The Nintendo Switch is one of the few game consoles that you can actually find right now. While Nintendo’s hybrid handheld is not nearly as powerful as a PS5 or Xbox Series X, we can actually help you find where to buy the Nintendo Switch (opens in new tab), which is more than we can say about Sony or Microsoft’s consoles.
As such, if you’re hunting for Christmas gifts, a Nintendo Switch is a strong choice, particularly due to its excellent game library and easy portability.
However, if you pick up a Switch for yourself or a loved one, you’ll quickly find that there’s not much in the box. For $300, you get the Switch, two Joy-Con controllers and not much else. (Some bundles include Mario Kart 8 (opens in new tab), which is a good party game, but might not hold your attention for that long otherwise.)
In other words, if all you buy is the Switch itself, you’ll find yourself with nothing to play, no way to carry the device and a disappointing set of controllers.
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, my colleagues and I uncovered a variety of Nintendo Switch deals (opens in new tab), and started talking amongst ourselves about which Switch accessories were indispensable, and which ones were simply nice to have. If you pick up a Nintendo Switch this holiday, and want to get the most out of it, here are the three things you should buy alongside your new console.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
Having to spend $70 on a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (opens in new tab) as soon as you buy the console is admittedly a kick in the pants. Nintendo should have made its Joy-Cons more comfortable, or at least given prospective buyers the option of choosing a regular controller rather than two tiny, detachable ones. But the fact is, the Joy-Cons are not great peripherals and the Nintendo Switch Pro controller is. This is especially true for teenage- and adult-sized hands.
If you’ve never played with them before, the Joy-Cons are odd beasts. Rather than a traditional controller, the Switch comes with two small, detachable ones that live on either side of the console’s central tablet. These are fine when you’re playing in handheld mode. But when you hook your Switch up to a TV dock, you have to either hold the Joy-Cons in your hands like motion controllers, or snap them into a cheap-feeling controller mount. The mount puts the analog sticks at odd angles from one another. It also puts a ton of distance between some buttons, while cramping other ones entirely too close together.
The Switch Pro Controller mimics a more traditional Xbox-style peripheral, with large hand grips, comfortable shoulder buttons and a real D-pad. It’s larger and easier on the hands, and the battery lasts for up to 40 hours. You could treat gaming like a full-time job, and still have to charge it only once per week.
While there’s no excuse for the peripheral’s high price (or its lack of an 3.5 mm audio jack), the Switch Pro Controller is a necessity if you intend to dock your Switch and play involved, single-player adventures for hours at a time.
Nintendo Switch Carrying Case
While it’s not as exciting as a brand-new game or as intriguing as a complex controller, you do need a carrying case for your Nintendo Switch. Whether you opt for the traditional LCD screen or the fancier Switch OLED, the screen is not impervious to damage — particularly when you stash it in a bag with your keys, coins, laptop and other everyday necessities with sharp edges. Even if you opt for a hard screen protector, a case is still necessary to protect the inner workings of the Switch from dust and debris.
There are thousands of Switch carrying cases, and they all have pros and cons. Some are simple and inexpensive, with just a little padding and a zipper. Others are elaborate and pricey, offering extra features such as portable chargers and dedicated controller compartments.
While I can’t make a blanket recommendation for Switch cases, I can tell you about the one that I have: the official Nintendo Switch carrying case (opens in new tab), which retails for $20 and is about as straightforward as they come. It’s a Switch-shaped case with padding on both sides, slots for five games and a foldable console rest. It also comes with a screen protector.
When I first got my Switch, a clerk at the Nintendo Store in Manhattan recommended this one — even though they were out of stock. The fact that he would rather send me home empty-handed than sell me a different case spoke volumes.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Okay, technically this isn't an accessory. But it is essential. While he was hunting for Black Friday sales to highlight in an article, one of my coworkers asked me what I though the most important Switch-related purchase was. Without missing a beat, I recommended The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
After four years of hype, I’m assuming you’ve heard something about Breath of the Wild by now. Tom’s Guide gave the game an unprecedented five out of five stars in our Breath of the Wild review (opens in new tab); we proceeded to name it the best game of the decade (opens in new tab). Breath of the Wild isn’t simply the best game on the Switch; it’s one of the best games Nintendo has ever made, period.
For those who haven’t played it yet, Breath of the Wild takes the traditional Zelda story and turns it on its head. In this expansive fantasy epic, Link has failed in his quest to save Hyrule, and awakens from suspended animation 100 years later with one last chance to save the world from the evil Calamity Ganon. To do so, he’ll have to explore the enormous map of Hyrule, from its snowy mountains and desert canyons, to its rolling grasslands and rocky coastlines. The sheer scope of the game is incredible, buoyed by 120 mind-bending puzzles and tons of equipment that you can customize as you see fit.
Simply put, if you have a Switch, you need Breath of the Wild to go with it. And if you don’t have a Switch, you should consider buying one, if only for Breath of the Wild.
Nintendo Switch extras
If you follow this advice to the letter, your Switch purchase could wind up looking pretty expensive. Between $300 for the console, $60 for the game, $70 for the controller and $20 for the carrying case, you’re looking at $450 altogether — essentially a Switch plus half the cost of another Switch.
And yet, I think these three things can elevate your whole Switch experience. You need something to play, and Breath of the Wild is as good as it gets. The Pro Controller lets you play for long periods of time without hand cramps or recharging. And a carrying case means you can take your console with you anywhere.
Besides, it’s still $50 less than a PS5 or Xbox Series X — and you can actually find everything I’ve mentioned here in stock before Christmas. That alone could save you a lot of holiday grief.