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Nintendo Switch PAX South Hands-On Preview

Playing Games on the New Portable/Console Hybrid

Neon Nintendo Switch System

I asked everyone in the queue line what they were running to, what they wanted to see first. The obvious answer was the Nintendo Switch, which is definitely what most were waiting patiently for. The same thing was true of most of the press at the show. It was more orderly, but both sides of the booth were packed with a line and I took the shorter route to try out multiple games over trying The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild again with a new controller; I had already spent some time with it at E3 last year. When we finally entered the booth, we were handed a square of Switch branded paper with a list of games and places to be stamped. We had to play three of the six demos to earn a shiny metal Nintendo Switch pin. To get that pin, I dove into a handful of the best games coming to Nintendo Switch, mostly to get a genuine feel for the types of experiences the system will offer.

Splatoon 2

There were two options for this demo using either the Joy-Cons with the Switch in tablet mode or the pro controller on a TV.  I went straight for the tablet with my curiosity to get a real feel for the system. The demo started out with a tutorial on aiming and movement that gave the option of moving around the reticle using the tablet with its gyroscope, using the right joystick, or a mixture of both to aim. My first game I used mostly the movement of the tablet and I didn’t feel comfortable for the first half of the match and I felt like I was missing a lot of shots or paint coverage that I normally would have hit. When I used the joystick I felt like an actual member of the team, contributing to the group and helping to put a smile on people’s faces with a victory.

Super Bomberman R

Hey, you got your Switch on my Bomberman and some Bomberman in my Switch! If you enjoy Bomberman and especially if you have friends to play it with, this is a no brainer. Simple, precise controls with the game play you have grown to love. I did a few 4 player battles and it is fast paced and fun. Its hectic, strategic and perfect to play in short bursts or as a party game. I didn’t get to touch any single player or any of the new modes but this should be a day one purchase for fans and if you’re new to the series pick if up the first time you see in on sale.

Ultra Street Fighter II

Tons of nostalgia here. If you’re a Street Fighter fan, especially from the early to mid 90’s, pick this up. This was the one game I played with a pro controller and it was super comfortable to hold and natural to play with. This was a demo I went back and played late on day 3 when dropping something off. This second time around, I felt like my controller was feeling the wear and tear of people trying out the game and I was struggling with certain inputs. Putting that aside, when it did work, it was incredibly fun.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

While I had some trouble with this well-used unit, the Pro Controller is pretty sweet.

The revamped graphics make the experience feel new without losing any of the old memories of dropping quarters in the in arcade or getting lost for hours on my Super Nintendo. For some of you, the 25 year wait will be worth it just to have a portable version that feels good to play. I can see some intense battles on a plane on the way to another PAX or something similar. Sorry to whoever the third person in my row is, these fists have years of practice.

Arms

With the new fighting game Arms, get ready to use your arms; the motion controls found in Wii Boxing are back and it feels like freedom. The Joy-cons felt so good, turned sideways in my hands. The grip was great and the button layout was incredibly ergonomic. Once I had the controllers strapped to my wrists at the booth, there was a short tutorial about how to punch, use abilities, and curve or aim the punches. There were plenty of characters to choose from and each one had three options for each arm. This left a wide variety of playstyles open to try out, even in my few matches. I’ll admit, I was not very good at this game. I have a pretty bad right arm and I just felt like I was lagging behind, but I had a lot of fun losing. The characters and move sets had tons of personality and I can’t wait for the opportunity to go up against a friend instead of an AI player. There are plenty of chances to dodge and combo so this is not a straight up brawler; there are tactics weaved in this one. If you expect to spend hours playing this in one sitting, I can see this being treated like a solid upper body workout.

Let’s see how this does competitively and showcases at EVO later this year. Will the competitors get a rest if the bracket resets in the grand finals? Just how would a motion game like this work in a tournament setting? Could see teams form around this one? Get your shoulders worked out to prepare and I hope to see one of you competing on the front page of Twitch.

Conclusion and Summary of playing games on the Switch

Visually, everything on the tablet looked fine. If you have a concern about any type of graphical fidelity in comparison to playing on a TV, you would have to nitpick and look for specific faults that most users won’t notice. The Nintendo Switch does what was promised. It plays Nintendo games smoothly and will make you come back wanting more. The tablet has good weight to it and is comfortable to hold. After 15-20 minutes on it at a time, I already prefer it over the Wii U tablet. At the end of the demo, I did briefly see what the Joy-Con felt like being held as a traditional controller. That felt a little awkward and I feel like it would be completely uncomfortable for someone with larger hands. Children should feel right at home and absolutely love them though. With less than a month to go, be on the lookout for any opportunities to pre-order if you haven’t done so already. I can’t wait to finally get my hands on my own Switch and see just how many people have one with them at PAX East.

Nintendo Switch Bomberman photo

Playing Bomberman R in tablet mode feels solid.

Keep a lookout for more Nintendo Switch related content, right here on Marooners’ Rock. Plenty of us are looking to get one at launch.

Traveler, competitive eater, swag master, cookie brigadier, and promotional marketing genius. Choose one title or combine them all to figure out what Shane is on any day of the year. Also, tweet at him during PAX for cookie deliveries. (This isn't a joke.)

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