When it comes to the Nintendo Switch, the clue is in the name. It's all about switching things up – going from handheld to tabletop to something you can hook up to your TV. Basically, a hybrid console that's as at home with the kids in the car as it is with a serious gamer on the couch.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves – below you'll find everything you need to know!
What is the Nintendo Switch?
The Nintendo Switch was released back in March 2017. And, even though it doesn't quite have the power of consoles from Xbox or PlayStation, Nintendo Switch consoles have a heck of a lot going for them.
For one, because it’s a Nintendo console, it gives you access to Nintendo’s great games. So if you're a Mario superfan or a Pokemon player, it has all the titles you know and love.
Then there's the fact you can choose how you play, depending on your mood. Want to use the Switch at home? Simply plug it in to the special dock and connect the dock to your TV. Or, if you want to head out and use the Switch as a mobile gaming console, just remove it from the dock. If you’re in the middle of a game, it’ll change its output from the TV to the console screen – and vice versa – so you can carry on exactly where you left off.
What comes in the box of a Nintendo Switch?
Inside the Switch box, you’ll find a 6.2-inch tablet (image 1), two Joy-Con controllers (image 2), a Joy-Con grip (image 3), a TV dock (image 4), an HDMI cable and a charger.
And there's tons you can do with the Switch's Joy-Con controllers:
Hand one to a friend for two-player console playing.
Strap them to your wrists and hold one in each hand to play a game on your own.
Slot them into the Joy-Con grip and turn it into a standard game pad.
When you want to go mobile, attach each one to the sides of your tablet.
Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite
The Nintendo Switch Lite is an all-in-one console, kind of like the PS Vita (if you know, you know) so the screen and controls are fixed together. Perfect for on-the-go gaming.
The Nintendo Switch lets you play in three different modes – TV mode (does what it says on the tin really) lets you play your game on your TV by popping the Switch into the dock. Disconnect the controllers and prop up the screen for tabletop mode - perfect for playing with a friend wherever you are. And then, of course, you can leave the controllers connected to the screen for handheld mode.
What’s the difference between the Switch and the Switch OLED?
They both have all the same play features with joy-con controllers that slide on and off the screen, the same battery life, and a TV dock, but the Nintendo Switch OLED has twice the storage (64 GB instead of 32) and a bigger screen. The classic Switch has a 6.2” LCD screen, while the Switch OLED has a bigger 7” screen, and as you might expect – it’s OLED instead of LCD. That means your games will be brighter with far more vivid colours. Rainbow road is waiting.
Are Nintendo Switch games compatible with Nintendo Switch Lite?
The short answer is yes, but there are some things to bear in mind. To make sure a game’s compatible, you just have to find a game that ‘supports handheld mode’ – that’s how Nintendo lets you know if it works with the Nintendo Switch Lite.
Unfortunately, some Switch games have features that require Joy-Con controllers (they’re the detachable side bits on the classic Switch). Joy-Con controllers have unique functions like HD Rumble (so you feel vibrations when something happens in-game) and motion sensors (designed for jumping around in party games), and they’re not built into the Lite. So, if you want to play games that involve the motion sensing abilities of the Joy-Cons, you’ll need to buy them separately and connect wirelessly. It’s easily done, but worth considering if you’re not sure which Switch to get.
How to connect a Nintendo Switch to your TV
The Nintendo Switch docking station lets you connect your console to a TV, monitor or projector. To use, it just...
Pull open the side panel on the dock.
Plug one end of the HDMI cable into the dock, then plug the other end into your display (monitor, TV, projector, etc.). You’ll want to keep the dock fairly close to your TV to ensure the cable can reach comfortably.
Now plug in the USB-C end of the power cable into the dock, and connect the adapter end to a power socket in your home.
Follow these steps and within seconds the image on the tablet should show up on whatever screen you've chosen.
How to charge the Nintendo Switch and how to charge its controllers
The Switch console can be charged a couple of ways:
With the USB-C charger plugged into the console, and the adapter end plugged into a power socket in your house
Any time you’re playing in docked mode.
But what about your Nintendo Switch controllers? In scenario 1 above, your Joy-Cons are charging too. But in scenario 2, they're detached from the tablet so will be gradually using up their battery.
To charge your Joy-Cons, make sure they’re connected to the tablet, and make sure the tablet is plugged into the USB-C charger.
Is the Nintendo Switch backwards compatible?
At the moment, no. The Switch has such an unusual form factor that it exists very much on its own, and isn't compatible with the 3DS or Wii U. The good news is fan-favourite titles are being ported to the Switch all the time
Is the Nintendo Switch region free?
Yep, the Nintendo Switch is region free. Games can be bought anywhere in the world, and played on a Switch console bought anywhere in the world. So, if you buy A Legend of Zelda in America and want to play the game on a Nintendo Switch bought in the UK, it will work perfectly. This isn’t the case with the PS4 and many other older consoles.
What are the best Nintendo Switch games?
The Switch is already home to some of Nintendo’s best-ever games, as well as third-party titles that were originally at home on the PS4 / Xbox One and PS3 / Xbox 360. Here are five Nintendo Switch games that we think should be on every shopping list.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This is the smash-hit game that debuted alongside the Switch. The sheer scale is incredible, and you’ll need to travel huge distances as you collect weapons and armour, fight monsters, solve puzzles and complete side-quests.
The Nintendo Switch is the ideal console to enjoy the suite of Mario games. In Super Mario Odyssey, the story follows Mario as he travels to various kingdoms on his airship Odyssey, in a bid to stop his nemesis Bowser forcibly marrying Princess Peach. Each kingdom has a number of different objectives for Mario to complete, so that he can explore new worlds and track down the beastly Bowser.
The Mario Kart 8 Deluxe version of Mario KArt introduces bigger tracks, 42 Nintendo-themed characters, and gravity-defying vehicles that can drive across walls and ceilings – as well as fly through the air. It’s an essential purchase for Switch owners.
Create worlds and unleash your creativity with Minecraft games for the Nintendo Switch. Build your world and create spectacular settings in Creative mode or switch to Survival mode to find your own resources and food while dealing with a wide range of creatures.
Gotta catch ‘em all! There are so many brilliant Pokémon games for the Nintendo Switch to choose from. In Pokémon Shield, pick your starter Pokémon (Grookey, Scorbunny or Sobble) and start your adventure through the Galar region. Put your skills as a trainer to the test as Pokémon Dynamax and become bigger and stronger in battles.