Australian T3 - - CON­TENTS - WORDS: ROB JONES

Mario leads the charge on the Nin­tendo Switch, a brand-new games ma­chine that’s both a hand­held and home con­sole. We show you the hard­ware and must-get ti­tles.

Nin­tendo is renowned for its in­no­va­tive ap­proach to gam­ing and pay­ing at­ten­tion to how gamers re­ally play. And it’s ex­celled it­self with its lat­est launch – the Switch is a hand­held and a liv­ing-room con­sole in one, en­abling you to es­sen­tially un­dock it and carry on play­ing wher­ever you go. Set to launch in Aus­tralia on 3 March, for a rec­om­mended re­tail price of $469.95, the sys­tem will be avail­able in two stan­dard con­fig­u­ra­tions. The first in­cludes the Nin­tendo Switch con­sole, a Switch dock, a Switch Joy-Con con­troller in grey, Switch con­troller straps and an HDMI ca­ble. The sec­ond con­fig­u­ra­tion is iden­ti­cal to the first, but fea­tures a red-and-blue Joy-Con con­troller in­stead of a grey one. Other themed Switch docks, Joy-Con con­trollers and straps will be avail­able


at a later date – in­clud­ing a The Le­gend

Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild it­er­a­tion. The Switch con­sole it­self fea­tures a 6.2-inch ca­pac­i­tive-mul­ti­touch dis­play with a res­o­lu­tion of 1280 x 720. As such, when the con­sole is be­ing used in hand­held or table­top mode, games will run at up to 720p. When the sys­tem is slot­ted into its dock, how­ever, games can be played at up to 1080p.

In ad­di­tion, the launch edi­tion of the Switch comes with 32GB of in­ter­nal stor­age and a max­i­mum bat­tery life of six hours. How­ever, Nin­tendo has con­firmed that bat­tery life is gamede­pen­dent, with any­where be­tween 2.5 and six hours pos­si­ble (we’ll have to see how that pans out when we do our full test, com­ing soon).

The first thing we no­ticed when pick­ing up the Nin­tendo Switch was how well-built it felt. Un­like the Wii U’s light and pla­s­ticky gamepad, the Switch seemed high-end, with cold metal and glass mak­ing it feel re­as­sur­ingly solid in the hand. The dock, too, while not ex­actly heavy, didn’t feel light­weight and cheap, which is im­por­tant as you don’t want to splash out $470 and then feel like you’re dock­ing your well-built con­sole into some­thing un­fit­ting.

The process of tak­ing the Switch out of the dock and then re-in­sert­ing it was seam­less, with the screens im­me­di­ately switch­ing from one to the other. We could also see no way that the dock could scratch the Switch’s screen through clumsy in­ser­tions or ex­trac­tions. While the ex­pe­ri­ence on TV is as good as usual, it’s when the con­sole is taken por­ta­ble that its main strength comes to the fore.

The Nin­tendo Switch works with two new con­trollers – the Joy-Con, which comes bun­dled with the sys­tem, and the Pro con­troller, which is a more tra­di­tional gamepad that re­tails separately. The Joy-Con con­trollers at­tach to the side of the Switch via two but­tons, and can be used at­tached ei­ther side like a Wii U con­troller,

de­tached and sep­a­rate like a Nin­tendo Wii re­mote, or con­nected to­gether to form a gamepad for when gam­ing in table­top or TV mode. The Pro (sim­i­lar to the Wii U Pro), which we used at the launch event, was fine though lacked a cer­tain amount of flair.

Each Joy-Con con­troller has an ac­celerom­e­ter and a gy­ro­scope for Wii-style mo­tion con­trol, as well as ad­vanced hap­tic feed­back. Nin­tendo refers to this as “HD Rum­ble”, and it en­ables the con­trollers to sim­u­late a greater ar­ray of feed­back ex­pe­ri­ence than prior con­trollers. Fi­nally, the Joy-Con con­troller has an IR cam­era, in­di­vid­ual shoul­der but­tons lo­cated on the in­side of the con­troller to use when sep­a­rated for co­op­er­a­tive play, and a cap­ture but­ton for tak­ing im­ages and, later, videos in-game.

So what can you play on this thing? Nin­tendo has re­vealed a num­ber of games that are to launch ei­ther along­side the Switch in March, or later on through­out 2017. These in­clude, but are not lim­ited to, The Le­gend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Spla­toon 2, Xenoblade Chron­i­cles 2, Fire Em­blem War­riors, Skyrim, Su­per Mario Odyssey, 1-2-Switch, Arms and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The ma­jor launch ti­tle for the Switch is un­doubt­edly The Le­gend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, which both looks and plays spec­tac­u­larly. Boast­ing a huge open world, the game fea­tures stylish cell-shaded graph­ics and all the clas­sic lo­ca­tions, species, weapons and game me­chan­ics that the se­ries is known for.

Su­per Mario Odyssey, de­spite not launch­ing un­til the hol­i­day sea­son, is ar­guably the other ti­tanic ti­tle com­ing to the sys­tem this year. Fea­tur­ing a Su­per Mario 64- style open world and con­trol me­chan­ics - there’s even a magic hat that grants the portly Ital­ian plumber spe­cial pow­ers - it is, from what we’ve seen here at T3 Tow­ers, set to be one of the games of Christ­mas 2017. While The Le­gend Of Zelda: Breath Of The

Wild and Odyssey are games in the tra­di­tional mould, 1-2-Switch and Arms are geared more to­wards so­cial, mo­tion-con­trol play with the Switch’s Joy-Con con­trollers. The ex­pe­ri­ence these ti­tles de­liver is fast and fun, lean­ing on the Nin­tendo Switch’s em­pha­sis on lo­cal as well as global mul­ti­player.

While the Wii U was never as bad as it was made out to be, there’s no deny­ing that Nin­tendo needed to move on and move on in style. With the Switch, it’s achieved that. That said, it’s not a rad­i­cal de­par­ture from its fore­bear, be­ing more of a sleeker re­fine­ment of an in­no­va­tive idea - ie be­ing able to re­move the home-con­sole ex­pe­ri­ence from a big-screen TV. By of­fer­ing not just one, nor two, but three dif­fer­ent - and very prac­ti­cal - ways to play games, in a va­ri­ety of lo­ca­tions, and have the ex­pe­ri­ence so uni­fied and seam­less, it’s tes­ta­ment to the good work Nin­tendo started years back.

It seems – at first glance, that is – to com­bine the strengths of both of Nin­tendo’s clas­sic con­soles, of­fer­ing the tra­di­tional Nin­tendo soft­ware li­brary, as well as the Wii U’s sec­ond­screen ex­pe­ri­ence and the Wii’s mo­tion-con­trol magic. The Nin­tendo Switch is look­ing sur­pris­ingly wellset to tackle the con­sole war to come.

Your favourite Ital­ian plumber is mak­ing a hol­i­day-sea­son come­back…


Ad­vanced hap­tic feed­back and an IR cam­era are among the fea­tures of the Joy-Con con­trollers (top left of pic­ture)

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