With less than two weeks to go Nintendo invited some press to come and try out their new hybrid system. This was an opportunity I would not want to miss, so I headed out there to finally see if the Switch will be worth considering.
Now I’ve already covered the hardware, which I liked but it’s the games that make it interesting. During the event, Nintendo had its key games from the launch window on offer and I played all of them. These games were: 1-2 Switch, ARMS, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2 and Snipperclips.
This is the title that is positioned to show off the unique features of the Switch. It’s what Nintendoland was for the WiiU and Wii Sports for the Wii. Obviously, Nintendo hopes 1-2 Switch will be another Wii Sports but from what I’ve seen I don’t think it will be as big as Wii Sports was. This is mostly due to how little of the game I’ve seen so far. The final product will contain 28 mini games but Nintendo only had 4 of them on display. That said, 1-2 Switch does have a few very interesting hooks. The most important one is that the system doesn’t require you to look at the screen. You have to look at the other player and this simple characteristic really changes the dynamic. Gameplay is very simple and motion oriented, making it very easy to pick up. All of that put together seemingly makes the title tailor-made for parties, both the children and the adult kind.
The four games Nintendo had on display were Milk, Ball Counting, Quick Draw and Samurai Training. Milk is both the most bizarre and the most boring of the titles. What you need to do is…milk. This means pulling on a virtual utter while working the two shoulder buttons. While the weirdness is actually nothing new with Nintendo, the boringness is. Granted, I only played it few times but that was enough for me.
Next up is Ball Counting, a game aimed to showcase just how “high definition” the Joy-Con’s HD rumble is. The game asks you a simple question, how many balls are in the (virtual) box. You need to determine it by moving the Joy-Con and feeling the balls move inside the box. At first try, I didn’t feel anything and was pretty unimpressed, to be honest. But then the Nintendo employee advised me to be more careful. Using very subtle movement I did manage to detect multiple hits when I moved the box. Things got a lot more interesting at that point, but not necessarily better for me as I ended getting only one answer correct out of the three times I tried. Ball Counting works well as a demonstration of how subtle HD rumble can be, just not too sure how entertaining it will be.
Quick draw is the third of the four and perhaps the best known. It’s heavily featured in the Switch reveal videos. The premise is, once again, simple. You stand opposite of each other and the system counts down. At a random point in time, the system calls “draw” and you have to raise your Joy-Con and shoot. Be quicker than your opponent and you win! This game was the prime example of how the “staring each other in the eye” aspect changes things. The time the game takes to yell “draw” can be excruciatingly long and during this time you’re staring at your opponent trying to keep a straight face. Turns out, I’m not good at keeping a straight face. This one was fun and I can see why Nintendo picked it as it’s poster boy.
The fourth and final game on display was Samurai Training. This isn’t the sword fighting shown in the reveal video but it does involve swords. The gist here is that one player swings a sword and the second needs to block it with his hands. So basically, you need to respond to the other player. As you can imagine, this didn’t bode well for me either.
While I only played the four games, 1-2 Switch did make me think of Wii Sports. Mainly in how it managed to level the playing field between an experienced gamer like myself and someone who isn’t. While it may not have the instant appeal of Wii Sports, it does have a similar instant pick-up-and-playability. If it can capture the same audience remains to be seen.
Going in, this was the game I was most interested in (mainly because I was lucky enough to already have played the upcoming Zelda). ARMS seemed like the game that would prove to me if the Joy-Con are an evolution of the Wii remote or not. ARMS seemingly has a lot in common with Wii Sports boxing, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Wii Sports boxing was easily the worst of the Wii Sports mainly due to its often inaccurate registration of punches and movements. From the short time I spent with ARMS, this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore or at least a lot less. It’s no true 1:1 experience but that is because the in-game action differs from what you do in reality, so it can’t be. What happens is that when you throw a punch you actually throw it because the punch can have quite a bit of travel. This slight disconnect is easily accepted though, but it does mean fast movements may not always register the way you may have liked. While punching worked very well, moving around and blocking proved a bit more challenging. Mainly because this wasn’t as natural a fit as punching was. Also, the blocking movement was different from what you may have seen in the promotional videos. ARMS played very well but it didn’t totally remove all of my reservations about the game. What it did do was make want to spend more time with the title. Unfortunately, ARMS won’t be released until April, so I’ll need to be patient a little longer.
Snipperclips was the big surprise for me during the event. I’d heard some positive buzz on the title but basically, I didn’t know anything about it. It’s a hard game to explain, though. The two player mode I tried had the two players work together to either match shapes or interact with the level to reach goals. Matching shapes was done by rotating the characters, overlapping and then cutting them. While it allowed plenty of room to annoy each other you ultimately have to work together to get anything done. In the few levels we got to play, it already showed a quite diverse array of challenges. While not a launch title the game should hit the eShop somewhere in March. My advise is to keep an eye out for it!
Update 24-02-2017: We just got word from Nintendo that Snipperclips will launch alongside the Switch on the 3rd. It will be downloadable from the eShop but also as part of a limited edition bundle with a pair of Joy-Cons (game included as downloadcode).
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Obviously, this is the big launch game for the Switch. But from a gameplay perspective, this was the same game I have played before, so there isn’t very much else to write about the gameplay. However, this version was running on the Switch and that had a few things of note. First of all, everything ran smoothly, while this is to be expected I just wanted to make that clear. What also caught my eye is that the game’s voice over has received fully localized subtitles. Being a parent this will be very helpful when my kids want to start playing these games or watch me playing them. Another thing that struck me was that I missed the Gamepad’s second screen. Not in a big way but it did strike me that I wanted to look down to see where I needed to go on the map.
Zelda will be launching alongside the Switch in under two weeks time. And really that’s all you need to know.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 deluxe maybe Nintendo’s laziest entry in the Switch’ first year lineup as it’s basically the same game as it was on the WiiU. But it does add a few very noteworthy additions to an already great game. First and foremost, it adds a proper battle mode. The only thing I found missing in the original, during my review. I played a single run on these new battle maps and it seemed to be a whole lot better than the track-like arena’s the WiiU version had to settle for. It also throws in a few other things from older games like the feather and ghost items. You also have two item boxes but I wasn’t able to figure out how to use them separately.
While the game may be mostly the same as before it’s the Switch that is bringing something important to the game as well; local multiplayer. I’ve read a lot about how local LAN play has gone next to extinct over the past few years and read about many gamers yearning for its return. The Switch addresses this and Nintendo had this on offer with four Switches hooked up to each other to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe against each other locally. This should prove very welcome at the next GDE!
Last but definitely not least is Splatoon 2, which was running in a 8 system local setup. As I mentioned in the hardware piece is that I played this with the Pro controller. This was a great way to play the game as the Pro is very light and comfortable. The game itself is very much the same, which is a good thing. The map we played did seem a bit smaller which made it more tactical than the original. The new dual guns didn’t really leave much of an impression because I mainly stuck with my usual Splattershot firearm. Splatoon 2 won’t be coming out until April but it remains one to look out for.
With that, all the games I got to play have been covered. While it’s a fairly limited amount of games it did show a great diversity in the titles that are coming to the Switch in the launch window. Now, we must wait and see. In less then two weeks time what the Switch and its games will truly offer. I for one, still can’t wait.