Hello you lovely individual you, welcome to something that I’ve been wanting to gush about all day; the London Hammersmith Nintendo Switch Preview event! Competition winners and press individuals got the chance to visit the Hammersmith Apollo theater to get hands-on with the Nintendo Switch, releasing March 3rd, 2017, letting everyone get their hands on games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, 1-2 Switch and many more!!
For a quick note, here is a list of what we were able to play at today’s event:
- Disgaea 5 Complete
- Just Dance 2017
- Fast RMX
- Super Bomberman R
- Skylanders Imaginators
- Street Fighter II Ultra – The Final Challenger
- Sonic Mania
- 1-2 Switch!
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild
- Splatoon 2
- Mario Kart 8: Deluxe
A healthy list! So, shall we go through each topic one-by-one?
Nintendo Switch – The Main Event!
So how did the Nintendo Switch fare? Was it as advertised? How did it feel? Well, we got the opportunity to use the Switch in every single way advertised, in it’s Docked Mode with the Nintendo Switch Controller, JoyCon controller, and with the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, in it’s Portable Mode with the JoyCons attached, and with just the JoyCons on their own; when playing games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, admittedly the standard Nintendo Switch Controller can feel a little bit cramped in your hands, especially after a long period of time, however given this you do always have the option to sit back freely with the JoyCons on their own or even in Portable Mode when you start to feel uncomfortable; I should say now that I do have rather large hands, so this is a very specific bugbear of mine – We were also demoed the Switching between Docked Mode and Portable Mode, and I have to admit that, whilst being initially skeptical of the first adverts for this thing, switching is as advertised – Near instantaneous. It is a glorious thing to behold too, with the applications of this being very evident – I was able to just take the Switch out of it’s console dock, and by the time it had unclipped I was already back to playing on the small screen.
The screen is another thing that needs to be commented on – I personally found the screen size to be fine at short-ranged to mid-ranged distances, such as sitting on a desk or a table, however this may be an issue when sitting back and playing on something like a coffee table and sofa with some mates; the image quality and performance of this little thing (Which sits at 6.2 inches, and has a capacitive touchscreen with multi-touch) surprised me as well, with the standalone unit running at 720p with a constant framerate at 30fps or higher, it does pack quite the punch – This obviously will vary from game to game, as you’ll hear later, but it was amazing to play Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8: Deluxe on such a clear, bright, and easy to see screen with no tearing. I’d love to be able to take this with me to business trips and on train / car / plane trips!
Battery life, however, was a little bit of a concern for me – Nintendo were quick to point out that your average system battery life will vary depending on what games you play, with 1-2 Switch lasting around 5-6 hours on a full charge, and TLOZ: BOW lasting around 2.5-3 hours on a full charge – This can be remedied however by using a USB-C battery charger pack that you can commonly find all over the internet.
Now…Onto the games! Note that I can’t really comment much on Disgaea 5 Complete, Skylanders Imaginators or on Street Fighter II, as I was only able to see a little bit due to queues. I’ll also be leaving out other titles like Just Dance 2017 and Mario Kart 8, since really it’s just more of the same.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
So, the Switch’s spearhead that hopes to take the console into the best-sellers – The Legend of Zelda: BOW was honestly unlike any other Zelda game I’ve ever played, opting for a fully open world, voice acted (In cutscenes, regular gameplay aims for a more traditional style), and a more ‘anicient technical’ visual style full of stony architecture, glowing neon particles and vivid scenery, did the highlight title pull off what it needed to do? Everyone in the 20 minute demo started off at the same point, where Link awakens from a 100 year slumber in a pool of liquid – After grabbing the Sheikah Slate, you set off towards the open Grand Plains, and head on your way towards…Well…Wherever you want!
The combat felt fluid, and mimicked the feel of TLOZ: Twilight Princess, with lock-on, weapon switching and dodging all being prevalent here – Taking down enemies with tactical attacks felt amazing, and there was nothing quite as satisfying as taking an axe and lobbing it towards a sniping enemy, only to knock them off the platform they were standing on, pick up your axe again and leap in with the finishing blow – The demo overseers were also keen to point out that there were multiple ways to tackle one situation; for example, a group of mobs were hiding out in a cave shaped like a skull; I had the options of just running in Leeroy Jenkins style, sniping a lantern with a well placed arrow to blow up the cave, sneaking through a back door, or dropping in from the ceiling above, and it certainly shined most when waiting in line and seeing the adventures and sidequests everyone was undertaking.
The game also aims to be a less traditional Zelda title with the inclusion of climbing, where nearly every surface could be climbed; Link also suffers temperature damage too depending on his current clothing, so hot areas and hot thick clothes, or cold areas with thin light clothing will open Link up to a lot more damage, and damage over time; weapon degradation was also a thing, with weapons breaking after a certain amount of use, breaking an opponents’ guard when they break. As mentioned earlier, we were given 20 minutes for the demo, with some running off to the forests on sidequests, some following the main story, and one even encountering a large stone golem boss that promptly wiped the floor with him.
Now, I have to be blunt here – Whilst TLOZ: BOW did impress me, and this was a Beta build of the full game releasing in March, the framerate of this title did waver A LOT. It was most noticeable in high-combat, open, high-detail areas such as open forests with animated hotpools and around 4 enemies at once, the framerate would crawl to a basic 15-or-so fps, as opposed to the native 30+fps the game naturally runs at. Other than that, the game ran great on both Docked Mode and Portable Mode, with both the standard controller and just JoyCons! I’d love to see more, but I REALLY do hope that some small issues are fixed before the full release.
A new IP from Nintendo, ARMS took secondary stage at today’s event; now, I hadn’t even heard of ARMS prior, however going into it I could tell I was looking at a funner, new evolution of Wii Boxing – That, however, is by no means a bad thing. ARMS focuses on 1v1 combat, with two combatants being able to choose from 5 characters, 3 arenas and 3 types of ‘ARM’ to fight with – Enemy attacks can be blocked against using the JoyCon controllers being held infront of you, and you can fire off your own standard punches and curved punches depending on the rotation and direction of your JoyCon controllers, leading into a spectacular flurry of punches when using your Special; gameplay was addicting, easy to learn and hard to master, however I could admittedly see it getting dry quickly. Other than that though…There isn’t that much else to say about ARMS – It’s a fun versus game with online functionality, great consistent visuals, addicting gameplay and supposed continual developer support post-launch, but other than that, I’d rather get the game for free and have it as more of a party game rather than a fully fledged competitive title.
…One thing I have to say though, is that Hirohiko Araki needs to look into making a JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure game in the style of ARMS. Rapid fire punches, crazy specials, the ability to block attack rushes….It’d be amazing. Please Araki. Please.
Set up in a LAN-party esque format, we were pitted as two teams of 4, facing off against eachother in one of the game’s new maps – Each player got a choice of four classes, the standard Inkblaster with a new groundpound Ink shockwave special (Similar to Lucio’s Ultimate in Overwatch), the Ink Sniper (I can’t honestly remember what ability this had!), the Ink Roller (With the new Ink Launcher rocket launcher special) and the brand-new Dual Inkblasters (That had an Ink Jetpack and grenade launcher). Whilst the controls have stayed largely the same, as has the gameplay, and the speed of the gameplay, which has increased quite substantially – Specials charge faster than before, ground is faster to cover, weapons turn and fire faster, and games overall feel a lot more responsive; I’d have to compare it to an opposite effect to what Call of Duty: Black Ops had on the franchise, where instead of slowing down gameplay and making it a bit more manageable, Splatoon 2 aims to ramp things up and make the game a heck of a lot more responsive and enjoyable to play in quick bursts.
Also you can now choose different hairstyles. THANK GOD.
1-2 Switch (Or Wii Party 3 as I call it), is a bundle of small enjoyable minigames that aim to show off what the new JoyCons can do in small 3 minute bites – We were able to sample 6 core minigames:
Milking (Yes. Milking.)
As the name suggests, we were asked to sit on a small stool, put on a farmer’s hat, and look into eachother’s eyes with a fierce intensity…With one of the two JoyCon controllers in hand, we had to swiftly massage an invisible cow’s udder using the internal JoyCon buttons…Best Milker wins…And hilarity ensues!
Another simple game, two people work against one another; one player has the task of slashing their opponent with an invisible katana, and the other has the incredibly hard job of catching the sword in their hands. I have to admit that it’s difficult to do this, but the feeling of satisfaction when you do finally catch that blade is unparalleled!
In my opinion, the best game in this small bundle, Ball Guess had two players rotate a JoyCon to guess how many balls are in a virtual container (Between 1-9) – The way this works is with the JoyCon’s advanced vibration system, and I have to admit, it feels exactly like tilting a container full of steel balls; everything from feeling and hearing the balls clunk against a wall or corner, or against eachother was surprisingly realistic, and I’m interested to see the future applications for this.
Similar to Katana Catch, two people face off and pull a JoyCon upon the word “Draw!” at one another and fire the trigger – The Switch is able to detect the JoyCons’ exact movements, and button presses down to the 0.001’th digit! I was quite impressed with this level of responsiveness, being able to detect the angle of a shot and vibrating to feel like a bullet had just shot out the end of the JoyCon.
Copy Dance acts as a fun little registration game where one player makes a pose, then the other player has to mimick that pose identically where possible – Any position can be recorded, even where the JoyCon is obstructed by clothing or bodies! I tried pulling off some impressive poses, but ended up mostly falling on my backside…!
As the name suggests…You rotate the JoyCon controller to find the correct combination to a safe, similar to systems seen in like Skyrim or Bully; featuring a similar method to the Ball Guess game, it did feel like something was rotating in our hands; other than that though, it was rather barebones.
Super Bomberman R
Hoo boy was this a good one – We were set against one another on the small screen against 2 CPU combatants in an old-school Bomberman format; I was incredibly glad to have Bomberman finally return to it’s roots, with traditional powerups, gameplay and characters all present – The game ran well, and looked great even on the smaller screen, with it being largely just more of the same, good old fashioned Bomberman.
Finally on this list, Fast RMX acts as Nintendo’s new ‘WipeOut’ game (Or F-Zero replacement… *Cries*), and boy it looks and feels absolutely god-damn amazing; fast-paced racing action and high-quality realistic visuals aimed to show off exactly what the Switch could pump out graphics-wise, and certainly raised my hopes in terms of what sort of games can come towards the Switch. I can’t really speak much for Fast RMX, since we only got one small race, but from what I played, I hope it has online functionality and a single player mode to really hit the nail on the head content-wise.
So that was it for our hands-on with the Nintendo Switch! We hope to bring you more soon, and be sure to keep your eyes on our YouTube channel, where we’ll be uploading around 18 minutes of over-the-shoulder The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gameplay!!!