Nintendo Switch Review: The Perfect Console for Gaming on the Go

Performance
Features
Design
Value

Overall Score: 9

Price: From $371

Pros:
  • Three play modes
  • Exclusive Nintendo game platform
  • Innovative design
  • Great controllers
  • The best handheld device on the market

Negatives
  • Worse graphics than the competition
  • Expensive compared to the newest generation of consoles
  • Subscription required for online gaming

The Nintendo Switch, released on March 3, 2017, has been one of the most talked-about consoles in recent memory. This comes as no surprise, as Nintendo has a well-earned reputation for making unique and innovative consoles, and the Switch is no different. You can play on this console both at home and on the go; the Switch has a growing library of games, including many Nintendo exclusive releases fans of the gaming giant can’t afford to miss.

In this Nintendo Switch review, we will look at the console itself, the games available, its different models, and see why Nintendo Switch is worth your money today.

Critics Sentiment

The Nintendo Switch has received mixed reviews from critics. Some praised the console for its adaptability to different modes of play and Nintendo’s strong lineup of first-party games. However, others criticized it for its high price, which hasn’t changed since its release, lack of features, and not having more powerful hardware. However, the Nintendo Switch has been a commercial success, selling over 100 million units as of February 2022.

Nintendo Switch Specs

The Nintendo Switch is a powerful piece of hardware for its size. It features a 6.2-inch 1280 x 720 capacitive multitouch display. Under the hood, there’s a custom NVIDIA Tegra processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.

The system also has a microSD card slot to extend the console’s storage up to 2TB. As for connectivity, the Nintendo Switch has Wi-Fi compliant with IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, USB Type-C, and HDMI output.

You can use the standard Nintendo Switch console as a handheld device or connect it to your TV. In “TV mode,” the console is capable of 1080p output, while the handheld is limited to 720p for its display screen.

The device itself measures 102 mm x 239 mm x 13.9 mm and weighs 400 grams with the controllers attached. The battery life will vary depending on the games you play, but expect around four to nine hours of playtime on a single charge. You won’t have to wait for long between sessions, though, since the console can get to a full charge in three hours.

Due to its higher video resolution in TV mode, the console has a higher power output at 7 W, unlike in tabletop or handheld variant, which, on average, spends 4 W. The system comes with two Joy-Con controllers, a Joy-Con grip, an AC adapter, an HDMI cable, and two strap accessories. Besides the built-in speakers, you can also use headphones, as the console has a 3.5 mm audio jack.

Nintendo Switch Design

The most unique design feature of the Nintendo Switch is that it can be used both as a traditional home-setup console and a portable device. It consists of a tablet display to which you can attach your Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons.

The Nintendo Switch is also the perfect fit for a travelling gamer. It can seamlessly transition between different modes of play, and adapt to your gameplay style.

TV Mode and Docking Station

To play in TV mode, you need to have the Switch Dock. This is an additional piece of hardware that allows you to connect your Switch and TV via HDMI cable. It’s a small, unassuming black box with two USB ports on the back and an HDMI port on the front. Of course, the Nintendo shop has different colour variants if you want to customize your setup.

red and blue nintendo switch

Besides letting you play games on a bigger screen, it also charges the Switch and Joy-Cons while connected. Two USB ports can be used to charge controllers or connect other accessories. The docking station is a great way to keep your console ready to play when you’re at home.

If you’re looking for the best way to enjoy your Switch games, the Docking Station is a must-have, and fortunately, it comes with the console.

Handheld Mode

As mentioned earlier in our Switch review, the key selling point of the Switch is its ability to be used both connected to a TV or as a standalone handheld device. When disconnected from the dock, the Switch is a powerful gaming device you can easily pack in your bag and play on the road.

The 6.2-inch 1280 x 720 display is bright and vibrant, and the games look great on it. The console is also lightweight and easy to hold, making it comfortable to play for long periods.

Tabletop Mode

The Switch can also be used in tabletop mode, perfect for when you want to play games with friends or family without having to connect your console to a bigger screen.

Simply detach the Joy-Cons from the console and stand it up on a stable surface to use this mode. Then, each player can use one of the controllers to play. Tabletop mode is also a great way to enjoy multiplayer games.

Fun Ways to Play: How the Joy-Con Controllers Work

The Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers are some of the most innovative and fun devices to use. They are incredibly convenient and can be used in various ways.

Their design enables new gameplay experiences while appealing to casual and hardcore gamers. Gamers can use the Joy-Con controllers as two separate controllers, hold one in each hand, put them together to form a traditional game controller, or attach them to the Switch, or Joy-Con Grip.  For example, in certain games, you can use one Joy-Con controller per hand to simulate two hands working together or separately, like in Fitness Boxing games.

Joy-Con Grip

The grip is a plastic shell that holds two Joy-Con controllers and provides a more traditional gamepad feel. It’s similar in size and shape to other popular gaming consoles, and it also charges the controllers while they are attached.

Two-Player Mode

The Switch’s Joy-Con controllers are used wirelessly. As an homage to the NES (Nintendo Entertainment  System), Nintendo’s first and (until the DS) best-selling console, the controllers have a similar button layout, which is noticeable when you use them individually for two-player hot-seat games, like Overcooked 2. Both Joy-Cons have analog sticks that can be used for directional movement and additional eight buttons per Joy-Con.

Straps

When attached to Straps, Joy-Con controllers can be used for motion control. This feature is perfect for games that require tracking more natural movements, such as sports or dancing games.

joy con straps

HD Rumble, Accelerometer, and Gyroscope

The Joy-Con controllers have in-built sensors that enable different types of gameplay. For example, the motion controls can be used for gaming experiences that are not possible with traditional button-based controllers.

The HD Rumble feature provides haptic feedback that can simulate different sensations, such as the feeling of ice cubes in a glass or the sound of rain. This allows for a more immersive gaming experience.

The Joy-Con controllers also have an accelerometer and gyroscope, which are used in motion-controlled games like Ring Fit Adventure, a Nintendo Switch exclusive game.

Other Accessories

In addition to the Joy-Con controllers, the Nintendo Switch has a variety of other accessories that can be used to enhance your gaming experience.

For example, Ring Fit Adventure comes with additional accessories, a leg strap, and a ring-shaped controller. One Joy-Con is attached to the leg with the leg strap, while another is attached to the ring the game got its name for, and both are used to follow the user’s movement to control the character in-game.

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is a more traditional gamepad you can also use with the console. It’s similar in size and shape to other gaming devices from popular consoles, like Microsoft’s Xbox Series S or SONY’s DualSense for the PS5.

Overall, the Nintendo Switch’s controls are a hallmark of innovation.

Nintendo Switch Games: What’s Available?

In “console wars,” Nintendo always stood out because of its loyal fan base, first-party games, and innovation. The Nintendo Switch game selection has not failed its fans: The hybrid console’s diverse game library will satisfy every type of gamer out there.

Fortnite on Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch Game Library and Exclusives

The Nintendo Switch has an incredible library of games and exclusives you can’t find anywhere else.

Games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 3, Arms, 1-2 Switch, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons are just a few of the fantastic games exclusive to the Switch. These Nintendo games are some of the main reasons people purchase the console.

Other Game Studios Available on Switch

The Nintendo Switch is compatible with one of the best collections of triple-A and indie games from third-party studios, such as DOOM, Skyrim, Rocket League, Fortnite, Celeste, Hollow Knight, Stardew Valley, Hades, and Dead Cells.

Cartridges or Digital Games?

The Nintendo Switch uses physical game cards and digital downloads. The game cards are similar to the ones used on the Nintendo 3DS and are reminiscent of retro gaming cartridges. They are small, durable, easy to store, and feel quite nostalgic in the era of digital games.

Nintendo Switch game cards

This doesn’t mean that you can’t purchase digital versions of games from the Nintendo eShop. All titles can also be downloaded from Nintendo’s servers, as the company is a leading digital publisher.

Nintendo also has a convenient carrying case to store the console and physical games for transit. You can also find other carrying cases with various characters from Nintendo’s gaming universe if you want more personalization – like having Pikachu on your case.

Multiplayer and Nintendo Switch Online

The Nintendo Switch and multiplayer gaming go hand in hand. Whether you’re playing with friends or family, there’s a game for everyone to enjoy. And with the added portability of the Switch, you can play multiplayer games whether you are playing on the same screen or online.

However, the Nintendo Online service is required for online multiplayer gaming. With this service, you can play through Nintendo’s servers with friends or against players worldwide. The subscription also comes with other benefits, such as a growing library of classic NES and SNES games.

The Nintendo Online service also comes with a mobile app that can be used for voice chat and other in-game features while playing certain titles. Furthermore, you can pay extra for an “Expansion Pack” that grants you access to a library of Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games.

Nintendo Switch vs. Switch OLED vs. Switch Lite

A year after Microsoft and SONY released their latest consoles, Nintendo refreshed its current flagship with an OLED model in October 2021. While Nintendo made some improvements compared to the original console, these still don’t make the model comparable to the PS or Xbox in terms of frame rate, display quality, and other performance aspects.

Nintendo Switch OLED

It’s important to mention that both Switch and its OLED version have the same custom NVIDIA Tegra X1 chipset and the same output of 720p on the console and 1080p on TV screens.

Nintendo Switch OLED

The biggest difference, besides the higher price of the OLED model, is the size and weight of the tablet. The OLED tablet is 0.1 inches wider than the original and 22 grams heavier.

The display’s resolution hasn’t changed, but the size of the screen has, because the bezels are more narrow on the newer version, allowing for a bigger screen, increasing from 6.2” to a 7” diagonal. Because the sidebars and the width of the console haven’t changed, the same Joy-Cons and other accessories of the previous console are usable with it.

The Switch OLED has a better built-in kickstand than the original, with only a tiny 10 mm wide one. The improved model has a kickstand almost as wide as the tablet. The slot for the microSD card is still behind the kickstand.

Another difference that any Nintendo Switch OLED review would point out is the colour the console comes in. By default, the console comes with white Joy-Cons and TV dock, giving it a clean look.

The console also has higher internal storage than the original Nintendo Switch. With 64 GB of internal memory, you have more room for your games before you have to get a microSD card extension.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite is another console iteration only intended for handheld play. It doesn’t have the OLED screen, and it’s shorter by 1.2” than the original Switch.

The main advantage of this Nintendo console is that it’s more affordable than the standard model and game consoles made by Microsoft and SONY. The manufacturer priced it at around $250, making it almost 33% cheaper than the standard version.

The Cons of Owning a Nintendo Switch

In our Nintendo Switch review, we have covered the essential points that make the console stand out. Anyone looking for transportability and convenience will love Nintendo’s flagship product and have access to beloved franchises like Super Mario and the Legend of Zelda.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides that Nintendo’s critics are right to point out.

The Nintendo Switch Compared to the Xbox and PlayStation

Nintendo Switch consoles are inferior to the two biggest consoles on the market in terms of hardware. The Xbox and PlayStation have significantly upgraded what their latest consoles offer. Even when you compare the PS4 with the Switch, SONY’s previous-generation device is far more robust and capable of better graphics.

The differences are even more pronounced when comparing it with a console such as the Xbox Series X or PS5. The video output of Microsoft’s console, launched in November 2020, outpaces Nintendo’s handheld by a mile. The Series X and PS5 both support up to 120 frames per second at 8K resolution, while Nintendo can only achieve HDTV resolution of 1920 x 1080.

The bigger new-gen consoles have more RAM and storage space for digitally downloaded games. The regular Nintendo Switch has 32 GB of internal memory, while the Xbox Series X, Series S, and PlayStation 5 have 1 TB, 500 GB, and 825 GB, respectively. Most modern games require more storage than the standard Nintendo offer.

Fortunately, the Nintendo Switch with an SD card can solve this particular issue. Keep in mind that the console supports up to 2 TB via microSD, microSDHC, and microSDXC cards.

Backward Compatibility

Unfortunately, one of the most common negative points mentioned in Switch reviews is the lack of backward compatibility with games from previous Nintendo consoles. This means you can’t play games from the Wii U or 3DS on your Switch.

The Nintendo Switch Price

Another issue with the console is its premium price. It hasn’t gone down at all since the console’s release at $380. At the moment, you can buy the Xbox Series S, which is a next-gen gaming console, for the same recommended price.

This won’t bother diehard Nintendo fans, as they can only play Nintendo’s games on this device, but it might be a problem for everyone else.

Handheld Competition – Steam Deck

After the soaring success of the Nintendo Switch, many manufacturers tried to replicate what made the console successful. For example, Razer made controllers similar to Joy-Cons that could be used with smartphones to improve the gaming experience. However, Valve has released the only serious contender to Nintendo Switch.

The Steam Deck is Valve’s latest hardware release, and it’s a handheld console that can be used to play Steam games or any other games you can run on a PC. Furthermore, the console is a fully-fledged PC with SteamOS, a Linux distribution developed by Valve, that you can connect to a keyboard, mouse, and external display. On the downside, the Steam Deck’s cheapest version starts retailing at $499.

It’s great to see other manufacturers making an effort to create portable gaming solutions. However, in our Nintendo Switch review, we don’t find that these products can offer something more than Nintendo; instead, they provide more options for PC gamers.

Who Should Buy a Nintendo Switch

If you are a Nintendo fan, you probably already have this console in your arsenal. If you don’t, Nintendo’s premium design, optimized hardware, and classic games are reasons enough to buy it, even though it’s not the newest product on the market.

Most gamers grew up playing Zelda, Mario Kart, and Super Mario, and the Switch is the perfect console to see how those beloved games have grown, or share wholesome gaming experiences with your family.

Is Nintendo Switch worth it for adults?

Of course, it is. The console has a wide range of games, from multiplayer experiences and sports games, to more adult-oriented titles like Witcher 3.

Is Nintendo Switch worth buying?

Yes, especially if you’re a fan of Nintendo’s franchises. The Switch has a lot to offer in terms of games, and it’s a great console to play on with friends and family.

Is Nintendo Switch better than PS4?

It depends on what you’re looking for. Our Nintendo Switch review found that the console has a more family-friendly focus, different modes of playing, innovative controllers, and portability. The PS4 has more adult-oriented games, better graphics, and SONY exclusive games, but lacks the portability Nintendo offers.

The products are aimed at different users, and the PS4 can’t replace the Switch in some aspects, while Nintendo’s console can be used as a home entertainment center.

Nintendo Switch logo

Overall Score: 9

Price: From $371

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