Nintendo's latest and greatest game system brings back family game night.
Nintendo is one of the most family-friendly companies in the video game industry, with a deep roster of all-ages games starring favorites like Mario, Link, Donkey Kong and Kirby. Back in the '80s and '90s, you played those games on the classic Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super Nintendo. Today, the Nintendo Switch is the company's latest (and some would say greatest) gaming machine.
In just one year, Nintendo has sold more than 12 million Switches, at $299, and for most of that time, it's been in short supply online and in stores. Part of the reason for its massive success is that the Switch has brought back the concept of family game night, with several games that kids and parents can play side by side, with up to four people playing at the same time.
What the Switch does right
One of the most appealing aspects of the Switch comes from how it combines the worlds of tablets and home console gaming. You no longer need two gaming devices, with one geared toward gaming on the TV, and another used for play on the go. The Switch is an all-in-one device, becoming a portable gaming tablet when you're out and about, and hooking up to an included TV dock for gaming on the big screen. The exact same games you play on TV from the comfort of your couch are the ones you'll enjoy while traveling.
The Switch's included controllers are technical wonders as well, borrowing the motion sensing from past Nintendo platforms, while also offering brand-new abilities. Nintendo hit it big with the Nintendo Wii back in 2006, thanks to the platform's motion-sensing controllers (remember Wii Sports?). The Switch evolves this idea by including a pair of motion-sensing Joy-Con controllers, which also offer rumbling force feedback and include an infrared camera. These Joy-Con controllers slide onto the Switch unit itself for portable play, or can be detached and held individually when playing at home. (Four-player games will need an extra set of controllers, which costs $79.)
As is expected from a modern gaming platform, the Nintendo Switch has the ability to connect online. You have the option to purchase and download games for the Switch via the Nintendo online store, called the eShop. Some of the available games allow for online play, so kids can compete with other players around the world.
Fortunately, the Switch includes several parental control options, allowing password protection for user accounts and online activity, as well as online shopping. Where Nintendo goes further is with the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls mobile app. This app is available for free on both iOS and Android platforms, and gives parents a ton of tools to monitor playtime. Parents have the option to limit how much time is spent on a platform, lock out children from certain games, limit the sharing of messages/voice chat/text from other real-life players, and even see when your child is trying to access the platform when they're not supposed to.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (which rates games by age group and content) rates the majority of Nintendo's games as appropriate for Everyone, or Everyone 10+. But note that some games are meant for mature audiences only.
Looking for some of the best Nintendo Switch titles available? Nintendo's own software lineup includes some of the most engaging and well-reviewed experiences of the last two years. Here are some of our favorites to get you started.
Super Mario Odyssey
Mario has returned in Super Mario Odyssey, a universe-trotting experience that sees Mario team up with a sentient hat, Cappy. The two travel from planet to planet, running, jumping, exploring and combining their efforts to give Mario all sorts of brand-new abilities.
1-2 Switch is one of the most unique experiences the Switch has to offer, getting players to move around and interact with friends and family. Believe it or not, most of the games included in 1-2 Switch don't even require you to look at the TV. Pick up a Joy-Con and have fake sword fights, play a game of hot potato, or milk an invisible cow.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Feel the need for speed? The Mario Kart series is back with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Race solo or with up to four players at once around a huge number of colorful tracks, complete with a massive roster of fan favorite racers.
What do you think of the Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the comments section below.