The Nintendo Switch goes on sale this Friday, March 3, and on Wednesday morning critics were allowed to unveil their full reviews.

Several video game critics have had access to the Switch for the past week, and reviews seem generally very positive, painting a “this thing has a lot of potential” brush across the system.

Polygon praises Nintendo for creating a system that merges the portable and home console formats into one:

Compared to the Wii U on its merits, the Switch is a slam dunk. It takes the basic concept of the Wii U, of a tablet-based console, and fulfills the promise of it in a way Nintendo simply wasn’t capable of realizing in 2012. It’s launching with a piece of software that, more than anything in the Wii U’s first year, demonstrates its inherent capability of delivering what Nintendo says is one of the Switch’s primary missions: a big-budget, AAA game that exists across a handheld device and a television-connected portable. The hardware lives up to its name in how easily and smoothly it moves between those two worlds, in how dead simple it all is to make something pretty magical happen.

Sister site The Verge agrees with the seamlessness between home and portable:

The most shocking thing about the Switch might be how many obvious pitfalls Nintendo has managed to elegantly avoid. Going from playing on the tablet to the TV is completely effortless, and there’s no sense of compromise whichever way you choose to play. Once you hold and use the Switch, it just makes sense.

Battery wise, The Verge adds that they’ve been getting about three hours of playtime while on the go. Unfortunately, they’ve yet to find a portable battery charger that can keep up with the system’s power demands:

I’ve been consistently getting just under three hours of playtime before I need to charge. That doesn’t sound like a lot in writing, but it was more than enough for a game that demands some serious attention — and certainly enough if I’m playing it while in transit somewhere. The bottom edge of the Switch has a standard USB-C for charging, although we’ve yet to find a battery / cable that can charge the console faster than it drains.

Physically, the Switch is a sight to behold, raves IGN (who is currently offering the system a 6.7 overall review, though that may change once they test it with its Day 1 patch):

The first thing that struck me about the Switch is the overall quality of its look and feel. Regardless of whether you go for the neon blue and orange set or the more subtle gray pair, the handsome matte finish of the two included Joy-Con feels almost silken, begging to be touched. The console itself – the central tablet piece – is almost alarmingly small and thin when placed next to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or even the Wii U, but its mostly metal and glass construction gives it a sturdy, substantial heft. At the same time, it’s still under a pound with both Joy-Con attached, making it comfortable to hold for long period.

All eyes are on the Day 1 patch, as many critics have experienced an issue with the left Joy Con. As Wired writes:

… when I want to seriously put in some play time with Zelda on the television at home, free from the constraints of battery life, I can’t. The left half of the Joy-Con controller simply won’t stay synced to the console. Either it’s connected but severely laggy, so button presses either register late or not at all, or it simply drops the connection. It’s a total showstopper. I cannot play Switch on the television—not unless I buy an optional “Pro Controller” for $70, that is.

At first, I thought I had been sent a bum unit, but it turns out many, many early Switch players have the exact same issue, all with the left Joy-Con. At this point, with Nintendo not having commented on or fixeds the issue, I can only go forward assuming the Switch consoles going on sale this Friday will all potentially have this problem, and that Nintendo is about to sell you a $300 game system requiring some kind of fix before it performs its basic functions.

Another common concern is the kickstand which, in theory, is supposed to make it easy to prop up the system while you’re on the go. Unfortunately (via Kotaku)…

The kickstand on the back of the Switch is flimsy and seems destined to snap off. It props up the screen at a steep angle unsuited to a lot of situations and generally feels unsteady. It also doubles as a cover for the MicroSD card slot, so if it does break, your memory card will be exposed.

What’s more…

The charging port is on the bottom of the Switch, which is fine when you’re holding it but means you can’t prop up the screen on a table while charging it, because the plug gets in the way.

Reviews of The Legend of Zelda: Breathe of the Wild are under embargo until later in the week, but early chatter suggests it’s one of the best Zelda games to date. It’ll be available for both the Switch and the Wii U this Friday.

The Switch sounds like it’s a massive step up over the Wii U, and unlike the latter, has longterm potential. Let’s just hope Nintendo and their fellow developers create great games for years and years to come.

Nintendo Switch midnight on sale times, locations

Didn’t pre-order Switch? At least three retailers in the United States have announced that they’ll be selling Nintendo Switch at midnight or at their regular opening: Best Buy, Wal-mart, Target, and Game Stop. Call your local store now to learn about exact on-sale times and expected availability.

Best Buy’s midnight release events will include free Zelda posters.

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