Welcome back to Handheld Havoc. I don’t really think I need to tell anyone who visits a dedicated gaming site that the Nintendo Switch recently released. Beyond that, do I really need to describe the handheld abilities of the Switch here? While a lot of sites are reviewing the Switch as a console, how many are looking at it compared to the great handhelds of the past? Well, that’s where I come in. What makes me qualified to do this? Not a damned thing.

Comparing the Switch to handhelds of previous generations is actually kind of fair because Nintendo is the undisputed master of handheld gaming. While there is of course other companies Nintendo has owned this market since the original Game Boy and with the Switch they continue their reign.  I’m going to look at all aspects of the Switch as it applies to being a handheld console. Let the others talk about the “console” part of it.

If you’ve never noticed it, the controller looks like a dog. Yes, you are welcome for never being able to unsee it.

Let’s talk ergonomics first. The Switch is very comfortable to hold and easy to use. I’ve heard some complain about the placement of the right joystick with Breath of the Wild, but with my larger hands I’ve not had a problem.  Unlike a few tablets I’ve tried the system feels sturdy and very well made. It balances well in the hands, which is good for marathon sessions. I had some issues remembering which buttons were L/R versus ZL/ZR, but that could just be me being an idiot. The button to disconnect the Joycons is well placed so that you don’t accidentally disconnect them from the main unit, which is a nice touch. The main complaint I have with ergonomics is the power port being on the bottom. I understand this was needed for the dock, but it’s still a pain to try and plug it in while using tabletop mode.

The evolution of Nintendo handhelds.

The controls themselves are quite responsive, and feel good in the hands. Even when set up on the kickstand and played with the Joy Cons disconnected it worked very well. I had concerns about the diamond setup that mimics a D-pad but it honestly worked for me. The only things I had issue with was the gyro controls on some Breath of the Wild puzzles, but that’s also me really hating motion controls.

Let’s move on to the screen. The PS Vita’s original OLED screen was the best looking screen on any mobile device I have ever used, until now. The screen on the Switch is freaking gorgeous, whether it’s showing the epic vistas of Breath of the Wild or the pixelated throwback of Blaster Master Zero. The colors are bright and vivid, with a high framerate. I tried using Youtube – yes there are ways – and it looked fantastic. There have been reports of bad pixels in some screens, but I don’t have any. Simply put, it’s the best looking handheld console ever.

Alright, I’ve went over the hardware, but you’re wanting the summary. As a handheld fan I have long waited for a handheld that would deliver the same games as the consoles, and now I have it. The PS Vita did a valiant job of trying to live up to that with the early AAA releases and the Remote Play feature, but even it fell short. With the Switch, Nintendo has delivered a truly portable console experience, and that’s what I wanted out of the console. If you want to play on a TV the time between docking and it being ready to go is nearly nothing. This is a full console that you can take anywhere, which is exactly what we were promised. I have nothing but optimism about the future of the console.

The new champion in front of the previous title holder for most powerful handheld.

If you are a handheld fan, then you will love the Switch. If you’re not much on handhelds, well then why are you reading a handheld series, but you will likely want to wait for a while. For us handheld lovers we’ve finally gotten a truly portable console and we have a lot to look forward to. For other gamers, you have a very interesting take on gaming with a game library that is a bit anemic right now. I have no regrets whatsoever preordering my Switch and I fully encourage handheld fans to check it out. Other gamers may want to try the old “wait and see.”

About The Author

Derik Moore

Derik Moore has been gaming for over a quarter of a century and hails from the bootheel of Missouri. He enjoys games from the NES all the way up to PS4. He collects video games, and has a weird attachment to handhelds. You can also follow him on Twitter @ithinkibrokeit.

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