The Nintendo Switch is finally here!
Here's the six best and six worst things about Ninty's new console.
The best things about the Nintendo Switch are...
1) It's a portable and home console rolled into one
There have been portable consoles that you can plug into your telly, and the Wii U gave you a second, hand-held screen that you could take a little way from the main console, but there's never before been a games machine that's equal parts portable and TV-based. The Switch most certainly is.
It seamlessly switches from one mode to the other, even right in the middle of a game, and all of the games you can play on your telly can also be taken with you and played on the go. Triple-A games on the train? Don't mind if we do!
2) The hardware is just lovely
Of all the console companies, Nintendo has always been the most kid-friendly, and the designs of its previous consoles have always leaned towards the plasticky, toy-like end of the spectrum. Not so the Switch.
Sure, there's a colourful red/blue version if you fancy a splash of colour (you can have grey if you prefer), but the Switch looks and feels way more premium than its predecessors. It's still playful and fun, but the glass, metal and matte plastic design is a delight to behold - and to hold.
3) The screen is great
It may have a resolution of just 720p, but the Switch's 6.2in tablet-like screen is a beauty.
Bright, colourful and fabulously punchy, games played on the go look at least as good as they do on your telly.
4) Battery life is surprisingly solid
For a portable console the Switch has a big screen and a lot of power, yet it will still run on its battery for up to six hours, which is roughly as long as the much smaller and much less potent 3DS.
Sure, if you're playing Zelda your battery will be depleted in more like three hours. But that's three hours of one of the best games currently available on any console, on the move. And if you need more play time than that - for a long-haul flight, let's say - just plug a portable battery pack into your Switch via USB-C. Nice!
5) There are so many ways to play
When is a simple gamepad not simply a gamepad? When it's actually two gamepads that can be combined, Transformer-like, in a variety of fun and useful ways.
The two dinky Joy-Cons can be attached to either side of the screen to make the Switch portable, can be slotted into the Joy-Con Grip to create a more traditional gamepad, or can be separated and used as teeny individual controllers for some impromptu multiplayer action. Now that's flexibility.
6) Zelda and other great Nintendo games
Much has been made of the relative paucity of launch games for Switch, but in the realm of quality over quantity, Nintendo's game is a strong one.
Zelda at launch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe next month and Super Mario Odyssey in December - that's all three of Nintendo's big titles on Switch within the first nine months. Bonzer!
Sure, you can play Zelda on Wii U and Mario Kart 8 has been available on that console for a couple of years, but these are stone-cold bangers that demand to be played in the best way possible - and that's on Switch. On the bus if you so fancy.
What's more, the lesser-known titles that contribute to the Switch's launch line-up are actually very good. We're particularly keen on Fast RMX and Shovel Knight: Torment of Spector, and you've not lived if you've not milked a cow on 1-2 Switch.
But the worst things about the Switch are...
1) Will it still be getting games in 2018 and beyond?
You buy a new PlayStation or an Xbox and you can pretty much guarantee there'll be a hundred new games for it in a year's time. Buy a new Nintendo console and there are no such guarantees. In fact, less than a year after the Wii U's launch, most of the biggest third-party game publishers had stopped making games for the console.
Is that going to happen with the Switch? We honestly don't know for sure, but it is fair to say that this is a better console than the Wii U ever was and one that we reckon is going to sell quite a bit better. And if people buy the Switch, games will continue to be made for the Switch.
Having said that, the current slate (aforementioned Nintendo crackers aside) looks decidedly light, and that's definitely cause for at least some concern.
2) Very stingy storage
The Switch has just 32GB of built-in storage, only 25.9GB of which is available for you to store games and other gubbins on. Consider that Zelda alone takes up over 13GB and you can see how pitiful that amount of space is.
Yes, you can add storage by simply slotting in an SD card, and one of those isn't expensive, but that only makes it feel even cheaper of Nintendo to not bundle in enough storage in the first place.
3) The Joy-Con Grip is no substitute for a proper gamepad
Yes, the Joy-Cons are super-versatile, but that doesn't mean they're the perfect tools for every situation. When plugged into the Joy-Con grip you might have something that looks quite a lot like a proper console pad, but the comparatively tiny buttons and analogue sticks make it much fiddlier and less comfortable than something like the DualShock 4, and that can be a bit of a pain when embarking upon a mammoth, lounge-based gaming session.
Nintendo does offer a pad like the DualShock 4, but it's and optional extra. A US$70 optional extra. Ouch.
4) It's not exactly super-powerful
Nintendo ducked out of the graphics arms race a long time ago, and no-one's claiming more power automatically equals better games, but at a time when the world is going crazy for 4K and HDR, the fact that the Switch tops-out at 1080p (and sometimes doesn't even hit that) seems rather weedy.
Yes, Zelda still looks great at Switch resolutions, but wouldn't it look better in 4K? That's a rhetorical question.
5) Online is a bit of a shambles
For the first time ever, Nintendo is going to start charging for online muiltiplayer with the Switch. Weirdly, not at launch - but at some time in the future.
We're used to paying for online gaming with the Xbox and PlayStation, but in return we get an extremely solid, feature-laden experience that's utilised by hundreds of games.
Nintendo plans to charge much less to play Switch games online (roughly US$20 per year) but the fact is that any charge will raise expectations. Nintendo's track record in this area honestly isn't great, and are there going to be enough games to play online? In fact, are there going to be enough other players to play online with?
6) No Netflix. Or Amazon.
Practically every electronic device has Netflix and other on-demand services built-in these days, and yet the Switch has not a single streaming service.
On the other hand, practically every electronic device has Netflix and other on-demand services built-in these days, so why do you need them to be included with the Switch?
Honestly, it's up to you if you think this is or isn't a genuine concern, but it does at least seem like a weird oversight on the part of Nintendo.