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Nintendo Switch review

A console/handheld hybrid that brings the best both worlds

Nintendo Switch
(Image: © Nintendo)

Our Verdict

Nintendo have done it again. Just when their competitors start to take the lead, Nintendo has changed the game and stormed back to the front of the pack. The Nintendo Switch is a hybrid console/handheld with a stunning library of exclusive titles. Sadly, patchy third-party support and a lackluster online platform are holding the Switch back from perfection.

For

  • Hybrid design - functions as handheld and home console
  • Excellent exclusive games

Against

  • Third-party support still lacking
  • Bare-bones online service
  • Least powerful console on the market

Nintendo Switch: What you need to know

After a shaky few years with their maligned Wii U, Nintendo have taken a second swing at reshaping the console market with the Nintendo Switch, a hybrid between a handheld and home console. The Nintendo Switch itself is a 6.2” handheld tablet with two detachable controllers, called Joy-Cons, on the sides. It functions like you’d expect, but if you detach the Joy-Cons and plug your Switch into the supplied dock, it switches to TV mode to and functions like any other home console. 

The Nintendo Switch has an MSRP of $299 and comes with the console, dock, two Joy-Cons and a grip controller adapter as standard. This puts the Switch in the same price range as its competitors, the PS4 Slim and Xbox One S. New AAA releases usually come with a premium $60 price, but there are hundreds of indie games available which offer lower entry prices.

Nintendo Switch: Specs

  • 6.2-inch capacitive touchscreen
  • Impressive power for its size
  • Internal memory is limited to 32GB

The Nintendo Switch offers a 6.2-inch capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1280x720 and is powered by a customized NVIDIA Tegra processor. This means that the Switch lags behind its competitors, the PS4 Slim and Xbox One S, in the power department, but this is the price you pay for portability. Ultimately, the Switch offers impressive power and exceptional graphical fidelity for a portable device. When used in TV mode, the Switch is connected via HDMI cable and is capable of boosting its resolution up to the full 1920x1080 though the maximum resolution varies between games.

Internal memory is limited to 32GB, approximately 6.2 GB of which is reserved by the system. This isn’t a huge issue if you’re playing cartridge games, but digital game downloads will quickly fill this capacity. Nintendo does sell extra microSDXC memory cards should you wish to bump up your storage capacity. There is also a kickstand built in to the back of the console, allowing you to stand it up independently when your arms get tired of holding it. And they will, because the Nintendo Switch weighs a hefty 0.88 pounds with the Joy-Cons attached.

Nintendo Switch Tablet

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Nintendo Switch has built in stereo speakers, along with an audio port allowing you to connect your headphones. The Nintendo Switch also has a Micro-USB port for the charging cable. The dock is little more than a plastic contained for your console, with a Micro-USB and HDMI port that allow you to seamlessly connect your Nintendo Switch to your TV - plug it into the dock and you’re instantly ready to play on the big screen. Then when you want to go mobile, just slide the Switch back out, connect the Joy-Cons and you’re good to go.

Nintendo Switch: Games and Subscriptions

  • Has one of the strongest first-party game line-ups in history
  • Third-party support could be better
  • Nintendo has also introduced its own online subscription service

There’s no point beating around the bush — the Nintendo Switch has one of the strongest first-party game line-ups in history. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Luigi’s Mansion 3. The list goes on and on. 

Nintendo’s relationship with third-party developers has always been a sticking point in the past, and while they’ve made great strides to improve this with the Switch, there are still some glaring holes in their games lineup. Huge titles like Fortnite, Rocket League, FIFA 20, and even The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt are all available on the Nintendo Switch, but other leviathans like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, APEX Legends and PUBG are still nowhere to be seen.

The Legend of Zelda: BOTW

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Following in the footsteps of their Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo have also introduced their own online subscription service. The imaginatively titled Nintendo Switch Online is required for access to online multiplayer, but also offers cloud save storage, exclusive deals and access to a library of classic NES and Super NES games. The service is lacking when compared to Sony’s PS+ and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold, but it also costs a fraction of the price at $19.99 for a 12 month subscription.

Nintendo Switch: User Interface

  • Simple and easy to navigate interface
  • Accessing your games and apps is a breeze
  • Surprisingly comfortable in handheld mode

The user interface on the Nintendo Switch is simple and easy to navigate thanks to its clean visual styling. Accessing your games and apps is a breeze, but the online store can be difficult to navigate unless you know what game you’re looking for - if it’s not a new release or on sale, a game might as well not exist on the Switch store.

When using the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode, the chunky tablet is surprisingly comfortable but can get tiring during extended play sessions. Thankfully, the in-built kickstand lets you take a break from the weightlifting if you have an available surface to place it on, which is ideal during train or airplane journeys. The Joy-Cons themselves feel a little unusual at first, but you quickly adjust to them. If you’re looking for a more conventional controller and don’t need the gyroscopic features of the Joy-Cons, you can plug them both into an adapter to form a crude controller — or you can just pick up a Nintendo Switch Pro controller.

Nintendo Switch: Multimedia

  • Lacks multimedia apps
  • YouTube and Hulu are available
  • Apps including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video aren't available

Unlike the Xbox One and PS4 console families, the Nintendo Switch prides itself on being a games console and not a multimedia machine. As a result, the Nintendo Switch is woefully lacking on multimedia apps compared to its competition. YouTube and Hulu are available, but Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, Spotify, and Disney+ are all nowhere to be seen.

Nintendo Switch: Verdict

Nintendo have bounced back from the disappointment of the Wii U, as if we ever doubted that they would. The Nintendo Switch is a unique product on the market, offering the best of both home consoles and handheld gaming in one affordable package. Nintendo’s suite of first-party exclusives is second-to-none, with numerous critically acclaimed hits under their belt including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.

Sadly, the Japanese gaming giant is still behind the curve when it comes to its online services and subscription models. As a result, heavily multiplayer focused gamers and those yearning for a multimedia powerhouse should probably look elsewhere. But if you want to play the best games, at home and on the go, then the Nintendo Switch is a fantastic choice.