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Nintendo Switch three years later: What we love and hate

Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite
(Image credit: Future)

It’s been three years since the Nintendo Switch hit shelves, and Nintendo’s beloved hybrid console is showing no signs of slowing down. The Switch has now surpassed the Super Nintendo with a whopping lifetime sales of more than 50 million, and even got a smaller sibling over the past year in the adorable, portable-only Nintendo Switch Lite.

Even with the PS5 and Xbox Series X around the corner, there’s still a lot to get excited about when it comes to Nintendo’s latest console. The Nintendo Switch library grew significantly in its third year, spearheaded by such hits as Pokemon Sword and Shield, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Luigi’s Mansion 3. The Switch also got some big updates on the Switch Online front, and also saw a minor hardware refresh that resulted in better battery life.

That being said, there are still plenty of areas where we’d like to see the Switch improve several years in. Here’s what we love and hate about the Nintendo Switch three years later.  

Kate Kozuch, Staff Writer 

Nintendo Switch Lite

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Favorite games: Pokemon Let’s Go!, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, A Hat in Time, Untitled Goose Game
Switch owner since: September 2019 

What I love: The portable-only Switch Lite stole my heart with it’s fun colors, compact design and palatable price tag. I adore it so much I even wrote about why the Switch Lite is the gaming console I’ve been waiting for. It’s the perfect entry-level gaming device for on-the-go people like me who maybe sit down in front of a TV once a week. With the Switch Lite, I get to chip away at games on my commute or before I fall asleep. And as a sucker for nostalgia, getting to play modern versions of Pokemon and Super Mario Bros. is enough to make me feel like a kid again. Plus I never have to worry about losing a Joy-Con.

What I hate: My sole complaint with the Switch Lite is its dismal battery life. I’m spoiled by Bluetooth earbuds, an e-reader and iPhone that last a least of day’s worth of activities before needing juice. The Switch Lite, rather, gets less than 4 hours of game time. If my commute is particularly slow one morning, I’ve found my Switch Lite dying before I make it home at night. As a mobile-only device, it should have better stamina.

Mike Andronico, Editor-in-Chief 

Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Favorite games: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Celeste, Super Mario Maker 2
Switch owner since: April 2017

What I love: I loved the recent addition of SNES games to the Switch Online library -- there’s just something comforting about knowing I can play Super Mario World at any given moment. I also got a sequel to one of my favorite games of all time in the fantastic Super Mario Maker 2, as well as a ton of great DLC for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (seriously, it still blows my mind that I get to play as SNK’s Terry Bogard in a Smash game). 

With titles like Astral Chain, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and the Switch port of Cuphead, I feel like I always had a steady drip of solid new games over the past year. I also loved my time with the adorable new Switch Lite, though I ultimately went back to my OG Switch so that I can play (and stream) on a big screen.

What I hate: The Switch and many of Nintendo’s big games continue to frustrate me due to their lack of common sense features, especially when it comes to online multiplayer. Titles such as Super Mario Maker 2 and Splatoon 2 still have frustrating multiplayer limitations, and I still hate that I can’t do basic things such as message my friends or send game invites directly from the Switch itself. And as I learned while trying to bounce between a Switch Lite and a Switch, Nintendo’s cloud save system (which requires a $20 Switch Online sub) is still too cumbersome for my liking. 

Marshall Honorof, Editor 

Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Favorite games: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019), Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
Switch owner since: June 2017

What I love: When the Switch gets a new exclusive game in a long-running Nintendo series, you don’t really need to wonder whether it’ll be good. The only question is whether it will be great. From Zelda, to Mario, to Fire Emblem, to Super Smash Bros., every new entry on the Switch has been a meaty, worthwhile adventure that you simply can’t get on any other system.

Other than that, the system’s initial strengths still stand. The Switch is incredibly easy to take with you, and incredibly easy to dock. The Joy-Cons allow for spontaneous multiplayer. The system offers decent battery life, particularly if you’ve picked up one of the newer models. This is also a relatively small thing, but as handheld gadgets left and right ditch headphone jacks in favor of more expensive solutions, the fact that the Switch still has one is extremely welcome.

What I hate: As I write this, I haven’t powered on my Switch in approximately three months. The fact is that between big Nintendo releases, there’s not much to play on the Switch — at least, not much that wouldn’t play just as well (or better) on a PC, PS4 or Xbox One. Granted, portability is a big deal, but the Switch still often gets the short end of the stick when it comes to ports, even on titles that shouldn’t strain its graphical capabilities, like Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

I’ve also been relatively disenchanted with the Switch ever since my device broke for absolutely no reason, and Nintendo’s repair center erased all of my save files, despite assuring me that they hadn’t. Between Joy-Con drift, shoddy charging ports and convoluted save data backup, the Nintendo Switch is prone to a ton of technical problems, and I’m surprised that fans and critics haven’t given the Big N a harder time over this.

But most of all, I’m just disappointed that Nintendo has done so little to make the Switch experience meaningfully better in the last three years. Streaming video is barely present. There’s no good way to manage your account across a Switch and a Switch Lite. Wireless headphones are still a total crapshoot.

I’m sure I’ll still be quite happy to boot up my Switch the next time a big Nintendo release comes around, but using the system has lost a lot of its luster, especially since I know it could malfunction again at any moment and take all of my save data with it. Nintendo has the power to make the Switch UI and components better; I hope the company does so.

Rami Tabari, Staff Writer (Laptop Mag) 

Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Favorite games: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Super Mario Odyssey
Switch owner since: March 2017

What I love: The games. The only reason I bought a Nintendo Switch was to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And after that game the rest of the excellent first-party exclusives that Nintendo offers, like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Super Mario Odyssey. 

The bonus was being able to play said games anywhere I wanted, whether it be on my gorgeous OLED TV or simply on the go. Since I commute to work almost everyday, it’s amazing being able to dedicate that time to something productive. Yes, collecting Korok Seeds in a forest is absolutely productive, I don’t want to hear it.

When the occasion does come that I have friends over, it’s also nice that I happen to have two controllers for every Nintendo Switch that’s in the house, which means that everyone is able to play.

What I hate: Almost every single thing about the Joy-Cons, especially the fact that Joy-Con drift even exists. But apart from that, the Joy-Cons are incredibly uncomfortable to use, from the short analog sticks to the lack of any ergonomic structure.

Nintendo’s online multiplayer and cloud-save infrastructure is still a mess. Nearly all of Nintendo’s games suffer from online problems, and some of them don’t even get access to cloud saving. 

Another one of my biggest issues with the Nintendo Switch is less of Nintendo’s fault but more so third-party developers. Games like Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy suffer on the Nintendo Switch with a 480p resolution in tablet mode and a 720p resolution when docked. The game simply looks gross, whereas games like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice employ dynamic resolutions, which jump from 720p to 400p in both tablet mode and docked mode. If something like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and The Witcher 3 can look good on the Switch, other games should too.