Nintendo didn't send me a Switch to review, and when I emailed my overlords at Mighty Ape to see if they would send me one I never heard back. However, I'm pretty sure I heard distant, uproarious laughter.
As such, I'll be playing the hybrid console the same time that you do – provided I can borrow one, that is, because I'm not paying NZ$650 to jam Zelda and little else. Fortunately, a few GP contributors have pre-orders coming in tomorrow, so you might hear from them in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, preliminary reviews of the system from overseas outlets console have hit the web.
Having scoured more than a dozen, I can say with confidence that there is a consensus around several things:
◆ The screen is rather lovely
◆ The kickstand is far too flimsy
◆ The Joy-Cons are small, awkward, and have connection problems
◆ The dock system is magical
◆ You'll get three hours of intensive gaming in on a full battery
◆ Zelda is the best launch game in a decade, and a terrific game overall
◆ It's a great portable and a middling TV experience
A few things only some outlets mentioned stuck out to me, too:
◆ Both the Joy-Con grip and the Pro Controller lack a headphone output
◆ The charging port is on the bottom of the Switch, so you can’t prop up the screen on a table while charging it
◆ Thanks to the need for upscaling, Zelda performs worse when the Switch is docked
There are also a concerning number of unknowns, including:
◆ How Nintendo accounts and the eShop work
◆ What the deal is with Nintendo’s new online service/multiplayer
◆ What's going on with Virtual Console
◆ What non-gaming apps will be available
And here are the preliminary verdicts. As you can see, they range from hopeful to hateful – a classic reaction to Nintendo, then!
"I fundamentally like using the Switch. It accomplishes its central goal admirably, and has already gotten me thinking about it differently than my other game consoles. It also has a number of irritating flaws and hidden costs, and there are so many things about it that Nintendo still hasn’t explained. My recommendation is still to wait."
"In many ways, Nintendo Switch is what the Wii U should have been, and even reprises some of the best games in its catalogue. It's a better built machine, sporting higher grade materials, an innovative Joy-Con controller setup, and a gorgeous screen. The company's strength in handheld design is clearly tapped into, and while it may be pushed as a home console first, it's more appetising to see it as the successor to the 3DS. Switch rightly takes the crown as the most powerful dedicated gaming handheld right now, but the bonus is its effective, and seamless home console mode."
"Even after playing it for more than a week, I still don’t know what Nintendo really plans to do with it. Its online features are a mystery, its day-one update still isn’t live, and it doesn’t have a lot of games… Yet, if I didn’t have a Switch, I’d go out and buy one after this experience. This is just how I want to play games these days. Booting up a console and a TV is a lot of work compared to turning on the Switch."
"Compared to the Wii U on its merits, the Switch is a slam dunk… But beyond Breath of the Wild’s test run and the stunning basic functionality of the Switch lies a field of other obligations and requirements for an internet-connected gaming platform in 2017, and thus far, Nintendo hasn’t done much to prove it knows what it needs to do to recover from years of blind eyes and stubborn avoidance of modern ideas."
"The most shocking thing about the Switch might be how many obvious pitfalls Nintendo has managed to elegantly avoid. Going from playing on the tablet to the TV is completely effortless, and there's no sense of compromise whichever way you choose to play. Once you hold and use the Switch, it just makes sense."
"As a handheld, the Switch is a powerful piece of hardware with a gorgeous screen, but it's too large and power hungry to feel like you can really take it anywhere. As a console, it’s underpowered, unreliable, and lacking basic features and conveniences that all of its competitors offer. It’s nicely built and cleverly designed to be used in a variety of ways, but the bottom line is that the Switch doesn’t do any one of the many things it can do without some sort of significant compromise. Our testing will continue for the next few days as we try out the online features and other functions enabled by the day-one patch, but if I had to score it now I’d give it a 6.7."
"Nintendo says we can publish a review of it right now, though I have no idea why Nintendo would want us to. The company’s new toy isn’t finished yet… And right now, that’s about all one can say about Switch: It has a new Zelda, you can definitely play it in handheld mode, and you might be able to play it in TV mode if you’re lucky. Switch has the potential to be all things to all people: TV console, next-gen Game Boy, wacky motion controls, traditional hardcore game machine, even multiplayer-in-a-box. But today, with just hours to go before launch, Switch is lacking some basic functionality."
"Definitely don't buy it as your first and only console. As a second console, consider holding off until the end of the year unless you simply can't live without a fully portable Zelda right this very moment."
"Whatever happens, Nintendo has once again done its idiosyncratic best to challenge the way we think about games hardware. Right now, it has the best launch game in at least a decade, and enough compelling possibilities on the horizon to warrant enthusiasm and hope."
The Switch launches tomorrow, and you can grab a one right now from Mighty Ape.