I was playing Stardew Valley on an airplane a few weeks ago when it hit me: I was having a lovely video game experience 35,000 feet in the air. My Switch was on the fold-down tray, my hands were rested comfortably in my lap with one Joy-Con in each, my headphones were plugged in, and my cruddy little farm was getting a little nicer one in-game day at a time. It's been two years since I got a Switch at launch – that would be March 2, 2017 for those of you keeping track at home. Numerous flights, waiting room stays, and good ol' butt-on-couch gaming sessions later, I can comfortably say that the Switch is the best console Nintendo has ever made.
Don't miss a single one of the best Nintendo Switch games (opens in new tab).
Quick disclaimer before anybody tries to fight me in the street: which Nintendo console is best in terms of the stuff you can actually play on it is an entirely different discussion. With more than 30 years of Nintendo console gaming history it would be premature to include Switch in the conversation. I mean, the Super Nintendo exists. Super Metroid, A Link to the Past, and Chrono Trigger all on one console? C'mon. What I'm trying to tell you right now is that the Nintendo Switch is the best hunk of silicon and plastic that Nintendo has ever created for the purposes of playing video games, and I mean that with all of my heart.
I should note that I was optimistic about Switch from the first whisperings of "NX" roughly five decades ago. Something to unite the home and handheld efforts of Nintendo, that which had been a bifurcated beast since the 8-bit era? Sign me up. Then, when The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (opens in new tab) – what is now quite possibly my favorite game of all time – was the first thing I ever played on Switch, I became even more enamored with the system. I dreamed that Switch would herald an age of reinvention for more Nintendo series like Metroid (opens in new tab), or at least revive some dormant ones. After a relatively slow rollout of first-party blockbusters, Metroid Prime 4's troubled development (opens in new tab), and how much Pokemon Sword and Shield (opens in new tab) look like Old Pokemon But More Graphics, my expectations have been tempered.
That said, even when I've gone months without picking up my Pro Controller or lifting the Switch out of its dock, it's been a comfort to just have it there; Charged and ready to go. Technological obsolescence be damned, my appreciation for Nintendo Switch as a piece of hardware has only grown from that first day that I picked it up. It's just powerful enough to play almost everything I'm interested in, and it's just portable enough to keep playing wherever I may go.
Never put it down (except in the dock)
My Switch has been a hub for intense Splatoon 2 competition, wired up with a USB ethernet dongle for the most low-latency Splatfest grinding possible. It's kept me company while killing time in a parked car – ProTip: if your steering wheel is the right size, you can set your Switch on the center part and balance it against the outer ring then lean back with your Joy-Cons (just definitely make sure you're parked and the engine's off, please). As I said up top, it's a fantastic air travel buddy. Even before I boarded that flight, when the power went out for a day at my in-laws' house, all it took was a visit to a cafe to recharge my batteries and keep the Stardew agrarian fantasy rolling.
That's Switch's thing, and what keeps it pleasantly surprising me two years later with "Oh yeah, I can do that" moments. Every Nintendo console since GameCube has had a thing (gimmick sounds so unkind): Nintendo DS had twin screens and touch, Wii had motion controls, 3DS had glasses-free 3D, Wii U had the GamePad. The Nintendo Switch is adaptable; It lets you play good games wherever and whenever you want to.
It has other weird Nintendo things (fine, gimmicks) too, like the IR sensor on the right Joy-Con that pretty much only Labo (opens in new tab) uses or the almost-as-neglected HD rumble. Then there are straight-up design flaws and shortcomings. My screen's scuffed on the lower left and right bezels from sliding into and out of the dock. Coming with only 32gb of built-in storage as digital-only releases become more common and install sizes balloon is an unwelcome hidden cost. The lack of HDR support feels ever more and more conspicuous, especially as Nintendo makes some of the most vibrant and colorful games out there. And let's be real, three to six-ish hours of battery life is a bummer after how long a DS could last on a single charge. But none of these concerns impair my day-to-day enjoyment of Switch, and all of them could be addressed in a hardware revision (opens in new tab). Either way, it still does its thing just fine.
Now as Switch starts to enter its middle-age, we'll start thinking about what will come next (beyond Switch Lite or New Switch or whatever). For the first time since I was a kid who sincerely wanted nothing more than "Realistic-er Zelda", I would be perfectly fine with Nintendo just making a more powerful version of their last console. All I want is to play good games wherever, and the last two years have proven that Switch is the best way to do it. I have a feeling the next few anniversaries will prove it's only getting better.