Monday 16 January 2017

Nintendo Switch Hands-on [Events]

After a very early morning, and with the weather still being bitterly cold, Hayden and I made our way from Stoke-on-Trent to London in roughly an hour and a half. Euston to Hammersmith on the Underground, then it was a wait to get in. There was a large crowd already waiting, so I knew we wouldn't be anywhere near the first in. It was certainly nice of them to have the reveal trailer playing on screens around the outside. Once we were inside, we were given a Switch themed lanyard and a card which would be stamped once we played the games on offer. There was also a place to put name and email address to enter for winning a Switch. Walking through the opening which was lined with a history of Nintendo consoles, the main event was already full. I'm not going to get into crowds and such, but the event itself was great.

First I want to get into the games themselves. The first of which is Arms. I found it to be a good fighting game, though it sits between technical and casual fighter for me at this point in time. The mechanics are good, having various characters with special arm capabilities, a shield, and a grab. There's also a powered-up mode that can land some powerful hits. However, aside from forward and hook attacks [and air attacks], there doesn't seem anything else to it. A more technical Wii Sports Boxing is what I could describe it as, where you have control over your character and don't always have to rely on close-quarters combat. I managed to get into the controls fairly easily, though only the motion controls were on offer. The stages on offer looked interesting, with a green-hued facility and a boxing-like arena with bounce pads around the outside. Those bounce pads can be used to gain some serious combo if used right.

Throughout the day we played some of the minigames on offer in 1-2 Switch. I'll be honest here, it feels more like a party compliment rather than the main attraction. Don't get me wrong, the games on offer are fun. It's just would they hold attention for more than an hour? That's what I'm thinking here. The gunslinger game has two people face off against each other, waiting for the shout of fire to lift their Joy-Con up and press the trigger. It's certainly fun to try and beat a friend. Dance Pose has one person break out a pose which the other has to copy. The other person then gets a try after three poses from the first. It's certainly similar to other dance games and possibly the weakest of the games due to being just a cut-down dance game. Crack the Safe is simple enough, using the rumble of the Joy-Con to indicate the pulse of the right point in the sequence. The code is three points long, and it's a competition to see who can crack their safe first. The last game we played of 1-2 Switch was Ball Count. The HD rumble is used brilliantly here, able to realistically simulate plastic balls inside a box, whether rolling or hitting the sides. The aim is to guess how many balls are inside that box, and since you have no way to see inside said box, you need the feel of those balls rolling around. As I said before, those games are good for parties, but as they are now, they need a bit more to become a main contender for one.

You might expect me to talk about the big three that were there. Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I can't say anything about them though, as I never gave them much thought. 1-2 Switch and Arms were the real reason to explore, as well as getting to experience the various ways to play with the Joy-Con. As well as that - and I know I said I wouldn't say anything about crowds - the lines for all three games were long throughout the session. As such, I know I haven't experienced all the ways to play, since Splatoon seemed to be the only game allowing play with the Joy-Con attached to the Switch itself. As well as that, I'm pretty sure Breath of the Wild allowed the removal of the Switch from the dock to experience first hand how seamless that transition is.

What I did try was some of the third party offerings. Obviously I'd already experienced Sonic Mania at Summer of Sonic, trying out new zone Studiopolis. This time I tried the reimagined zone Green Hill, and as the game was played in tabletop mode with a Joy-Con on the side, it really gave a retro feel to it. The game still looks and feels great, even on that small screen, and I certainly know which console I'll be getting it on.

Fast RMX is a futuristic racer in the style of F-Zero, though with enough different to feel like a new experience. Of course, this isn't the first game of the Fast series, with Fast Racing Neo on the Wii U proving popular. I never owned that first game, making this a new series for me. It's fast and fun, with the colour switching mechanic of the original still in place. You need the right colour on the boost strips to get an advantage in speed. The wrong colour [and it's only two] and you'll be at a disadvantage. Along with Arms, I'll certainly be getting this when it launches.

The last third party game we tried was Ultra Street Fighter 2, and it was easy enough to get into. I'm not going into too much detail with this one, as it's pretty easy to see what it looks like and plays like. I enjoyed the small session on it, though I'm not really a fan of 2D games [even though Sonic is pretty much an exception].

As for the various controller methods, the Joy-Con on its side works well, though due to being a more vertical-oriented device, either face buttons or analogue will be in the middle depending on which Joy-Con you use. It's still comfortable enough for short play sessions, though how that fairs for longer sessions is still up for debate. Using them one in each hand is a great feeling, giving the freedom of movement that wasn't always there for Wii Remote and Nunchuck. Attached to the grip gives them the feel of a proper controller, though the pro controller beats out slightly. Since the pro controller has a proper D-Pad, it feels more natural to use.

Now, you might have caught me say above I'll be getting Arms and Fast RMX when they launch. Same goes for Sonic Mania, and in fact the Switch console itself. I stand by what I have said that the Wii U is a great console, but the Switch feels like it has a lot more going for it. Wii U introduced some interesting concepts, and now the Switch is improving them greatly. We still don't know everything about this console yet, but just like Sonic Mania, there's plenty more opportunity for giving more information.

I might not have been able to experience everything about the Switch from the event, but what I have done has convinced me to keep that preorder. That's all for now, so bye for now.