Tokyo, Japan. Here the very first public event for the Nintendo Switch was held. After yesterday’s showcase by Nintendo, today was all about people getting their hands on the device for the first time and playing some of the new system’s games.
The event itself was quite confusingly ran, with three separate queues before entering the event; one for the show floor, one for Zelda and one for Splatoon 2. I entered the queue for Zelda and after I got into the event and continued queuing, I was given a ticket with a time on it. This meant I had to come back at my allotted window to play the game. The system helped keep congestion off the floor but once the tickets were given out then you could no longer play said game. An hour after the 10am show opening time the Zelda tickets had all been allocated, has had Splatoon, which meant anyone who chose to queue for the show floor probably didn’t get to play ANY Zelda or Splatoon.
After getting my ticket I wandered the show floor of the Tokyo Big Sight. The hall was not that big, it contained Zelda, Splatoon 2, 1-2 Switch, Arms, Mario Kart, Street Fighter 2, Bomberman and a few other smaller titles. Whilst I did not get to play any other games, I have to say 1-2 Switch looks terrible. There were glass booths with foreigners trying to make this game look interesting and cool. There was a game about dancing so they had a guy who would show you what to do and he was very energetic and so forth. Seeing what some of the games in 1-2 Switch are I was just baffled – one has you counting balls, and another has you milking a cow. I am pretty sure you know the hand action of milking a cow and I have to wonder how/why this made it into the game. Arms looks like something that I would only play if it was free, with one of the worst names I have ever heard, but alas it makes more sense to me than 1-2 Switch and ultimately a lot more fun.
Later I returned to the Zelda booths with my ticket and was lead to my seat to play Breath of the Wild. First I got my hands on the controller, which I have to admit initially felt comfortable, but because of the width it is not as ergonomic as an Xbox or PlayStation controller. The right analogue stick is also lower than I am used to and this felt odd at first, also the A button was placed where the B/Circle button is and this took some adapting to. Old habits die-hard. Apart from that the controller was cool, comfortable and stylish.
Zelda booted up and I was treated to some opening sequence which unfortunately ate into my playing time and I saw Link waking up in a cave of sorts. After hitting some chests and dressing my semi-naked Link, I made my way outside into the blinding light (like Fallout 3 when you come out of the vault for the first time), the world opened up in all its beauty before me and wow was it beautiful. Mount Doom has never looked so impressive, commanding the skyline with its molten lava tipped head. The distance that could be seen was incredible, the detail was fantastic and the world was lush with colour and life.
I made my way deeper into the world with nothing but a stick, quickly I found a mighty axe and caused all sorts of havoc with it. It was slow to swing but it was full of power when it did. Every enemy I defeated would drop an item like food etc. but they would also drop their weapons. By the end of the demo I had accumulated a small arsenal, I had a sword and a shield, bow and arrow and even a club that was aflame. Whilst I had 20 minutes wandering around, it went quickly and I saw but a small percentage of what the new Zelda has to offer, however, it controlled very well and the feel of the game was familiar yet fresh.
During my play through I switched from TV mode to portable mode, hooking the Joycons to the side of the portable screen and continuing to play my adventure on the small screen. Without practice I ran into small issues, I managed to press buttons whilst trying to connect my Joycons, fortunately for me it was the map button so no harm was done. The transition from TV to portable is pretty seamless though, once it is undocked it switches straight over. The game looks fantastic on the portable screen as well and I had no issues with the performance of the game though I definitely did not push it anywhere near its capabilities.
It was a breath time I got with the machine but I was impressed with the hardware and also with Zelda, especially after yesterday’s trailer. I think the platform has some real potential, I just hope that Nintendo manages to realise that because this machine can be something special!
Images and writing copyright Billy/VanityHype magazine 2017