Nintendo Switch Review: Buying Advice And Tips For Maximum Fun

Nintendo Switch: Setup And Game Play

While the Switch does not come with a user manual, setup is fairly easy and straightforward—you just have to connect the Joy-Con controllers and follow the on-screen prompts. It is easy to forget that the display is touch sensitive, though. I instinctively found myself using the Joy-Con controllers to navigate the menus and input my Wi-Fi password until a voiced piped up in my head and said, "Hey genius, why don't you save us some time and use the touchscreen?"

Nintendo Switch Setup

Once you've selected a language, configured your Wi-Fi settings, and set things up to use on your TV (it's an optional step that you can return to later), so begins the process of either selecting an avatar or customizing a Mii. I chose the latter route and managed to create a reasonable facsimile, minus my white fedora (sadly, there are no fedora options when making a Mii).

Nintendo Switch Mii

At this point you're ready to begin using the Switch. If there is a game cartridge installed or you've downloaded and installed any digital titles, they'll be represented by large square icons that scroll across the middle. Otherwise, your options on the Home page are News, Nintendo eShop, Album, Controllers, System Settings, and Sleep Mode.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

After being on the market for a month, Nintendo reported it had sold 2.74 million Switch consoles, and 2.76 million copies of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Switch (3.84 million if you add in copies sold for the Wii U). In other words, there is a copy of Zelda sold with every Switch console, and then some.

Part of the reason is because there just aren't many games available for the Switch. The newest Zelda title is by far the most popular and might just be the biggest launch launch title in Nintendo's history. That is up for debate, but it's surely a strong contender.

Lack of alternative games aside, there is a lot of fun to be had in Breath of the Wild. The game does a great job of easing players into the adventure and teaching the various controls in what is basically an extended tutorial, though it is not labeled as such, nor does it feel like one. Even so, I had a pretty good grasp of things after spending an hour or so on the opening tasks, which had me wandering the landscape, getting into mild skirmishes, cooking food for health, and visiting shrines to test my mettle.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

What I liked most about Zelda was that it gave me a leisurely pace to get acquainted with the Switch. It is an open world adventure with some spectacular views, especially when climbing to the top of trees or high up on mountains and towers to survey the landscape. The graphics are colorful and vibrant on the Switch's 6.2-inch 720p display, the controls responsive, and the action smooth.

Growing up primarily a PC gamer, I never really got into previous Zelda titles. Because of that I can't really speak to how well Breath of the Wild respects the franchise. But what I can say is that it made me a fan, at least going forward. And more relevant to this review, the performance on the Switch shines a positive light on the Tegra X1. Game play benefits from the graphical style—it's cartoonish and not highly detailed, focusing on lush scenery rather than advanced shadowing techniques and light reflections. There are sections that look brilliant, and others that are not as detailed as what you might expect from a modern console. So, the real test will come when games like Skyrim arrive.

Ninendo Switch Docked Zelda

Switch games can run at 1080p when docked, though it's not mandatory. In this case, Nintendo decided to limit Zelda to 900p when docked. Busier scenes can be taxing on the Tegra X1, causing minor (and brief) hiccups, so by capping the resolution at 900p, Nintendo avoids putting more of a burden on the Tegra X1 than it can handle, even for a game like this one.

Higher resolutions make for better visuals, but unless you're really scrutinizing things, the game should look pretty much the same whether you're in portable mode or docked. There are more pixels when docked, but they're also stretched across a larger display (unless your TV is 6.2 inches). So, while I found the visuals to be roughly the same, larger screens do tend to highlight how the Switch's graphics aren't on par with other platforms. I didn't find this to be a buzz kill for Zelda because the actual game play is so engaging, but I can't say that will always be the case with every title that is released for the Switch. On top of that, there are third-party developers that are reportedly avoiding the Switch because there just is not enough horsepower underneath the hood.

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