The Nintendo switch is the latest must-have console from Nintendo. In just a year since launch, it has already sold 700,000 units in the UK, beating the WiiU lifetime sales, showing it’s going down a storm with the public. With such popularity, we’ve felt it important to put together this beginner’s guide to the console as an overview of what’s on offer.
1) What is the Nintendo Switch?
The Switch is the latest console from Nintendo. Released in March 2017, the gadget fills the niche between home console and handheld, letting you swap between the 2 modes quickly and seamlessly by dropping the console into the supplied TV dock.
Nintendo’s ethos on family fun make this the perfect choice of console for families, but also offers more mature titles, catering to all ages and game tests.
2) How much does the system cost?
The system retails at £279.99, with games retailing between £39.99 and £59.99. The eShop also offers a large selection of Indie Games at various price points, which have lovingly become referred to as Nindies. Although available for cheaper on other systems (including PC), the ability to play on the move is a huge appeal in these points compared to their home system counterparts.
3) Are there different versions of the Switch available?
At the time of writing, there are 2 main console variants available. The only difference between these is the colour of the joy-cons included with the system – 2 grey joy-cons* or one red and one blue joy-con*. There is also the “Super Mario Odyssey*” pack, that for an increased cost, includes a bundled copy of the game (the joy-cons with the system are both red in colour).
4) What’s in the box?
For the cost of entry, you receive:
- The Nintendo Switch Tablet (this is the console)
- 2 x Joy-Cons (1 left, 1 right)
- 2 x Joy-Con straps (the joy-cons slide into these to convert them into individual controllers)
- 1 x Joy-Con grip (the joy-cons slip into these to make them into a more traditional controller)
- 1 x Power Adaptor
- 1 x Nintendo Switch Dock (the console slides into this to allow game-play on the TV)
- 1 x HDMI Cable
5) How do I buy games for the system?
Games for the system can be purchased physically as a “Nintendo Switch Game Card” or digitally through the Nintendo eShop. Game gift cards can also be purchased separately (e.g. for games such as Breath of the Wild, it’s expansion pass or 1-2 Switch) and redeemed as a code in the eShop.
6) Is the system region locked?
The Nintendo switch is region free. This means that games from any country can be purchased and played on the system.
7) Can I play second-hand games on the system?
Yes, you can purchase second-hand game cartridges and play them on the system with no problem. However, you can only collect Nintendo gold points from new games that have not previously been claimed by another Nintendo account.
8) Will the system play old Nintendo games I already own?
There is no backwards compatibility with the Nintendo Switch (this means that you cannot play games purchased digitally on previous systems such as the 3DS or WiiU, and that you cannot insert cartridges from the 3DS/DS and play them). However, many of the previous releases on the WiiU are being re-released as Nintendo Switch games, so there is always the option of repurchasing old favourites. Games already re-released include Bayonetta 1 & 2 and Mario Kart 8, with more games receiving the re-release treatment later in the year (including Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, and Hyrule Warriors).
9) Can I use my existing Amiibo on the Switch?
Yes, depending on the game, the same Amiibo you own on WiiU and 3DS will also work on the Switch.
10) What additional accessories can I purchase?
There is no screen protector supplied with the console, so one would be a wise move (especially when kids are involved).
A Micro SD card is a must; the console only has 32GB of internal storage, and this will disappear very quickly if eShop purchases are made. Luckily, the Switch supports all sizes of memory card, and these are cheaply and widely available.
If the console is going to be used in portable mode, a protective case is a must-have for safe transport. Many come with built-in stands, which allow for comfortable multiplayer on the go.
Additional Joy-cons come at a cost, with a pair costing you £69.99 RRP* (this gives you 2 Joy-Cons, and a pair of straps. Additional Joy-Con Grips that charge the controllers can be purchased separately). Nintendo also sells a “Pro Controller“*, which is more aesthetically aligned with a standard game controller (whilst still retaining the HD rumble and gyroscope features of the Joy-Cons). This could be a worthwhile investment if you will be using the console mostly in docked mode (i.e. on the TV).
If you are planning to leave the docking station wired in at one spot, a worthwhile investment would be an additional power adaptor. Nintendo sell their own additional adaptors, but the good news is the Switch is powered by a standard USB-C connection so if you have other appliances that utilise this connection you can use that on the Switch in handheld mode (note, users have been reporting system failure using third-party docks and cables in docked mode – article to follow).
11) What does the Home Screen look like?
The home screen is both attractive and simple in design, consisting of grid tiles showing the games owned in the order that they’ve last been played. The profiles of those on the system align at the top of the screen, giving quick access to player specific settings as and when required. The bottom of the screen allows access to a news feed (filled with special offers and specific update news on titles of your choosing), the eShop, the screenshot gallery and to various settings. The battery display and Wi-Fi status are predominant in the top-right of the screen, alongside a simple digital clock.
12) Are there additional costs I need to take into consideration?
Nintendo has announced that from September 2018, a subscription to “Nintendo Switch Online” will be required to access online gaming. This means to play online Multiplayer in games such as Splatoon and Mario Kart 8, you will need this subscription. The subscription will also give access to the “Nintendo Switch Online” app, an app which will allow access to extra battle stats in certain titles, and access to Voice Chat. Also promised is the ability for “Subscribers to download a compilation of classic titles with added online play, such as Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight and Dr. Mario.” Full details are scarce at present, but pricing is looking to be lower than competing packages on PS4 and Xbox One (although to be confirmed, the cost is looking to be £19.99 for the year).
13) Are parental controls available?
The parental controls for the switch are accessible through a simple to use mobile phone app. The app allows you set play time limits per family member per day, as well as suspending access to the console entirely if required. It also allows parents to set age categories on what their children can access, and records play time by game and restricts sharing to social media if so desired.
14) Can I access video apps through the Switch?
Not at present; there is currently no access to video streaming apps such as YouTube or Netflix on the system in the UK. However, Nintendo have not ruled out the possibility of apps coming to the Switch in the future. In fact, since November 2017, American Switch users have had access the video streaming service “Hulu“, which sets a positive precedent for the future.
15) What games should I pick up for the Switch?
Gamermum.com will be reviewing Switch titles in detail in the coming months, with added insight on the age rating system, allowing you as parents to make the right choices of what content your family sees.
As a quick overview, top single player titles we’ve had the most fun with since release include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*, Super Mario Odyssey* and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle*. Our favourite co-operative and multiplayer games are Mario Kart 8*, Snipper Clips* and Rayman Legends*.
*Disclosure: As per all content on our site, this guide is 100% unbiased. All views, both positive and negative, are explicit of gamermum.com and we will never be “bought” into making a judgement. Hyperlinks to external sites marked by an asterisk earn us commission if a purchase is made; it’s like you are buying us a coffee.
Gamermum.com was founded in 2018 by Charlotte Cook, a Mother and qualified Mechanical Engineer with a passion for all things gaming and technology. Charlotte has been collecting video games all of her life and loves nothing more than curling up on the sofa to try out a new title. When not running her blog, Charlotte can be found engaging in photography, baking something tasty in the kitchen and learning a new crafty hobby (current challenge: learning to knit).
Charlotte also runs mamamakesdo.com, a site focused on money saving tips, recipes and crafts.