What’s new on Wii U? We find out with up to date news and reviews on the latest Wii U games and accessories

16th May 2017
Opinion – Why Breaking Weapons Are Ruining My Zelda Experience

Opinion – Why Breaking Weapons Are Ruining My Zelda Experience

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild came out couple months ago, but I’m only now getting around to playing it (I had other stuff going on in March). The latest installment in the long-running series received nearly universal praise from consumers and critics (including us), and is already one of the front-runners in Game of the Year discussions. That’s great for Nintendo and Zelda fans, but from my time with the game, I’m left wondering if everyone is somehow playing a different version of the game than I am. Because while I agree it is very good in many ways, it has one very bad idea that poisons my enjoyment at almost every turn: breaking weapons.

I’m sure plenty of people have written “that game you love is actually bad” articles in response to the widespread adulation for Breath of the Wild. This isn’t one of those, because I don’t think the game is bad as a whole. However, I think it has a baffling design flaw that makes it difficult to appreciate all of the other clever and ambitious things in Nintendo’s latest vision of Hyrule.

In case you haven’t played Breath of the Wild, here’s how the weapon system works: Every weapon (with one exception) has limited durability, so they eventually break as you use them. Once broken, they are removed from your inventory and cannot be repaired, and this applies to everything from wooden clubs found in Bokoblin camps to elemental greatswords received as rewards for finishing shrines.

Conceptually, that might not seem so bad. The game has a lot of different weapons, and it throws a steady stream of them at you, so you’re not going to be left defenseless in the middle of a major battle. Plus, the system forces players to cycle through a variety of different options, preventing them from leaning too heavily on any one sword, spear, bow, or axe. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but the consequences of this approach in other areas drastically outweigh the minor benefits.

My problem isn’t about a single weapon I like breaking – though I think that happens way too quickly. It’s about how limited durability affects weapons as a category, and then cascades into other areas like combat and exploration. For instance, because players have a constantly shifting inventory, no encounter can be designed with a particular weapon in mind. Players need to be able able to finish any battle with any weapon – or at least a collection of decently powerful (but non-specific) weapons.

That kind of flexibility has worked in similar open-world games, but those other titles usually let you develop a unique play style, and Breath of the Wild doesn’t. You can’t experiment and settle on an approach to fighting that you enjoy (like focusing on swords-and-shields, magic, etc.) because you’re just at the mercy of whatever is handy. Don’t like clunky claymores or weak boomerangs? Too bad, because that’s what you have right now. And since the limited inventory space discourages hoarding, your chances of having a particularly advantageous weapon for any given fight is ridiculously small.

The end result is this: Combat feels bland, designed to ensure that all roads lead to victory, regardless of players’ gear or skills. Even the battles against the incarnations of Ganon feel disappointingly similar. My power in combat is completely dependent on what random assortment of tools I’m carrying, not on any skills I’m improving as a player. And despite a broad array of different weapons, they all feel equally disposable.

My arsenal feels largely meaningless, and this issue bleeds into Breath of the Wild’s core activities. Link’s progression is tied to completing short, puzzle-oriented sequences called shrines. After you finish four of them, you can choose to increase your max life or stamina. Though that bump is the ultimate payoff for shrines, they also have treasure chests that contain armor, items, and weapons. At first, I was excited to figure out how to reach these chests (they often involve additional challenges) and get the goodies within. After spending about 40 hours with the game now, I rarely bother anymore.

Think back to previous Zelda games – remember the anticipation when you opened a chest in a dungeon, waiting to see what cool new item was waiting inside? That sensation is completely absent in Breath of the Wild, because the game trains you to stop caring about what you find in shrine chests. Most of the time, it’s just another weapon that isn’t much different from the weapons you already have. Plus, you probably don’t have the inventory space to carry it, and if you make the space, it’ll just break soon anyway.

Even worse, that feeling extends to the rewards you get for even greater accomplishments. I’ve finished two of the four Divine Beasts, and at the end of each questline, I’ve been told to open a treasure chest to claim some great reward – weapons wielded by legendary champions that served them well in many battles. Of course, these once-sturdy weapons degrade and break in Link’s hands, so my options are either to A. use them and lose them, or B. save them and get no benefit at all (and, in rare cases, C. go through an expensive and complicated process that is more hassle than it’s worth to forge replacements). Rewards that feel temporary or useless are bad rewards, so these treasures meant to mark your greatest accomplishments in Breath of the Wild are huge disappointments – a problem that would be fixed completely if they didn’t break.

I love the shrine puzzles in Breath of the Wild. The process of exploring Hyrule’s peaks and valleys can be exhilarating. Divine Beasts are well-designed and fun to figure out. Plus, Nintendo deserves a lot of credit for taking risks and switching up the Zelda formula with this installment. But not everything that’s different is better, and Nintendo shouldn’t get a pass for “trying something new” when that new thing is not fun.

Whether you’re tackling Divine Beasts, solving shrines, or fighting monsters, the concept of breakable weapons causes mild pain and annoyance, like a thorn sticking out of every major system. At best, the most common responses I hear to the idea are expressions of lukewarm tolerance, like “I guess it didn’t bother me that much,” or “I didn’t like it at first, but I learned to work around it.” Few people seem to actively like the breaking weapons, regardless of their affection for the experience as a whole. And to be clear, that affection is understandable; The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a good game, but it could have been so much better by rethinking this mechanic, and I hope the game’s success doesn’t blind Nintendo to that fact moving forward.

27th April 2017
The Top 10 Games On Wii U

The Top 10 Games On Wii U

Since its debut in 2012, the Nintendo Wii U has seen both rough seas and smooth sailing. From the third-party developer exodus that occurred shortly after the system hit the market to the outstanding releases that only Nintendo can deliver, the waters of the Wii U can be tricky to navigate.

Whether you’re just now grabbing Nintendo’s most recent home console or you’re just looking to expand your existing library, this continually changing list represents the games you should play on your Wii U.

Here are Game Informer’s current picks for the Top 10 games on Wii U.

10. Axiom Verge
"I heartily applaud Tom Happ’s first solo effort. It’s incredible that he was able to nail every component of game creation in one package. I’ll wait as long as it takes for him to build a follow-up. When everything works this well, why let someone else get in there and screw it up?" – Joe Juba

To read the full review and learn more, click here.

9. Splatoon
“Splatoon has all the trappings of something fans have wanted from Nintendo for a long time: a unique IP that shows Nintendo can still dream up new experiences. As entertaining as it is fast-paced, Splatoon is a strong addition to the Wii U lineup.” – Brian Shea

To read the full review and learn more, click here (though the game has gotten significantly better with updates).


8. Bayonetta 2
“Creating a sequel to an already-polished game is a challenge, but Platinum Games’ approach ultimately succeeds. Bayonetta 2 is rooted in its past while taking steps (but not strides) toward the future. Though I was disappointed by some of the familiarity, I was usually having too much fun to care.” – Joe Juba

To read the full review and learn more, click here.

7. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
“Every change Nintendo has made to this game is smart and serves a purpose, and I envy anyone that gets to experience The Wind Waker for the first time via this remake. It takes everything that made the original a classic and greatly improves on its visuals and quality of play. If you’re a fan of classic remakes, you can’t ask for much more.” – Dan Ryckert

To read the full review and learn more, click here.

6. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
“Even though there are fewer total levels this time around, the individual stages are longer than an average level from the previous game. In the end, I’d rather have a slightly smaller collection of Retro Studios’ best levels than one bloated up with lesser-quality stages in order to hit an arbitrary number. That finely cultivated assortment is exactly what you get with Tropical Freeze.” – Bryan Vore

To read the full review and learn more, click here.

On the next page: Our top 5 games for Wii U. 

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31st March 2017
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild’s Best Sidequests And Bonus Content

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild’s Best Sidequests And Bonus Content

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a big game with lots to do outside of its main quests. Maybe you’ve fought Ganon and are looking for more to do in the world, or maybe you’re looking for every excuse you can to put off the final confrontation. Whatever the case may be, here are a handful of bonus missions, shrines, and quests worth pursuing that you won’t find on your Main Quests lists.

Below you will find a list of spoiler-free suggestions for a number of side activities that are worth doing. On page two, you will find more detailed, spoiler-filled descriptions of these activities, their rewards, and why we think they’re worth pursuing. If you click the hyper-linked headline of the tip, it will take you directly to its entry on page two.

1. Do all of Gerudo’s sidequests
Make sure to talk to everyone in the town, starting with its leader, and do whatever they ask. The rewards are worthwhile.

2. Do all of Kakariko’s sidequests
Kakariko’s sidequests don’t offer much in terms of physical reward, but doing all Kakariko has to offer delivers on one of its most interesting storylines.

3. Do the maze shrines
There are three in Hyrule, and you can find them by looking at the map.

4. Get the climbing equipment
Hopefully you’ve got some of the pieces already, but if you click to page two you can find out how to get the full set.

5. Get the horse everyone is talking about
There is someone south of Lake Tower who should be able to get you started.

6. Get the other horse everyone is talking about
Outskirt Stable just southwest of central Hyrule will give you the lead you need to start this sidequest.

7. Eavesdrop at the Gerudo bar
You might hear a valuable secret.

8. Bring the woman in Gerudo some flint
I mentioned this in my spoiler-free starter guide, and I stand by that recommendation. Find the woman that needs flint in Gerudo and give it to her.

9. Help out the guy in front of Gerudo
He’s not technically part of Gerudo since he is right outside the front gate, so it won’t add to your total in terms of completing all of Gerudo’s side missions, but it’s a good idea to do everything he asks of you.

10. The southeast island
It may take an extra stamina potion to fly out there (you can also take a raft), but it’s worth exploring the island off the southeast coast.

11. Check out all the houses in Hateno
I hear Hateno village has some beautiful properties.

12. Help the town
I hear the beautiful properties in Hateno village have some people nearby that are worth talking to.

13. Find the guy that loves monsters
A guard patrolling the East Akkala Stable has an assignment that will get you started with this task.

14. Explore Hyrule Castle
Whether you have fought Ganon or not, you can explore Hyrule Castle, and I recommend you do.

15. Find the prison in Hyrule Castle
Piggybacking off the previous tip, make sure you look for the prison area of the castle, specifically.

16. The fifth fairy
If you found all the Great Fairies, know that there is another… odd one. Explore near Highland Stable to start on this path.

17. Look up
There are a couple of things up there worth spotting. Head towards Mount Lanayru if you’re not sure what I am talking about.

18. Do all the shrines
There are a lot and many are hard to find, but I really like the reward for doing them all.

Next: More detailed spoiler-filled information on each quest and its reward.

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24th March 2017
A Very Nerdy Conversation About Breath Of The Wild's Place In The Zelda Timeline

A Very Nerdy Conversation About Breath Of The Wild’s Place In The Zelda Timeline

The Zelda timeline is a difficult topic. Even with the 2013 publication of The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, which offered a Nintendo-approved take on the timeline, it is a still a mysterious, hotly debated account of when Zelda adventures take place. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, in many ways, throws a few wrenches in the whole topic, with references to multiple Zelda games across the game's many proposed timelines.

As a result, Kyle Hilliard and I don't know exactly when Breath of the Wild takes place, or if it is on the timeline. We have our theories, and we decided to discuss them at length. Before you dive in, be aware that we discuss SPOILERS. We don't explicitly discuss the end of the game, but we show a few moments from it, and show off obscure hidden areas with surprising references to previous Zelda games.

After you watch, please share your own theories in the comments below! Breath of the Wild is so large that we wouldn't be surprised if we missed something big.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For more on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, head here for our review, here for the game's secret music, here for details about the Amiibo implementation, and here for the 11 locations that reference past Zelda games that we mentioned in the video. You can also check out all of our features from when the game was on our cover by clicking the banner below.

23rd March 2017
Ranking The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild's Best Amiibo-Exclusive Unlocks

Ranking The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild’s Best Amiibo-Exclusive Unlocks

As Brian Shea outlined in a recent opinion piece, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's Amiibo implementation serves as showcase for how to to do something both interesting and worthwhile with Nintendo's little figures. None of the unlocks break the game or feel like required loot, but they are very cool, especially the possible bonuses connected to the non-Breath of the Wild Amiibos.

While worth using to grab more arrows, strong weapons, cooking items,etc., the Breath of the Wild Amiibos (seen above) offer items that you can find in the game without their aid. The previously-released Legend of Zelda Amiibos, however, offer the best loot as it can't be found otherwise in Breath of the Wild, and it's full of callbacks to past Zelda games. We decided to rank those items in order to create a functional resource to learn what stuff you can get from Amiibos, and also create a platform for all of use to argue about which unlocks are the best.

Note that while the clothing items are each awarded separately (cap, tunic, or trousers) we decided to rank each one as a set.

13. Sea-breeze Boomerang

All the weapon unlocks appear low on this list because they will break over time. The Sea-Breeze Boomerang is a fun callback to The Wind Waker, but is unremarkable otherwise.

12. Hero’s Shield

Much like the Sea-Breeze Boomerang, the Hero's Shield is mostly unremarkable, but fun for The Wind Waker fans. It edges out the boomerang by completing the Wind Waker look when held while wearing the Cap, Tunic and Trousers of the Wind.

11. Sword of the Six Sages

The Sword of the Six Sages is one you might not immediately recognize. Link never held it himself (before now), but it was prominent in one of Twilight Princess' most memorable cutscenes. The Six Sages used the sword used it to banish Ganondorf to the Twilight Realm.

10. Biggoron's Sword

Ocarina of Time is known for many things, but sidequests is not one of them. It's biggest sidequest, however, involved getting this sword. The fact that it looks slightly low-poly in Breath of the Wild's engine makes it even cooler.

9. Wolf Link


Wolf Link is cool, but he's not really an item. Also, once you started building out Breath of the Wild's fast-travel points, he gets left behind often.

8. Cap of the Wind, Tunic of the Wind, and the Trousers of the Wind

The clothes are among our favorite unlocks in the game, but the Wind Waker outfit is the least remarkable of the available ensembles.

7. Sword

It's not a great sword in terms of combat, but the idea that this has the potential to be the very weapon offered to Link so that it would be less dangerous to go alone in 1987 is very, very appealing.

For the rest of the best of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's Amiibo unlocks, head to page two.

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23rd March 2017
Opinion – Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Is Amiibo Functionality Done Right

Opinion – Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Is Amiibo Functionality Done Right

Ever since the introduction of Amiibo figures in 2014, Nintendo has attempted to find the best way to implement them into gameplay. To this point, we've seen developers use them to add new costumes for Mii characters in Mario Kart 8, unlock new Nintendo-themed puzzles in Picross 3D, deliver new challenges in Splatoon, and more. However, each of these implementations feels either not interesting enough to warrant picking up new figures, or so important that it shouldn't be locked behind the paywall of the figures. With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo has found the sweet spot when it comes to Amiibo functionality.

In Breath of the Wild, you can use your various figures once per day to get new materials to cook with. While that's fine, the real allure is if you happen to own one of the many previously released figures from the Zelda series. Those figures not only funnel ingredients and materials, but they also provide you with one special item each time you scan it. These items range from highly sought after bomb arrows and ancient components to exclusive weapons and outfits that call back to the game the figure is from, such as Link's cap and tunic from The Wind Waker or even Epona, the horse from previous Zelda games.

With Breath of the Wild being so loot-based, it might sound like this would break the game. In fact, when Nintendo first announced the Amiibo functionality, I made the decision I would avoid using them until I beat the game because I feared it would be cheating.

However, once my fellow editors began telling me about the exclusive loot, I grabbed my enormous collection of Zelda figures and made a habit of scanning every day (I still avoided obtaining the wolf companion from the Wolf Link Amiibo - I felt that would hit too close to cheating since it helps you in combat).

I was pleased to find that while this made activities like hunting less important, since raw meat was literally raining from the sky, it didn't break the game. It teeters on the edge of feeling cheap, but it never quite crosses that threshold. The meat, mushrooms, and other materials were convenient to collect in this manner, but what kept me coming back for my daily Amiibo scans were the exclusive items.

Even now as I've defeated Ganon twice and collected all of Link's memories, I still desire to turn my Switch on just to scan Amiibos. While I've already unlocked multiple clothing items from games like Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and even the original Legend of Zelda, I feel compelled to keep scanning to seen what fun, nostalgic drop I encounter next. It's exhilarating to find references to past games, even if I don't plan on using them. It touches on my history with the Zelda franchise (which many share) and my propensity to collect things that I love.

As an added bonus, the items aren't overpowered, making for balanced additions that provide collectible fan service that makes turning on the system exciting each day worthwhile. Breath of the Wild is such a drastic new direction for the series that these nods to past favorites are nice bonuses for players who have loved the series for years. 

14th March 2017
Early Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Concepts Show Link Without An Arm, Minish People, And More

Early Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Concepts Show Link Without An Arm, Minish People, And More

This morning, Nintendo released a three-part, behind-the-scenes video series discussing the development of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Many of the details of the documentary were covered during Nintendo's GDC panel, like early ideas revolving around aliens, but there are a number of new details, as well as better looks at the game's early concept art.

The videos feature interviews with director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, technical director Takuhiro Dohta, art director Satoru Takizawa, sound director Hajime Wakai, and Zelda series producer Eiju Aonuma.

Development for the game truly began in the beginning of 2013 and the goal from the beginning was to break the conventions of the Zelda series. It was the team's motto. This is where the early ideas of alien invasion started, as well as the gif seen at the bottom of this page featuring Link outrunning explosions across a war-torn battlefield. Later in development, the team would take off a full week at a time to playtest the game. It's an atypical practice to devote so much time to playtesting, and it was one of many factors that contributed to the game's delays.

The video also offers a better look at Nintendo's internal 2D Zelda engine the team used to conceptualize concepts.

The game's art director also revealed that the general art design of the assorted Shiekah technology was inspired by the Jomen period of Japanese history, which Takizawa says is an era few are familiar with.

Link and Ganon's designs were pretty straightforward, though some early concept ideas for Link show an older soldier missing an arm who can apparently change his arm to different weapons, like a cannon for shooting bombs.

Fujibayashi says Zelda was particularly difficult for the team to design and they were making changes up to the last second. They really wanted her to have a range of emotions. As an aside, Fujibayashi mentioned that in Skyward Sword, Link and Zelda could be seen as lovers, but here their relationship is more ambiguous.

Another last-second change is related to the game's boss character, the Hinox. You can actually see it is colored differently in some of the game's final trailers than it is in the final game.

The Guardians, Breath of the Wild's iconic and powerful octopus-like robots, have surprising beginnings. The team recalled playing the original Zelda and how large and imposing they felt, and they wanted to bring that type of enemy back for the new Zelda. Aonuma admitted, however, that he did not expect them to shoot lasers.

In terms of the enemies, Wakai also mentioned struggling with what sort of horn the bokoblins should use, saying that early on they experimented with them blowing a french horn to alert their peers, but someone on staff brought in a horn-shaped horn and its sound is the one that actually ended up in the game.

An abandoned concept for the game included small villages with Minish-like people. Fujibayashi expressed regret at not being able to include the concept in the final game.

According to Fujibayash, the game's size (which is 12 times the size of Twilight Princess' Hyrule) was based heavily on Nintendo's home city, Kyoto.

The sound design of the game focused more on the ambient noises of the world, with the music being more subtle and piano-focused. Wakai was nervous about making the score so piano-heavy, as Zelda orchestration has never relied on piano in the past.

For more on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you can find our review here. You can also click the banner below to access our month of bonus coverage from our cover story.

7th March 2017
Game Informer's Top Scoring Game Reviews Of 2017

Game Informer’s Top Scoring Game Reviews Of 2017

Game Informer reviews tons of games every year, but only a select few are able to obtain special commendations reserved for the highest scoring titles. Games that earn an 8.5 or 8.75 obtain a Game Informer Silver award, while a score ranging from 9 to 9.5 earns that game a Game Informer Gold award. While most of the best games of the year fall into that range, the most elite titles ascend to the next level to earn a Game Informer Platinum award (9.75 or 10 score).

To help you keep track of the best of the best, we've compiled all of the top scoring games of 2017 here. Check out the games we've thought are the best of the year so far, and if you want to learn more, you can read the full review with a simple click-through. Also, be sure to save this page so you can check back each month to see which new games we think should be added to your "must-play" list.

For more of our favorite games from recent years, head to the links below.

Top Scoring Games of 2016
Top Scoring Games of 2015
Top Scoring Games of 2014

Nav: SILVER | GOLD | PLATINUM

Be sure to click on the blue game titles to jump to the full review text.

Night in the Woods
PS4, PC

"Night in the Woods is a strange tale with an even stranger cast of characters, but it revels in its oddities. The excellent writing pulls off a realistic sense of cynicism, childlike wonder, and comradery between friends. With its careful balance between adult themes and youth, it captures a stage of life that is confusing, frightening, and thrilling. The sluggish pacing can drag, but players fill the time by building friendships and understanding the grim secrets of a town they once again call home." – Elise Favis

Horizon Zero Dawn
PS4

"None of Horizon's faults stopped me from sinking 55 hours into the game, or walking away supremely satisfied with the experience. Horizon may not be a revolution for the open-world genre, but it is a highly polished and compelling adventure that proves Guerrilla is more than a single franchise." – Jeff Marchiafava

Torment: Tides of Numenera
PS4, Xbox One, PC

"Cerebral and often disturbing, Torment is a rabbit hole of significant depth, where you can get lost in improbable imaginings of warped realities and existential angst. If you can wrap your head around a non-linear narrative all about consciousness, identity, and memory, Torment is a riveting departure from expectation." – Matt Miller

Poochy And Yoshi's Woolly World
3DS

"If you skipped Woolly World on Wii U, Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World offers what is essentially a straight port. It doesn’t feel downgraded, even if the visuals aren’t quite as sharp. Exchanging co-op for the dedicated Poochy auto-run levels and a better mellow mode is a worthy trade. Woolly World is still the best Yoshi’s Island game since the original, even on this less-powerful platform." – Kyle Hilliard

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
PS4, Xbox One, PC

"Capcom has successfully reinvented Resident Evil in the past, the most notable deviation being the brilliant Resident Evil 4. This new vision doesn’t reach the same heights of spectacle and gameplay innovation as that breakthrough release, but is a welcome addition to the series (both in terms of gameplay and lore), and a nice entry point for newcomers." – Andrew Reiner

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
PS4

"Final Chapter Prologue is a solid collection that I enjoyed playing, and got me more excited for Kingdom Hearts III due to how it sets up everything so wonderfully. I wish I were playing Kingdom Hearts III instead of another remaster, but this is the best collection for getting you prepped for what's ahead." – Kimberly Wallace

Nav: SILVER | GOLD | PLATINUM

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3rd March 2017
Switch Review – Sizing Up Nintendo's New Console

Switch Review – Sizing Up Nintendo’s New Console

Nintendo has always been experimental. Sometimes the company's gambles pay off in big ways (Wii), and sometimes they stumble in the market (Wii U). Ether way, consumers are always eager to see the company's next big step forward in the gaming space. The Switch is Nintendo's latest experiment, and it is full of fun ideas. We love the system's clean user interface and overall design, and moving between televisions and traveling with it is incredibly easy. On the other hand, the controller that makes all of this possible is a bit of a mixed bag. We put the Switch through its paces to find out how well the final product stacks up to its promise.

Specs

  • Size: 102mm x 239mm x 13.9mm (with Joy-Con attached)
  • Screen: 1280x720 resolution 6.2-inch capacitive LCD touch screen
  • CPU: Nvidia customized Tegra processor
  • Storage: 32GB (additional microSD card slot supports additional memory)
  • Resolution: 1920x1080 (In handheld mode, the maximum resolution is 1280x720, which matches the screen resolution)
  • Audio output: Supports linear PCM 5.1ch
  • USB: Type-C terminal (Used for charging or for connecting to the Nintendo Switch dock
  • Battery: Lithium ion battery that lasts between 3-6 hours.

Everything In The Box

  • Nintendo Switch console
  • Left and right Joy-Con controllers
  • Joy-Con wrist straps
  • Joy-Con grip 
  • Nintendo Switch dock
  • HDMI cable
  • A/C adaptor

The Hardware
For the last several console generations, Nintendo has come up short on horsepower, relying more on unique mechanics and system features to sell its consoles. The Switch is no exception. A custom Nvidia Tegra processor makes the Switch more powerful than the Wii U, but still underpowered compared to the PS4 and Xbox One - even though those consoles are more than three years old.

However, processing power isn't everything. Clever art direction can make a game look gorgeous without being realistic, as Nintendo's stable of colorful and iconic characters have illustrated over the years. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a perfect example; despite also running on the Wii U, the Switch's flagship launch title doesn't look out of place in today's market thanks to Nintendo's stunning visual style. However, given Nintendo's difficulty courting third-party developers in the past, the company is going to have to work especially hard to distinguish itself graphically and attract developmental support when its competitors are pushing 4K.

The Switch's outer shell doesn't seem outdated. The tablet features a sturdy construction and simple design, and is only slightly heavier than tablets of similar size. The unit's volume buttons produce a satisfying click, and the power button is recessed, which helps prevent the system from turning on and off accidentally.

The only weak aspect of the tablet's design is a flimsy kickstand used to prop the system up in tabletop mode, which snapped off the second time we used it. Fortunately, we snapped the kickstand back into place and haven't had a problem since, but we wonder how well this object holds up after repeated use. The kickstand also doubles as the cover for the system's microSD slot, which seems like a risky move, and we hope it doesn't result in too many lost SD cards.

Popping the Switch tablet in and out of its TV dock is easy. As promised, games transfer almost immediately between the tablet's screen and your television. The dock itself is mostly a shell for the tablet, but it needs to be plugged in for the Switch to display on a TV, and there is no way to connect to a television without a dock. However, we tested multiple docks, and they all immediately recognized our Switch, so you can easily move the unit between locations with Switch docks. We aren't big fans of the dock's back cover, which is meant to conceal the system's cords; this rear compartment feels flimsy, and we couldn't close it while using a few third-party HDMI cords because they were too thick.

When taking the system on the go, Nintendo says you can expect between three and six hours of battery life. We squeezed 2 hours and 50 minutes out of the system while playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in handheld mode.

While technically a handheld system, the Switch is only portable in the way devices like the iPad are portable. It's large, and though it can technically fit in a back pocket, that isn't exactly comfortable or convenient. We recommend a carrying case (or similar form of protection) if you plan on traveling with the unit.

Games look great even when you're away from the TV thanks to the Switch's built-in 6.2-inch LCD touch screen, which is crisp and scratch-resistant. However, given the system's portability, you'll likely want some kind of screen guard. The touchscreen is very responsive, but we have yet to see how well games use it. Games run at a lower resolution of 720p on this screen to help conserve battery life. While the lower resolution is barely noticeable, we encountered situations where text was too small to read clearly. This has the potential to be a serious problem if developers don't actively optimize their games for both displays.

The built-in speakers are on the back of the unit. They produce mid-level sound that is easily drowned out in loud environments, so keep a pair of headphones handy to plug into the system's standard 3.5 mm headphone jack at the top of the tablet.

One of our biggest hardware concerns is the meager 32GB of onboard memory. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes up 7GB of space, while The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild eats up 13.4GB, and the upcoming Dragon Quest Heroes I & II clocks in at 32GB. Game sizes aren't likely to start shrinking, so buying a separate microSD card is practically required to store games and DLC - a hidden expense buyers need to consider if they plan on using the digital marketplace in addition to physical media.

Up Next: We take a closer look at the Switch's controller.

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