On last week’s board gaming night at my local dork shop, I told some of my more video game inclined friends that I was bringing the Switch with the new Bomberman game and four controllers. I could tell their curiosity was peeked but also that they really had no idea what half of that meant.
Fast forward to last night. I arrive at the store with my shiny new Switch (in its nifty Zelda case), four JoyCon and Bomberman, which I have not played at all yet. Soon after, one of my gamer friends arrives. It looks like the rest of the group will be late. No biggie. We setup up the console, fire up Super Bomberman R and go straight into the Battle Mode. The only options are 4-player and 8-player so, with three of us, a computer controlled character was added as the fourth. We did not mind and went about getting our feet wet with placing bombs, blowing up stuff and trying not to trap ourselves between bombs and walls. Short story shorter, the AI controlled character started pretty much destroying us. I am talking large giant squishes bugs kind of destruction. We establish a truce and try to focus on taking the computer down. Fruitless! This thing plays like the final boss of an alternate Dark Souls version of Bomberman.
A quick note:
The table we were playing at was easy to wiggle and had one of those padded surfaces. This made the the Switch with its single kickstand very unstable and it fell flat (backwards) a couple of times. Solution? We found the sturdiest board game box in the room and used it as support.
We decide to take a break and wait for the rest of the group to arrive. In the meantime, I show my friend Snipperclips and we work through about five puzzles before the rest of the group finally arrives. Not sure what her final thoughts were on Snipperclips but, she was not complaining.
With more than four adult human players, we reload Bomberman and start a solid two hour non-stop session of Battle Mode! To allow everyone to play we just rotate the bottom one or two players from each round for those that are waiting.
Pretty much everyone had the same two initial reactions: the screen is really tiny and so are the controllers. During actual play, no further comments were made about the controllers and I personally had no issues or discomfort after using single JoyCons for about three hours. The size of the screen was definitely brought up a few more times, especially on some of the more complex battle stages, where certain details where hard to discern. Bear in mind that fitting four people on chairs around a tiny 6 inch screen required some of us to sit a little further away from the console than its probably ideal. Regardless, we kept on playing with loud remarks and laughs being proof that everyone was having a blast. Fun was valued over slight discomfort.
We were sharing the classic living room couch multiplayer experience at the dork shop. No TV’s had to be hauled over, cables had to be plugged or power outlets had to be found. After three hours of Bomberman and a little bit of Snipperclips, the battery on the Switch still had about 55%. This means, we probably could have gone for another two hours of Battle Mode before starting to get battery warnings.
The experiment was a success! Nintendo did not only think of a home console that could be portable. By extending the concept of the JoyCon to be used as mini controllers and, then, throwing in the kickstand to allow for this table top setup they have allowed for something completely new. Literally, anywhere can now become a place to have impromptu video game matches. Especially, when the Switch is so terribly easy to carry around and set up. If Nintendo’s promise of a more steady release schedule is fulfilled and third parties start coming back into the fold, this could be a very exciting console generation.