MY new Nintendo Switch arrived on Friday afternoon and I have spent a good portion of the following days playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
The game is currently scoring 98 per cent on Metacritic, putting it at number four in the all-time list, and it’s easy to see why the critics love it so much.
Usually open world games leave me cold after the opening few hours but Breath of the Wild has a unique sense of charm that makes exploring the vast world a joy.
Nintendo have crammed their game with quests, characters, abilities and enemies and secrets but also let it breathe, letting players get lost in the joy of exploring the map at their own pace.
I am only a fraction of a way through the main storyline but this is easily my favourite in the Zelda series since Ocarina of Time.
Whether it surpasses that benchmark remains to be seen, but it has removed the annoying hand-holding of the previous console effort Skyward Sword and opened the game up to make the players the masters of their own story.
The game is also available on the Wii U with not a huge amount of differences. But the added portability the Switch offers makes this the definitive version in my mind.
Train journeys just became a whole lot more fun.
THE other game I bought with my new console was 1-2 Switch, a part game in the same vein as Wii Sports.
As a tech demo it works just fine, showing off capabilities of the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers, such as the superb HD Rumble feature and motion controls.
With a few friends, it can be fun if you are prepared to get stuck in and make a fool of yourself. The game has you fighting imaginary fencing duels, copying your opponent’s dance moves and taking part in running races.
However, I can’t see it as a game that has much of a lifespan. Once the novelty has worn off you are left with a fairly shallow experience that will get a few outings at gatherings and drunken get-togethers.
Nintendo missed a trick but not bundling this in free with the Switch, much as Wii Sports was bundled in with the Wii.
It isn’t strong enough to warrant a £40 purchase but would have been a solid freebie and the sort of game you show off to family and friends, thereby driving new sales.
OVERALL, I’ve been impressed with the Switch. Whereas the Wii U gamepad felt and looked like a Fisher-Price toy, the Switch is a high quality piece of hardware with a fantastic screen.
It’s the most powerful handheld gaming console ever – and that’s probably how it should be viewed, rather than the underpowered home console it becomes when docked.
It’s never going to compete with Sony’s PlayStation 4 for sheer ‘oomph’ but it’s in a world of its own when it comes to gaming on the go. Commuters, or even gamers who have to surrender the TV to members of their household for EastEnders and such, should consider diving right in.
But the console’s launch has not been without problems. Some users have been reporting problems with dead pixels on their screens, while others have noticed screen scratching after sliding the unit in and out of its docking station.
There have also been complaints that other devices can interfere with the Joy-Cons’ connection to the Switch
I haven’t personally experienced any of these problems but there has been enough chatter on gaming forums to suggest that these issues are very real for some customers.
Nintendo, in their usual way, have offered nothing yet in terms of a solution or explanation, even describing the dead pixels as “normal” for LCD screens.
Whatever genius Nintendo has when it comes to designing games, they always seem to balance it out with less than exceptional public relations.