Nintendo Switch – How To Get Into Playing Video Games

Nintendo Switch box

If you want to put money into gaming hardware it is hard to beat the Nintendo Switch these days. At $200-300 it is among the cheapest of the gaming consoles. It doesn’t have the largest game library, but it has those Nintendo games you played as a child. Both all new titles, updated for HD and mobile play. As well as access to classic NES and Super NES games.

Nintendo Switch box


How To Get Into Playing Video Games Series

Modern video games provide entertainment and socialization which works alongside social distancing practices. They are interactive, increasing your interest and engagement. Online multiplayer is a form of remote socializing. Cooperative games allow a family to come together for a shared goal.

Anyone can get into video games, with hardware you likely already own. It doesn’t need a big investment to get started. This series goes over how to get into playing video games on several different platforms. Including your phone, computer, and gaming consoles.

Types of Games | Mobile Gaming | PC Gaming | Nintendo Switch | Xbox One/PlayStation 4 | New Gamer Tips


Nintendo Switch is the hot console for quarantine

Soon after shelter-in-place orders went out there was a run on Nintendo Switch systems. To the point where the big online retailers and many local stores sold out. PlayStation and Xbox systems didn’t see the same level of sales. The Nintendo Switch was more appealing to those being stuck at home for many reasons.

Some of it was accidental good timing. The COVID-19 outbreak coincided with the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Animal Crossing is a popular series for Nintendo. A life simulation video game set on your own island with a colorful and upbeat atmosphere. Just the thing to keep you occupied and in a happy space for hours. An increased in Switch sales was already expected to go along with Animal Crossing’s release.

Nintendo’s other first party games (Mario, Pokémon, Zelda, etc) are well known. They appeal to a wider audience than other console games. Designed for players of all levels. Their new Switch versions have received great reviews. With the increase in free time now was as good of a time as any to get back into Nintendo gaming.

Many third party (non-Nintendo) games have been moving to the Switch. Including older, but popular PC gaming titles such as Witcher III. A $300 Switch is much more approachable than an $800+ gaming PC. Much simpler to use, too.

Finally there’s the Switch itself. It quickly and easily goes from a TV connected console to handheld gaming. If sharing a TV with others they can watch something while you continue to play. If you need to get out of the busy living room, or even hide out in the car, the Switch can go with you.

Finding a Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is still in production and shipping to retailers. It is they are selling out almost as quickly.

Amazon isn’t a lot of help. They aren’t offering an email signup to be notified when new inventory arrives. They are focusing on selling new and used units from third party sellers. All are several hundred dollars above normal retail price.

BrickSeek shows you inventory at your local Target and Walmart. Enter the UPC (see below) and zip code. You can setup Local Alerts, too. Keep in mind there is a delay between in store inventory and BrickSeek. So a single unit remaining could be gone before you arrive.

Nintendo Switch Console UPCs:

  • Nintendo Switch, Red/Blue: 045496882174
  • Nintendo Switch, Gray: 045496882167
  • Nintendo Switch Lite, Coral: 045496882662
  • Nintendo Switch Lite, Gray: 045496882280
  • Nintendo Switch Lite, Turquoise: 045496882266
  • Nintendo Switch Lite, Yellow: 045496882303

Costco offers a Nintendo Switch bundle. Which includes Nintendo Switch Online, a 128MB microSD card, carrying case, and screen protector. Costco membership is required.

Nintendo is aware of the problem and has announced they are increasing production. They are trying to make 20% more units this year than previously planned to meet increased demand. They hope to have supplies stable again in May or June.

Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite

There are two models of the Nintendo Switch. The full sized Nintendo Switch and the smaller Nintendo Switch Lite. If you live with others look at getting the full sized Switch. Only look at the Switch Lite if you live alone.

The regular Switch offers the most flexibility of play. It works docked to a TV or in handheld mode. The Joy-Cons can stay attached to the side or removed, allowing for tabletop play. In TV mode you can play with others. If someone wants the TV you can take the Switch with you and keep on playing.

The Switch Lite is handheld only, with the controllers built-in. Add in a smaller screen and it makes for a bad system for two people to play on together. It does have its advantages. To start it is $100 less. It is also lighter to hold. It plays games just as well, using the same internal hardware as the full size model. The exception being a few games which need the motion sensors of the Joy-Cons.

Take a more in depth look between the Switch and Switch Lite.

Nintendo Switch Games

Nintendo Switch games break down to a few categories. First party Nintendo games, including Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon. Third party games, ranging from indie titles to PC games ported to the Switch.

Among many game titles you can buy the games in a digital or physical format. Each have their pros and cons. Though not every game is available in a physical format.

First Party Nintendo Games

Types of Games - Creativity

Animal Crossing New Horizon

Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon are the more popular of a long list of Nintendo owned or partnered games for the Switch. You can see a full list of first party Nintendo games here. These games are one of the biggest reasons to go with a Switch over Xbox or PlayStation. With mobility being the only other big reason. First party Nintendo games made up 75% of Switch game sales.

First party Nintendo games which every Switch owner should take a look at include:

Third Party Switch Games

The Nintendo Switch is open to many game developers. Some games are made only for the Switch. Others are older PC games which have been ported to work on the Switch. They offer more variety when mixed in with Nintendo’s own games and characters.

Third party Nintendo games run the gambit. From borrowing Nintendo characters to popular PC games brought to the mobile platform.

Digital vs Physical Games

Games for the Nintendo Switch are all available in a digital format. They can be purchased from Nintendo’s eShop online or on the Switch.

  • Digital games are always ready to launch.
  • Can be purchased at home, social distancing approved.
  • Can be played by other profiles on the same Switch.
  • Can be played by the same purchasing Nintendo account on another Switch. But if the primary Switch launches any digital game it ends the secondary Switch’s play.
  • Sales happen on occasion, but not for all games.

Many, but not all games can also be purchased in a physical format. A small cartridge that goes into the top of the Switch. These are sold by many different retailers. Opening them up to more competition for sales, and thus better deals.

  • Physical games are more often on sale, and at deeper discounts than their digital versions.
  • Can be purchased online and shipped.
  • Can be played by any profile on any Switch they are inserted into. You can sell/trade used games you’re done with.
  • Only one physical game can be loaded into the Switch at a time. Changing games means physically making a swap.

You can check out deals on both digital and physical games at Deku Deals. Sign up for an account and you can add games to your wishlist. Then get an email when they go on sale.

Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online benefits

Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) is an online subscription service for Switch owners. As it provides the only viable backup solution for keeping your game data safe I recommend it to all Switch owners.

Benefits

Online multiplayer support for several Nintendo Switch titles. As well as a voice chat solution, which uses your smartphone and a Nintendo app.

Access to a growing library of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES) games. Enjoy your favorite 8 and 16-bit games on your Switch. Video quality works with the Switch’s HD video screen and output. And you can pause and save your games.

Save data cloud, which backs up your game save data for most titles to Nintendo’s cloud servers. Useful for transferring data to a second household Switch. Easy to restore your data in the event your Switch is damaged or lost. Note that with most Nintendo Switch repairs there is a loss of gave save data.

Nintendo also makes special offers to NSO members.

Cost

Single membership for one Nintendo account and Switch profile is $20/year. Or you can pay a bit more with a monthly or quarterly subscription.

Family memberships for up to eight Nintendo accounts and Switch profiles is $35/year. This is best if you have two or more people using the Switch with their own profiles.

Nintendo Switch Online FAQ

Accessories

There are a few must have accessories: SD card, screen protector, and carrying case. The rest depend on your needs.

microSD Card

The Switch and Switch Lite have 32GB internal storage. That has to hold any digital games you buy, DLC, game updates, your game saves, and screenshots. That’s not enough for most players. A microSD card allows you to move the larger digital game data to a larger format.

  • Stick with brand name microSD cards, SanDisk being the most popular
  • Get at least 128GB, but 256GB is most recommended
  • Look at price per GB to compare sizes and value
  • You can upgrade to a larger card larger, but it requires reinstalling all your games
  • Game load times will increase by 2-3 seconds vs internal storage
  • Speed of the microSD card has little impact on game load time
Sale
SanDisk Ultra 128GB microSD Card

  • Great for Switch owners doing a mix of physical and digital games
  • Inexpensive with plenty of storage

Sale
SanDisk Ultra 200GB microSD Card

  • Good start for Switch owners going all digital
  • Between 200GB and 256GB get whichever has the best cost per GB

Sale
SanDisk Ultra 256GB microSD Card

  • Good start for Switch owners going all digital
  • Between 200GB and 256GB get whichever has the best cost per GB

Sale
SanDisk Ultra 400GB microSD Card

  • Was the largest microSD card when the original Switch came out, but has since come down in price
  • Not necessary for the vast majority of Switch owners

Sale
SanDisk Ultra 512GB microSD Card

  • Among the largest microSD cards currently available
  • The largest models typically have the worst cost per GB
  • Not necessary for the vast majority of Switch owners

Screen Protector

A screen protector is a cheap way to protect the most vulnerable part of the Switch. You can still use the touch screen. When ready to install run a hot shower in the bathroom and do the install there. The steam will reduce the dust in the air, making it easier to keep the space between screen and protector clean.

amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Nintendo Switch

  • Most recommended brand
  • Comes in a 2 pack, useful in case the first install isn't perfect
  • Low cost. Anything cheaper will be less quality

amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Nintendo Switch Lite

  • Most recommended brand
  • Comes in a 3 pack, useful in case the first couple of tries isn’t perfect
  • Includes tools to assist in a clean install

Carrying Case

If your Switch ever leaves home you’ll want a carrying case. The best ones hold the console, game cartridges, and have an accessory pocket. Be sure to get a case for your model Switch. A regular Switch case won’t carry a Switch Lite well.

Nintendo Switch Cases

Sale
Hestia Goods Switch Carrying Case

  • My personal Switch case
  • Holds Switch, 20 game cartridges, and an accessory pocket
  • Cloth zipper tab for upper accessory pocket, so no scratching

ButterFox Carrying Case

  • The most recommended model by Switch community
  • Holds Switch, 19 game cartridges, and an accessory pocket

Sale
Nintendo Switch Deluxe System Case

  • Officially licensed by Nintendo for use with the Nintendo Switch
  • Carries the Switch and all its accessories, for setting up at a TV away from home
  • Included game cases can hold up to 8 games

Nintendo Switch Lite Cases

Sale
ButterFox Switch Lite Carrying Case

  • Holds Switch Lite, 19 game cartridges, 2 microSD cards, and an accessory pocket
  • ButterFox is the most recommended brand by the Switch community

Sale
Orzly Carry Case for Nintendo Switch Lite

  • Holds Switch Lite, 8 game cartridges, and accessory pockets
  • Accessories are divided into an open pocket for larger items, and a zipper pocket for small items
  • Available in black, blue, green, grey, pink, red, yellow, carbon fiber black, or red and white (Pokéball inspired)

Sale
Nintendo Switch Lite Slim Tough Pouch By HORI

  • Officially licensed by Nintendo for use with the Nintendo Switch Lite
  • Holds Switch Lite, 10 game cartridges, and an accessory pocket
  • One of the thinner Switch Lite carrying cases

More Controllers

Controller preference is a personal thing. It can depend on what we’re use to and what game we’re playing. The Switch (note Lite) includes a pair of Joy-Cons which can be removed. And a a grip you can attach them to for TV play. You can also use the two Joy-Cons on their own to make two mini controllers for multiplayer.

The Pro Controller is one of the best gaming controllers on the market for any console. But not everyone needs one, and cheapest they get is $50. Start with the Joy-Cons and included grip before you invest in a Pro Controller.

For local multiplayer you can buy third party wired controllers. Or get an extra pair of Joy-Cons. Each pair of Joy-Cons equals one regular sized controller. Or two mini controllers.

Surge Nintendo Switch Grip Kit

Playing multiplayer games with single Joy-Cons is fine, but they are a bit small. Adults with larger hands may find them uncomfortable. Before gathering for the holidays consider getting a Surge Nintendo Switch Grip Kit. They attach to the Joy-Cons and make them much more comfortable to hold. Get one kit for every pair of Joy-Cons you own. The included thumb caps may also help, but some find them a distraction.

Extra Charger

The AC adapter included with the Switch is best left connected to the dock. Meaning it will probably be behind your TV. For charging in another room go with a third party USB charger. Your phone charger may work, but many (including the iPhone) don’t offer enough power to keep up with demand. And you may not have the right type of cable available. Consider getting a USB-C PD charger with a USB-C to USB-C cable.

Best Wall Chargers for the Nintendo Switch

You can also charge your Switch away from a wall output by using a portable charger, aka power bank. Like with a wall charger get a USB-C PD supporting model and a USB-C to USB-C cable. A 10,000mAh is enough for most domestic travel. Or being lazy in bed for a few more hours.

Best Portable Chargers for the Nintendo Switch

Sharing a Switch

Start by creating a profile on the Switch for everyone who’ll be playing with it. This keeps everyone’s game save data separate.

Any physical game in the Switch can be played by any profile.

Any digital game purchased by a Nintendo account tied to that Switch an be played by any profile. On a second Switch only the purchasing Nintendo account can play the game. The game play will be suspended if the primary Switch launches the same or another digitally purchased game from the same Nintendo account.

Couch co-op games are great for couples and family bonding. Connect the Switch to the TV and play a game together working toward the same goals.

Favor multiplayer games working with a single screen instead of split screen. Split screen games such as Mario Kart are okay for two players. But can cause issues for those not use to them beyond that.

The Switch includes parental controls. You can set limits on the type of games your kids can play, how long they can play, and lock them out of your eShop account.