Putting the Nintendo Switch in front of the kids was a fascinating experiment. They had, of course, heard of the console but beyond that knew very little about it. So far Nintendo aren't again the talk of the playground - although give it a few months and that seems likely to change.
I got the console and various bits of plastic out the box (with a little help from Mario, as you can see in the video). Placing the kit on the sofa, I called my youngest in to see what he made of it — and see how intuitive the different elements were.
His first task was to place the Joy-Cons on the screen for portable mode. It took a couple of attempts and some fiddling but he soon had them slotted on.
In his smaller (9-year-old) hands the Switch still looked diminutive and portable. He said something to the effect of how it felt a bit like the PS Vita - "it's like the Vita 2, dad!" - I have to agree with him. The form factor, quality of screen and general high-end feel give this the air of something very different to the Wii U's Fisher Price stylings (and don't get me wrong, I like Fischer Price).
From here I asked him to attach the Joy-Cons to the controller grip. Once I'd explained what the Joy-Cons were ("Well how was I supposed to know, that's a silly name dad!") he deftly slotted them into place.
In this configuration he had to reach a little bit harder with his smaller hands but was obviously impressed by the look and feel of it. The materials used felt high quality and he literally couldn't stop stroking the blue and red Joy-Cons. He did make a variety of comparisons to various smooth things but I'll save your (and my) embarrassment here.
Finally he popped them off and attached the wrist strap. Here we did hit a temporary snag. He inadvertently mixed them up which meant he slotted them on back to front. At first I thought they were stuck on but a little bit of wiggling sorted it out. To avoid this you just need to match up the plus and minus sign on both parts of the controller.
The small Joy-Cons fit his hands perfectly and he soon took to finding all the buttons, waving them around and generally treating them like his other play-things. We didn't have any actual games at this stage, it should be pointed out.
We talked further about the Switch over tea. I was impressed that the console felt so portable yet promised full console gaming. I fully expect to hide on the loo with the Switch to find a few extra minutes with Zelda.
My younger son liked the Joy-Cons in separate mode because "it means we can play Mario Kart against each other much easier". I explained about the extra rumble feature and the Kinect-style camera included in the Joy-Cons, which drew awed silence from them. I'm excited about what the Joy-Cons offer, anyway.
My older son was firmly in the Switch Grip camp. He expects to play console games like FIFA using that more classic controller configuration. This made me realise that the Switch really needs a proper version of the latest FIFA (and Minecraft and Terraria) on it if it's going to battle the PS4 or Xbox for all round family gaming system.
Then of course there are the parental controls. These are head and shoulders above both what PlayStation and Xbox currently offer, not only because you can limit play-time but also because it can help parents understand which games their family enjoys playing.
After our first day with the system, and my children's insistence to do a stop motion unboxing with their pseudo Lego Mario, we are very excited to get our hands on the games proper. If I'm honest the Switch didn't really excite me at first but now I have it in hand I really can't wait to get going with it.
The build quality, novel ways of playing and line-up of games mean that this is going to be a big hit for Nintendo. It's hard to predict as big a splash as the Wii (it still needs its killer Wii-Sports / Nintendo Land system seller for the masses) but the Switch is going to sell out between now and Christmas — I'm sure of that. Don't miss out on what will become a defining next step for Nintendo.