Sunday, March 5, 2017

March 3rd - Nintendo Switch (U.S.) Launch

What a weekend it has been! March 3rd has come and gone and that means the Nintendo Switch has officially been launched in the U.S. for a few days now. From what I've been reading in social media, Nintendo and retails have been really happy with the strong sales numbers at launch, but what are the consumers saying?

launch day haul

Back in January when Nintendo unveiled the Switch via their webcast, being on the east coast I had to stay up later than I would normally do on a work night to watch it. I was impressed, though like many others I had questions. I thought many of the games that were showcased looked fantastic, but was disappointed that some games weren't going to be in the launch line up. At that point, I really had not paid The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild much attention. When the presentation was over it appears that most rushed to their favorite retailer online to put down their pre-order. I did not. I still was on the fence. After all, I don't normally buy consoles on launch day...for several different reasons.

The next morning I awoke to some crazy stories on social media of how fast the pre-orders were selling out. Out of curiousity, I checked Best Buy to see what their stock was like and surprisingly the standard gray console was still available for pre-order. I went ahead and placed my order, for Zelda too. Then the wait began. Over the next 2 months we would hear all sorts of stories about battery life, frame rate dropped while in handheld mode, the lack of games, etc. I do have to admit I was not prepared to hear all the negative news and comments, but then again this is Nintendo we are talking about. It seems as if people love to hate on Nintendo.

Then finally, March 3rd came and I was anxious as ever to pick up the system. My little Best Buy didn't participate in the midnight launch, which was fine by me. Instead I opted to wait until the store opened up at 10 AM Friday morning. While I was waiting, I went to the nearby Walmart and Target to see what was going on over there. Walmart still had the big cardboard display up that the Switch was coming games or accessories were on display. I did however find that their stock of 30th Anniversary Zelda Amiibos were on clearance. I picked up the Wind Waker 2 pack for $12. Next I ran over to Target and at least they had games and accessories on display. I grabbed a travel case for $20 and went on my way. There was a small line waiting outside Best Buy. About 10 people maybe ahead of me. I believe they only had 5 or so Switch consoles that weren't already spoken for and were handing out tickets prior to my arrival. Just inside the store, they had set up a table with all of the games and accessories available. I basically just jumped in line to pick up my pre-order so I could go about my day.

I wanted to take the day off from work so I could enjoy launch day that much more, but I work from home most days so I thought I could still sneak some play in. Well the universe was against me that day. If things could go wrong at work, they did and so I had to handle them. I believe it was closer to 4 PM before I even unpacked the system and plugged it in for the first time.

I knew about the day one update that activiated many features of the Switch. I wanted to get this started as soon as I could because of course I was anxious to play Zelda. The initialization menus were easy and straight forward, however I had a hard time getting the Switch connected to my wireless internet for some reason. Once I did and got the system update running, it again kept losing signal. I finally restarted my router and problem solved. I believe the update took about 30 minutes or so, not terribly bad at all. While it was updating, I hooked up the dock to my TV. Once the update was done, I moved the AC adapter over to the dock and gave TV mode a try for the first time. It took about 3 seconds for the image to transfer from the Switch to the TV (but the other way around is near seamless). I set up a profile for my wife and browsed the eShop, but wouldn't you know it...dinner time.

After dinner was done and cleaned up and the kids were in bed...finally it was game time. Let me start off by saying that I'm not a big Zelda fan. I guess you could say I'm just a casual Zelda fan at best. I've played the original NES game a few times (never beat it). I bought Twilight Princess at launch with my Nintendo Wii (which was the last launch day console I bought) and I really enjoyed the game (dispite the tiring motion controls) up until I got to a fishing scene where I couldn't progress. Needless to say I was excited about playing Breath of the Wild, even though up until this point I still had stayed away from pouring over the content of this game. I guess you could say I didn't want to be spoiled and I wanted to discover everything for the first time...the first time.

Up until Sunday afternoon, I've put in about 20 hours into the game...and I'm not tired of it yet. I am absolutely loving exploring the open world and find out what is around the corner, on top of the mountain and across the sea. The puzzle elements in the shrines are starting to give me a fit, but overall I've enjoyed every minute of the game. I'm sad the weekend is wrapping up as I won't have as much time to play during the week.

Overall I've found the Switch to be another marvelous Nintendo system. However it's not without flaw. As many outlets previously reported, the left Joycon has a habit of de-synching itself in the middle of your gameplay (TV mode only). It will usually come back on by itself, but there were a few times I died playing Zelda because I'd try to walk to the edge of a cliff and Link would simply keep on walking...right off the cliff! It also seems as if there is anything in the way of your controller and the dock while playing in TV mode you'll notice some horrible lag, or downright unresponsiveness. At one point last night I crossed my leg and rested my foot on my knee...and the controller started acting up. I put my leg down and the controller was fine. This pretty much confirmed for me that I'm buying the Pro Controller as soon as the funds allow.

I've only used the Switch in table top mode a short time. I do like that option, but maybe it's just me but I found it difficult to open up the kick stand on the back. Perhaps that Hori table top cradle they've made is a worthy purchase in the future? I took the Swith with me to church earlier today to show my older brother and I ended up playing it in handheld mode in the car on the way to and from. I usually reserve my Sunday afternoons to get caught up on my comic reading, but wouldn't you know I sat on the couch for at least 2 hours (if not longer) playing. My guess is I got in at least 3 hours of play before I got the first low battery warning. For a game as powerful and large as Zelda, I'm OK w/ 3 hours. I most likely won't be playing it in handheld mode as much, but man I do love having that option.

The launch lineup was a little sparse, but I know that Zelda will keep me occupied for some time. I do want to download Snipperclips as I showed that to my wife, hoping that it would lessen the scowl of hers when I told her I had the Switch pre-ordered already! Not surprisingly, she does agree that could be a great co-op game for us both...and maybe even my 2 young daughters?

Next week I'll be downloading the new Blaster Master Zero for sure. The original in the NES is one of my all time favorites and despite the few successors it's had, none of them have been able to capture the excitement and feel of the original. Hopefully this one won't disappoint.

Of course before I go and download anything from the eShop I need to pick up a Micro SD card for myself. I'm not thrilled with the news that there isn't any way to transfer saved data from the console (at least, not yet), but I won't be downloading my games as I'm still one of those that perfers physical releases. Is the Nintendo Switch perfect? Nope, but it's the best new Nintendo platform I've played in a very long time and I'm really looking forward to what the future brings. I hope this is the first step in repairing relationships with third party developers because I would love to see the likes of Capcom and Konami bringing back new versions of their classic IPs (and new ones of course) to the Switch. I guess now only time will tell.

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