When people ask what console I spend the most time on, I almost always reply by telling them that it’s the Switch. Four years into its lifecycle, it’d be easy to assume that the Nintendo Switch is on its last legs. And, especially with all of the rumors about a Super Nintendo Switch/Nintendo Switch Pro that have been circulating for the past year or two, that may actually be true. But regardless of whether or not the Nintendo Switch feels a little underpowered when compared to the Xbox Series X or Playstation 5, there’s no denying how outright incredible the console and its games itself are.
While I’ve only had my Switch for just under two years now, the console has become a piece of hardware that I can’t live without. In fact, I’d actually go as far as to suggest that the Nintendo Switch is actually my favorite console of all time and consider it as the best value on the market these days for gamers looking to invest in a new console.
So today, I’m going to round up 5 reasons why my Switch is so beloved, as well as why non-Switch owners should consider jumping on the Nintendo Switch bandwagon, regardless of whether or not that’s via the current Nintendo Switch, a Nintendo Switch Lite, or any new-fangled Super-Dooper-Nintendo-Switch-Fami-Pro-Cube-U.
Console Experiences on the Go
For a lot of gamers, the Nintendo Switch signified the moment that portable and home gaming properly converged. It was the first time that gamers could take near-perfect representations of games like Borderlands 2 or Final Fantasy X/X-2 on the go without needing to compromise on the games graphics or performance. That’s not to knock consoles like the PS Vita which had both of those games and, to-date, the most convenient way to play Persona 4 (come on Atlus, bring it to the Switch already), but the Nintendo Switch was the first time that playing those games on the go didn’t feel like a compromised experience.
For the longest time, I always held the belief that taking console experiences on the go was a fairly futile endeavor. I based this opinion off my experiences with playing console games portability as a kid, which came in the form of playing my N64 on the DVD player in my parents childhood van, playing ports of games like Super Mario 64 or Ridge Racer 64 on my Nintendo DS, or playing games that were heavily modeled after their console counterparts such as Star Wars Battlefront Renegade Squadron or Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories on the PSP.
And, honestly, those early experiences with those games tended to always disappoint me. I always ended up wishing I could just play those games on a normal TV or take advantage of the added buttons/form factor of a standard controller. And it was actually because of this that I ended up sleeping on how great the Nintendo DS was for a long time, as those N64 ports were the first and only games I had for the console for a while and I couldn’t shake the feeling that their original releases were more enjoyable.
But that all changed when I got the Nintendo Switch. It’s form factor and ability to migrate between portable and TV play at your own leisure means that I can enjoy the game on a TV whenever I want to. And it also means that I can take that game on the go or play it portably when I want to, for example, passively play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or grind on Final Fantasy VII while I watch Netflix.
While it’s true that multiplatform games, and even titles that are exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, can take a pretty noticeable hit when going from docked to handheld mode, the fact that massive and beloved games like The Witcher 3, the Outerworlds, or Doom Eternal can even run on a handheld is honestly pretty incredible. And while you are trading performance and visuals for these games in order to get them running on the Switch, it’s still pretty awesome that the option of playing them on a hybrid console exists to begin with.
Building off of that, I’m also a huge fan of the fact that nearly any bluetooth or wired controller can be used on the Switch with little fuss. For the controllers that don’t natively work on the Nintendo Switch, such as a PS4 or Xbox One controller, you can also get those connected to your console via an adaptor that you can pick up for relatively cheap online. For guys like me that tend to play a wide variety of games that span multiple generations, being able to use my controller of choice for any given game is a huge win, especially when you bring into account the fact that certain controllers are better optimized for specific types of games.
Take for instance the SN30 line of controllers, which are my go-to controller for playing most NES, SNES or platformer games in general. These controllers have a great cross shaped D-Pad on them that feel perfect for these types of games.
Another great example is my wireless Sega Saturn controller. While unfortunately not bluetooth, the controller pairs with my Switch via a USB dongle just fine and allows me to play stuff off the Sega Genesis collection I have for my switch with slightly more authentic controls. The button mapping isn’t perfect here, but it’s still really fun to play games this way. Plus, it has what has to be the single best DPad I’ve ever used on it and also has a button layout that’s perfectly suited for fighting games.
There’s also the Nintendo Switch Pro controller which is genuinely the most comfortable controller I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. It’s essentially an Xbox One controller, but much lighter and feels so natural for, basically, any 3D game.
And, to round things out, there’s obviously the controller that’s bundled with the console itself, the joycons. While joycons tend to get a bad rap online, due to drift issues and being just a bit too small and un-ergonomic, they’re still a pretty good way to control your games. In fact, I tend to play Tetris 99 for a bit every day and I genuinely think that Joy Cons are the best/most accurate way to control your movement in that game. Outside of Tetris 99 though… yeah, I’d rather have a regular old DPad.
Either way, the fact that I can even choose the type of controller that I’d want to use on my Nintendo Switch to begin with is pretty awesome. And this isn’t even every type of controller you can use on your Switch; there are literally dozens of different controller types out there and different converters and peripherals that allow you to use anything from a Gamecube controller to a real SNES controller on your system. There’s, quite literally, an infinite number of ways you can control your Switch!
The First Party Exclusives
And I haven’t even gotten to the best part of the Switch, which encompasses the rest of the reasons on this list, yet… the actual game library.
The Nintendo Switch has one of the most varied and unique first party lineups that I’ve ever seen in a video game console. If you run down a list of first party Switch games, you’ll see everything from party games like Clubhouse 51 and Mario Party, to wildly creative and joyous platformers like Super Mario Odyssey or Yoshi’s Crafted World, and games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which genuinely belong in it’s own category. Oh, and the Switch also has Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which was the biggest/most important release of 2020 for a ton of gamers in quarantine.
And those don’t even account for all the Switch has to offer, as there are other games on the console like 1-2 Switch, Ringfit Adventure, and Arms, which approach gameplay in a more unique and immersive way than other Switch titles do.
While first party exclusives are important for any console, Switch exclusives feel especially unique. There’s a legacy to a lot of Nintendo’s first party franchises that elevates these games to unforeseen heights. I don’t often find myself drawn to the exclusives found on Microsoft or Sony’s consoles, but I almost always am at least curious about what Nintendo’s cooking up. Even if the game itself doesn’t end up appealing to me or I just don’t pick up the game, I’m still always initially curious about what they’re working on. A great example of this would be Arms. I actually don’t care for the game all that much and have only played it a few times as a trial provided on Nintendo Switch Online, but I remember being intrigued by the premise of the title itself, and totally see its appeal.
And where Nintendo’s first party offerings fall short, there’s always the invaluable presence of third party developers. HoweverI’m not going to dive into the droves of quality third party releases for the console, nor am I going to dive into the untapped depths of indie support that Nintendo’s Switchy-boy has going for it. Instead, I’m going to focus on the number of older generation ports that this console has, and get a little personal and share why I think that’s awesome.
See, I kinda fell out of gaming around 2012 or 2013. I was going through a lot of stuff at the time and didn’t really have any money for an Xbox One or a PS4. And, while I did love my Wii U, I also didn’t exactly get that many games for it outside of Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 8, and Super Mario 3D World. And because of that, I kinda fell out of sync with gaming for a while; I still liked video games and enjoyed playing them, but when I eventually did pick up an Xbox One in 2018, I was pretty confused and underwhelmed with the games I ended up getting for it. Nothing really impressed me on the console and I honestly ended up mostly just playing Halo: The Master Chief Collection and GTA V because of how familiar I was with both of those games already.
So, when I got my Nintendo Switch, I was pretty thrilled to find out that the Switch has a huge library of classic and sometimes forgotten games from previous generations. And for the first eight or so months that I had a Nintendo Switch, these games were what helped me ease back into enjoying gaming. Games like Katamari Damacy Reroll, Final Fantasy IX/VII, Doom, and the droves of retro game compilations that are available on the Switch were just what I needed to help engage with gaming again and helped me feel comfortable enough with gaming again to want to check out other newer games on the Switch and, eventually, my PC and PS5.
And these re-releases aren’t just retro games from the 7th generation and earlier. You can play games like Bulletstorm, Bioshock and Skyrim on your Switch and take advantage of portable mode.
Oh, and there’s also a literal treasure trove of Wii U games that barely anyone got to play that have been moved over to the Switch and made available for a whole new set of players. While it is pretty weak that these re-releases usually go for full retail, there’s no denying the quality of these releases and the fact that they’re worth every penny.
Nintendo Switch Online’s NES and SNES games
Okay, so this last one is a bit of a point of contention amongst Switch owners. For those not in the know, paying $20 a year to subscribe to Nintendo’s online service not only allows you to play your games online, but also grants you access to a library of just under 90 classic Nintendo and Super Nintendo games for you to play at no extra fee. These games include a number of titles for Nintendo’s classic IP’s from each generation, as well as some third party releases from companies that didn’t want to repackage their games themselves to be sold on the eShop separately. On top of that, you also get basic netplay functionality for these games, which allows you to play them with a friend over the internet, and you get some basic emulator functionality such as savestates, rewinding, and the ability to add scanlines to your game.
While some people are unhappy with this service, and how it has basically replaced Nintendo’s Virtual Console on the Switch, I’m actually pretty happy with the service in it’s current state. Much like a number of other fans, while I’d love to see Nintendo do a better job of adding games to NSO, or even other consoles like the Gameboy line of consoles or the N64, I also tend to view this collection of games more as icing on the cake of having a Switch, than I do the cake itself.
It’s a very valid complaint that Nintendo isn’t doing enough here, but I just feel like I could always pick up an RG350 or my modded PSP if I really wanted to play more retro games on a handheld. Plus, at $20 a year, playing the NES and SNES games available here is still much cheaper than it would be to pick up all of these titles on their own, and you get the added benefit of it being on a digital library that you can take anywhere with little fuss.
Again, I recognize that this isn’t perfect, but being able to play Super Metroid and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the go is a lot of fun and I personally found the price point needed to do this to be a great value. Also, it has Kirby’s Dream Course, so of course I’m going to love NSO.
So there you have it, 5 reasons why the Nintendo Switch is my favorite console of all time, as well as why I think it’s a great device to begin with. If I could sum this entire video up in a few words, I’d basically say that the Nintendo Switch does a great job of putting convenience in the hands of its users. It’s not perfect and there are a few glaring ways Nintendo could make this console even more convenient, but the ability to play games that span just about every generation of gaming on it, coupled with the fact that you can use a wide variety of controllers and take this thing on the go with you makes the Nintendo Switch a really unique piece of hardware. Simply put, there’s something for everyone on the Nintendo Switch.
Except for Earthbound. And Netflix.