The Nintendo Switch: Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy

Thursday, 02 March 2017 - 1:18PM
Thursday, 02 March 2017 - 1:18PM
The Nintendo Switch: Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy
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Image credit: Nintendo UK
The Nintendo Switch is almost here! After months of waiting, the new console will officially grace store shelves on March 3rd—though they're probably going to be gone in the first couple hours.

Even at this stage, though, there's been a fair amount of mystery surrounding the Switch and what gamers can actually expect from the device. Thankfully, as review consoles have found their way to various gaming media outlets, we're beginning to learn more.  Here's everything you need to know about the Switch, its launch, hardware, and games titles!

The Battery Life

As much as Nintendo would have you believe that the Switch is primarily a home console, in practical terms, it's more useful as a handheld device. The fact that you can take it anywhere makes it a convenient gaming device for any location, so feeling chained down by the dock only makes sense if you've got a big television and nowhere to go for a while.

Plenty of reviewers have reported that the battery, as promised, lasts somewhere around three hours when playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (more on that later), while slightly less beefy software will let you squeeze out a couple more hours.

Either way, this device isn't intended for long play sessions without a power source, so you might be grateful for that Pokémon GO external battery pack you bought last year. It's almost as if Nintendo was preparing for this...

Internal Storage

It's clear that Nintendo has done everything in their power to keep the cost of this device to its bare minimum—this is probably why it doesn't come bundled with a free game, and why the Pro controller costs extra.

Another way Nintendo has saved money is by only including 32 GB of internal storage within the device, which in practice means that if you want to buy games from Nintendo's eShop, you'll need an SD card. Some games on sale from launch will be too large to fit in the Switch's built-in memory, and if you're planning on buying a few, you'll need to spend extra to make sure you can actually download your games to begin with.

Indie Launch Titles

The biggest problem with the Wii U was (arguably) a lack of actual games for the device. Beyond Nintendo, no companies seemed to be producing titles for the Wii U and over the past year even first-party support took a big dip as the company shifted its focus to the Switch.

In order to avoid this happening again, Nintendo has done something that's actually very inventive—the company has been reaching out to indie games developers to ensure that the console has as many indie titles as possible.

While the Switch's launch lineup of physical media games isn't exactly huge, there are a growing number of quirky downloadable games that will be available from launch, or soon after.

Controller Connectivity Issues

The big innovation with the Switch is the Joycons, two controllers that clip to either side of the device when it's in portable mode. These controllers are small, but very nifty, with impressive rumble features and motion controls. Unfortunately, though, they're far from perfect.

A large number of reviewers have noted connectivity issues, with the right Joycon in particular losing connection or experiencing lag when the machine is docked. Some claim that all that's necessary to cause this is for someone to walk in front of the television, although it's not clear how accurate that report is.


After review copies of the Switch made their way to the public, it naturally wasn't very long before someone decided to take their device apart. The resulting photos have drawn a lot of attention, as techies debate the internal workings of the device.

Their verdict: the Switch is incredible. While the machine doesn't carry the same graphics power as a PlayStation 4, its single main processing chip punches far above its weight. Nintendo have worked hard to get this device as small and portable as possible, and the result is a machine which is incredibly efficient.

Breath of the Wild

Without a doubt, the biggest draw among the Switch's initial lineup of games is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Introducing science-fiction elements to the Zelda mythos and taking the game in a free-roaming sandbox direction, Breath of the Wild is an enormous departure from what gamers are used to.

This gamble seems to have paid off, as review scores for the game attest to the quality of craftsmanship that Nintendo have achieved with the title. Those who've had the chance to play it are tremendously excited by the wide open spaces that the game provides, and there's a lot of love in general for how well Nintendo have done in revolutionizing the franchise.

Final Verdict

Bottom line? The Switch is exceptionally cool. You really don't need an excuse to want one in your life.