The Nintendo Switch is a real game-changer.
Nintendo’s revolutionary two-in-one gaming system can be played at home or on the go, thanks to a super lightweight screen, detachable controllers, and a simple docking station.
A vast upgrade from both the Wii U and the portable 3DS consoles, the Switch features a bright, high-definition display. It sets up in a snap with simple components. The box merely includes the Nintendo Switch console, two Joy-Con controllers and straps, an HDMI cable, an AC adapter, a TV docking station, and a Joy-Con Grip. The console is slim and sleek, taking up way less room than any console on the market—including the Wii U, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
The Nintendo Switch features a 6.2-inch capacitive multi-touch screen that displays a resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels. When docked and connected to a TV, the switch features 1080p resolution. While this doesn’t quite live up to the 4k projection of the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One, it’s still an impressive upgrade from the Wii U.
The Switch has 32 GB of internal storage, and users can upgrade using microSD cards. You will need to upgrade quickly, especially if you’re playing games that take up lots of space, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Luckily, SD cards are more or less a dime a dozen these days.
The new system features removable Joy-Con controllers that snap on to either side of the Switch console. Each Joy-Con has the traditional A/B/X/Y buttons, as well as shoulder buttons and an analog stick. They feature motion control, HD rumble (great for knowing when bad guys are coming in hot), an NFC reader for amiibo, and more.
Gamers can splat, smash, and race with the Joy-Con controllers attached to the Switch, or remove them and play with one Joy-Con in each hand. Or, players can slip them into the included Joy-Con Grip, and create a more traditional controller experience. For multi-player gaming experiences, gamers can even hand off one of the Joy-Con controllers, flip it horizontally, and two players can game at once. Alternatively, if none of those myriad options work for you, you could also abandon the Joy-Con controllers and grab a new Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to use instead (this option will cost you about $70 extra).
The Joy-Cons basically do everything every Nintendo controller in the past has done, plus some. And you get two right out of the box, immediately allowing for two-player experiences without purchasing anything extra. This is perfect for households with multiple kids, or gamers who love bringing friends into the mix. The versatility of these controllers is truly impressive, giving players multiple options to game how they want.
In addition to digital downloads from Nintendo’s eShop, gamers can purchase traditional cartridge-style games as well. The new age cartridges are ultra light and about the size of an SD card. It almost looks comical in its case, but the minimalist design is the perfect pairing to the slim, light console.
Launching with the highly anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, 1-2-Switch, as well as a handful of popular third-party franchises like Activision’s Skylanders and Ubisoft’s Just Dance, there are some great gameplay options out there for kids and more serious gamers. Later this year, Splatoon 2, MarioKart 8 Deluxe, and ARMS will also debut, along with a new addition to the Super Mario world in the fall. So far, we’ve only tested out the latest Zelda game, and it’s completely and utterly stunning (not to mention insanely addicting).
While Breath of the Wild takes advantage of the Joy-Cons’ HD Rumble, motion control, and amiibo features, we expect games like ARMS and Just Dance to demonstrate what these babies can really do—not to mention MarioKart 8 Deluxe.
Pull the Nintendo Switch out of the dock, snap in the Joy-Cons, and you’re ready to game anywhere. The battery can last anywhere from three to six hours, depending on gameplay. The screen looks brilliant and clear, especially in comparison to the 3DS. You will definitely need to buy a screen protector and a case for the console if you care about scratching it (and you should—it’s a $300 console). Unlike the 3DS, there’s no protective covering, so throwing your console in your pocket is not quite an option anymore. Most cases even have slots for your games, to ensure they don’t get lost and your library stays right at your fingertips no matter where you are.
While the console is very lightweight, it’s a bit wider than the 3DS when the Joy-Cons are attached, so my hands got a bit cramped when playing for a long period of time. However, you can also use the kickstand on the back to prop it on a flat surface and use the Joy-Con Grip as an alternative.
Grabbing the Switch out of the dock takes all of one second. Just like the Wii U allowed gamers to keep the good times going even when someone else in the room is watching TV, now they can also hit pause, grab the console, and hit the road without missing a beat. Plus, parents don’t have to buy two sets of games for two different consoles, and all of the features of the games work no matter how or where you’re playing. There is literally nothing else like it.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
The Nintendo Switch lacks some of the showy features of the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One, like 4K graphics, VR compatibility, and voice recognition technology. But, at a modest launch price of $299, it packs a ton of progressive features and eliminates the need for two consoles: one at home, and one to play on the run. The days of the 3DS are numbered, and the Wii U is already out of production. If you are looking for the perfect family friendly console, the Switch is your best bet.
And for parents who may think video games are not educational, think again. Games designed for the Switch offer tons of developmental benefits, including hand-eye coordination, dexterity, problem solving, teamwork, and even patience. Plus, enhanced parental controls allow you to monitor your child’s gameplay.
Every component of the Nintendo Switch features multi-functionality, designed to allow kids and gamers to play however they want. Nintendo’s latest platform certainly sets a new standard in gaming, reminding us all that even if VR is the new darling of the gaming world, sometimes a revamped classic is just what we need.