It’s been eventful recently, to put it lightly. Friends’ wedding here, Queens of the Stone Age concert there, and oh yeah! Spending three weeks of a four-week period away from home thanks to traveling throughout the USA on account of my job!
However, I made sure to be thoroughly prepared for keeping myself sane during all that time. In my prior writing about my work travel woes—when I was given my first travel assignment in the back half of September, then when I was about to embark on the second assignment in California—I mentioned that one of the things to which I looked forward was the chance to test the limits and potential of my Nintendo Switch. I also proclaimed that I would do a write-up about my experiences and thoughts on the entire thing.
That was supposed to be shortly after the first trip to Dallas. One combination of job-related bullcrap and overall exhaustion later, that did not happen. Then I had to do a week of work in California. Then I had to do a week of work in Atlanta immediately after California with only A SINGLE WEEKEND-LONG BREAK IN BETWEEN TRIPS; the wedding that Sunday before flying back out Monday morning was wonderful, though.
Then the week after that (i.e. last week) included a New York City sojourn for a concert—my girlfriend and I repping the Madison Square Garden stadium seating, the honorable Narelle Ho Sang repping the standing room within spitting distance from Josh Homme—and shopping for costumes for a friend’s Halloween house party/sleepover and attending said Halloween house party/sleepover.
But all of that is now behind me. And as that also means sufficient distance from all three travel trips, and by extension the usage of the Switch during them, now seems like an excellent time to assess and analyze how Nintendo’s system fared while in action.
The Short Version
For two of the three weeks of travel, I did not actually do a whole lot of gaming, simply from not being in the mood to do so for much of those times. However, whenever I DID want to get some gaming time in, the Nintendo Switch always showed up to make it happen, regardless of whether it was waiting at an airport, during flight, on a hotel TV screen, in a server room, or even at a restaurant.
That purported flexibility is no exaggeration, and it truly came into its own during these trips. Overall, I’ve been very satisfied with my experiences thus far.
As for the long version? Well, let’s dive into it right now.
The first thing that absolutely has to be mentioned as a significant merit in the Nintendo Switch’s favor, is that it has made my traveling baggage situation a bit light lighter and much simpler. Anyone who doesn’t want to see me elaborate on that at length—understandable, but as a traveler, please also understand that how it affects those travels happens to be quite important, damnit!—all the actual gaming experiences start in the next section.
For necessary context, my traveling loadout pre-Switch would typically look like the following. One large luggage bag for my clothing, toiletries, and equipment for the job, and two laptop bags—for both personal and work laptops—which would additionally hold things like charging cables, my tablet, accessories like headphones and game controllers, and on exceedingly rare occasions my 3DS.
My luggage bag would be checked, and my laptop bags would serve as my carry-on bag and personal item. Which meant that yes, I constantly trekked through airports while bearing the weight of two laptops. It was as heavy and wearying as it sounds. So much so that sometimes, I would even try to fit one of my laptops into the luggage bag for the sake of making things lighter for myself.
However, one may understandably ask, why have two laptops in the first place, especially if I was already carrying around a tablet that could fulfill entertainment purposes? That was for two reasons of differing importance. First, and more minorly, it was a way of managing my phone’s music library on-the-so, especially if I was buying music albums and wanted to rip them for immediate consumption. The big reason, however: Video games.
If I wanted to play anything while off in some strange land for business, my laptop was the system of choice for the occasion, providing doses of Platformines, Borderlands 2, Superhot, or Pit People as my whims dictated. Sure, my 3DS could have arguably filled the same role, and done so while being significantly lighter, but all the games I would have wanted to play the most—and the ways in which I would have wanted to play them—were far better served by the laptop. Thus, it was a real pain in the ass to travel with my personal laptop, but I deemed the effort and trouble worth what everything it could offer for my gaming needs.
After getting the Nintendo Switch and starting to hash out all of the different ways it could be played, and then being faced with a whole batch of travel commitments, however, I began to wonder if maybe there was now another way? What if I could replace my personal laptop with the Switch? In fact, I had basically already prepared for being mobile with the entire system by opting for the deluxe carrying case, which has room and slots for carrying a pro controller and the dock, along with the potential for carrying various other accessories like a pair of headphones.
So that’s what I did during my previous three trips to Dallas, Sherman Oaks, and Atlanta! Instead of one large bag (checked luggage) and two laptop bags (carry-on and personal item), I traveled with one large bag (checked), my work laptop bag (carry-on, with tablet included for internet and video streaming entertainment), and the Nintendo Switch (personal item) via the deluxe case.
My back was exceedingly thankful to shed all that second-laptop weight, and also had the hidden benefit of making security less of a hassle to get through. Plus, because of the deluxe case’s ample amounts of empty space, I was even able to hold my headphones and phone charging cable in them, and it was easier to get them and stow them away than it would have been from the laptop bag.
Remarkably, that was all the case even though I was not packing light whatsoever where the Nintendo Switch was concerned. With the exception of a JoyCon grip, I practically traveled with the complete setup. That meant the Switch itself, along with all of my games in two cartridge holders, a pair of JoyCons with wristwraps, the pro controller, the Switch dock, the USB-C wall charger, and an HDMI cable. All originally packed in the deluxe case with a pair of headphones, until I wised up and moved the infrequently-used HDMI cable to the luggage bag and put in a phone charger instead. Yet it was all still so light and portable!
Point being, I suppose, the Switch was exceedingly easy to carry around. That ended up being a boon far beyond airport convenience, too, as should be evident later on.
My Switch and Me
So, now having gone beyond the hypothetical and theoretical into traveling with the Nintendo Switch in real life, how did I end up actually interacting with the thing? For the sake of preparing and reflecting on that, I kept notes—practically a diary, even—about what I was or was not doing with the system on any given day, and what I thought about the experience of doing all of those things at the time. Relating the play-by-play for each of the three weeks I was traveling for work seems like the best way to get across most of how the Switch factored into the routine.
Sunday September 24—Traveling day, from Jersey to Dallas. I make it to the airport, and check my bag of clothes and equipment. I keep my work laptop bag as my carry-on, and my Nintendo Switch deluxe case as my personal item, a considerably lighter load than my old setup of two laptop bags (work and personal) for carry-on and personal item. My shoulders are exceedingly thankful.
When I make it to the waiting area of my departure gate, I am able to charge my Switch with the provided charging stations. While waiting to board, I get in some single-player Splatoon 2 in handheld mode. Playing with the gyroscopic controls is surprisingly not that hampered by having the system plugged in for charging purposes.
It’s quite a good experience. And then the magnitude of this moment hits me: Holy shit, I really am playing full-on SPLATOON while on the go. This is unreal.
Taking out and putting away the various accessories packed into the deluxe Switch case is a bit of a hassle, especially since I have to balance stuff on my lap while doing so. All of these tiny loose things roaming about also makes it a messy affair whenever the case is opened. However, these are minor hardships which I have no problem tolerating.
After ending my time with single-player Splatoon 2, I suddenly have an idea that I immediately try putting into practice. What if I took out the Switch dock, plugged it into the charging station, and then plugged my phone’s charging cable into one of the dock’s USB ports? And what do you know! It actually works out pretty well! With this setup, I’m able to charge both the Switch and my phone at the same time with a single wall outlet!
Granted, the phone doesn’t charge nearly as fast as when it’s plugged into its very own outlet, but you know what? It feels good to have thought of a thing to do on a whim, put it into practice nearly as quickly, and see this setup actually function satisfactorily. It also dismantles quite easily as well with minimal hassle. This console’s flexibility continues to impress.
Up to this point, I had been carrying basically all of the Switch-related accessories in the deluxe case, including ones that I simply would never use in a travel setting like the USB-C cable for the pro controller and the HDMI cable. Then it dawns upon me: If they’re so rarely used, why even hold them in the case?
So I move them to my laptop bag, and utilize the case’s ample room by putting in my phone charger and headphones—non-Switch-centric things that I nonetheless will use far more often—in the case instead. This becomes a staple of my deluxe case loadout from that moment onward.
It’s finally time to board the plane. I put my carry-on, the work laptop bag, into the overhead bin. I retain the Switch deluxe case as my personal item, and sit down. Compared to my former personal item of choice, my personal laptop, the deluxe case is a vast improvement. It’s considerably smaller and lighter, making it way easier to set it on the floor while preserving some semblance of legroom.
Plus, it’s way faster and easier to setup the Nintendo Switch for airplane funtimes than a laptop! Because yes, there seriously were times where I’d try to play my laptop on a plane, courtesy of a whole lot of patience and dedication. Doing the same thing with a Switch throw into stark relief just how utterly absurd those old laptop efforts were, given how much more natural the Switch is at the job.
Unfortunately, none of that changes the fact that airplanes continue to be the world’s least comfortable form of transportation. Especially for Justins who have been awake since 6 in the morning.
The convenience in a plane environment is stellar. The deluxe case’s handle makes it extremely easy to take it from floor to lap and vice versa. Do I want to get something or put something away? Done in seconds! Want to experiment more with how to arrange things in the case, even if just on an immediate whim? It takes no time or effort to get the case on hand to do so! It’s also compact enough to both not be cumbersome to me and not intrude on my seatmates, even with me being in the dreaded middle seat.
In fact, I take advantage of all that ease and rearrange the deluxe case layout some more. There’s a Velcro pouch included with the case that I had been using to hold the wall charger. This time, however, I take the charger out of the pouch, and put the JoyCon wrist straps, Switch games, and my phone charger in there instead. The idea is to reduce the amount of loose items roaming about the deluxe case.
While in flight, I do some more Splatoon 2, this time in tabletop mode with the pro controller. The built-in stand is actually not a bad fit on the airplane fold-up tray. Was that weird-ass angle of elevation designed to address literally this one use case to the detriment of all other tabletop possibilities?
I arrive at the first stop on my journey, on layover in Georgia, then board the second and final plane towards Dallas proper. I play a wee bit of Puyo Puyo Tetris in the meantime, and suck. I spent most of the rest of the flight listening to all of the characters’ voice clips, because I’m just weird like that. Then the plane finally lands.
Filling my ears with the sounds of video games, and getting to engage my eyes and mind as well, is extremely refreshing, especially after all of the times where my only companion during a flight was my music. Getting to play console-ready games in this way is a real game changer for my travel habits.
Upon reaching the hotel, one of my hopes and dreams was fulfilled: I set up the Switch dock with the provided TV, and everything worked!
Monday September 25—Brought the Nintendo Switch on-site to work, with the deluxe case additionally housing my phone charger and headphones. I did not end up actually playing the Switch at all, because work activities ended up taking my full attention for the entirety of my time.
That said, bringing it along did not feel like a waste. For one, the fact that the Switch deluxe case could also hold my phone charger and headphones meant that the Switch was still indirectly useful for travel purposes. Additionally, everything was so easy and quick to pack up and just as effortless to unpack upon returning to the hotel.
Tuesday September 26—I have to wait at my hotel to receive something before I could do anything of importance at the work site, so I spend some of the interim time playing single-player Splatoon 2 on the room TV. Eventually, I get the thing I had been waiting for, meaning I can finally get onto site.
Thus, I take the Switch to work again. Unlike yesterday, there is actually a lot of downtime where the only thing I could do was wait for activities to finish on their own. Thus, I take the opportunity to play even more Splatoon 2 via tablet mode with the pro controller, setting up the Switch on top of the deluxe case. I actually end up finishing the single-player campaign.
Sometime after getting back to the hotel from work, I get the sudden desire to check out Crunchyroll. One instant afterward, something dawns upon me. Wouldn’t it be awfully nice to be able to use the Switch’s dock to potentially bring it up on the TV screen? With how trivial it was to set up, it’s infuriating to realize that I am literally just a video application away from a convenient portable TV video streaming solution.
That right there is a legitimate shortcoming of the Nintendo Switch. Its initial focus on being a gaming device first and foremost is laudable and understandable, but firsthand experience drilled home just how fantastic is could also be as a multimedia device. The flexibility of the system that serves it so well for gaming could serve it just as well for streaming, even putting it a cut above the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Yet as of today, there aren’t any apps to capitalize on the potential.
Wednesday September 27 to Saturday September 30—I have not really been using the Switch at all. Most of the rest of my time has been work, napping and being extremely lazy on account of recuperating from work (particularly how much bullshit I had to contend with on this go-around) and a mediocre mattress that constantly made me sore and tired midway throughout the day, or going to a Round 1 location one evening.
However, I always bring the Switch along with me to work, along with my phone charger and headphones, courtesy of the deluxe case. It’s surprising to think that the case has become my preferred way of storing a charger for quick access while on the job. I mean, if you’re gonna bring the case along anyway, why not take advantage of it?
Thus far, the Nintendo Switch has thus far proved itself to be a definite net positive on my traveling experiences.
Sherman Oaks, California
Sunday October 8—Traveling day! I have a similar arrangement of bags and accessories from last time, though I’ve now wised up by putting the HDMI wire in the checked luggage. Phone charger and headphones stay in my Switch deluxe case for ease of access, as the case is once again my personal item of choice.
I do not play anything at the airport, but the departure gate has table seating with a generous number of power outlets. I sit down, then charge the Switch with the dock resting on the deluxe case while waiting to board the plane. Perhaps that sounds a bit more convoluted than just having the Switch plugged directly into the wall charger, but with how easy it is to both setup and break down the dock, the extra effort was rather minimal and easily worth the added stability and convenience benefits from charging in the dock.
I board the plane from Newark to Sherman Oaks, and it’s massive! One of those planes with two aisles and ten seats per row.
The backs of the seats in front of us are interesting this time, because they have these device-holding clamps which are meant for holding tablets and phones. Meaning that they could also hold a Nintendo Switch. I make that happen, first with the JoyCons still on the sides, but then with the JoyCons removed. The slight bit of extra device thickness that the JoyCons provide makes it hard for the clamps to hold the Switch securely, so I found that it works considerably better with the JoyCons taken off.
Given this setup, the Switch practically behaves like a mini television, as opposed to being in a tabletop mode. Add in a pro controller, and this is a really cool way to play! However, the battery eventually gets low, and the back-seat clamps unfortunately block the USB-C charging port. Thus, to charge the Switch with the plane’s provided power outlets, I sadly have to remove the system from those clamps.
Fortunately, I am still able to both charge and play by laying the Switch down on the back-seat tray, looking down at the screen, and using the pro controller. It’s not the ideal way of doing things, sure, but it still worked without much fuss.
Oh yeah! I should talk about the games I indulged in during the flight as well! Before and during takeoff, I started off by playing some Thumper. That may not have been the best idea, as all of the shaking and rockiness from takeoff definitely added some unintended challenge to the proceedings. Also, holy shit did it get a whole lot more difficult in level 4.
Thumper was decent as an airplane game. It’s wholly reactive, given all of its rhythm game characteristics, so there was not a whole lot of forethought and strategic thinking that had to go into it. These work trips often get to be mentally taxing, so having something fun that doesn’t have to engage the “What should I do?” part of the brain that much is quite welcome.
However, Thumper is also EXTREMELY demanding in the “purely reactive” department, so after I finally finished that cursed fourth level, I was pooped and opted out of doing any more. At that point, I switched gears and played some Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, revisiting World 1 to do some challenge battles and even coming across a hidden level.
Mario + Rabbids ended up being very good as an airplane game, despite having very different characteristics from Thumper. As a tactical strategy game, it engages a whole lot more of the forethought-providing functions of the brain, but it also manages to do that without being overwhelming. The fact that it’s turn-based and lets me take as much time as I desire to make any decisions makes it an easy-going, patient game. That was especially appreciated after the hectic difficulty of Thumper.
Additionally, the majority of “What should I do?” decisions to make are restricted within the bounds of individual battles, which I can always restart if they go wrong, so those decisions don’t even come with a lot of pressure. And all of the more macro decisions that fall outside of battle and actually are more monumental—Where new to go next? Which upgrades and weapons to give to my characters?—can be wholly ignored in favor of revisiting past levels.
Eventually, with three hours of the flight still remaining, I end my gaming sessions and switch over to listening to some music instead, letting the Switch charge in the back-seat pocket in the meantime. It still continues to be awesome playing on a full-on game console while 30,000 feet in the air, and it has helped keep significant chunks of these flights entertaining.
Shortly after landing and getting to my hotel, I spend most of the rest of the day and evening hanging out with my uncle who lives close by in California. We pay a visit to the Getty Villa and bask in gorgeous recreations of ancient Roman architecture and excavated artifacts. We also take a hiking excursion at a favored spot of his, Tuna Canyon Park. It’s one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever witnessed, and one of the most peaceful, most tranquil moments I have felt in a long, long time.
It was wonderful getting to see my uncle and share in a slice of his southern California life for a while. There is plenty about traveling for work that I do not like, but I am thankful that at least they also send me to places where I have family, because that does a lot to make the traveling effort worth it.
Monday October 9—I set up the dock in my hotel room. No actual Switch action happens, however. That said, I continue to take it to work along with my Switch deluxe case, which also houses my phone charger and headphones as per usual.
Tuesday October 10—No Switch action once again. Still take it to work via my case. Oh yeah, and thanks to another case of extreme work-related bullshit, I end up having to go back to the work site late in the evening, specifically at 11:00 pm Pacific time. Which feels like 1:00 in the morning to me thanks to the magic of timezones. Fuck.
Wednesday October 11—I play a little bit of Mario + Rabbids in my hotel room. About maybe a half hour at most. That ends up being the last instance of Switch usage for the entire Sherman Oaks trip. After the combination of three-hour time difference and late-night work session, I just did not have it that much in me to do much more gaming.
Thursday October 12—Traveling day to arrive back in Jersey. I have an overnight flight that gets me home early Friday morning. While waiting at the airport, music ends up being my distraction of choice rather than gaming.
New Jersey (intermission)
Friday October 13—I come back home around 6:30 in the morning. Literally the first thing I do after putting my bags down is feed the cats their breakfast. Then I get into sleepy clothes and pass out.
Saturday October 14—Hello Newark International Airport, my old friend! Though this time, it’s because my girlfriend and I are picking up one of our college friends for a big day tomorrow.
Sunday October 15—We attend the wedding for two of our other longtime college friends. It’s wonderful and utterly surreal. I tear up a little during the ceremony. Here’s my girlfriend and I all dressed up for the occasion.
They also have a mashed potato bar during cocktail hour. It makes me swoon.
Monday October 16—One day after attending a wedding, it’s time to travel once again. Same usual luggage setup as before.
While in the airport, I wanted to get Graceful Explosion Machine, as it seemed like a good game to accompany an airplane ride. However, WiFi at the airport isn’t free. Thus, I look up the file size for the game, see that it’s not even 300 MB, and then use my phone as a hotspot to provide the Switch its gateway to the internet. With that setup, I download the game.
I then end up playing it for most of my two-hour flight to Atlanta, via tabletop mode with the back-seat tray and my deluxe case for extra elevation. It turns out that I was thoroughly correct about Graceful Explosion Machine being a good in-flight game. In fact, it may just be the absolute best game for these traveling occasions.
Similar to Thumper, it is a wholly reactive experience where I don’t have to worry about forethought-intensive decisions. However, whereas Thumper is always keeping you at maximum tension at all times, Graceful Explosion Machine and its weapon-juggling routine is the epitome of zen. It gets hard as hell sometimes, but even then, it still remains an utterly chill experience. It is perfect for just zoning out to, which my brain especially loves during the rigors of a travel trip.
Immediately after arriving at Atlanta early afternoon, I drive to the work site and get to work. Didn’t end up playing my Switch while there, but I did make a lot of progress. Not bad for having been in New Jersey just that morning.
After work, I check into the hotel, and prep the Switch dock with the room’s TV.
Tuesday October 17—This is when I REALLY start letting loose with the Nintendo Switch.
I bring it to work via the deluxe case as per usual. However, once lunch time hits, I decide to bring it along with me as I walk around the city looking for a place to eat. That place, lucky me, ended up being Gus’s Fried Chicken. I eventually find out that the fried chicken is out of this world.
After ordering my food, I decide to start playing it via tabletop mode while standing it on top of the deluxe case, using the pro controller. My game of choice is, once again, Graceful Explosion Machine. However, I end up only getting literally a minute of playtime in, but that ends up for being due to circumstances that sound right out of a Nintendo Switch commercial.
One of the waitresses, seeing me play my game, comes up to me and asks what device it is. What this that there new Nintendo Switch??? I acknowledge that it is. She did not realize that it was a portable game console. I then mention that it’s also able to be played on the TV.
She then asks me for some gift advice for her 8-year-old son. He already has a 3DS and an Xbox 360, and next wants either a Playstation 4 or Xbox One. However, looking that this thing I’ve got right here, she is now thinking that the Switch might be perfect for him instead.
I told her that a large part of what system would be best for her son would come down to the games that he is looking to play. If he likes Nintendo games, then he would absolutely be set with a Switch, no question. To that point, she mentions that her son does actually have Mario for the iPad. Which, side note: Does that mean Super Mario Run may actually be an indirect benefit to Nintendo beyond how much money it takes in?!
In any case, hey, maybe there is good reason to think he’d be fine with a Switch after all. I then mention that I have absolutely loved this thing so far. At the end of our conversation, I also told the waitress that if she is indeed looking to get a Nintendo Switch as a gift after all, that hopefully they will be way easier to come by once the holidays roll around.
So, yeah…I may have inadvertently made a convert out of someone.
After being done with work for the day, I played a good deal more Graceful Explosion Machine in the evening using the hotel TV. It eventually turns out that between finally traveling somewhere where I don’t have to deal with timezone changes, and the work being refreshingly easy for once, I do waaaayy more gaming this week than the other previous weeks.
Wednesday October 18—I once again bring my Nintendo Switch to lunch, this time at the Metro Cafe Diner. I get in a few minutes of sucking at Graceful Explosion Machine. That ends up being the extent of game time for the day.
Oh, by the way, I have family—my uncle, my aunt as of five years ago, and several cousins—in Georgia as well! Thus, after work, I drive over to his home, and get to hang with everyone for the evening, including having dinner with them. I enjoy it all immensely, and am thankful that I at least get to be around those who I love during my travels.
Thursday October 19—I play a whole bunch more Graceful Explosion Machine in the evening on the hotel TV. Much of it even ends up being during a phone call with my girlfriend. Another side benefit of having a mindless zen game in my gaming library.
Friday October 20—I get up at the unforgivably early time of 4:30 am, because I need to be at work at 6:00. However, the actual work activities are not so bad, thankfully. I also played plenty of Graceful Explosion Machine in handheld mode while on site, enough to end up beating the first two planets’ Warp+ challenges.
Once work is all done and I get in a nice nap at the hotel, I once again head over to my Georgia family. There is a Halloween lantern parade going on tonight. Having never been to one, and because it sounds so cool, I agree to attend with them. They have their own set of lights and a paper lantern, so we’ll actually be walking the parade route!
Turns out, the parade is as fun as I hoped, and then some. There were a whole lot of really cool lanterns and costumes on display as well, which my pictures do not even remotely do justice.
Afterwards, we get some Wendy’s for dinner, and I hang at their home for a bit more time before making the drive back to my hotel to end the night.
Saturday October 21—It’s my birthday!!!! Also the day when I’m flying back home to Jersey. Boooo.
However, I get to see family for one last time before driving back out to the airport. They even celebrate said birthday with me! A breakfast of eggs and chicken and biscuits was had. Makeshift Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches were the dessert. I was happy to have this before dealing with airports once again.
I played a bit more Graceful Explosion Machine on the flight back. Tabletop mode with the pro controller, using the Switch deluxe case for extra elevation, has essentially become my portable setup of choice whenever I can make it happen.
And with that, the last of three travel trips is finally at its end.
If there is one thing that the rapid-fire influx of recent trips really drilled home for me, it is that the circumstances accompanying much of this travel-for-work business are often far from ideal. Two out of three of those week-long trips, in fact, went rather sideways. Thus, the times during which I was either able to play the Switch or was in the mood to play the Switch were wildly inconsistent.
Usually, the end result of spending a week or two rarely playing the game system coming along for the ride would be feeling like it was not an important part of the trip. Like maybe it ought to be left behind next time. Remarkably, I never felt that way about the Nintendo Switch. I always felt that it was a worthwhile addition to my journeys.
Sure, the extent of desire for playing games, rather than for more passive leisurely activities like watching stuff on my tablet or listening to music, varied significantly on any given day—sometimes not even being there at all for long stretches—but when I DID get those hankering to play something? Well, the Nintendo Switch was there for me, and never failed to do its job justice.
Here’s the thing about the Switch: I fundamentally enjoy playing it more than any other portable game systems. Quite frankly, I don’t find the likes of the Game Boy Advance or the DS family of systems to feel that good to play. Perfectly serviceable, yes! But legitimately good? Not so much, and that is largely on account of their subpar controllers and the fact that I’m just not the biggest fan of holding a tiny game-playing screen in my hand. Those are the kinds of thing which will always hamper my personal play experiences, no matter how incredible any given GBA or 3DS game is.
I am pretty sure that all eventually contributed to my personal laptop eventually turned into my travel game system of choice for a good while. Sure, it was nice having all of these cool games on hand wherever I went! But looking back now in retrospect, I am pretty sure that much of its appeal also came down to such innate hardware characteristics as having a screen that I could actually set down rather than having to hold all the time, and allowing me to use full-on controllers—keyboard-and-mouse, a 360 controller, a Steam controller—that inherently feel good to play with.
Unfortunately, carrying around a laptop and the act of simply setting it up for use are huge pains in the ass. It may be portable, but it is also a cumbersome piece of technology. Bringing it along for travel meant accepting such downsides for the sake of the enjoyment it could give me.
Then the Nintendo Switch came around, and ended up having literally everything that appealed to me about bringing a laptop on my travels for gaming purposes while leaving behind the drawbacks. I got my portable gaming with full-on controllers, and no longer did it come with a laptop’s more cumbersome aspects.
One recurring theme that you may have picked up on was that whenever there was an opportunity to use the pro controller, no matter if it was on a TV screen or not, I took it. That is partially because I much prefer the feel of a full controller to anything else. Additionally, unlike probably at least 90% of all other Switch players, I try to opt out of handheld mode as much as possible. This perhaps makes me an atypical user.
And yet the Nintendo Switch is still flexible and friendly enough to accommodate my unreasonable demands. A lesser, more typical breed of system would most likely be a massive pain in the ass about trying to use a pro controller when it’s not even plugged into the TV, because yo! That’s where the JoyCons obviously come in! It might not even work properly if you don’t remove the JoyCons first!
But the Switch does not have any of those hurdles. You can get set up with the pro controller in seconds, regardless of whether it’s docked or not. The JoyCons don’t even need to removed from the sides of the Switch to get the pro controller to properly register. It’s just exceedingly easy to play the Switch in the exact precise way that I, an atypical player, want to play it. That is profoundly impactful.
Additionally, to the Switch’s credit, the JoyCons themselves are pretty decent as well. So even if handheld mode is the only way through which I am able to play at a given time, I will still enjoy myself regardless. It’s still a far smaller compromise on my part than using a 3DS or putting up with the headaches of lugging around and setting up a laptop.
Meaning that even when the playtimes were rare, they were still as enjoyable as they could possibly be. Plus, even if I were to never use a Switch while actually at my place of travel, it would still be of great use during the times when having a form of entertainment to keep me sane was most important, i.e. sitting still on an airplane for hours on end.
I think a couple of other things also helped the Switch’s value proposition. First, because the Switch is so light and can be all wholly contained in a single carrying case, bringing it along to accommodate even the rarest and most remote possibility that I’m going to want to play it was never a hassle. Second, and more indirectly, the deluxe case also ended up being useful for assisting with my general travel needs by being a good place to hold my phone charger and headphones.
Therefore, while I would never bring my personal laptop to a work site or to lunch, I was compelled to bring my Switch with me all the time, no matter where I went. Even if I did not end up playing the system at all during any given excursion.
Ultimately, as a portable gaming system, the Switch passes my business trip assessment with flying colors. There are yet more travel trips that I will have to endure, with the next one sadly starting up next weekend, but I will absolutely be bringing the Switch along to accompany me. After how well it’s served me over the past month, it is now officially an indispensable part of my travel repertoire.
It’s still not quite perfect, though! If there is one thing that the Nintendo Switch can do to upgrade itself from being the ultimate traveler’s killer gaming app to the ultimate traveler’s killer app, it’s to get the likes of Netflix, YouTube, Crunchyroll, etc. so that the dock can work wonders for easy streaming on every TV I come into contact with.
And that about covers it all. If you made it to this very final point, thank you for reading, and feel free to let me know what you think.