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The Nintendo Switch’s Smart Design And Use Of Its Features

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The Nintendo Switch, much like its predecessor consoles (the Wii and Wii U), comes bundled with a multitude of features beyond its traditional buttons and analogue sticks. However, these features interestingly take a significant amount of influence from the Switch’s aforementioned predecessor consoles by being shaped based on the Wii and Wii U’s various successes and failures. This results in what can be described as one of Nintendo’s most intelligently designed consoles ever.

The Switch’s primary selling point is its seamless fusion of portability and home console functionality. This concept was very briefly explored as a selling point for the underappreciated Wii U, but the portability of said console couldn’t extend beyond approximately the room you were in (which resulted in the feature being mostly useless). The Switch, however, has its hardware bundled neatly into a portable format and as a result completely delivers on its promise of on-the-go gaming. Despite a sometimes underwhelming battery life, which also plagued the Wii U, the Switch still confidently flaunts its portability with style.

Motion controls, which Nintendo initially explored with the Wii, are also packaged into the Switch. Whilst the Wii initially struggled to portray real world motion as gameplay commands (which can be witnessed in games such as Red Steel), it became significantly more responsive following the eventual release of Wii MotionPlus (which made possible the wonderfully creative motion controls of the divisive The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword). Unlike the Wii’s gradual growth into reliable motion controlled gameplay, the Switch offers it immediately. Being able to utilise each separate Joy-Con as its own miniature slice of motion control power feels more enjoyable than ever before, and the overall functionality of the Switch’s motion control technology feels reliable and impressively intricate.

The Switch has also done away with certain previously implemented features in the interest of streamlining. Gone is the Wii U’s microphone (which given how exceptionally little it was utilised, can only be a smart decision) and dual screen functionality. Whilst certain fans felt disheartened that they may have to invest an extra second of their time into viewing a game’s inventory or world map, it is a worthwhile sacrifice for a far more satisfying controller. However, providing a Joy-Con grip with no charging capabilities (and instead offering a Joy-Con grip with the desired charging capabilities for an extra fee) feels like a definite step backwards from the Wii U’s easily chargeable GamePad.

Whilst the Switch may offer a plethora of fascinating features, what is crucial is how Nintendo’s software capitalises on them. Does the Switch make similar blunders to the Wii and Wii U by forcing players into overusing these features with an abundance of gimmick orientated gameplay? Fortunately, it doesn’t, instead opting for a more subtle form of integration (with the exception of 1-2 Switch, which exists primarily as a showcase of the Switch’s features, much like Wii Sports and Nintendo Land). The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for example, offers an effective fusion of analogue and motion controlled aiming, that can be customised to your preference at any time. Should you favour non-motion controlled gameplay, the format in question can be selected from the options menu. This creates the scenario of allowing each and every player to select a playstyle based on their own personal preference, and it is a thoughtful and non-brash method of handling the Switch’s unique features.

Nintendo has demonstrated with pleasantly surprising confidence that they are serious about delivering an unparalleled gaming experience in the form of the Switch. Its expertly designed features, coupled with its reluctance to force them upon you, creates a perfect blend that moves far beyond the shortcomings of the Wii and Wii U. It is difficult to accurately predict a console’s future based purely on its initial performance, but in the case of the Switch, the saying “so far so good” springs to mind.

I invest my time in playing all manner of video games, and as of 2017, writing about all manner of video games.

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