Let me preface this post with my demographics, as my thoughts might be better tailored to those similar to me:
I'm a 20 y/o college student who's been only playing Nintendo consoles since I was little. I also have pretty strict parents in terms of entertainment and playing games at college (limited play time, limited distractions). We also tend to travel a lot, be it for vacations or going to and from college. I also have very big hands, a fact that will help explain a lot.
I was fortunate that I was invited to the event and got to play the Switch yesterday. As a major Nintendo fan, I came into Thursday with hype thrusters on overdrive and, naturally, my reactions were a bit tempered after seeing the presentation. My time with the console completely shifted my view back to pure hype and perhaps my thoughts may serve to do the same for others who were like me.
Play Styles :
I think I was able to try most of the play styles of the Switch, barring the Joycons in the grip.
Dock with Pro Controller :
For this setup I was playing BOTW and it handles just like you would expect or hope for a traditional console. I've used the Dualshock 4 and it's probably the most comfortable controller I've ever used, even though it was for a few minutes. The pro controller is on par, if not a hair above that. It has an excellent weight, great rubberized grips for your fingers, a nice material for the sticks and clicky buttons and D-pad. The triggers I asked whether they are analog or digital and no one seems to know that there, I guess we'll have to wait for a bit to figure that out. Those face buttons are also really nice, big and super easy to press. When docked, the whole things is much smaller than I expected and very understated; really like the look over the the toy-like Wii U (granted I love my Wii U)
Handheld Mode :
This style I, and most others, will probably never fully, properly experience this until it's in our own hands without the cables and protective stuff, but again, it was much smaller than I expected. It's weighted about the same as a 3rd Gen iPad and feels just as nice to hold. Really premium looking and feeling build. The screen is sharp and bright and beautiful. There was no film, cloudy gaze over the whole screen (again like on the Wii U). I got to use those after those systems had been on for hours and hours of heavy gameplay demos and trials and it was still cool enough to hold comfortably. I say this because I used this after playing BOTW, a game we know is very processor heavy both handheld and docked. The face buttons on the Joycons were smaller than I expected, but I got comfortable with them very quickly; it's similar to 3DS size buttons and that's fine with me. The right control stick didn't get in my way when holding the console and I didn't need to have it in any bearclaw hold.
There weren't any games that used the touch screen there, so no details on the UI or how it works to navigate through menus.
Tabletop Mode :
There was a small airplane style cabin where they had set up the switch to play. I was worried the play angle may be too upright but it seemed to be just right during gameplay and I had no issues. As someone who travels around, holding the joycons in my hands on my lap while having the Switch on the table was so comfortable. Definitely a game changer for how to discretely play a game on the go. The employee there showed me how to detach the controller using the to small black buttons on the back, popping them in and out. Sliding them in has a really satisfying click and it lets you feel secure that the thing isn't going to drop out of your clumsy, ape hands. Also notable that the USB-C port is on the bottom of the console, so if you need to charge and play in that flight scenario, you'll have to switch (ba-dum tiss) to handheld mode and charge.
I'll move on to games because a lot of them had some different control styles and I'd rather talk about the game rather than just how the device feels. And honestly, that's more of what we wanted to see.
THE GAMES :
LOZ: BOTW : Tears. Utter joy. I have nothing but hype for this game. Granted 20 minutes we weren't able to do much, but the controls were as simple and elegant and tight as you expect any Zelda game to be. Really easy controls to pick up. I used the pro controller and the handheld mode to play this. Really easy to switch between the two modes, just a short pause screen to make sure you're ready to go and not in the middle of something important and you lose it because you didn't undock fast enough.
Just Dance 2017 : Used a single joycon for this. Didn't give it too much attention but because the joycon is so small, I thought the game stopped receiving my movements for some time in the middle. Nothing mind blowing, but something for those who like these games, I guess.
Arms : I was really impressed by the level of depth this game had to offer when I saw the gameplay on Treehouse Live. The controls also really impressed me when I got to play it myself. Really simple and intuitive. You can tell how much better the motion control tech has become since the Wii days. It really takes simple movements to play and it handles really well. This game really sold me on the Joycons with motion controls, despite their size because it was so accurate and easy to hold, even in that "thumbs-up" grip they want you to use. Biggest pleasure to play and really hoping to pick this up at some point for my library (if I can get some more money for extra joycons, because rip price)
Sonic Mania : Not a huge Sonic fan but I have played a couple of the original Genesis games at a friend's house. Felt as frenetic and exploratory as those old-school games. Probably more notable from this was that I used one joycon on its side to play. This i feared the most with my big hands, and thought it would just be lost and totally impossible to use. And yet, I found it being really comfortable and simple to use. It just felt very natural and I would say don't worry about it being small. It will surprise a lot of people, I think.
1-2 Switch : Wasn't expecting too much out of this demo, just more like a Wii Play/Wii Sports-esque game to show off the capabilities of the system. For the most part I was right in that, but those we played it with (we went in three groups of 2) had a lot of fun and I guess it served it purpose of being an icebreaker game. Fun, quick minigames. Milking a cow is just as awkward as you would expect, Quick Draw was fun, probably the most fun out of the games we got to play. Probably the most notable was the marbles in a box game, to show off the HD rumble. I was blown away by how realistic it felt and hope I can see more games use this feature innovatively. Really, really took me by surprise those marbles.
Bomberman : Never really played Bomberman before so I probably can't speak on how "great" the game was. People seemed to enjoy it and seemed like an interesting strategy game. I thought it was ok, but nothing amazing. Probably won't purchase this for myself.
Ultra Street Fighter 2 : Game looks gorgeous, but I SUCK at fighting games. I was foolish to go against, what seemed like, a seasoned pro and got handedly defeated. Also played on the Pro controller and reaffirmed my initial thoughts on its comfort and ease of use.
Probably as a wrap up of my thoughts, the games, the controls and the fun I had with my friend really sold me on the system. The fact that I can play this in my dorm, without a TV, and play the same game at home is just infinitely appealing. Also, the fact it has a built in second controller means I can play with my roommate on a game like Mario Kart (in April). While I just preordered with the thought I could cancel anytime, I decided to keep my pre-order because it has everything I need for a strong first year system: an amazing game to start playing when I open the box, a game that's amazing alone or Co-Op the next month, probably more games through the summer as will probably be seen through E3 and the inevitable February Direct with more information, and then Mario Odyssey for the holiday (please, no two year delays Nintendo senpai)