First-Impressions of the Nintendo Switch Chicago Tour Stop

The event:
We arrived about a half hour early before the event started.  The only memorable thing before it started, was a staff member commenting how Nintendo does not come to Chicago a lot.  He asked us all to take out our 3DS’ and make sure StreetPass was turned on so he could get a bunch more.  I sadly forgot to bring mine, so he did not get one from me.

A little before 7 P.M. we were let in to scan our tickets and then waited inside.  I checked our coats and we continued waiting in line.  When the time came, we were brought in down a red carpet like setting with all the staff clapping and giving people high fives.  I followed the line over to the Zelda booth in the back corner and began the play session.  From there were went around to various booths and played different games in different settings.

During our play sessions, they had the main stage featuring each game.  People at random were selected to go on stage to play.  Participants got hats, stuffed plushies, and other small prizes.  We did not partake in any of that, as we didn’t want to lose our spots in the various lines.  To conclude the event, staff organized one side of the room to say “Nintendo” and the other “Switch” and began a fun chant.  Overall, it was a very fun event and staff had a lot of energy despite being the last one for the day.

The console and controllers:
I was able to play with all of the various methods including Pro Controller, Joy Cons, and using the Switch console.  Regarding the Switch Pro controller, this was my favorite and preferred method of play.  The controller fits nicely in my hands and had no issues using this as a primary controller.  I am now sold on getting a controller, but it will have to wait a while.  My next favorite was the Switch console with Joy Cons attached.  This felt mostly familiar to using the Wii U.  I did feel it was on the heavy side, but that may have been the custom tethered cable.  I did get to experience switching from the TV to Switch console and that went smoothly.

Using the Joy Cons by themselves was not enjoyable for the most part.  I think my primary issue was that they felt small to me.  During ARMS it was awkward to hit specific buttons.  Holding one on the side felt off as well, as normally I’m used to gripping around the entire controller.  The Wii remote sideways was a large adjustment at the time, so I’m positive this will be the same case.  I will pass judgment until I’ve had the console for a period of time and can get more adjusted to the new play styles.

The games (in no specific order):

  • ARMS – This game uses a pair of Joy Cons to mimic the playstyle of Wii Boxing from Wii Sports.  My wife Rachael had much more fun with this one as she creamed me 6-0 in our three matches, including one perfect round.  Before the first match was the tutorial, so I had felt I had a good grasp on the controls.  However, that did not translate properly as I was promptly defeated.  I had the most trouble connecting punches and activating my special as I was getting creamed.  I tried to deflect and dodge but proved to be highly unsuccessful.  I am interested in playing more, but this may not be the game for me.  I was happy to hear when the attendant indicated that traditional controls will be available at launch.
  • SnipperClips – For this one, we played in tabletop mode.  The Switch was propped up with the kickstand and we each held a Joy Con sideways.  I was surprised how much I enjoyed this one.  Working together with someone was really fun and we eventually picked up on some of the puzzles.  We had some difficulty how to make a basket (with a basketball), as it required us to be in scooper shapes and we didn’t figure that out until our time was nearly up.  I may pick this one up for something for us to do on a date night.  Outside of the awkwardness of holding the Joy Con on the side, the controls were simple and smooth.
  • Sonic Mania – This was another Joy Con only game, and it was held on its side.  There were only two levels available to play including the classic Green Hill Zone.  It was fun playing the classic game in HD.  I did manage to beat both levels, with the second one being much harder.  I did not experience any new features, so not entirely sold on this title.
  • Splatoon 2 – I have to first point out to say when this game was initially announced I was not too excited.  After playing this game on Switch, it has me excited to play more of it.  I played using the Pro Controller and everything was smooth.  You may have read my piece on the Pro Controller about the inclusion of motion controls, and I want to take that back.  Using the Pro controller was so smooth and I did very well and was ranked in the top two in my group of eight people.  Thankfully Rachael was on my team and she had fun playing it as well.  She hadn’t played the Wii U version, so she had quite a learning curve.  She was excited when she had killed someone with the roller which was her favorite.  I was also using the roller and greatly enjoyed my time in the new version.
  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – I played this one solo while Rachael watched me play for twenty minutes.  I used the Pro controller initially, and the attendant prompted me to pick up the Switch console mid-session.  We were also some of the first two dozen people into the event, we headed straight here and had no wait.  Outside of having to play through the initial story quests, it was a lot of fun!  I got some experience climbing towers, shooting arrows, taking out camps of Bokogoblins, and managed to get a game over from a blue Bokogoblin.  I really loved the massive world and it looked gorgeous on the TV.  I also liked that the tutorial quests were not very long at all as it is intended to jump right into the world.  There was no hand holding and as you can see from my brief experience I was one hit killed by an enemy.  I’ve been beyond excited to play a Zelda game like this, and this only reinforces my strong feelings.  I’ve had the special edition pre-ordered, so I will have this game day one.
  • Puyo Puyo Tetris – This was one of the few titles that Rachael had more interest in playing than I did.  I’ve never heard of Puyo Puyo, so it was interesting, to say the least.  We were only allowed to play swap mode in multiplayer, so the gameplay switched between both games in segments of about 30 seconds.  Puyo Puyo was more about matching colors and creating chains of four or more.  When more than four were connected, the extras were sent to your opponent.  As with versus Tetris, creating two or more lines at a time sent them to the bottom of your opponents screen.  Any non-placed pieces were dissolved if the game switched over.  The winner was the one that forced the other player to bust, which seemed only possible in Tetris.  It was a little high on the context switching, but it was certainly a solid experience overall.
  • Mariokart 8 Deluxe – We only got to do a single race, so I did not get to see any of the new features.  I do have to comment that the theme of this area was a kitchen table at a diner.   So we and two random others sat at a dinner booth together with each of us having our own Switch – a true dream.  We played a match on the retro course Yoshi’s Circuit from GameCube.  A well timed infamous Spiny Shell gave me the first place victory.   Controls felt very solid and familiar, I was power sliding properly in no time.
  • Super Bomberman R – Outside of Zelda, this is the other title I am excited for.  I was thrown into a match with a previous group and had to try to figure out what I was doing.  I figured it out after the group had left and when it was just me against the AI.  I initially started with the sideways Joy Con, when the group left I tried again with the Pro controller.  Overall it was the same frantic multiplayer I remember from the SNES days.  All of the main power-ups returned, kicking, punching, throwing and the initial classics.  I did like having interactions with the battle once defeated as I was able to toss bombs down one at a time.  When I defeated a different player, I would be brought back into the match with them going to the sidelines.  I am still really excited to play this one more!
  • 1-2 Switch – This one was certainly interesting.  We played three different games, a cow milking game, quick draw, and game to guess how many balls were in a box.  I lost to Rachael on the cow and quick draw, and we both guessed incorrectly for the number of balls.  What I like most about this one is that it is more based on looking at each other as opposed to the TV.  Both Rachael and I commented how it would make more sense to have this title included with the console as both Wii Sports and Nintendo Land has done before.  I rather enjoyed the ball guessing game as I got to feel that HD rumble.  That was certainly interesting when combined with motion controls as it knew how much you moved the controller.  I guessed incorrectly as the two previous groups both had five balls and assumed it would be for us.  The cow milking game was Nintendo classic silly, but still interesting.  You have to get the motion down perfectly, which involves the downward motion and hitting L then R.  It was different than other minigames I’ve played.