On January 28th, I got a chance to check out the Nintendo Switch at the Preview Tour event in Toronto.

Nintendo Switch Preview Tour Booths

It was a fantastic time, and while most of my pictures unfortunately didn't turn out, everything from the console itself to the event's presentation blew me away. (It helped that this was the preregister event a day before the public one which I imagine was way, way more crowded). I loved that they gave floor room and attention to the smaller titles and indies, while keeping everything bright and colourful.

Each game station had lovely staff who explained the game and set you off to play. The stations were all geared to showcase the system in it's different "forms". For instance, my experience with Has-Been Heroes started with the Grip controller on a TV, and halfway through I got to "switch" it into handheld mode. Or the Breath of the Wild demo started with a Pro controller in my hand on a big screen with headphones, and after 10 minutes I put it down, picked up the system in handheld and away I went.

(By the way, the switch-over time is really fantastic. I'm still shocked how fast it is. You're honestly playing again in a matter of seconds)

So I got to try out the system in all it's forms. I think it goes without saying that the single Joy-con mode is the least comfortable way to play, but I was surprised at how comfortable it still was. I was expecting to just flat-out not like it. That it'd be small, cramped, uncomfortable, and that I'd never tolerate playing like that. I was wrong. It's fine, even with the weird joystick location in the right Joy-con.

A side view of the event

Seriously, the Joy-con's are solid controllers. I think overall I'm amazed at how the system just felt like a solid piece of hardware. I've owned a Wii U for a few years and grown to appreciate the Gamepad, but that has always still felt like a bulky piece of plastic. The Nintendo Switch is anything but that. Just holding it, it feels like a substantial bit of tech. The Joy-con's don't feel cheap like I was expecting. You can tell there is some serious stuff going on in their guts.

And man do they have some serious stuff. Apart from the buttons and joystick feeling surprising pleasant to use (it's very different from the Gamepad feel), the HD Rumble feature is absolutely phenomenal.

Actually the HD Rumble is the thing that has me most excited about the Switch. And I know it's easy to say "ah, it's just a silly gimmick that will never be used". But I think it's something you wont quite appreciate until you feel it proper. The main demo they had to show this off was the 1-2-Switch's Box Guessing minigame, where you rotate the controller around and try to tell how many marbles are inside a box. By feeling. And this is... So. Bloody. Realistic. If you close your eyes you can honestly fool yourself that what you're holding is actually something filled with marbles.

I'm going to have to make a separate post (or video) to try and convey why I'm so excited about this, but let's just say I think the rumors about Nintendo thinking about VR in the future are likely very real and substantial.

One of the many public "games" they held on the stage"

Anyways, I'm sold on the system. My biggest concern was the controller feel and... well, that is no longer a concern. Even the "grip" controller was incredibly comfortable. It was very close in comfort levels to the Pro controller, enough so that I don't think I need to bother paying extra for that at launch. The Joycon Grip is a fine controller.

This also sold me on a bunch of games! I didn't expect that. Has-Been Heroes was really great rogue-like and now an instant buy for me. I didn't actually know about it until this event! I know it's not exclusive, but I loved how it felt on the Switch. Snipperclips was also a really fun puzzle game that'll be perfect to play with my significant other.

Fast RMX was another game I only learned here and again, I'm definitely going to buy this. It's an F-Zero game, something I've been yearning for a long time, with a really clever added level of strategy—you have two boost "colours" and have to match your colour on the fly to the boost pads. Simple, but at lightning speeds it gets really hectic and engaging.

So, I guess to end off I'll list the games I recommend from playing at this event:

  • Zelda: Breath of the Wild (obviously)
  • Has-Been Heroes (releases March for 20$)
  • Snipperclips (releases March for 20$)
  • Fast RMX
  • Splatoon 2
  • Sonic Mania