Launched in March 2017, the Nintendo Switch has been an enormous success. After the disappointment of the Wii U, Nintendo went back to the drawing board and came up with an innovative console that combined the ability to be used as a regular home console and a handheld.
This guide will aim to answer all the common questions parents have when looking to buy a Switch for their children, including the sort of games that are available, what parental controls can be used and the cost of a basic setup.
Already planning on getting a Switch? Here's our pick for the top bundle:
What are some of the best family-friendly games available on the Switch?
As a Nintendo console, the Switch has exclusive access to a bunch of big name games that are perfect for families and kids. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are all games you won’t be find anywhere else, and all are critically acclaimed. The Switch has also had some major cross-platform games in its short lifetime, including FIFA 18.
What are the best kids games on the Switch?
Very. Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (E 10+) are all rated E by the ESRB, meaning they’re appropriate for all players. While there are a few major titles on the Switch that aren’t appropriate for younger gamers, such as Skyrim, the majority of major releases going forward will be fine for kids.
What types of Switch are there?
The Switch is fairly uncomplicated to buy, as there’s only one version of it. You can buy it with grey or red/ blue Joy-Con controllers, but other than that there’s no differences between the basic consoles.
Just because there’s only one model of Switch out there, however, doesn’t mean that there’s only one way to play it. The Switch has three separate play modes. The first is attaching the console to the TV via a dock and playing it as you would the PS4 or Xbox One. The second is the handheld mode, with the Joy-Con controllers attached to the sides of the console. Finally, the console can be propped up on a table (using the integrated kickstand) with the Joy-Con disconnected for single- or multiplayer play.
How long has the system been out?
The Switch launched in March 2017 and Nintendo have already stated their desire to see the console outlast the traditional six year lifespan typically found in consoles.
When is the Switch likely to be replaced?
The Switch is the newest of the three main consoles, and though that means it’s currently the most expensive, it also means it will be around while Microsoft and Sony are planning their next consoles. We can expect at least another five years before the Switch is replaced properly.
That said, Nintendo have traditionally liked to update their hardware during its lifespan, improving on it where possible and giving gamers options like bigger screens. While we don’t expect any new versions of the Switch this year, we could see a new version around its two year anniversary in early 2019.
Who is the Switch aimed at?
The Switch is, of the three main consoles, definitely the console that caters most towards younger gamers, thanks to its extremely strong line up of major, kid-friendly games.
How much will a basic setup cost?
The Switch is slowly dropping in price, and can be found for around £260 without a game most of the time. One of the beauties of the Switch is the fact that the Joy-Con controllers can be used separately as well as together, meaning that the console effectively comes with two controllers ready to go straight out of the box. Games cost between £20 up to £40/50 for the big games. Controllers are expensive, with an additional pair of Joy-Con controllers costing around £60, but as we’ve mentioned, for two player, you’ve already got what you need.
What parental controls does it have?
The Switch comes with a dedicated app that allows you to set parental controls quickly and easily from your phone. As well as the usual features, including restricting what games certain users can access, you can also set daily time constraints to limit how much your kids can play. This video from Nintendo covers off the key features:
What can it do other than play games?
Unfortunately, one mark against the Switch is its paucity of applications beyond gaming. There are currently very few integrated apps available, and though developers are working on them, we’re still currently without Netflix, YouTube or Spotify. If you’re wanting a console that can double as an entertainment hub for all the family, the Switch may not be the console for you.
How important is the Switch’s online gaming mode?
Of the three main consoles, the Switch is by far the least reliant on its online mode. Several of the platform’s biggest titles don’t support online at all, and those that do have much more limited functionality than the Xbox and PS4. Voice chat is only available via a special headset and phone app. Though this isn’t great for playing with friends online, it does help guard young gamers from the less desirable aspects of online gaming.
Can players on a Switch play against those with other consoles online?
A small number of games, such as Rocket League, feature the ability to play against players on Xbox One. There are unlikely to be any similar arrangements made with the PS4.