Nintendo took a big leap back into the gaming console market in early March with the release of the Switch, a hybrid gadget that promises to deliver gaming fun both at home and on the go.
The $300 Switch is selling like crazy, making it hard to find in stores. Many of those early buyers are lured in by the Switch’s stunning flagship game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But the decision on whether or not to buy the new console isn’t necessarily an easy one. Let’s get to know the Switch and look at the pros and cons.
The Nintendo Switch is a portable gaming device at its core. The console itself has a built-in screen with removable controllers on either side. You can hold it in your hands and play, hand a controller to a friend for multiplayer games, or set it into a dock and play on a big television screen at home.
The console gets its name from its clever ability to morph from a big-screen console to a tablet-sized portable gaming machine in just a few moments. If you’re in the middle of a game, you can switch from playing on your living room TV to playing the same game on the small 6.2-inch screen. You can continue right where you left off.
The Switch’s flexibility is attractive, offering a novel new way to experience gaming. The console is geared for a wide range of gamers, from kids to adults. YouTube user JerryRigEverything put the console through a durability test and it came out with good marks, though a screen protector is highly recommended. It’s likely to stand up to the normal rigors of families with enthusiastic kids, but it’s still an electronic device that needs some common-sense care.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild may well be the Switch’s biggest selling point. The open-world game is the latest in the successful Zelda franchise, and it’s also the most ambitious to date. Breath of the Wild encourages creativity and experimenting with the in-game physics as you take on the role of Link, an elf-like creature battling evil forces amidst lavish landscapes and daunting dungeons.
Critics are lavishing praise on the beautifully rendered game and it’s a big reason why the Switch is so hard to find on store shelves. Longtime Zelda fans will love the game, but it’s also an enticing experience for new players.
Battery life is a notable ding against the Switch. You can expect to get just a few hours of playing time out of the console when it’s in portable mode. It’s easy to blow through that time when you’re immersed in a game like Breath of the Wild. To extend your playtime, you will need to either plug it in to charge up or use an external backup battery device. Either way, it’s inconvenient and can put a damper on long playing sessions, especially when you’re traveling and don’t have an electric outlet handy.
The Switch’s screen delivers a sharp-looking gaming experience, but it doesn’t hold up well under outdoor light. If you had dreams of using the Switch during your beach vacation, you may want to reconsider due to issues with screen glare.
Nintendo skimped a bit on the Switch’s internal storage, gifting it with just 32 GB of space. The console offers digital downloads, so those gigabytes could fill up fast. Fortunately, a microSD card can expand your memory significantly, but it’s an added expense if you don’t happen to have a spare one lying around.
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The price equation:
The Nintendo Switch runs $300, with that price including the portable console, the controllers, and a dock for using it with a bigger screen. It will cost you another $60 to buy Breath of the Wild, which is the console’s first must-have game. That combined price tag isn’t totally crazy compared to other gaming consoles, but the Switch isn’t quite like other consoles that are geared for more hardcore gamers. It doesn’t have the wide catalog of games or the high-tech features (like 4K and virtual reality support) available to owners of machines like the Xbox One S and PlayStation 4.
You will really start to feel the budget squeeze if you feel compelled to shop for accessories for the Switch. A traditional-style Pro Controller will add $70 and a spare set of the regular Joy-Con controllers for certain multiplayer game modes costs an additional $80.
The Switch is innovative. Breath of the Wild is already approaching legendary status despite its recent release. But for now, you have to decide if the nearly $400 initial investment is worth the opportunity to play the latest Legend of Zelda game, or if you want to wait for more games (including a new Mario-series entry) or eventually discounted sale prices on the console itself. In the meantime, you can always dust off your old Wii and play a round of Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
See the Nintendo Switch in action by watching this video:
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