It's one thing to watch an official Nintendo Switch trailer, or grab a quick hands-on at a noisy press event, but handling Nintendo's new console in real-life is something else. In our experience, this devolved into a group of people jostling for position around the box – while making cooing noises you might normally reserve for stroking a kitten, or an Adventure Time plushie – and taking it in turns to be surprised about the size of a Joy-Con controller. We've rounded up our most-unexpected reactions to getting hands-on with Nintendo Switch, and performing the initial set-up. There were some surprising, but common, themes – and snap-judgements that'll likely be proved as-false-as-they-are-rash as we spend more time with Nintendo's hybrid home / portable console.
"The surprising thing is how soon you forget this is a handheld."
"My initial reactions were the same as everyone else's: 'My, isn't this small?', and 'Wow, the rumble stuff actually works'. But having played around five hours of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the really surprising thing is how quickly you forget this is essentially a handheld. The controller feels natural in your hands (despite my inexplicable desire to reach across to the nonexistent middle stick like it was an N64 controller). If anything, if feels even better when the Joy-con controllers are attached to the screen: weighty, solid, and premium. It's perhaps too early to say, but it really feels like Nintendo has got the balance right this time. Switch's versatility is exciting, rather than bewildering." Matt Elliott
"In some cases, it's an improvement on the excellent UI design of the PS4."
"Once you get past the pretty common place set-up screens the thing which stood out most for me was the UI. It’s beautifully simple and the placement of everything just makes sense. Each game has its own tile and it’s simply a case of flipping left and right between the one you want. But, let’s be honest, you’ll probably only have one to choose from right now. The system settings and screenshots folder are neatly tucked away on a bar at the bottom and it’s really, really intuitive. If you’ve used any console in the past 5 years this will be immediately familiar to you and in some cases it’s even an improvement over the excellent UI design of the PS4 and, umm, the one on the Xbox One. As a first iteration straight-out-the-box this is a very strong start." James Jarvis
"It seems to be more of a handheld than a home console."
"So far I've only had chance to see the Switch and hold the controller (in its various configurations). It's definitely smaller than I thought, and seems to be more of a handheld than a proper home console. That's no bad thing, but the smaller size does make me worry that Nintendo has sacrificed power and physical features for the sake of miniaturisation. How does it feel to hold? Not great. While solid and well built the standard controller configurations are all fairly uncomfortable next to the likes of the PS4 and Xbox One pads. Sad to say, but the medium-sized variant actually reminds me of the original, original Xbox controller... which isn't a great thing. Can't imagine playing a massive RPG like Zelda with such an uncomfortable piece of kit." Andy Hartup
"It feels lovely to hold, sturdy and well made."
"I was actually surprised just how small it is. That didn't come across in the videos at all. Immediately that made it really hard to take this seriously as a home console. That's not a slight against the Switch but it's totally a portable system that comes with a TV dock in the box. That said, it feels lovely to hold - sturdy and well made, fitting so well in hand that I could instantly imagine long sofa sessions playing games slightly half-assed with a film on in the background. The UI will take a little bit of getting used to though. Some of the symbols and navigation aren't immediately obvious and I flipped repeatedly between a few wrong options while trying to figure it all out." Leon Hurley
"That big exposed screen has 'key marks' written all over it."
"The screen – which basically is the console – is smaller than I expected, closer to a Kindle Fire, than an iPad mini. It's heavier, too, but no problem when you get over the initial surprise. The Joy-Cons are more wee than Wii, and surprisingly solid in feel, though I'll need to spend extended time with them to decide if they're too sleight to be satisfying. Overall, it feels like a luxe piece of kit, if not quite of the standards you'd expect of, say, an Apple product. I expect to be using the console while out with my children and that big exposed screen has 'key marks' written all over it – or, at least, something less recognisable and impossible to remove than will slowly drive me mad. Nothing a £19.99 official carrying case (with plastic screen protection sheet) won't fix, but I'm gently concerned at the accessories and hidden costs starting to stack up. Hey, retailers are going to love Nintendo, for sure." Daniel Dawkins