Nintendo Switch Hands Impressions From Manchester Event
I arrived at the Manchester Central Convention Complex 15 minutes late. I had underestimated my journey in to town and struggled to clear my head of the cold like symptoms that were bunging it up. As I arrived it seemed empty but for a few security guards. “I’m here for the Nintendo event” I told them before they ushered me towards the room to my left.
For some reason I had expected a grand stage for a public demo of the Nintendo Switch. That wasn’t really what I saw though. The room was a fairly modest size with a few machines dotted around the place. I was handed a card as I walked in with my time to play Zelda on and told to go and have a look at what was on offer. What was on offer, apart from Breath of the Wild, was Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, 1-2-Switch, Snipperclips and Arms. I walked over to 1-2-Switch to begin with and tried to peer at the three mini-games on offer. Quick Draw and Milk seemed to be taking pride of place but over in the corner, tucked away from most people’s view, was Ball Counting. The queue had died down for the latter and I found myself being beckoned towards the PR man along with someone else that had decided to attend the event by himself.
By going to the event by myself I was forced in to the social interaction elements that Switch advertising has tried to drill home and, for the most part, I really enjoyed it. Using the HD Rumble to try and figure out how many balls were inside my controller before placing it down on a table was surprisingly fun, although I didn’t feel it was as accurate as developer talk has made it sound. Soon a rapport began between myself and this person I had never met. Once we had played a few rounds we joined the queue again, this time to play Quick Draw.
We donned cowboy hats, stood a few paces away and stared in to each other’s eyes. The Joy-Con in our hand, we stared in to each other’s eyes, fingers twitching. Waiting to pick the perfect moment to fire. The first shout of fire was called. I reacted but I just wasn’t quick enough. Luckily it was a best of three. Round two went to me and victory tasted sweet. The final round was all to play for. I stared in to his eyes, hoping to psyche him out but it was to no avail. I lost… I swung my arm the most convincingly but I just didn’t shoot in time.
We laughed and parted ways. I looked at the queues and tried to figure out what to go on next. The queue for Arms seemed to be going nowhere regardless how long people stood in it so I wandered over to Snipperclips. After a short wait I was paired up with another person I had never met before and had it explained to me how the game controls. The portable Switch screen was placed in front of us and each of us were given a Joy-Con each.
Snipperclips is a fun co-operative puzzle game where talking to each other is key. There were several different types of levels in the demo we played and all could be tackled in various ways. On one level we just had to make ourselves form a shape. This meant sizing up the part that was considered “excess” to the desired shape and cutting it off. On another level I made my team mate in to a scoop with a pointy bit so that we could grab balloons from the ceiling and pop them. The shape might not have been perfect but it did the job. Overall the game was surprisingly addictive and set the bar high for the rest of the games.
With Snipperclips completed I decided to say adieu to my temporary partner and stand in line for Arms. After 5 minutes though I’d only moved up one space and I realised that my time for Zelda was drawing ever closer. I quickly scouted the room and realised that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe had a small queue. I wandered over. Eight of us were sat in a circle and handed a Switch screen each with the Joy-Cons attached on the side.
I didn’t really play much Mario Kart 8, due to not owning a Wii U, but my brief foray in to it had normally resulted in me being frustrated by the fact I wasn’t very good at it. On the Switch I still wasn’t very good at it but playing it in this thrown together LAN party like setting made me appreciate it a lot more. The fact the Switch has the power to make these portable LAN parties happen quite easily made me excited about the prospect of picking up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Which is quite a feat considering I wouldn’t normally call myself a Mario Kart fan.
With only 45 minutes left of the event I made my way over to the Zelda booth area. The booth was set up with the console docked and Joy-Con controllers attached. The main controller to use whilst it was in its dock was the pro controller. I jumped in to the demo at first with the pro controller and tried to get through the opening spiel as quickly as possible. There was some fairly interesting set up, and it all looked nice, but I was aware that time was against me and I wanted to try out the combat. I found various weapons to use on my way towards my first enemy. Trying to keep the enemy at arm’s reach I decided to throw my weapon at him, but annoyingly missed. What happened next was an unexpected, but welcome, surprise as the enemy picked up my weapon and started chasing me with it. It was a nice touch and showed me that this was a Zelda game that had a lot more freedom than previous games.
I continued to explore but I was more interested in taking the Switch out of the dock to see how quickly I could be playing Zelda on the tablet. I’d say within five seconds I had swapped over. Having the rumble feature on a handheld felt nice. I tried placing the tablet back in and taking it back out a few more times and found each time it was all rather easy. The pro controller definitely felt nice but it didn’t do enough to convince me to snap it up straight away. Playing with the Joy-Cons on the tablet felt just as natural.
I progressed with the demo until my time ran out and thanked the staff. I placed myself in the line for Splatoon 2 for five minutes before being told that there would be no more time for me to play the next demo and I should try another game. Quickly I scrambled over to Arms and waited there for five minutes but yet again I was told that it’d be better to find another game.
Considering there was only four games on offer which weren’t Zelda it left a sour taste in my mouth after having quite a good time at the event. It would’ve just been nice to have some proactive line management so people weren’t waiting around (although that said the staff was at least apologetic about the fact that there wouldn’t be time). I did get one more go on 1-2-Switch though, with another person I didn’t know and let me leave you with this. It’s very weird pretending to milk a cow in front of someone you don’t know.