Nintendo Switch Roundup

One Week After Release

The Nintendo Switch launched last week on March 3. For many, this is the first time they've gotten their hands on the Switch. Whether they’re playing in store or at home, the first week of a console’s launch is often where many issues are found. The Switch’s launch has been successful so far, although there have been a number of problems.

Smashing Sales

The Switch is selling really well so far, and has already broken some of Nintendo’s hardware sales records. Nintendo stated that the Switch "sold more in its launch weekend than any other Nintendo hardware in history." The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has also sold more than any other Nintendo launch title in Europe, even outselling Wii Sports (which was bundled with the console). March is usually a quiet month for the gaming industry, and these numbers are incredible for a launch outside of the holiday season.

Sales records aren’t the only kind Nintendo has broken so far, as Breath of the Wild’s review scores have been incredible. Most notably, Metacritic now has the highest number of perfect review scores for any game to date. Although it is still not the highest rated game on the site, it is still along the top, following games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and Grand Theft Auto 4. The image below, courtesy of Nintendo Life, lists review scores and comments from many major game outlets. 

Losing Control

Some Switch owners have reported problems with the controllers desyncing from the system. The issue seems to affect the left “Joy-Con” more often, and Nintendo issued a day one fix. Some who installed the fix have since reported that the issue is still present

Nintendo’s Joy-Cons communicate via Bluetooth, which shares the 2.4GHz wireless band with many home routers and devices, so interference may be a possibility. Accordingly, Nintendo’s troubleshooting guide suggests keeping the joy-cons away from Laptops, tablets, wireless headsets, wireless printers, microwaves, wireless speakers, and cordless phones. 

One Youtuber has since opened up the Joy-Cons, finding a flaw in the controllers’ design. In the same video. he describes a warranty-voiding fix. (This site does not take responsibility for any damage from the use of this video!) The Bluetooth antenna in the controllers seems to be located along the top outside edge of the controller, and the placement of player’s fingers can block the signal. On the other side of the antenna seems to be a piece of metal, adding more interference at the source.

Nintendo has asked players to make sure that the joy-cons are attached to the switch while rebooting in order to apply the update, so there is a possibility that some haven’t followed that step. The company hasn’t issued any official statements since the update, so they are likely still investigating the problem.

Record Scratch

Glixel, Rolling Stone’s gaming outlet has reported that the system’s dock scratches the screen. “We’ve been super careful with our Switch since it arrived a little over a week ago and we’ve been keeping it nestled comfortably in one of Miguel’s giant woolen socks whenever we transport it. Unfortunately, after only a week of daily use it’s already gathering a healthy collection of little scratches in the bottom left hand corner, as you can see in the photo.”

By now, there are a few Switch owners who wish they’d known about this sort of design flaw. Although it might not be a problem for an old-styled console gamer, anyone who transitions between the go and the couch may regret not buying a screen protector online.

Speaking of accessories, Dbrand, a manufacturer of phone cases, computers, headsets and game consoles released a report advising consumers not to buy any kind of adhesive skin for the Switch. The company issued a warning via Reddit and Twitter. "Simply put, the coating which exists on the JoyCons [sic] . . . is either cured or designed in a way which doesn’t play well with adhesive".

Dbrand tested their product on Switch units before and after launch, finding their adhesive would leave marks on both the console and the Joy-Cons. The company will not make skins for the console, and will be refunding Switch skin orders over the next few days.

Don’t Copy That Floppy

Many gamers have been surprised by the Switch’s miniscule 32GB internal storage, especially when compared with the multiple terabytes offered to PS4 and Xbox One owners. For reference, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild takes up 13.4 GB, nearly half of the Switch’s internal memory. A MicroSDXC card slot will let gamers expand storage by up to 2 terabytes, but 2 terabyte cards don’t currently exist, and 128 or 256 gigabyte cards are expensive.

Making storage even more difficult is the issue of save files. Save files for the Switch can not be transferred to external storage, or to another Switch console. Nintendo told Kotaku, “At this time, it is not possible to transfer save data from one Nintendo Switch system to another”. 

For now, save files can only be deleted to make space on the internal storage. This is very odd considering that both the Wii U and 3DS allow save files to be transferred, and the availability of cloud saves for other major platforms. Nintendo has likely received some backlash over this, so they may consider allowing save files to be transferred via a firmware update.

Not So Online

Until last week, pre-release versions of the Switch did not have any online features, and what has been released so far can be considered limited. Many features were “unlocked” with a day one update, so many are still figuring out what exactly Nintendo’s online feature set includes.

So far, the Switch’s E-Shop is understandably bare. The console’s launch lineup, alongside a few indie ports like Shovel Knight mean the Switch might gather a bit of dust before the holiday season.

Nintendo has also brought back the much hated friend codes, with a friendly change. Friend codes only need to be shared one way now, and once entered, a friend request will be sent. 

Those who have linked a Nintendo account can add suggested friends they’ve encountered in mobile games like Super Mario Run. There is also a “Search for Local Users” function, which will let players add other nearby Switch owners as friends. 

Even once a user has gone through the whole friending process, there seems to be little to do online compared to both PS4 and Xbox One. The Switch’s online features don’t include old standbys like messaging, voice chat or even game invites. 

Right now, the Switch doesn’t even have a Web Browser (except for logging in to captive portals on public hotspots) or any social media apps. Nintendo is planning on adding Netflix and Hulu support in the future.

Nintendo has promised that there will be a premium online service, but many online features will be relegated to an app for smart devices which won’t be available until Fall. Subscriptions for Nintendo’s new online service are expected to be between $17 and $26, cheaper than both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Gold, but nintendo is still deciding what that service will entail.

Looking Forward

Despite a number of problems, people definitely like the Switch. Despite its problems, including a very small launch lineup, it has a lot to look forward to. This holiday season will see the next Mario game, Super Mario Odyssey. The mustachioed plumber will leap through an open world reminiscent of New York City, with a few new platforming twists.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which includes the base game and all the DLC to date, and additional features. Players can hold up to two items at once, a driver assist feature can help new drivers, and classic power ups from older games will be in the game. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is set to release April 28.

Nintendo also has a new Fire Emblem game headed to the Switch. Fire Emblem Warriors will pit characters from the other games in a Dynasty Warriors style mashup, much like Hyrule Warriors did in 2014. Fire Emblem Warriors will release in the Fall. 

These and other announced games are on the horizon. Many gamers may have bought the Switch day one, but many are also waiting for that one must-have game. Nintendo’s online services are far from a competitive offering, and there are a few inconveniences with the Switch’s design. We will have to see whether the Switch stays strong come this holiday season.