Nintendo’s Switch is here, a new console that bridges the gap between living room and handheld gaming. The $299 system doesn’t have the best specs on the market, but hey, you can use it play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with a Mario game coming out later this year.
However, some reviews of the Switch are fairly mixed. We’ve combed through the details to come up with the reasons you should pounce on the Switch, but also why you might consider holding off.
You should buy Nintendo Switch if…
You love Nintendo’s first-party games. Nintendo is launching the Switch with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and has announced Splatoon 2 for the summer and Super Mario Odyssey for the holiday season. The company is also releasing a “deluxe” version of Mario Kart 8 and is launching a new franchise with Arms, a wacky fighting game featuring warriors with stretching limbs.
Of course, we’re expecting much more of the console’s lifespan. It won’t be surprising to see a new Pikmin, Animal Crossing, Super Smash Bros. and more of the Big N’s legendary franchises on the Switch. We’re still holding out hope for a new F-Zero. One day.
You want to take console games on the go. We’ve seen attempts to try this before, but never has a home console been so portable. Unlike the PlayStation Vita, which could stream games from a PlayStation 3, the Switch has a built-in screen, and its Joy-Con controllers can attach to the sides, making a portable out of your home console. You can play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the go and on your couch.
The Joy-Con controllers are fun, but owners are reporting issues.
You import games. The Switch will be region-free, so you should have no problem importing games no matter where they were originally sold. Nintendo has previously been more stringent on this, but it’s cool to see the company do away with it. It also means that you should be able to import a console and play American games.
You hate proprietary connectors. Nintendo is usingUSB Type-C to charge the Nintendo Switch, so you’ll be able to replace your cables with ease. It even makes it compatible with USB Type-C power banks for longer battery life on the go.
You may be less interested if…
You want to play third-party games. While Nintendo has an interesting line-up of third party titles coming from the likes of 2K Games, Capcom, EA, Ubisoft and Bethesda, it’s not exactly promising. Skyrim is six years old (it launched in 2011 on PC and last-generation consoles), and Minecraft is already on every system under the sun. Just Dance will show up at launch, but that’s not exactly something that induces excitement. A long list of promised titles currently don’t have release dates.
Nintendo had plenty of partnerships last time around with tie Wii U. That console launched with Mass Effect 3, Assassin’s Creed III, Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition and Madden NFL 13, but that didn’t last. As the Wii U’s life progressed, its third-party titles dried up. We hope that doesn’t happen to the Switch, but Nintendo has to prove it can keep partners on board.
You’re worried about reports of de-syncing. Several reviewers, and now, some buyers, have reported that their left Joy-Cons have a tendency to de-sync from the console when they aren’t physically attached. While there’s a patch for the system at launch, many are suggesting that hasn’t fixed the issue. Not everyone is experiencing the problem, but you may not want to risk getting a controller that doesn’t work 100 percent of the time.
You want a lot of games at launch. There aren’t many titles in the first batch of games for the Switch. You can count them on one hand: the party game 1-2-Switch, Just Dance 2017, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Skylanders: Imaginators and Super Bomberman R. There are more games like I Am Setsuna coming in March and Arms and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in the spring, but you’ll have to wait for the summer for Splatoon 2 and the holidays for the next heavy hitter, Super Mario Odyssey.
Unlike the Wii and Wii U, which came packed in with Wii Sports and Nintendo Land, respectively, the Switch doesn’t include a pack-in game, so you’ll have to spring for something from the limited launch line up (and let’s be real, you’re getting Zelda).
While the Switch is portable, it doesn’t offer long battery life.
You want the best graphics on a console. Sorry folks, but there’s no 4K support here. The Switch’s mobile-friendly Nvidia Tegra GPU means you probably won’t see anything comparable to a PS4 or Xbox One, nevermind the PS4 Pro, upcoming Project Scorpio from Xbox or a gaming PC. The touch screen has 720p resolution, so you won’t be able to play Skyrim in full HD on the go.
You want a long-lasting handheld game system. Nintendo isn’t being clear right now about whether the Switch will replace the 3DS. “Nintendo Switch is a home gaming system first and foremost,”Nintendo told Polygon. “We have made no announcement regarding the future of Nintendo 3DS.” For now, it seems the Switch will replace the Wii U, with the 3DS in a bit of limbo.
With its skimpy battery life, you’ll only be able to play for so long. Nintendo is claiming the tablet will last between 2.5 and 6 hours, depending on the game (the company says The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will endure for three hours on the tablet).
You have a limited accessory budget. Oh, Nintendo will let you buy them, alright, but your wallet will hurt. The Pro controller will cost $70 and a new set of Joy-Cons will run you $80 (first-party PS4 and Xbox One controllers retail around $60, a single Joy-Con costs $50). The Joy-Con grip that comes in the box with the Switch can’t charge the Joy-Cons, but you can dole out $30 for a grip that can.
You like seamless online offerings. It’s hard to blame Nintendo for charging for online capabilities, but it needs to put up a solid service first. The fact that it’s using a phone app for voice chat is strange, and its monthly free games go away after that month rather than being playable for the duration of your subscription like on Xbox Live and PSN. Nintendo is also using friend codes for the Switch, which we were really hoping they would finally eliminate. We also don’t know how much Nintendo is charging for its service.