near NY Penn Station. At this event, we were not really treated to any sort of sit-down conference or anything you would expect from this. If anything it just felt like a bit Nintendo party where everyone could just sit down, chill and talk to each other and play Switch games together. It was very social with very friendly and approachable employees standing by to help you understand and play the games as well as some tournaments on a large screen toward the middle of the event.
So I'm guessing you want to know how it went what it all feels like, right? Let's get started.
Going into the event and seeing the device for the first time, if there is one thing to be said, it is that the Switch's tablet piece and the joycons are ultra compact. Remember the roundish and bulkier backside of the Wii U gamepad. That thickness is completely gone. The Switch for all intents and purposes is downright puny for a portable system that's more powerful than Wii U. People with larger hands might find some discomfort with the system's base controllers as the buttons themselves are also rather small. During the Breath of the Wild demo, I was given the opportunity to try the Joycons on the Switch tablet, in the charge grip accessory and completely independent like the Wiimote+nunchuk combo. I would say the most comfortable one is the Joycons and charge grip combo, which isn't to say the other two options are uncomfortable in any particular way. Unless the smaller buttons and lack of a d-pad really bug you, the charge grip combo makes for a very good alternative to the pro controller.
When using the tablet part of the Switch itself, I noticed three things in particular; the screen is very crisp, the entire thing is very light in weight for something of its size (about the same weight as an iPad?) and I could feel heat eminating from its backside. Certainly not enough that it is harmful, but I am a little concerned about overheating issues.
So I think I can confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that both the joycons and the pro controller have digital, not analog triggers. The shoulder buttons might but analog, but none of the employees seemed to know for sure. I can't even tell myself. They have an initial click, but then there is some mush to them after you press. I'm going to go with my gut instinct and say these are all digital, but for all I know the shoulder buttons function with the same pressure sensitivity as the PS2 controller.
Now then, onto the games! I'll focus on the ones I actually got to try out.
Super Bomberman R
It's Bomberman. It's multiplayer. My one concern is that the demo seemed to be running at 30fps. I hope they change this in the final release, but we'll see how it goes.
Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart 8 remains largely unchanged from its original feel on Wii U, but now item stacking is back and my god, the battle mode is fixed!! I do think charging full price for an enhanced port is a bit steep, but at the very least the upgrade itself seems more than worth it.
Definitely feels a lot like Sonic 2 but with smoother animations and dare I say superior level design. Can be played on one Joycon which leaves Tails to your second player. I was skeptical, but having played it there is certainly a ton of potential here. Easily one of the best Sonic games in years. Also, remember a few years back when Bioware claimed their Sonic game would have lots of loop-de-loop moments and it totally didn't? They're all in here. So many loop-de-loops!
This game is kind of a sleeper-hit for me. I've played Puyo, I've played Tetris and I've never once expected a crossover of the two, let alone a good one. This is a very fun puzzle game, especially in multiplayer. You can play just Puyo, just Tetris or you can play variations of them mixed together. There is one mode where you play one of the two and every thirty or so seconds it will Nintendo switch to the other. There is also a fusion mode which combines all into one game which we were advised was quite advanced and might be frustrating to people who may not be too familiar. If you're into fast paced puzzle games, this is for you and it can go up to four players at once.
Splatoon 2 feels ultra familiar and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Right after the bat it feels quite similar to the original, with some light tweaks here or there to take out the need for the Wii U gamepad. I played on the TV using a pro controller which had the gyro controls on be default (thank heaven). We lost to the portable mode players by 3% in the first round and then crushed them in the second. It was a ton of fun! The new dual guns were a ton of fun to use and the new ultimates are positively devastating. If you enjoyed the first, you're going to enjoy the sequel for sure but bear in mind that so far, not much has changed.
Fast RMX is basically a sequel to Fast Racing Neo. Shin'en's lead game designer was the employee showing off the game and helping us learn the controls. He was a very cool fellow and was very honest and upfront when I asked him some questions about the hardware. The first thing he clarified with me was that the Switch is indeed surprisingly more powerful than the Wii U, citing how real time reflections were missing in the Fast Racing Neo due to hardware constraints and bug problems. In RMX, real time reflections are in full swing and he believes that other than toning down some textures, his team can possibly get the game running four player splitscreen in native 1080p60fps. Shin'en has always been a fantastic Nintendo developer, so I would honestly expect nothing less from them. The game itself, like Splatoon 2 is very familiar to its predecessor but with tweaked mechanics, visuals and of course new levels and vehicles. Like with most of the other games, Fast RMX can be played with two Joycons, a single Joycon and the pro controller, allowing players to mix and match their preferred playstyle. If it's anything like the first (which I can confidently say it is) this is going to be a very fun racer and a good alternative to F-Zero.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Holy shit. Where to even begin with this one...
It's gorgeous visually. Model detail is clearly not as high as in some of the other Switch games but I suppose that comes with the territory in an open world game. The cel-shaded visuals are very vibrant and welcome, giving it a very Wind Waker meets Studio Ghibli feel. The press about how the game just thrusts you in is not inaccurate in the slightest. It literally throws you right in and lets you roam and discover. I was only able to play for about fifteen minutes, but in that time I met an NPC and discovered the ruins of the Temple of Time. The representative at one point had me look at the map and zoom out and showed me the demo's entire part of the map (which made up for less than 5% of the game's entire world) actually encapsulated all of Twilight Princess' map. This game is huge. Like, huge huge. The game plays and feels extremely differently from any prior Zelda. All your muscle memory from Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess and so on? Yeah forget that. You're learning a bunch of new controls and mechanics for this game. It's also fairly challenging from the get-go. I found myself dying faster than any previous Zelda before. I tried to sneak up on some Mokoblins but they wound up spotting and ganging up on me. On my second run against them I took a far more upfront approach by going directly for their archer, taking his bow and shooting the rest of them from afar, including their big burly leader, who widdled down to about half health before finishing him off with my battle axe. The combat options are pretty versatile and so far it seems to give way to player choice when taking on unsuspecting enemies. The demo ended before I could get too far out of the world, but of all the games I played, this is the one that made me antsy and left me wanting much, much more.
Edit: I did notice some brief framerate dips. It only ever seemed to happen if the camera was moving or zooming quickly, not necessarily if there was a bunch of action going on. My boss did not notice dips at all, so it might vary from player to player.
Unfortunately I missed out on trying 1 2 Switch and Arms, so no HD Rumble experience for me. :(
To conclude, I know many of you know going into this that I was all for this before it began. But looking at this as objectively as I can, the Switch is, while not without some faults, a fine piece of hardware. It's not an ultra power house but I feel it makes up for that in versatility, in options and for being very compact. Its portability will not be an issue and playing on TV works easily as well. For those of us going balls in on launch, I don't think we will see as many of the day one issues Wii U had. This is this generation's Vita; a superpowered handheld with some TV capabilities. I feel this device definitely satisfies the console and portable experience at the same time. Now it's just a matter of getting more games onto it. And with that, ends my experience with Switch in the big apple. What are your thoughts? Any questions? Please let me know what you think!