The Nintendo Switch being played in New York / Getty

Release date: 3 March - Price: £279.99 - Manufacturer: Nintendo

First impressions mean a lot. Even if you initially hate someone but over time come to love them (*cough* Mum and Dad), you will no doubt always be revelling/telling your kids the story of how you thought they were an asshole until you got to know the real them.

Nintendo’s latest console, the Switch, leaves a mightily good very first impression. In my hands-on review from earlier in the year, I used the words ‘fantastic’, ‘an absolute joy’ and ‘phenomenal’ when describing the device. However, I concluded that, despite the Switch being utterly brilliant (it is), the line-up - minus The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - is completely lacklustre. 

This could, if Nintendo doesn't play their cards right, be the Switch’s undoing. One of the major reasons the Wii U flopped is because it doesn’t have great games for non-Mario fan. What will happen when people complete Zelda? 1-2-Switch can only be so entertaining and really requires multiple participants. The same goes for Just Dance 2017. Snipperclips looks fun, but not exactly an AAA game to run home about.

Again, first impressions matter. And if people fork out £279.99 for a device with a hugely limited catalogue, they’re going to be left with a sour taste in their mouths for months to come. Ideally, Nintendo should have waited until November, when Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, ARMS, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are ready for release. That’s a line-up the world can get behind and would send the console out with the bang it needs to get people back onboard the Nintendo train.

Unboxing the new Nintendo Switch

But, I digress. Now my rant about the launch line-up is out the way I can wax lyrical about the device. Because it really is fantastic - Nintendo has knocked it for six with the Switch. So, are the Joy Cons a gimmick? Can a portable console ever look good on a TV screen? The PSVita tried AAA on a handheld and failed, what makes the Switch different?

First off, the Switch is the handheld console of your dreams. The battery life is longer than expected - not GameBoy long but we’re talking a good four hours playing games non-stop. Charging is unbelievably easy as well: when you get home, just chuck the device (read: gently slide) into the dock sitting under your TV. Not only that, but you can continue playing on the big screen while the console charges up, ready for another commute to work. 

(If you’ve struggled with the number of wires the PSVR headset has, you’ll be happy to known there are only two cables to worry about: the HDMI and USB-C which you can either plug into the dock or directly into the console.)

Gamers get the first go on the Nintendo Switch

Importantly, playing on the Switch’s screen compared to a TV feels basically the same. Sure, you’re never going to be able to top looking out over Hyrule’s pleasant pastures on a 42” screen in 1080p, but that doesn't’ detract from the significant achievement of managing to make jaws drop on a 6.2”, 720p screen. The device also feels surprisingly small - barely an inch thick - and weighs very little.

Unsurprisingly, the Joy Con controllers feel best when plugged into the console. Plugging both into the included grip to play on TV doesn’t feel particularly satisfying, particularly when compared to the Xbox One’s phenomenal controller. Thankfully, the Pro-Controller is basically Nintendo copying Microsoft - though, that’s not included with the console and will set you back an extra £64.99. Really, it should be included with the console like 1-2-Switch. 

The Joy Cons are, of course, a new beast altogether, with 10 available buttons on each, not including the stick. Other than at the hands-on event last month which featured Mario Kart, we haven’t turned the little guys on their side to play multiplayer. When playing Just Dance, holding the controllers in hand, they felt more accurate than the Wii remotes ever did, leading to a thoroughly un-frustrating time. Briefly playing a borrowed version of 1-2-Switch (we have yet to be supplied with a copy), the rumble feature used in various mini-games - such as unlock the safe - was as brilliant as you expect. 

These party game are when the controllers and the console’s portability come into their element. An example: being the cool person I am, I decided to take my Switch to a friend's small party. (More a gathering, I’m not that cool). We whipped out the console, placed it on a counter, took out the controllers, and began to dance. Just Dance. And drink. Despite getting more into the rhythm, we got gradually worse and worse. I felt like Karen from the advert. And it was so much fun, despite me disliking Just Dance and never wanting to play it again without this same group of people. Alas, ideally, we would have had 1-2-Switch. The potential of being able to play these motion-control games anywhere is mind blowing. Expect viral videos of people playing Just Dance in public areas in the coming days.

Also notable is how sturdy the Joy Cons feel when placed on the console’s sides when playing on the go. They smoothly slide into place either side of the screen and feel secure, despite the console’s small size and lightness. However, there has been one problem, also noted by other publications. There seems to be a latency between the Joy Cons and the device at times. Very rarely - only twice during my tie with the device - but on those occasions, the joystick seemingly had a life of its own. As said before, those problems were very rare and will no doubt be fixed at some stage.

Moving onto the menu system. Whilst we have yet to be granted online capabilities, the menus remain incredibly simple, looking similar to the PS4. How our Nintendo accounts will be integrated remains to be seen - we’ll update this review as and when. 

With so much capability, the Switch seems slightly wasted right now without the games catalogue to back up the hardware. As time goes on, of course, this will change. Fingers crossed Nintendo and other publishers continue to pump out AAA titles for Switch and don’t let it go to waste, like the PSVita.

[Note: there's a huge day-one patch incoming for the Nintendo Switch. What changes this makes, and how the online functionality of the device works will be added in the coming days. These are out initial thoughts on the device.]

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