Hello again! If you read my previous post, you saw that I ended it with a promise to go into detail about my thoughts regarding a certain upcoming Nintendo console. After standing in line for about an hour, I tried the Nintendo Switch at PAX South this past weekend, and here’s what I thought of the whole experience:

My first thought upon seeing it behind a glass case: “It’s tinier than I was expecting!”

First of all, props to Nintendo for doing the best they could with this event. Obviously, the Switch was the high-demand item this year, and the lines were crazy. I ended up skipping the Breath of the Wild demo precisely because I felt like my time was already limited, and they were predicting close to 3 hours for the wait time. There were two other events going on: there was the general Switch preview where you could play 3 of 6 not-Zelda games, and there was also a live demonstration where you could get called onstage to play Bomberman, or play Mario Kart in one of the holding areas. I ended up participating in all of these, but we’ll start with my first experience with the Switch itself.

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First off, when you enter the Switch area, you’re given a card with the six available games on it. You’re then told that you have to pick three (standing in line again to do the other three is allowed).

It’s like Sophie’s Choice, only instead of deciding which of my children is going to die I’m deciding which video games to not play. That’s basically the same thing, right?

I went with Snipperclips, ARMS, and Bomberman. I’ll talk about those ina bit, but first I wanted to discuss the elephant in the room: the Switch Joy-Cons. The biggest concern I’ve seen over them, and one that I previously shared, has to do with their size. I can say at this point that I personally did not have any issues playing the Switch, but if you’ve got noticeably bigger hands than me I imagine you might have a problem with the horizontal Joy-Con.

I’d probably compare playing with it like this to using a Game Boy Micro. Only without having to also make room for a screen on the device, so a little more playing room.

Snipperclips was the first game I played. Once my partner and I figured the basics out, we were having a lot of fun working out how to solve the various puzzles. Moreover, it felt like I was really accomplishing something by figuring out a solution, and the flexibility the game gives you means that there’s often not a clear-cut answer. I had a lot of fun playing it, but if you want to learn more about it I’ll point you toward Zarnyx’s more in-depth review.

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ARMS was the second game I played, and my personal favorite of the weekend. It’s actually a lot more in-depth than I was expecting- there’s a lot of precision involved, and timing is everything. I felt like I was playing the game much better toward the end of it than I was at the beginning, which is a good sign that there’s both a learning curve to the game and that it won’t take me hundreds of hours of play to figure out. Although I know a lot of people turn up their noses at motion controls, I generally felt like my character was doing what I wanted them to do, with no extreme motions required.

ARMS came with the bumpers attached to the Joy-Con, which added some much-welcome bulk. I think that they’ll also benefit the people who find the horizontal configuration a bit too small.

Despite being a boxing game, this is very a different game than Punch-Out!!. The latter is almost a puzzle game- you win by analyzing the boss’s patterns, figuring out where the openings are, and exploiting them. ARMS is much more like a traditional fighting game, where each character has some unique properties but are fairly balanced against each other. There’s a standard fighting game triangle of effectiveness, where blocks stop punches/grabs ignore blocks/punches interrupt grabs. One other cool thing is how each character has three fists that punch in different styles- one might be a slower but stronger punch, while another might be a rapid-fire series of barrages. What really makes it neat is that you can put a different fist on each arm, so (for example) your left punch wears them down while your right delivers the big hit. It’s a neat little customization aspect that really opens up the potential of the characters.

Finally, I played Bomberman. This was largely because I posted the image of the stamp-card on Facebook, and apparently all my friends are Bomberman fans. Who am I to disappoint? Well, as far as the game itself goes... it’s Bomberman. This game figured out its mechanics years ago. If you like Bomberman, you will like it on the Switch.

What I did like was the opportunity to play in handheld mode- where the Joy-Cons are attached to the Switch and the whole thing is held like a WiiU tablet. It was hard to judge the weight of the whole thing because they also had it tethered in to prevent people from just walking off with their new system, but I’d say that playing the Switch in that way shouldn’t be a hassle at all. I also got to play Mario Kart 8 in that configuration, and it was a lot of fun, so overall I think that particular layout works pretty well.

Yes, this is the best picture I could get of me holding the Switch in my hand. It was dark, and I didn’t want to make everyone else wait on me.

And speaking of Mario Kart, let me share a little bit on that. Specifically, the addition of the second item slot to the game. I actually kind of liked MK8's approach to items- you can’t get a new one if you’re, say, dragging a shell or banana peel behind you, so it made defending yourself harder. This meant that you’re not as safe in first place from red shells, which is the person in second’s best way to overtake the lead. It was a departure from past games, and I’m not sure I like the change in the remixed version of 8. That being said, with the return of double item boxes, it also allows the players in behind to inject more chaos into the system, so I guess it works out in the end. We’ll see.

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Overall I enjoyed what I got to play of the Switch- the device’s screen looks very nice in person, and none of the potential control schemes struck me as particularly difficult to use. I preordered one once that opened up, and I’m not regretting my decision after playing it. While I wish I had gotten a chance to play Breath of the Wild, I’ve been sold on that game for a while now, so it was nice to play some titles that intrigued me but hadn’t convinced me they were worth buying. I think everyone’s pretty much decided on where they stand on the Switch by now, but if you’ve been wanting more info I hope my early impressions have been helpful!