Switcheroo

I had a typical first-world problem in an affluent society: My wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I didn’t have a good answer. We were in the middle of a large electronics store and had just bought an expensive digital camera as my present for her, so she felt she needed to reciprocate. After some thinking and looking around, we settled on a Nintendo Switch for me, in a bundle with Super Mario Odyssey. And of course also bought Zelda, and a few other games. Normally I wouldn’t have bought a console for a few good games, but we are spending Christmas with family, and so the console wouldn’t just be for me, but also to keep the kids busy.

Being game language literate I immediately spotted a potential problem: The bundle doesn’t actually contain the game Super Mario Odyssey. It contains a code to download it. Whatever purists might think of it, you don’t want to unpack game stuff on Christmas and find it isn’t ready to play immediately with kids around. So I unpacked my Christmas present already, to set it up (not to play), charge the batteries, and then pack it again to be ready for the event. That turned out to be a good plan, as even on my ultra-fast VDSL the game needed 37 minutes to download, and over Christmas I will have much lower internet speed.

As this was a spontaneous buy, I hadn’t read up on the Switch. I’ve heard that it was usable both as a console connected to a TV and handheld, but hadn’t pondered that feature any further. It was on unpacking that the truth dawned on me: The Switch isn’t actually a game console, it is a tablet computer. A tablet computer with weird controllers, yes, but at its core a tablet computer. It turned out that for example setting it up and entering text like WiFi passwords, using the touch screen keyboard is far better than trying to type with the controllers.

On the other hand for a tablet computer the Switch has a lousy battery life (not tried myself, just read about it), and rather small screen. I imagine I will end up using it in the stand that turns it more or less into a console far more than handheld. It is a bit annoying that I’ll have to attach the controllers to the tablet after every playing session to recharge them, even if the controllers are reported to have a longer battery life than the handheld tablet.

I’ll report sometimes after Christmas on how playing games on the Switch turns out. I’ll start with a library of 4 games: Super Mario Odyssey (which I got more for the kids than for me, but the reviews are excellent), Mario + Rabbids, Zelda, and Disgaea 5. If you have any advice on good role-playing and strategy games for the Switch, I’m listening.