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LONG BLOG

A Shoggy Look at the Nintendo Switch (3 Weeks Later)

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     Man have I wanted to talk about The Switch! I didn't want to talk about it on day 1 because I knew I would be too busy Zelda-ing it up that whole day. I didn't want to talk about it after the first week either because I knew I would still be deep in the honeymoon period. Two weeks after launch might have been a good time to have done this but I still didn't feel ready to talk about the Switch, mainly because of how light everything still feels, what's more I hadn't set up a Japanese profile by that point. So here we are three weeks after the initial launch of the Nintendo Switch and I still feel like I'm in the honeymoon period but you know what, it's been a while since I've done a written review of anything and I can't spend all of my time writing psychedelic horror and erotica so let's talk about video games.

     I didn't pre-order the Nintendo Switch so any thoughts I had about swinging by Gamestop or Best Buy during the midnight release were quickly pushed aside: sure I could have hung out with nerds like me but I would not be getting my hands on the console that way. I slept for a few hours on the morning of the Switch launch and woke up to...well...

This is what I walked outside to

   ...at this point I had recently had a close call while going onto a highway where I hydroplaned. I managed to keep control then but I was still kinda worried about driving by this point. The drive to Target though was uneventful which is to be expected at 4 in the morning! I chose to wait at Target for two reasons: The first being that Target doesn't take pre-orders for games consoles so I would be guaranteed one if I was waiting in line (assuming there were fewer than 40 people in said line...which there weren't). The second reason being that I work at Target and I wanted to utilize my employee discount. The biggest problem I faced was the cold which didn't really effect me too much until about 6:30 or 6:45am when the sun was out but everything was still frosty. Luckily at about 7:30 Target employees brought out some coffee along with tickets for those 20+ people who showed up. Like with most other places, the store I grabbed my Switch from had significantly fewer Neon consoles than grey so I considered myself very lucky when I realized that I would be getting one of the six Neon Switch consoles that store was carrying. When I finally left Target at about 8:15am, I was the proud owner of the Nintendo Switch and a few other essentials.

Nintendo Switch Haul

     So the first major thing to bring up is this: No, I have not tasted any of the Nintendo Switch carts that I have purchased (not pictured: Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+) so I have no idea what they taste like or indeed, why people need to test their tastebuds like that. During that first day, I anticipated using a lot of time setting the console up. The unboxing was quick though made a little confusing by the fact that the joycon straps are on opposite sides of the box, thus making me think I'd lost one of them. I didn't think to smell the interior of the box so I can not report on the alleged "good smell" that comes from the box. The console itself had some charge before I plugged it into the wall which was very surprising for me. I was able to link my Nintendo account to the console with the Switch unplugged. The process of linking my Switch to my Facebook account was a little strange though: I don't know if it was a 1.0 issue but it wasn't until about day 2 or 3 that I was able to get my Facebook account linked up to my Switch. What happened instead was, I was taken to what seemed to be a proto-web browser which allowed me to look at Facebook and like posts. I could type out new posts but I couldn't actually post. It was a very strange sort of glitch that I haven't been able to replicate since I linked my account properly.

     I've admitted earlier that I'm still likely in the honeymoon period of Switch Ownership but even during day one I had a problem with the launch and that's the software density. If you're the kind of gamer who will only purchase physical games, you have 6 games to chose from: Breath of the Wild, 1, 2, Switch, Super Bomberman R, Just Dance, Skylanders and, Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth +. On launch it was that same list without Binding of Isaac (a game I would have rather bought on day one than Super Bomberman R but I'm getting ahead of myself). Then there's the eShop and even now the games that you can purchase are few and far between. During that first week however, if you didn't know how to open up foreign eShop accounts, this is all that was available to download from the eShop:

eShop

     Since then the eShop has ballooned a little bit but the pickings are still slim and made up of (excellent) games that you may have already played. Of these I've only downloaded Snipperclips and the then-not-released Blaster Master Zero. This brings me to a new problem with the Nintendo Switch which I foresaw from the beginning: The Nintendo Switch eShop is completely different to the 3DS, Wii U and, Wii eShop. Even if you've linked your Nintendo Network ID to your consoles, if you wanted to play Shovel Knight or any of your Virtual Console games on the Switch than you're out of luck unless you're willing to rebuy those games again. Before you jump to conclusions based on my poor choice of words in the last sentence, there is no Virtual Console on the Switch yet (though there are several Neo Geo games available to purchase). Adding credit onto your account though is just as easy as it's always been, especially if you've linked your account since it's possible to put in a card-code on the console, buy credits from the Nintendo website, Amazon, etc. If you want to add funds onto your account you can do that quickly and easily...but you can't save your credit card information onto the Switch so I guess it's not as quick and easy as it could be. This is probably for the best since it adds a new layer of security to the console: If you're giving this to a young child you won't have to worry about it buying the entire eShop. 

     Load times between digital and physical games seem to be equal but the major downside to going digital is the limited amount of space the Nintendo Switch offers. The consoles advertise having 32GB of storage space but since the operating system uses some of that, what you're left with is closer to 28GB. There are comprehensive lists of how much space each digital game will take up floating around the internet but even taking into account the sizes of the games themselves, save-data is stored on the console memory too. It's a small detail but those little things add up. Luckily the Nintendo Switch is equiped to handle microSD cards of up to 2TB in size which is great considering such a product doesn't yet exist. At present, my Switch has 23.8GB free but my number of saves and digital games are still relatively low. I don't plan on buying too many digital products but I'm absoutely considering buying a microSD card within the next two to four weeks. 

     The Nintendo Switch itself is not as sturdy as I would have liked it to be. As has been talked about in recent articles, the dock is incredibly basic and can even scratch the screen of the tablet if you incorrectly dock the device. This issue probably wouldn't exist if the screen wasn't made of plastic instead of glass. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have been unable to use the console in docked mode so this hasn't been an issue for me. Another major issue which I've thankfully been able to avoid is desyncronization between the left joycon controller and the console. This issue seems to be nullified if the joycon are attached to the console and since that's how I've exclusively been playing the console, I haven't come across this issue. There's also the battery life: While playing Breath of the Wild I have been able to squeeze out about three and a half hours of playtime before plugging my console up into the wall. This is likely because I play with the light level set to low and while using headphones. Meanwhile, I've played games like Blaster Master Zero and Bomberman for up to about 2 hours per session and been pleasantly surprised to see the battery above 40%. Playing the console while it's plugged into an outlet will allow it to charge of course but it's more slow than just allowing it to lie in sleep mode. Finally, I have experienced overheating in my console while it's been plugged in to charge. This seems to happen if I don't unplug it while it's fully charged and if I have my console in the case provided with my copy of Breath of the Wild, that makes the overheating seem worse. No damage seems to have been done to the console though and playing while it's plugged in doesn't seem to cause overheating. Also the kickstand is flimsy...also the SDcard slot is directly behind the kickstand so if you're playing in kickstand mode the SD card will be completely exposed...Also it's impossible to find neon joycon at the moment and I want an extra set only opposite (blue right, red left)...the back of my left arm hurts.

     As I mentioned above there isn't a lot to chose from in the Switches current software library. Blaster Master Zero is a digital exclusive that launched on the 9th or 10th, Binding of Isaac is a digital and physical release that launched on the 17th and, we still have about a month before Mario Kart launches. Of the games that have launched, I've played Breath of the Wild, Super Bomberman R, Blaster Master Zero, Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth + and, Snipperclips. I've also played Japanese demos of Puyo Puyo Tetris and the currently exclusive Dragon Quest Heros double-pack. I'm very interested in I Am Setsuna which is digital only outside of Japan and the trio of Tomorrow Corporation games which are also digital only on the eShop which I'm sure you have all played. I haven't played any of the Fast Racing titles but I don't usually play racing games like that as they don't normally interest me. Each game handles multiplayer differently and if you want to play games online you get to rely on Friend Codes again but at least they're easy to find as they're prominent on your profile page. Other ways to make friends include searches for people you've played with online (your Switch remembers), and you can befriend nearby Switch owners by matching 4 symbols it would seem. If you have friends via Nintendo smartphone apps like Super Mario Run, they are also displayed on your profile page. The friends I've made so far have been made through friend-code given to me via social media but I haven't really played with people online yet since everyone is so busy with Zelda. Speaking of Zelda, let me finally try to briefly summerize each game I've played with two sentences or less!

     Puyo Puyo Tetris is going to be kind of wild: you play head to head against either another person or the computer and you can either both play Tetris, Puyo Puyo or you can each play the opposite game. The point is to overwhelm your opponant using your mastery of your chosen game which is a shame because I'm not great at either game. I loved playing Dragon Quest Heroes 1 on my brother's PS4 because I'm a sucker for Musou games but unfortunately, the demo for DQH I played ran incredibly poorly. It didn't quite feel like a flipbook but everything seemed very slow to respond and I wound up quitting that demo after about 10 minutes of play. In the defense of the finished product though, the demo just spat me into a scenario so I don't know if I was playing the original or sequel. For all I know, Dragon Quest Heroes 1 runs beautifully on the Switch. Snipperclips is a puzzle game that can be played solo but the main selling point is its multiplayer. The aesthetic is incredibly charming and I would liken it to Portal 2 though the puzzles are open ended enough that it's possible to solve some in multiple ways. Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is...well, it's Binding of Isaac on the Switch. I've never played this game before but it seems to play just like every other version of the game but it's completely up to date in terms of content and DLC, all in one cart or download. Blaster Master Zero is far more forgiving than its NES forebare and I would go so far as to say it's the best Metroidvania the Nintendo Switch could hope for before Bloodstained or (Gods forbid) a true Metroid or Castlevania. I'm only about 3 or 4 hours into the game so I don't know how deep this rabbit hole goes but I can't recommend it highly enough alongside Snipperclips: both are absolute must-have games if you chose to buy a Nintendo Switch early. 

     Let me take a quick aside to talk about controlling these games. One big selling point for the Switch is the fact that you can play your games on a TV, you can play your games while holding your tablet-like Switch or, you can set your Switch on a flat surface and play using the detached Joycon controllers (docked or freeform). You can also chose to spend $70 on the Switch Pro Controller which looks a lot like a standard Xbox 360 or Xbox "One" controller. 80% of the time I just hold my Switch and play with it like that. I've set it up and played with the Joycon free, I've set it up and played with the Joycon in the packaged dock-controller (aka: the Nintendog) and I've set up the console on a table and played using the Pro Controller. The Joycon controllers, when used off of the Switch and out of a dock, feel tiny but they're still functional. I haven't encountered a lot of motion control or HD Rumble yet but the former functions well enough that I don't feel like complaining about it and the later is somewhat noticable in Blaster Master. I can tell that if I was playing 1, 2, Switch or something that heavily featured HD Rumble, my mind might just be blown but I haven't got to that point quite yet. The Joycon battery life is estimated to be 20 hours but since they charge while they're docked to the Switch, I don't think I've come anywhere near those little things losing power.

     While connected to The Switch, using the Joycon controllers reminds me a lot of playing Wii U games in off-screen mode but if that was the rough draft, this is the perfected version of that concept. I love being able to lay in bed, lounging on my back, and playing Zelda or whatever with the screen inches from my drooling face. The big critisism here though is that, since everything is small and smoshed together, I find myself accidentally pressing buttons I didn't want to press in the heat of the moment. The biggest offenders for me are the right shoulder button and the left analog stick. It's not a massive problem but it's a present neusence. Another issue I have while playing in this mode is an issue I have with the 3DS and it could be a 'me' issue: I find the my left thumb slowly slides off of the left analog stick if I have to use it for any long period of time (so with practically every game in existence). Again, it's a small problem but it makes me have to shift my grip on the console. I haven't used the Nintendog-Controller very much but I don't seem to have that issue as much with that for whatever reason. The Joycon Dock/Nintendog-Controller that comes with the console is just a dock: it can't charge the Joycon and the $30 charging dock you can buy doesn't have a battery pack but it does allow you to hook it up via USB to the Nintendo Switch Dock or presumably another USB-based charging block. The dock itself feels kind of flemsy on its own but with the Joycon inserted, it feels a bit more sturdy. It's not the strangest control design Nintendo has gone with and really, it's pretty comfortable. Even if you did find a Pro Controller, I would recommend playing with the Joycon Dock just for the sake of giving it some attention and being able to say you've done it.

     The Pro Controller features the same motion, rumble and, even NFC features as the Joycon controllers. It boasts a 40 hour battery life which I don't think is as much longevity as the unkillable Wii U Pro Controller but it's still a very powerful battery. During the reveal and Nintendo Switch event, the reveal of the Pro Controller made the thing look filthy or gritty (to me) but what that actually is, is the semi-opaque finish of the plastic showing you a bit of the bolts and guts underneath. I think it's a pretty cool design and unlike the Wii U Pro Controller, it won't be a fingerprint magnet. The Switch Pro Controller feels a lot like an Xbox controller to me but with subtle differences. The triggers for example don't have nearly as much depth to them and remind me more of a PS3/PS4 bumper flipped inside out. The home and screencap buttons are closer to the center of the controller but underneath the + and - buttons. The D-Pad is an excellent D-pad and I don't have the sliding thumb issue with these analog sticks. Speaking of, I love how springy these analog sticks are: they offer some resistence but not too much which results in a really smooth feel as you manipulate them. If I have one major critisism it's how large the face buttons are: Everything is small on the Joycon so maybe that's why the face buttons on the Pro Controller seem so large. For the first time in a long time I've found myself hitting the wrong button by mistake. The face buttons are also very flat which is another petty critisism so nevermind: using the controller more often will kill off those little problems. Syncing new controllers to your Switch is incredibly easy too as the option to do so it right on the home screen. Just touch the button and slide the new Joycon onto the Switch...or press the left and right bumber simultaniously. It's a process that takes little to no time, especially compared to using sync-buttons hidden by battery shields just last gen. 

     Of course there's only one more thing to talk about if I'm going to talk about Switch Games: It's the insane lack of a proper activity log! Not every game on the Switch records your playtime so if you want to know how long you've been playing a game, you have to go into your profile page and check out an activity tracker. It only really keeps time in incriments of 5-hours but other than that, it'll tell you what software you've been playing and the day you started playing it. It says that I've played Blaster Master Zero and Super Bomberman R for "a few minutes" but in the save-select section of BMZ, it shows that I've actually been playing for over 3 hours and however many minutes. It says that I've played Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for over 55 hours so that could be anywhere between 55 hours and 59 hours, 59 minutes. I didn't realize how much I would miss that activity tracker until it was ruthlessly taken away from me! I don't mind the absense of miiverse and I know that a new virtual console is forthcoming but I really miss Activity Tracker! 

     I am almost certainly still in the honeymoon period with the Nintendo Switch. There is a ton of room for the Nintendo Switch to improve but despite there being a limited software selection at the moment, there's a whole lot to enjoy. It might not be enough to satiate the most hard core of Nintendo fan right now. It might be a better idea to wait until the summer to buy in if you haven't yet though you may not have a choice considering how difficult it is to currently find a Nintendo Switch or the sexier accessories. I may take a Shoggy Look at those in future but as for the Switch right now I don't regret buying it on day one and I don't think many other early adopters do either. As for Breath of the Wild, if you own a Switch then odds are you've spent the last 3 weeks playing that. If however you'd like to play some Bomberman than go ahead and leave your friend code in a comment...or you can just add me: 0317-6410-5918

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About Shoggoth2588one of us since 6:55 AM on 06.03.2013

Hello all! I'm Joe, from Maryland! I've was released the same year as Mega Man 2 but I haven't really been playing games until around the time of Mortal Kombat 2's home release. I'm mostly harmless so if you wanna talk to me send me a message I guess. I'll be around, lurking maybe. I'm not sure yet.