The Nintendo Switch is a console that tries to be everything and, surprisingly, succeeds.
Playable anywhere and by anyone, the Switch is a family focussed console that is lots of fun.
At first glance, the hardware of the Switch is nothing impressive. Its 4GB of RAM, 1 GHz CPU and 0.3 GHz GPU fall well below the levels of its competitors, however Nintendo’s edge on an ever competitive console market has never been in its hardware.
Where the Wii innovated with its movement tracking controller, the Nintendo Switch innovates by being playable anywhere without compromising on performance or enjoyment. In its dock, the switch connects via HDMI to a TV, and its “joy-con” controllers can be either attached to a frame, or given one each to up to eight players.
Taking it out of its dock, the controllers can be attached to each side of the console, and the game can continue to be played on the in-built screen. Alternatively, the kickstand at the back of the console can be used to set it up on a flat service, perhaps on a desk or a tray table on an airplane, and be played by multiple people.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
While the Switch is undoubtedly strong on its own merits, at the end of the day a console is only as good as the games that can be played on it, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild proves just how good the Switch can be. An open-world, Action/Adventure game made in-house by Nintendo, Breath of Wild places you in a story in which you play as Link, a prince who, waking from a long slumber, tries to make sense of his world and the quest he must embark on within it. This narrative choice allows players new to Zelda to discover its history and lore at a reasonable pace, a wise choice for a game looking to lure new consumers into buying the Switch.
The familiarly quaint and utterly charming setting of Breath of the Wild should, however, impress more experienced Zelda players just as much. The game’s open world is masterly constructed, and filled to the brim with endearing characters, compelling secrets, and plenty of new environments to discover and enemies to fight. As a result, the game is simply a lot of fun to play and explore within. Going in any direction from wherever the player might find themselves is sure to yield another new experience – whether it be a faster horse to tame, a new village to find, enemy camp to conquer, or puzzle to complete.
Although it will not present experienced gamers with a huge challenge, the combat is strong enough not to render fights boring. While I would have liked to see some boss fights present a little more difficulty (I did not die once when facing the final boss), Breath of the Wild is at its heart a puzzle game. The shrines scattered across the map all contain uniquely challenging puzzles, and fights are at their best when they focus on tactics rather than pure combat; encouraging the player to think inventively in order to triumph.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild is rated G, and is obviously suitable for all ages, but, unlike many such games, will be enjoyed by any. It was enjoyed immensely by myself and my younger brothers, and is likely to win over all ages.
The success of the Wii console can be attributed in large part to the success of Wii Sports – most will remember the silly amount of fun had frantically waving at the screen in the tennis mini-game. The 1-2 Switch tries to repeat this success, with 28 new mini-games that are designed to showcase the hardware of the console. Ball Counting, for example, encourages you, through vibration and sound, to count the number of small virtual balls present in the joy-con, while Plate Spin forces players to use their controllers to keep an imaginary plate stable.
Unfortunately, while these games are cool the first time, they were not able to provide anywhere near the replayability of mini-games like Wii Sports – Tennis. And some, like Milk, which has players make gestures with their controller to milk a virtual cow, are just plain weird. While many may provoke awkward laughter or expressions of wonder, none of the minigames in 1-2 Switch were fun enough to keep me playing.
The Nintendo Switch is an incredibly strong console that is built to be fun wherever you are and whomever you are with. While its internals could be better, Nintendo has instead focussed on making a system that is just as enjoyable played on the coach or out and about, whether with friends or alone.
While 1-2 Switch fails to do for the Nintendo Switch what Wii Sports did for the Wii, Zelda: Breath of the Wild more than makes up for its shortcomings. With its huge and exciting open world, charming characters, and challenging puzzling, it is no surprise that Breath of the Wild has sold as many copies as the console itself.
If Nintendo can continue making games anywhere near as good as Breath of the Wild, the Nintendo Switch will continue to be a huge success, and be a no-brainer for parents looking for a birthday present, and experienced gamers alike.