The Nintendo Switch 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 and Super Mario Odyssey, as well as a slew of great indie and third-party titles.
Nintendo has sold more than 34 million Switch consoles since the system launched in March 2017, and the console is showing no signs of slowing down with hot titles like Pokemon Sword and Shield and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the way.
But is the Switch right for you? 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. The Switch's stacked first-party catalog includes essentials like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Pokemon: Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee, as well as multiplayer hits such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
There's plenty still to come, including Luigi's Mansion 3 and a remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening this fall as well as Animal Crossing: New Horizons in 2020. We're also getting Metroid Prime 4 and Bayonetta 3... eventually.
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.
You import games. The Switch is 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 play indie games. The Switch has become the de-facto console for indie games (or as Nintendo calls, them, "Nindies"). The eShop is home to Thumper, Stardew Valley, Overcooked, Axiom Verge, Golf Story, Shovel Knight, Cuphead, Celeste and a whole lot more. These are often downloadable, so you might want to invest in a microSD card for your Switch.
You like NES games. Nintendo's $20-per-year Switch Online service provides access to a growing library of classic NES games such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Metroid. We might even see the Super Nintendo catalog show up soon.
You may be less interested if…
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, Xbox One X or 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. With its skimpy battery life, you’ll only be able to play for so long. The Switch's battery lasts 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.
The August 2019 refresh of the Switch is built to deliver an improved battery life of 4.5 to 9 hours. Meanwhile, the $199 Switch Lite, a handheld-only version of the Switch launching Sept. 20, will last between 3 to 7 hours. Regardless of your choice, you'll probably want a portable charger handy.
You have a limited accessory budget. Want to upgrade your Switch setup? The Pro Controller costs $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. Nintendo's $20-per-year Switch Online service is a solid value, getting you access to online multiplayer, cloud saves, a library of NES games and exclusives like Tetris 99 for a low price. However, the implementation of Nintendo's online services still feels barebones.
You need to use a clunky mobile app to chat with friends in Nintendo games, and there's still no console-level options for sending invites or messages to online pals. Many popular online titles, such as Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Maker 2, have weirdly archaic restrictions that make playing with friends a pain.