Four months ago, the gamer in your life probably started badgering you to buy them one of the latest games consoles, the Sony PlayStation 5 or the Microsoft Xbox Series X. Like the rest of the country, you may have struggled to nab either over Christmas, but there is another option.
We think the Nintendo Switch might be a better alternative to the PS5 or Xbox – it's smaller, more affordable, portable and more importantly, easier to find online.
Gamers have been rescuing digital princesses as Mario and building their dream island on Animal Crossing since its release in 2017, but this on-the-go gaming device lets you play all together as a family.
What is the Nintendo Switch?
The Nintendo Switch transforms between a home console and a handheld system. Players can enjoy games like Spyro The Dragon or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild both at home on your TV and on your travels (Covid restrictions permitting).
The clue is in the name, the Switch allows you to “switch” between three modes at any time:
Handheld - hold it like a tablet, with the controllers slotted into the device on either side for more comfort
Tabletop - flip a footstand on the bottom of the Switch and detach the controllers for gaming on a desk, or table on the plane or train.
TV - plug it into the dock, detach the controllers, and link it up with your TV to play on the big screen.
The detachable controllers come with wrist straps to stop your kids (or you) from flinging them across the room for the more active games like Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure or Fitness Boxing, similar to how the old Nintendo Wii worked. And if your kids are playing games like Super Mario Maker 2, where they are sitting still and not moving around, you can join the controllers together for more comfort.
You’ll also get a TV dock, an HDMI cable, and the charging plug –setting up the console is simple and takes minutes to complete. It’s small enough to fit inside a handbag or rucksack (approx 4 x 9 inches), and fully charged, the battery will last six hours.
You can download games directly from the digital store (you have enough storage for up to 12 at a time), or slot in cartridges to build a library of fun stuff to play. You can also add a Micro SD card to increase the storage even further.
If your family isn’t likely to be playing all together you can get the Switch Lite console. This cheaper model doesn’t have a connector to hook up to the TV dock, and the controllers aren’t detachable, but it has a longer battery life (up to seven hours).
What games can you play on the Nintendo Switch?
Nintendo develops all the classics, from Super Mario and Donkey Kong, to Zelda and Pokémon, with new games released regularly.
Nintendo follows the same Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) system as other consoles, so games will be categorised from parental guidance (PG) up to 18+. There are only a handful of the mature titles like Doom Eternal and Skyrim, but the Switch is designed for kids in mind, so the vast majority are for teens and below.
There are a few different genres, ranging from racers and puzzlers, to shoot’em-ups and adventure. On many titles, like Minecraft, Fortnite and FIFA, you’ll have the option of single-player and multiplayer modes.
Dedicated single-player titles like Super Mario Odyssey and Pokémon Sword are longer and story-driven. These will keep kids entertained for hours on end –when they aren’t completing homework, of course.
You can bundle up the Switch with a game or two from several retailers for a reduced price, so you’ve got something to play right out the box.
Is the Nintendo Switch worth it?
We think the Switch is the best value games console available.
The Switch offers a library of impressive games to rival other consoles on the market at a much lower price. The smaller Switch Lite model opens up the on-the-go gaming experience at an even cheaper price, under £200, and can offer hours of game-time for children.
It’s also more versatile. Whether you’re playing games with your family on the big TV, privately on your lunch break or on the bus, it’s a dedicated gaming console with the same portability as your smartphone.
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