The Nintendo Switch is More Powerful Than I Thought
Right now, the gaming industry and indeed many enthusiast users are focused solely on raw computing power.
With the launch of the Xbox One X around the corner, new Nvidia and AMD GPUs coming out every 8 seconds, and the advent of the most powerful iPhone ever...this fall is a particularly hot time for fantasizing about Teraflops.
But what device is out there burning up the charts and flying off of shelves?
The Nintendo Switch.
With computational muscle a fair bit below the launch Xbox One model, and half the GPU power when in portable mode...the Switch is not exactly the most beastly thing in the world. Far from it, in fact.
But that doesn't really matter.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS... WRONG IMPRESSIONS?
When I first tried the Switch for myself, it was on one of the recently- installed demo kiosks at a Best Buy. They've got the thing hooked up to a beautiful, giant Samsung TV.
And the games looked a little rough to me.
Mario Odyssey had prominent edges all over the place. Zelda's framerate was a bit dodgy. The whole thing was less polished and pristine than I've come to expect from other modern console games.
Turns out though, that those demos are based on old code and that the current, patched versions of those games both look better.
Also, after playing with one in my house for several days...this little tiny thing is a beast.
I've already written an article about how fast the Switch UI is, but it's worth repeating: in spite of its lack of relative number-crunching power, the Switch provides a tremendously smooth and quick user experience.
It's so easy to jump from game to game and menu to menu. It's kind of nuts.
Games look really good too. Nintendo has always made good-looking games, and their work on the Switch is no exception.
But even other developers seem to be doing a quality job even this early in its life.
I wasn't expecting much performance-wise out of Omega Force's Fire Emblem Warriors, especially after people had concerns about Dragon Quest Heroes I & II at the Japanese launch...but the game runs really well.
Omega Force has never been on top of the technological heap, but they've managed to rival their PS4 efforts with this new Fire Emblem game. When the system is docked, you have the choice between a 1080p resolution or a 720p resolution...and the lower res option actually manages to push out 60 frames per second.
I haven't really missed the power of my more beefy consoles or even my PC when playing the Switch. Yes, there's a gap...but the Switch's UI and incredibly flexible design, not to mention some shocking optimizations by developers so far, more than make up for it.
The Switch is by no means underpowered, especially for a small-footprint machine that you can walk around with. It still delivers a largely impressive visual experience, and the launch titles are good enough that I can't wait to see what dev teams do after they've had some real time with the system under their belt.
I know more and more games are going to keep coming out too, because the thing is literally crushing it, sales wise. In fact, though I'm no analyst, I fully expect Nintendo to surpass the total installed base of the Xbox One by this time next year, and then set their sights on Sony's numbers.