Today I got my hands on Nintendo's new transforming console for the first time and I'm split on how I feel about it. While the hardware itself is exciting, the high price and lack of games at launch is stopping me from spending my money.
What to like about the Switch
The console itself is great. When it's docked with a TV and you have the wireless controller in your hand, it gives a really comfortable casual gaming experience. I played the new Zelda title Breath of the Wildand was left with the same warm feelings I had when I first played Zelda on the Nintendo Wii.
I yanked the tablet-like part out of its dock and could instantly keep playing the game using the Joy-Con controllers connected to the side of the 6.2-inch screen. No rebooting the console, no fuss. The days of having to pause a game so someone else can watch TV are over -- you can just grab the tablet and carry on playing.
It's comfortable to use in tablet mode, and while you'll only get a few hours of battery life from a demanding title like Zelda, that's more than enough for my daily commute -- and, yes, a bit of toilet time too. The controllers are small, but they feel sturdy to hold, and even in the most furious Mario Kart 8 corners, I didn't feel like the joysticks were about to break. That's comforting if, like me, you can get a little enraged when gaming.
The screen is bright, the colours seem rich and there's clearly plenty of processing power inside, so all the games I tried ran smoothly.
I played 1-2 Switch too, another of the Switch's launch titles. It's a collection of games that make use of the Joy-Cons as detached, motion-enabled controllers, just like with the Wii. They work great and I've no doubt that this will be a hit for both families with kids and drunken students at parties.
Here's where it turns sour
When it launches on March 3, the Switch will cost $300, £280 or AU$470. That's a lot of money for a console aimed at the casual gamer. Consider that the Wii started at $250 and included a game. The Switch comes with no bundled games and Zelda, for example, costs a mighty £60 by itself. There's nothing casual about that.
Price aside, my biggest complaint is with the sheer lack of games at launch. When the Switch goes on sale, there will be only four games available: Zelda, 1-2 Switch, Skylanders Imaginators and Just Dance 2017. That's it.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, which featured heavily in the teaser video of the Switch in October, won't be available until towards the end of the year, and we'll even have to wait until the "holiday season" for Mario to get his first outing on the Switch. Mario. Nintendo's own creation.
There are a variety of other titles coming, including winter sports game Steep and Splatoon 2, but again, you'll have to wait until later in the year. It feels like Nintendo has rushed to get the console on sale before any of its developers were ready with games for it.
I like the concept of the Switch very much, and I look forward to buying one for myself, but not until there's a proper selection of games to play on it. Until then, it's just another expensive piece of tech that would sit unused under my TV.