Photo: Alexander Babulin
Nintendo is one of the most interesting companies in the gaming industry. She does not particularly pursue technological progress, but tries to surprise every new device. Stick on the gamepad, the use of two screens, the responsibility for the craze for controller controllers is just a small part of how the "big N" tries to diversify the boring "arms race" with its infinite increase in power for power.
However, when jumping for innovations, the Japanese make mistakes from time to time. Most often not critical, but in this generation, luck is clearly turned away from them. Speech, of course, about the Wii U. It replaced the over-the-top Wii and could not repeat the success of its predecessor: Wii U suffered from incomprehensible positioning, lack of support for third-party developers and a bunch of small and big flaws. For example, outside the Land of the Rising Sun, it is still not possible to buy a spare Wii U GamePad – if it starts to mess, then there's nothing to be done about it. A large number of problems and to some extent the unwillingness of the "nines" to notice them has led to the fact that the world Wii U sales do not even reach 15 million copies at the moment. Very weak indicator for the fifth year on the market.
Therefore, there is nothing surprising in Nintendo's decision to cover up an unsuccessful project and switch to something new. For months, there have been rumors and speculation on the Net that the gadget is hidden under the code name NX. People studied patents, made fake controllers with the help of 3D printers, but the company itself, amid this fun, kept the Olympic calm. Exactly until September last year, when the world finally introduced the Nintendo Switch – a hybrid home-portable console. Want – play at home in front of the TV. Need to get out on the street? Insert the controllers into the tablet – and forward. On paper and in the rollers the concept looked very, very interesting, but is it all so well in reality?
- console Nintendo Switch;
- two Joy-Con controllers;
- charger with USB-C;
- stationary unit;
- mounting for Joy-Con controllers;
- two nozzles for Joy-Con;
- HDMI cable.
In truth, in commercials and video demonstrations, Switch seemed too large for a portable device. However, if you open the box and pick up a tiny tablet with a screen diagonal of 6.2 inches, as suspicions began to creep about whether or not there was a full-fledged console in front of me. This is where the whole hardware stuff is located?
Switch is really compact: length 172 mm, width 100 mm, thickness 15 mm. With the controllers, the length is increased to 232 mm. Above are (left to right): a cartridge slot, a standard headphone jack, a ventilation grille, a volume key, and an on / off button. Cooling at the console is active, inside is a cooler. During the testing, I noticed his work only once, after a long game in a stationary mode took the device in his hands – the rear wall was noticeably warmed, and the fan hysterically drove the air. For the sake of justice it is worth noting that this lasted for 15-20 seconds, after which everything came back to normal.
The bottom of the console is a USB-C connector and two notches for a more intimate contact with the docking station. At the rear is a small sliding leg to put the Switch on a table or other surface. Under it – a connector for microSD (supported formats microSDHC and microSDXC). If you believe Nintendo, then a card of any volumes, even the most available at the moment, will do. And a flash drive is exactly needed if you plan to buy games exclusively in digital format, since the built-in memory of the console is only 32 GB, and the user is only available 26 GB. That's enough for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (13 GB) and something for little things, and the compilation Dragon Quest Heroes 1 & 2 will not fit even on a clean system, because it requires just 32 GB .
On the sides of the device are guides for inserting controllers. About Joy-Con, I'll tell you in more detail a bit later, but here I note that it's very simple to connect them to the main unit and disconnect from it, but it's better not to weigh it. It's easy to get out of the stationary position at once both "joikons", as it was in the commercial, at first it's not easy – at first you have to pull out one by one, but it's not too difficult to learn such an effective stunt.
It feels like the console is in good hands, but it's not necessary to talk about some incredible tactile or ergonomic solutions. Everything is made of ordinary plastic, and quite slippery – if you do not keep the device strictly horizontally, then from time to time it must be intercepted. And one hand is difficult to manage – Switch strongly outweighs and can go on a date with the floor. Without installed controllers, the console looks like a tablet of some Texet – obviously, the design dictated the hardware stuffing, and not vice versa. With "jockeys" Switch looks much better.
The stationary block is small – along the length and width it does not differ from the console, but noticeably thicker – 50 mm against 15 mm. There is no additional "iron" for increasing performance, its purpose is to charge the battery and broadcast the picture from the tablet to the TV. Connectors for the power cable, HDMI-out and USB-port are hidden behind the hinged back cover, so that the wires neatly come from the side. True, it will be convenient only for those who will put the station to the left of the TV. Do not think for a nit-pick, but it's not always possible to locate the devices in the way design engineers planned.
On the left there are two additional USB ports, in the center of the notch – USB-C for charging the console in a stationary mode. On the front side there is a LED signaling the transmission of the stream to the TV. The tablet itself stays in the dock confidently, does not fall out, pull it out and install it comfortably, but the station was too light. If you accidentally hook the Switch, passing by, it can tip over, so it's better not to put it on the edge.
The convenience of any gaming device is not least provided by the controllers. After an unusual, but very cumbersome pad for the Wii U, it's very pleasant to use "joikons". They are small (length 100 mm, width 30 mm, thickness 15 mm), fit well in the palm of your hand and do not slip. However, people with large hands too close the arrangement of controls may seem uncomfortable. By the size of the buttons are identical to those used in portable 3DS, but due to a more comfortable grip the hand does not get tired, since the fingers lie on the pad in the natural position, rather than bent.
On the side of the Joy-Con there are buttons that functionally duplicate the shifter, plus the LEDs and the wireless console key. Why duplicate the software? To play together. Some projects are designed to use one pada player, and the second one can be given to a friend – taking into account the portable nature of the console, local multiplayer is obtained everywhere and always. An interesting idea, but either a child or a person with very small hands can control both hands with a "joystick" horizontally – all the fingers quickly become numb. A little help comes from the special nozzle, but it just makes the controller a little wider.
Just because of the above feature on the left pad instead of the usual cross exactly the same set of keys as on the right. Fans of fighting games are already complaining, but all the others are unlikely to notice the strong differences. "Joicons" differ in functionality – the right one has a Home button, which allows you to minimize applications and go to the main screen, an NFC sensor for reading data from amiibo and an IR camera, while the left one has a key for taking screenshots. They are made instantly and are added to the general album, available from the main menu. By the way, can you see the ma-ah-a-alya "plus" and "minus" in the upper corners of the "joykons"? This is also the keys.
Styles are rubberized and have protruding edges – a similar approach is used in the controller for the PlayStation 4. On the one hand, it is convenient, as the fingers do not slip, and on the other – with active or overly aggressive use, the coating begins to peel and tear. The DualShock 4 problem remains relevant now, so it's interesting to see if it will show up in Joy-Con.
The lower cuffs are made in the form of hammers, but the upper ones seemed too thin. Moreover, they have too little progress – at least a third of the press I made purely by accident, without even noticing it. I had to get used to very sensitive keys and watch the position of my fingers, and at the same time do not make sharp movements with the console in my hands.
The battery life of each of the pads varies around 20 hours, and they connect to the console using Bluetooth 3.0. Charging is carried out from a tablet installed in the docking station, or using a special mount Joy-Con Grip. Lithium-ion batteries with a capacity of 525 mAh, unfortunately, are not removable.
The convenience of using "joysticks" directly depends on the control scheme. There are only three of them: pads are inserted into the tablet, connected to the mount, or are in the hands. In the first case, the sensations are similar with the use of 3DS or PlayStation Vita, only to play more comfortable due to full-fledged crampons and full-sized sticks.
The scheme with the connection of padov to the fastening is not very convenient. The controllers are located much higher than the handles, so you have to reach up to the upper keys. It feels like you are not holding an ergonomic device, but a plastic square levitating over your hands. Moreover, the fastening from the delivery set does not know how to charge "joikons" – the fastening with charging must be purchased separately. Thank you, that at least the level of charge shows.
The third type of control, when each of the controllers is used separately, was, to my surprise, the most convenient. Usually, when using joysticks, you either need to hold your hands in front of you, or somehow twist, but still both limbs will be directed in one direction. In the case of the Switch, you can sit down as you like – on the convenience of management this will not affect. Of course, the first ten minutes the brain tries to resist, but then surrenders and gets used to the fact that the left and right parts seem to be a single pad can be in different planes and at any angles.
The Wii also had something similar, but there, first, it was necessary to be within sight of the sensor, and secondly, the games usually still needed to be waved, so the position was chosen on the basis of these conditions. On the Switch, you can use any of the options you like. Are you planning to aim with sticks? You are welcome. Do you want to swing the metal door with your own hands, imagining yourself a superhero? No problems. And the "jockeys" determine their position from any position, they do it correctly and without delay. In general, it is a pleasure to use them.
It is a pity that the special vibration of HD Rumble, which Nintendo advertised at the presentation, could not be fully tested, because the testing did not have the right games. However, it will certainly appear in future exclusions for Switch, so keep an eye on the reviews.
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