So, you’re thinking about buying a Nintendo Switch? It’s the most unique games console on the market: it’s a hybrid between a handheld, portable console and a gaming machine that sits next to your big-screen TV at home. It’s also the only place to play Nintendo’s own, brilliant games, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (opens in new tab). Before you decide whether to buy it or go searching for that Nintendo Switch Black Friday (opens in new tab) deal in November, here’s everything you need to know.
What is the Nintendo Switch?
A hybrid console that connects to your TV via a dock, but can also be carried around on its own as a handheld console like the Nintendo 3DS. It has a kickstand so that you can put the screen down on any surface, such as a park bench.
It has a touchscreen, but most controls are handled through its wireless Joy Con controllers. You can play with them attached to either side of the console if you’re out and about, or you can plug them into a gamepad-style anchor for a more conventional set-up.
The unique concept has proved popular with fans: after releasing in 2017 it became Nintendo’s fastest selling console, and the fastest selling console of all time in both Japan and the US. To jump on the bandwagon, check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch bundles (opens in new tab).
What Nintendo Switch games can I play now?
A big chunk of its best games are Nintendo’s own creations, and are therefore exclusive to the Switch. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which launched alongside the console, is considered one of the best games of all time, and it’s one that every Switch owner should have in their library.
It has plenty of Mario games that are worth playing too, including Super Mario Odyssey (opens in new tab), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (opens in new tab) (a re-release of a Wii U game), and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (opens in new tab). Other must-haves include multiplayer shooter Splatoon 2 and, of course, Pokemon Let's Go (opens in new tab) Pikachu / Eevee.
But it’s not just Nintendo’s own games that make it worth buying. The Switch is becoming an increasingly popular platform with other developers—you’ll find some of the big blockbuster titles on it, such as The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, but it’s particularly good for indie games. Lots of indie titles have ported over to the Switch since its release, including Hollow Knight and Stardew Valley, and many are now considering the Switch as a console to launch on.
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What Nintendo Switch games are on the way?
A mixture of exciting indies and Nintendo’s own games. Platformers New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (January) and Yoshi's Crafted World (Spring) are on the way, while Animal Crossing Switch (opens in new tab) and Luigi’s Mansion 3 are both big releases that will come out some time in 2019. On the indie side, Terraria, Mineko's Night Market and Untitled Goose Game are ones to watch.
Longer-term, there’s plenty to be excited about: Metroid Prime 4, Bayonetta 3 and a new Shin Megami Tensei are in the works, but don’t yet have release dates.
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How much is it?
In the US, the console costs $300, and you can find all the purchasing options on Nintendo’s website (opens in new tab). For the UK, you have to go through the Nintendo store (opens in new tab), and it costs £280.
But for both, you should consider buying a console bundle to get some games that you want to play. It works out cheaper in the UK, where you can buy the console with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the same price as the console alone from Amazon (opens in new tab).
Deals for bundles in the US are generally less frequent, and stock can be more limited, but you can normally pick up a console plus a new game for $360—again, go through the Nintendo site to find eligible stores. If you can’t find one you want, stick to the base console and buy your games separately.
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How long before the Nintendo Switch 2 comes out?
Beats us! It’s only been out a year-and-a-half, which is a little early to be expecting any credible rumours about when Nintendo’s next console will arrive. We’d expect it to be well into the 2020s, so the Switch isn’t going to be redundant any time soon.
Conclusion - Should you buy a Nintendo Switch?
The Nintendo Switch’s unique hybrid design makes it perfect for anybody that wants to use a console on the go—whether that’s during a commute to work, on flights, or in the garden. The trade off is that it’s the least powerful of the major consoles, and therefore cross-platform games will look better on the PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X.
However, usually that doesn’t matter because Nintendo’s games are optimised for the Switch, so they still look great. Being able to play both Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey is almost worth the cost of entry on its own, and Nintendo is constantly coming up with new ideas.
Other developers, including AAA, now consider the Switch a viable option for their games. Its library is currently the smallest of any console, but it will only grow going forward.