It's been two years since the Nintendo Switch first launched, and what a two years it's been.
What was once a promising but bare-bones Zelda machine has evolved into Nintendo's biggest success in years, selling more than 32 million units worldwide. Since its launch, the system has racked up a massive library of hot exclusives like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon Let’s Go, as well as tons of indie games and notable AAA titles.
Nintendo also launched its $20-per-year Switch Online service last fall, putting its online titles behind a paywall for the first time while also offering such perks as cloud saves and a growing library of classic NES games.
To celebrate the Switch's second birthday, the Tom's Guide gaming team has gotten together to look back at what we love and hate about our two years with Nintendo's new console, and what we're looking forward to seeing next.
Mike Andronico, Managing Editor
Switch owner since: April 2017
Favorite games: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Celeste, Bayonetta 2, Splatoon 2
Most anticipated game: Super Mario Maker 2
What I love: My obsession with the Switch can be summed up in four words: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Nintendo's joyous, content-packed all-star brawler has captivated me like no other Switch title before it, and I haven't stopped mashing away with friends online (and in the office) since it launched last December. But Smash is just one of many examples of how excellent and robust the Switch library has grown — with superb indies like Celeste, excellent multiplayer games like Super Mario Party and constantly evolving online games like Splatoon 2, I'm always overwhelmed with choice. And while I have some issues with Nintendo Switch Online, the service's growing NES library and ultra-addictive Tetris 99 have more than made the cheap $20 entry fee worth it.
Smash is just one of many examples of how excellent and robust the Switch library has grown.
What I hate: Although Switch Online offers a decent amount of features for the price, it doesn't fix the issues I have with the console's basic infrastructure. Why can't I send messages or game invites to friends? And why can't I just start a party chat from the system itself instead of using Nintendo's clunky mobile app? The system's slow trickle of entertainment apps has been frustrating, too. While I'm happy to have Hulu and YouTube, the addition of Twitch and Netflix apps could turn the Switch from my favorite console into the only entertainment machine I need in my living room.
Henry T. Casey, Senior Writer
Switch owner since: Christmas 2017
Favorite games: Gris, Celeste, Ape Out, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Most anticipated game: Pokémon Sword and Shield
What I love: As our Lab Tester Jorge Jimenez says, I'm "indie trash scum," and that makes the Switch the perfect console for me. Sure, I love to Smash my colleagues when we can all find the time, but gaming for me is more of a single-player experience, which titles such as Celeste, Gris and Ape Out all offer in spades. I'm also becoming more and more enamored of the Pro Controller, as I continue to use the Switch primarily in docked mode. Those three indie games I rattled off may not be CGI wonders like God of War, but, wow, they look gorgeous on a 55-inch, 4K display, especially with Gris' hand-drawn aesthetics.
What I hate: I'll echo everything Mike A said about Switch Online's failings, but add that I need a WWE Network app for the console (but, please, no WWE 2K games). On top of that, I'm growing less and less enamored of the joysticks in the Joy-Cons, and hope they get closer to the Pro Controller sticks in the next edition. Lastly, I'm just upset that the wonderful Persona 4G and Persona 5 games aren't being re-released on the Switch (at least not yet), especially as the Vita gets end-of-life'd.
Marshall Honorof, Editor
Switch owner since: June 2017
Favorite Games: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Bayonetta 2, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
Most Anticipated Game: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3
What I love: At the risk of being wowed by the same thing two years in a row, I'm still delighted by the Switch's core concept. Docking and undocking the console really is as effortless as Nintendo advertised. I doubt I will ever get tired of playing a game on my couch, picking up the system to take with me on the subway, then picking up right where I left off when I get back home. The game selection has also grown steadily, with a healthy mix of new favorites (Breath of the Wild, Mario + Rabbids), Wii U ports (Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors) and last-gen remasters (Dark Souls, Tales of Vesperia). And while this is a personal preference, Nintendo's lack of focus on achievements/trophies makes it easier to just play games on their own terms, without feeling pressured to strive for arbitrary goals.
The system's lack of streaming apps is baffling.
What I hate: Now that the Switch's online service is mostly up and running, I can say definitively that I hate it. Having to use your phone for voice chat amounts to "solving" a problem by introducing an even bigger problem. Adding friends is still an arduous process, and inviting them to play games is not much easier. The system's lack of streaming apps is also baffling. Adding Hulu was a good start, but that was almost a year ago. Netflix and Amazon Video are nowhere to be found, to say nothing of other common streaming apps. These programs come standard in every other modern gaming system and mobile device, so their absence is conspicuous. The Switch is also missing a huge opportunity to sell a plethora of NES, SNES and N64 games, opting instead for paltry, confusing monthly selections.
Rami Tabari, Staff Writer
Switch owner since: March 2017
Favorite Games: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Most Anticipated Game: Super Mario Maker 2
What I love: As someone who's constantly sharing a cramped space with another person, I appreciate that I never have to fight for the TV because of the Switch's versatile capabilities. That feature alone is alluring, but what really makes it take hold is that it's home to so many great exclusives, like Breath of the Wild, which has the absolute best open-world design featured in a game. And even beyond that, the Switch has created a whole new dynamic setting for playing indie games. Where you'd typically be confined to your PC, the Switch lets you take your favorite indie games like Hollow Knight on the go.
What I hate: Nintendo Switch Online, but more specifically, the fact that cloud saving is trapped behind a nonsensical pay wall. And on top of that, the cloud-save feature doesn’t work universally across all games. Nintendo previously explained that the company doesn’t allow cloud saves for games like Splatoon 2 because they're competitive. However, more casual games like Pokémon Let's Go also don't have cloud saving enabled. So basically, if my Switch breaks, I have to condemn myself to countless hours just to get my progress back in one of the restricted games — epic.
Credit: Tom's Guide