Nintendo Switch Review

The Switch, Nintendo’s new two-in-one mobile and stationary gaming system, offers some interesting, innovative and versatile features. But will they be enough to match the Wii’s success?

With the recent launch of Nintendo’s latest, next-generation gaming console the Japanese company has made some pretty bold moves. When directly compared to the most recent PlayStation and Xbox models, the Switch doesn’t excel in terms of pure processing power. Instead, it aims for an innovative and original gameplay approach, not unlike its hugely successful Wii console.

The Switch is a hybrid between the traditional gaming console and mobile, handheld device. Nintendo likes to sell and market the Switch as “able to transform from a home console to a portable system in a snap”. But the Switch is more of a traditional gaming console in the form of a tablet, simply with a docking station included in the box. This docking station doesn’t add any processing power to the Switch, though. All the computational hardware is in the tablet part, right behind its display.

One of the most noticeable, distinctive features of the Switch is that the tablet has one detachable controller on each side. When these are separated from the main unit, what remains is the heart of the system: a tablet with a 6,2-inch, 1 280×720 resolution touch screen, integrated battery, CPU, GPU, storage and connectors.

The two, detachable mini-controllers, which seem to be made especially for tiny hands, can subsequently be interconnected to transform them into one, bigger version, presumably for adults. Nintendo also offers the Switch Pro Controller, but that will set you back an additional R1 100.

Versatility

The Nintendo Switch is clearly designed to be extremely versatile, mainly in the way it facilitates gameplay. The device can be used as a more traditional, stationary gaming console by hooking it up to a TV, or as a mobile gaming device when on the move. The two mini-controllers, which Nintendo calls Joy-Cons, can be used for single-player gaming by holding one in each hand, or they can enable two-player mayhem. Each of the controllers features a full range of buttons, motion sensors and vibration feedback. Nintendo did a great job embedding all the buttons and technology into such tiny controllers.

 

Hardware and visuals

For now, let’s dive a little bit deeper under the bonnet of the Switch. In essence, the console is a tablet with a docking station.

It runs on a 1GHz NVidia Tegra X1 chip that is very similar to the one in the Nvidia Shield TVand Google Pixel C tablet.

The X1 features four Cortex A57 cores, four energy-efficient Cortex A53 cores and a Maxwell-generation GPU that clocks between 300MHz and 400MHz. When docked, this GPU doubles in speed since there’s no battery life to conserve, and allows the Switch to output a higher screen resolution, up to a maximum of 1080p (sorry folks, no 4K).

Admittedly, all these numbers are impressive for a handheld console, but pale when stacked up against the PS4 or Xbox One.

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