Nintendo’s next game console officially launches March 3rd. But Nintendo Switch preview units were sent out to a bunch of tech and gaming publications ahead of launch, and you can find some early impressions from sites including Ars Technica, Engadget, Gamespot, Polygon, and The Verge.
Overall, it seems like the general consensus is that the platform shows a lot of potential. But there’s a limited selection of games available for the platform right now, and the “Virtual Console” which will let you make up for that by downloading and playing games for older consoles won’t be available at launch either and online play will only be available as a beta until this fall.
That said, the Switch does seem to deliver on the promise of providing a single device that you can use as a handheld game console on the go or as as living room console that plugs into your TV.
In fact, those are just some of the ways you can use the Switch.
It’s a tablet with a 6.2 inch touchscreen display and Joy-Con controllers that you can break apart and slide onto the sides of the tablet to give you physical gaming buttons attached to the screen.
But you can also take off those controllers and either use them as two separate wireless game controllers or as a single combined controller. Or you can buy a more expensive Switch Pro controller that works more like a standard game console or PC controller.
You can use the two parts of a Joy-Con controller to play multiplayer games either on the go using your tablet (or multiple tablets) or at home when connected to a TV.
In other words, the most exciting thing about the Nintendo Switch is that it’s a single device you can use in a whole bunch of different scenarios… while playing the exact same games no matter where you are or how you’re using the device.
It could spell the end of buying one version of a game for a handheld console and/or smartphone and a different version of that game for your PC or home game system. Except, like the last few Nintendo game systems, the Switch isn’t as powerful as rival game systems from Sony or Microsoft.
Nintendo’s new system is powered by a version of the NVIDIA Tegra X1 chip, which is the same one used for NVIDIA’s Shield Android TV device. While it’s relatively powerful for an ARM-based chip, the X1 is a few years old at this point, and nowhere near as capable as the processors powering the PS4 or Xbox One, let alone the upcoming versions of those game consoles.
Some Switch games won’t even be able to run at full 1080p resolutions.
That’s not a new strategy for Nintendo. The company’s game consoles have tended to lag behind those from Sony and Microsoft when it comes to raw horsepower, instead focusing on innovative new features like the motion controllers that shipped with the Nintendo Wii and the secondary display of the Wii U.
Full reviews of the Nintendo Switch should start popping up next week, so we’ll know more about what professional reviewers think of the platform then. But what will matter most is what users actually think of the Switch and its launch titles. We’ll have to wait until the public can get its hands on the new console starting March 3rd to get a real sense of whether this $300 multi-purpose game console will make a splash in the gaming space.