Nintendo Switch Preview Tour (Recap)
By Eric Ashley (@flapjackashley)
I was lucky enough to secure a ticket to the Nintendo Switch Preview Tour (lovingly known as the “Switch and Play Event”) in Chicago this past weekend and I was able to come away with three and a half hours of hands-on time with the new home console from the house that Mario built.
The event itself was very high energy. Prior to entering, Nintendo passes out a guide sheet on their guidelines for recording or streaming video from the event: for example, you could only record/stream 20 minutes of Zelda, 10 minutes of 1-2-Switch, and conditions such as you had to show the game from behind someone who was playing it as to get the gamer in the shot as well as the game itself. But that being said, they encouraged pictures and video to be shared on social media.
After a somewhat awkward filing into the room, in which all the Nintendo reps make an aisle for you to walk down and applaud you like you are a runway model, you are unleashed to try out everything they have. And Nintendo brought every single game that has been announced through summer, from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, to Snipperclips, to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Sonic Mania, Splatoon 2 and more. All in all, I think over 15 games were on display and ready to be played. And with a generous amount of time since I was able to attend one of the ticketed, pre-selected events and not the Sunday ones that are open to the general public, I got to try them all. The environment was very high “techy”, and props were scattered throughout that you could pose with. A giant screen in front was for live demos, hosted by an MC.
SWITCHING IT UP: THE HARDWARE:
First up: at first glance in person, the Switch console itself seemed even smaller than I though, and it reminded me of an Amazon Kindle in its shape and size. That, however, didn’t matter much when playing a game on the screen itself in glorious 720p as it still offers an immersive gaming experience. The process of undocking the game console, while on, and having the game switch from the big screen to the control screen was absolutely seamless. The Joycon controllers themselves are a big small, but not uncomfortable, and I was able to use them as a motion controller and a standard controller with ease – although I think there is a possibility of hand cramps if you have a three hour gaming marathon. The much talked about “HD Rumble” feature in the Joycons was mind blowing – in games like 1-2-Switch, you can literally feel how the HD Rumble makes a difference over standard vibration effects, and it really opens the door to some really unique gameplay experiences in the future. The expensive Pro Controller worked fine as well, but I’m not convinced it is worth the high asking price. All the demos were already running on the systems so there were no glances at the User Interface, menus or anything like that for those of us who haven’t seen or wanted verification on that YouTube leak video last week.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the star attraction, obviously, and was the only game in which you had to obtain a ticket to play at a scheduled time. I played 20 minutes of it and it seems like it really could be one of the best games ever made – the hype is warranted. And it looks even more beautiful in person.
Snipperclips was, to me, the game of the evening. Playing it with others brings back the joy of local multiplayer – there were a ton of laughs to be had, and the game had the third biggest wait line to play (behind Zelda and Mario Kart 8). I think this eShop game will be one of the biggest surprises for the Switch. A question I have been asked is whether Snipperclips has online or a one-player mode – and the answers are no and yes, in that order.
I’ll admit that when I saw 1-2-Switch and ARMS at the Switch Presentation in January, I groaned with disappointment. But having played both, they aren’t bad and can be fun. 1-2-Switch is becoming known for the cow milking minigame, which was on full display, and made excellent use of the HD Rumble feature in the Joycon controllers. ARMS also made good use of the HD Rumble and lots of people seemed to be won over by it. I think 1-2-Switch will be a great party game, but I still think it would have more success as a pack-in as opposed to a $50 stand alone title.
Sonic Mania was another title I was anxious to try and it brought back so many memories of classic 16-bit Sonic. Puyo Puyo Tetris and Bomberman R both played as expected, and Splatoon 2 was present as the demo version that will be eventually released on the eShop ahead of its summer release. Just Dance 2017 was present as well, but we know what that is already.
Outside of other self explanatory games like Street Fighter II, that leaves Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and it didn’t disappoint. The revamped battle mode will delight fans with its new maps, Splatoon characters and more – although everything else in the game is unchanged from the Wii U version. It’s important to note that at full price, MK8 Deluxe is not really marketed to those who bought the Wii U original, but more for the millions who owned the Wii (that game sold over 36 million copies alone) and previous versions who didn’t buy a Wii U (only 13 million sold worldwide).
WRAPPING IT UP:
The night went by too fast. But at the end, I went away feeling a lot more confident about the future of the Nintendo Switch. People were enthusiastic about it – and even though they were all Nintendo fans, they can sometimes be the hardest to please, and everyone there seemed to be pumped with a level of energy that the Wii U never had. On the way out, Nintendo reps gave us a commemorative Nintendo Switch pin and a Switch-branded Cookie which was very good.
Nintendo has been frustratingly tight-lipped about the Switch for months way back when it was first known by it’s codename, the NX. But hands-on events like this does something a Nintendo Direct can’t do, which is let you experience it for yourself. It was a great evening and did what it was supposed to do – get the fan base excited, and hopefully that grows to release and beyond.