As I've gotten older, and started shouldering more responsibilities, my available time to sit down and play games has been shrinking. Gone are the days where I could sit for 8+ hours and get lost in the world of STALKER, one of my all-time favorite series, and I no longer have the time to dedicate for highly competitive games like Counter Strike or League of Legends.
While it seems like I might be lamenting the days of old (I am), I've had my Nintendo Switch console for about 9 months now and in my dark times of pretending to be a functional adult, the Switch is a ray of light from the heavens.
If there was one thing I wanted anyone reading this review to take away, it's that the Switch is a fantastic console, and today it has a fairly well established library of games that complement its portability wonderfully. But there's a lot more than that to make the console almost magical.
Hardware: Look and feel
Okay, so there's not much to say about the look of the Switch. It's a 6.2 inch, 1280x720 tablet, with a fan, some buttons, a cartridge slot, and a USB type C connector at the bottom. It has rails on the side for two Joy-Cons, which are the primary controllers of the console. Joy-Cons come in various colors; I have the dual gray option, but they come in blue, red, green, yellow, pink, and probably some others. You can mix and match any color, if eccentric colors are your thing.
Joy-Cons come in left and right varieties, with each Joy-Con sporting a trigger button, a shoulder button, a joystick, and an array of 4 buttons. There are some buttons on the rail, too. The important thing to note about Joy-Cons is that some games support using one Joy-Con for one player; therefore, a brand new Switch console with two Joy-Cons can be used for two players out of the box, assuming the game doesn't have complex controls. I have played Overcooked and Rayman Legends with my wife, and while the Joy-Cons are small and somewhat cramped for longer periods (I recommend getting grips for the Joy-Cons), they work pretty well in both modes.
When the Joy-Cons are placed in their rails on the Switch console, they latch securely and become a part of the whole unit. They are removable, of course, but I prefer this setup. I use this Mumba branded hard case on my Switch to give it a bit of extra durability, but it also makes it a fair bit more thicker and ergonomic for longer periods. I would definitely recommend getting something like that if you are going to primarily use the Switch in handheld mode. If you are playing docked, though, definitely get the Pro controller - it is exceptionally more comfortable and it is a great controller. I'd also recommend a screen protector, as the dock rails tend to scratch the plastic display of the Switch. I haven't noticed that personally, but others have.
In general, though, there is not much to the Switch console - it is a tablet with dedicated rails for side controllers. Which makes it an excellent gaming device. It helps that the battery life is pretty good, I usually can squeeze out 5-6 hours of gameplay on a charge - which, when spread out over a week, usually means you can get 5 days of usage out of the Switch when you play on average one hour per day.
But how's the Switch game library?
Good. So damn good. And I'm not even talking the exclusives; yes, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey are fantastic games, but I find most of my enjoyment comes from other titles that I could easily play on my PC, Xbox, or PS4.
I find that with the Switch, it is easier for me to get lost in the world of Skyrim, and smaller indie titles like Dead Cells and Hollow Knight are perfect for pick up and play scenarios - you'll die moderately frequently, making gameplay sessions somewhat short by nature. In Dead Cells, for example, death is extremely common - so you could pick up the console, make a run in Dead Cells, die, put the Switch to sleep, and pick it up again 5 minutes later instantly. It's absolutely brilliant, and the implementation of this kind of pick up and play is something I never knew I wanted.
There are plenty of AAA titles, of course; as I mentioned, I enjoy Skyrim on the Switch, but the 2016 DOOM is fantastic as well. One title that shocked me is Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. It's an excellently made turn-based game in the vein of XCOM. Yeah, Ubisoft made a Rabbids game that plays like XCOM in the Mario universe. It's a hard concept to sell, but it it probably one of the best titles I have played on the Switch, and has an excellent difficulty curve and a lot of fun puzzles and combat scenarios.
Paladins, by Evil Mojo games (part of Hi-Rez Studios), has also captured a lot of my attention. It's a fantasy themed team-based shooter that borrows a bit of its gameplay formula from Overwatch and Team Fortress 2, and it's every bit as captivating as those two games as well.
Warframe is also coming to the Switch, and I am very excited for that as well. I enjoyed it quite a bit when I played it on PC, and it's going to be another great game to get lost in.
Nintendo has new Smash Bros and Mario Party titles planned, as well as Pokemon titles. So, if you have liked any of those Nintendo titles in the past, you should know you are in good hands. The game library for the Switch is growing, thanks to efforts from Nintendo and other AAA game developers. There are plenty of great indie titles as well, but as usual, there is also a lot of indie cruft as well. Unfortunately, the Nintendo eShop is littered with phone game ports, so it can be hard to sift the good from the bad.
In general, though, the game library for the Switch is really just so damn good, and it's only getting better.
If you like good games, and good console hardware, buy a damn Switch. That is all.
X-ray post image courtesy Jeff Suovanen of iFixit.