When I was at PAX East 2017, I was able to get my hands on the Nintendo Switch and play with it in its’ handheld form. The game that they were demoing was the newest Mario game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Before I dive into my first impressions, I would like to mention that I did only play on the Switch in the handheld state. I, therefore, cannot comment on its’ performance or product quality as a console. I also only had the chance to play two rounds in Mario Kart 8, so I can't give an extensive breakdown of that particular game.
My first impressions of the Switch overall was that it felt like a larger version of the 2DS but with better graphics and more buttons. For a handheld device the screen it did look crisp and well defined, and I was impressed with how well the game looked around object edges. The control layout and tactile feel felt rather alien to me, but that's probably more down to the fact that I mostly play on the PC and PS4 rather than handheld devices. It has been several years since handheld gaming dominated my daily gaming time. The last device I remember monopolising my time was the Gameboy Advance SP. The Gameboy Advance SP was a very compact device with limited buttons, so this has probably also contributed to the device feeling odd to me initially.
I did like the size of the screen because it let me play the game at a decent distance away from my face without squinting to see details. I have decent to average sized hands, I was able to reach all the buttons on the Switch comfortably, but I can see people who have smaller hands and children potentially having to stretch uncomfortably for the controls. Likewise, those with significantly larger hands may find their hands hanging off the controls, but I suspect that will be less of an issue.
Overall I would have to say that I wasn't terribly impressed with the Switch beyond the graphical fidelity. Going into it I was taking a neutral on the system in the hope it might be able to surprise me, but it failed to do so. But it is important to remember this was a short preview and hands-on experience, perhaps with a different game, using it as a console attached to a t.v. or with more time with the device my feelings may be changed. As of right now, I plan to wait till the holiday season for a wider range of games to come out, any initial technical bugs with the device to be resolved and to see what bundles become available.