Updated March 10
What it is
|$299.99, from Nintendo
Available March 3rd
The Switch is Nintendo's first new console since the launch of the Wii U in 2012. Like the latter, the Switch features 1080p high-definition graphics and hybrid gameplay utilizing both your television and a portable touchscreen.
But the similarities pretty much end there. Unlike the Wii U's GamePad, the Switch's touchscreen cannot be used as a "second screen" to complement gameplay on your television. Instead, it becomes a separate handheld device that you can use to play games on the go away from the TV, with a variety of add-on controllers (including a pair of joysticks, or "Joy-Con" that come with the system) that slide onto the left and right sides to offer far more robust gameplay than, say, an iPad (or even Nintendo's still-available handheld device, the 3DS). While playing games on your television, the touchscreen effectively becomes the console itself by sliding into a charging dock, and the modular controllers can be used in a variety of ways on their own. A recommended Switch Pro Controller that will run you an extra $70, while other optional add-ons include extra storage (the Switch comes with a measly 32GB), and a carrying case.
Note that unlike past Nintendo consoles (as well as competitors from Sony and Microsoft), the Switch will not support web browsing or any media streaming apps at launch, though it may in the future. Nor will it provide backwards compatibility with Wii U or Wii games (partially because games for the Switch will be cartridge-based rather than disc-based, and also because Virtual Console functionality will be unavailable at launch). Speaking of games: there are none in the box. So that's one more hidden launch cost if you are grabbing the new console.
What critics are saying
Below are reviews of the Nintendo Switch console from a variety of professional sources. (Click on any publication name to read the full review.) Scores (converted to our 0-100 scale) are listed only if one has been assigned by the publication itself; otherwise, we have grouped the reviews into rough categories, from most to least positive.
Note that critics did not have access to the day-one software update, online services, or any game other than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1-2 Switch when writing their reviews. Some critics will revise their reviews once they spend a few more days with the console, and we will update this page throughout the week.
Extremely positive reviews
As it stands, the Switch is a more than capable both as a console and a handheld. Neither modes quite steal the centre stage - that spot's taken by the fact it proves more than capable of both. ... The Switch has more than achieved what it set out to do - and that's provide a stellar gaming experience no matter where you are. It does that with aplomb, and with a far nicer design than Nintendo has proved capable of in recent years - bar the New Nintendo 3DS.
The Switch hardware is very impressive, and the ability to easily take a game from the living room to the laundromat scratches an itch I didn't know I had. But in bridging two worlds, it sacrifices important pieces of both. It doesn't have all the functions you want from a tablet; there's no web browser or video apps like Netflix, for instance. And it doesn't (yet) deliver the range of games you want from a home console.
When and if you purchase the Nintendo Switch, nearly everything you receive out of the box exhibits the level of polish and style that Nintendo is known for. Yet just as we’ve feared in the marketing and previews, the negatives of the Nintendo Switch aren’t attached to what’s there, but rather to what’s not. Miniscule storage, concerns about online play, no media streaming or other known apps at launch, and the price of accessories for future titles spell trouble if Nintendo doesn’t reveal a better hand soon.
Attack of the Fanboy
The Nintendo Switch has the potential to be one of Nintendo's best consoles to date. The handheld/home console hybrid may be graphically dated, but being able to take it on the go is well worth the sacrifice. The design and hardware are great, but the launch is a little lackluster in all but Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Those seeking more than a Zelda machine can wait a bit, but the rest should grab a preorder while they last.
While the kickstand is a bit flimsy and the dock is surprisingly bare-bones, on the whole, Nintendo scored a direct hit with the hardware. Unfortunately, the software is a whole different story. ... But despite all of these concerns — all of which you should absolutely take into consideration before you buy Nintendo’s new console — the Switch has seemingly endless potential.
The end result is a machine quite unlike anything else in the gaming and tech gadget market, full of fresh ideas that are better executed than most products in their first iteration. That said, with only a few games available at launch and no streaming video apps planned, it will probably be several months before any but the most diehard Nintendo fans feel the need to pick one up.
Despite its relative lack of power, its functionality and multiple ways to play make the Nintendo Switch the real deal. I just wish the initial fee to get started wasn’t so expensive. Still, as a piece of hardware, Nintendo fans should rejoice that the house of Mario is finally taking their home console seriously again.
Cheat Code Central
Generally, I’m happy with the Switch. I’ve enjoyed it most when using it as a handheld and taking advantage of its portability, but it definitely works well as a home console too. The only area in which it’s shaky is in its tabletop mode, as that presentation only works well with very specific games.
The hardware is undoubtedly very appealing, constantly impressing myself and those I show it to. The short comings in regards to features and apps out of the box as well as the current Joy-Con disconnection issue keeps me from unanimously praising it.
Den of Geek [U.S.]
The system feels like a proper step forward from the Wii U - more solid, more versatile and, while we do miss Nintendo's quaint menu music, more sophisticated in terms of design. Best of all, the Switch doesn’t feel like a compromise in any of its configurations. It feels natural and intuitive to use as a handheld or a home console, while the ability to use the Joy-Con as separate controllers for the screen, rested on a table via its kickstand, suggests all kinds of multiplayer possibilities in such games as Mario Kart and Splatoon.
Although it isn't as explosive and as game-changing as a lot of you think it is, I've been enjoying the simple freedom it provides -- I just hope developers continue to tap into that with a steady stream of games. ... For me, specifically referring to the launch, the Switch lacks a certain type of "wow factor" that I've had previously with Nintendo systems out of the box. ... While I would pick one up at launch, don't feel bad if you're waiting for the right time to do so.
The Switch manages to blend Nintendo’s penchant for weird, gimmicky hardware with the high quality design we’ve come to expect of consoles in the modern era. From a hardware perspective, it is the best console from the company in generations — possibly ever. Still, the Switch is a Nintendo machine made for playing Nintendo games. Despite all the measures taken to make it feel more “mainstream,” its flaws reveal that the console was designed so that Nintendo’s designers could make interesting games. If you love Nintendo, this bodes well, as the big N seems to be hitting a new stride.
The Switch fixes all of the mistakes of the Wii U and doubles-down on that system's best feature. But there are still plenty of issues and unanswered questions that leave us worried. ... Clearly, Nintendo was in a bit of a rush to launch the Switch. That's a shame, because it's tough, as a reviewer, to completely weigh in on a system that's not quite finished.
But despite some lingering uncertainties, at launch, the Switch already seems to have a more clear raison d’être than the Wii U ever did, and it delivers on the promise of a full-fledged home console you can take with you on the go.
In many ways, Nintendo Switch is what the Wii U should have been, and even reprises some of the best games in its catalogue. It's a better built machine, sporting higher grade materials, an innovative Joy-Con controller setup, and a gorgeous screen. The company's strength in handheld design is clearly tapped into, and while it may be pushed as a home console first, it's more appetising to see it as the successor to the 3DS. Switch rightly takes the crown as the most powerful dedicated gaming handheld right now, but the bonus is its effective, and seamless home console mode. ... Certain limitations are clear though. As a hybrid console it has drawbacks on both sides of the package.
I never thought I would enjoy a hybrid gaming machine as much as I have. The way I see it, it's a perfect supplemental console. I might use my PS4 to play third-party releases, socialize, and watch Netflix, but the moment I want to relax while playing an exclusive title or am about to head somewhere where I'll be waiting a while, the Switch is coming out without hesitation.
After living this life for a week, having the option to play anywhere is a killer feature for the way I want to game from now on.
God Is a Geek
It’s going to end up becoming a cliche, but the Switch feels like a premium version of the Wii U in some ways. It’s as though Nintendo paid Apple to make hardware for them – that’s the level of “premium” we’re talking here. ... I’ve had zero issues with the hardware: it’s quick, reliable, and nice to use. But right now, it’s a console that plays games and takes screenshots, and until that firmware hits, I’ve absolutely no idea what else it can do.
Despite a great gaming experience, inconsistencies with the hardware are definitely present. For one, the console’s portable battery life – we averaged around three hours playing Zelda on full brightness – is decent enough for day-to-day use, but it’s hampered by slow charge times. ... Then there are the problems with the Joy Cons, which struggle to keep a consistent wireless connection. ... Overall these problems create a sense of disappointment that Nintendo couldn’t get it all right out of the gate, but that doesn’t change the fact that the gaming experience on Switch is largely fantastic.
The Nintendo Switch is a brave and fascinating prospect. ... Whatever happens, Nintendo has once again done its idiosyncratic best to challenge the way we think about games hardware. Right now, it has the best launch game in at least a decade, and enough compelling possibilities on the horizon to warrant enthusiasm and hope.
The Nintendo Switch feels like the culmination of years of hardware growing pains from both Nintendo and Nvidia. ... The Switch isn’t perfect, but it offers multiple ways to play games; all of which are viable. As silly as the commercials may seem, I can definitely see myself bringing the Switch to social gatherings to play something like 1-2-Switch as much as I can see myself playing Zelda sitting alone in front of my TV.
The Switch is the handheld console of your dreams. ... Importantly, playing on the Switch’s screen compared to a TV feels basically the same. ... With so much capability, the Switch seems slightly wasted right now without the games catalogue to back up the hardware.
Despite the last-minute rush to get the online working for launch day we’re still hugely impressed by the Nintendo Switch. In terms of design and construction it’s one of the best things Nintendo has ever done, and despite the lack of games we’ve had to test it on we feel the hybrid nature is already fully justified. ... But the most serious question remaining is the same one not only from last week, but since the console was first unveiled: will there be enough games? ... But at the moment, and despite the chaos of the launch, we’re more optimistic about a new Nintendo console now than we have been in decades.
Brian X. Chen
The New York Times
Playing with the Switch was a blast. The hardware is well designed and capable of delivering powerful graphics. And early Switch games I tested made clever use of the included motion controllers. ... Its games offer an intimate form of gameplay unseen on rival consoles, and over all the system’s versatility makes it worth the money.
While the intrinsic charm of its hardware is already blindingly obvious and the USP of the system – play anytime, anywhere, with anyone – is easy to communicate, it remains to be seen if Nintendo's most important hardware release yet will resonate with consumers; what we've seen so far, however, certainly fills us with confidence.
We'll have to see how the Switch library develops, and just how much power developers can wrangle out of the tablet. But based purely on its own design, flexibility, and ease of use, the Nintendo Switch is a fantastic device.
As it stands it already feels twice the machine when compared to the Wii U, both figuratively and literally. Being able to play the full version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild when on the bus, Tube or in a doctor's waiting room is a delight and probably enough to sell the console on its own. And when docked it does hold its own against rival machines, albeit with a tiny fraction of the games library. But at present, the Switch oozes potential rather than realising perfection.
Compared to the Wii U on its merits, the Switch is a slam dunk. It takes the basic concept of the Wii U, of a tablet-based console, and fulfills the promise of it in a way Nintendo simply wasn’t capable of realizing in 2012. ... The hardware lives up to its name in how easily and smoothly it moves between those two worlds, in how dead simple it all is to make something pretty magical happen. ... But beyond Breath of the Wild’s test run and the stunning basic functionality of the Switch lies a field of other obligations and requirements for an internet-connected gaming platform in 2017, and thus far, Nintendo hasn’t done much to prove it knows what it needs to do to recover from years of blind eyes and stubborn avoidance of modern ideas.
It’s far too early to determine whether Switch’s library will be up to snuff or whether Nintendo will have any more success luring third-party game makers to create a healthy flow of compelling software for Switch than it did with Wii and Wii U. But early buyers can rest confident in the knowledge that at least one game available right at launch will likely prove a must-have for many Nintendo fans, young and old.
After a week with the Switch, I really like it — but I’d also recommend that anyone who hasn’t preordered hold off on purchasing one for the time being. ... It’s hard to not feel like the Switch was rushed to market — Nintendo was still figuring out its launch lineup just days before the system was due to hit store shelves, and my hardware troubles give me serious pause.
The Nintendo Switch shines when it comes to its Portable Mode. Take it out of the dock, and suddenly you don’t have to compare it to a console anymore. When undocked, the Nintendo Switch becomes the most powerful and feature-rich handheld ever and destroys the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita.
The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic piece of hardware and one of the best consoles that the Nintendo has ever created. We’ll have to wait and see what comes of the device, whether it’s adopted by third parties and consumers, but in terms of what the console can do, how flexible it is and the power it offers as it straddles the divide between portable and home console gaming, it’s in a world of its own.
Sydney Morning Herald
Most every aspect of the system is smart, simple and intuitive, which is a must given how frustrating juggling multiple control schemes and play modes might have been. ... While not a must-buy at launch, the Nintendo Switch is smart, fun and easy to understand. I wouldn't be surprised to see it amass a cult following like Sony's PlayStation Vita, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it became one of the must-have gadgets for this year and beyond.
Lewis Painter, Chris Martin & Dominic Preston
TechAdvisor (PC Advisor)
A lower price would help sell more units but we're impressed with the hardware on offer with the Nintendo Switch - with some occasional frustrations. It might be limited to 720p on the tablet and 1080p to the TV but it's extremely versatile and that's a unique selling point. It's really the games line-up we're disappointed by - Zelda is phenomenal, but you’ll have to wait a while for anything else worth picking up.
I think Nintendo has a winner here. The Switch is well made, super easy to get the “gimmick” of, though that’s not really the right term, and it does what it promises. Problem is: there’s just not much to play, and there won’t be for some time to come. I firmly believe Nintendo will make the Switch more than worth its purchase price, but there’s no reason for you to pay up front unless you really want to.
One-part handheld and one-part console, Nintendo's latest piece of hardware wants to be the only device you need for gaming. In many ways it's a big success, offering an exceptional level of handheld graphical quality, before seamlessly transitioning into a home console – but this very adaptability has necessitated compromises which mean it isn't quite as good as the dedicated consoles and handhelds that have gone before it.
The Switch is a world away from the chunky, toy-like plastic of the Wii U gamepad, feeling weighty and luxurious in the hands. The Joy-Cons, in particular, are a surprising delight. ... This is, without question, the most fascinating video games console released in years. Its hybrid nature is a treat; seamlessly switching between its modes with a quiet flourish, from TV to a handheld screen that is crisp and bright. ... Yet there is the sense that this is a ‘soft launch’.
Updated 3/3. On balance, I'm in love with the Switch. It's what I've wanted out of a game system for as long as I've been gaming. I love that it goes wherever I do, and that it looks to be the vanguard of a wave of fantastic local-play games (like 1-2-Switch and Snipperclips) that I can break out anywhere, anytime. But Nintendo's masterstroke may be the way anyone can grok why the Switch exists at a glance. Drop it in its cradle, count to three, and it’s on your TV. Pull it out and it’s in your hands. Decouple the controllers from its sides, pop the rear kickstand and it’s on a table.
Updated 3/7. Sure, it’s not as powerful as other consoles on the market, the left Joy-Con can often work only when it wants to, it’ll cost a bomb to get the full kit, and the dock is terrible. Yet I can’t help but love the Nintendo Switch for its versatility and the fact that it really speaks to me as an avid gamer who knows time to pour into my love and passion is becoming shorter by the day. ... As a home console, it has some problems, but as a portable, I can’t put the Nintendo Switch down.
Having played with Switch for about a week, its portability is enticing. It's as close as we've gotten to the “home console in your pocket” concept. However, serious questions remain, like the type of long-term support it will receive through third-party software and its vision for digital entertainment.
Updated 3/5. The Switch feels like a comfortable and confident system in a way the Wii U was not. ... I still don't know if the Nintendo Switch is a system for everyone. I don't know if this is Nintendo's next big thing, or if it'll sell like the Wii U and Vita did. Despite that, this is a well-engineered portable console with the ability to play on your television at home. If you told me that was going to be a thing a decade or more ago, I would've laughed at you. Well here it is.
Updated 3/6. The Nintendo Switch is a machine borne of a company looking both to its past and future, and I genuinely believe that it has innovated upon some of its best ideas. I’m just not sure it’s fixed some of its worst. ... The most shocking thing about the Switch might be how many obvious pitfalls Nintendo has managed to elegantly avoid. Going from playing on the tablet to the TV is completely effortless, and there's no sense of compromise whichever way you choose to play. Once you hold and use the Switch, it just makes sense.
The Washington Post
In the past, Nintendo's been accused of sticking to cheaper-feeling designs — probably because of its association with children. But the Switch feels like a grown-up's device, with just the right amount of heft and quality materials that make you feel as though you're getting your money's worth.
We Got This Covered
To say the Switch is a console with potential, then, is an understatement. With that said, though, I do have a number of concerns moving forward that may make or break what could be my favorite gaming device ever. The common theme among these is that, well, the console just feels a little unfinished in its current state.
So as interesting as the Switch is as a piece of hardware design, you'll probably be fine taking a wait-and-see attitude for now. ... Definitely don't buy it as your first and only console. As a second console, consider holding off until the end of the year unless you simply can't live without a fully portable Zelda right this very moment.
Zelda is flat-out phenomenal, but otherwise, the Switch feels like an empty vessel, waiting for a deeper catalog of games and online features to take advantage of what is arguably Nintendo's most ambitious and risky effort to date. ... Unless you absolutely need to have the latest and greatest hardware on day one, you should hold off buying a Switch. ... By the time Super Mario Odyssey is out (it's planned for the end of the year), we'll know much more about what's in store for Nintendo's new platform. Because between now and then, there are not many signs that this console is a must-have.
Updated 3/5. Nintendo isn’t afraid of thinking outside the box, but it feels like the company made major compromises for the Switch. The individual Joy-Cons are so small they leave you with hand cramps, and even when combined with the Joy-Con grip, they feel unnatural. A general lack of online functionality and a lackluster launch lineup also have us wondering if Nintendo felt rushed to get the Switch on store shelves. We’re happy with the tablet’s overall design, and transitioning from a television console to handheld mode works like magic. We love the Switch’s premise, but Nintendo and its third-party partners still need to prove that the unique features are more than just gimmicks.
Updated 3/7. The Switch’s chameleon-esque ability to change between being a home console, a handheld, and a mobile party-game machine helps it rise above its individual shortcomings, but only to an extent. On the go, it’s a powerful piece of hardware with a gorgeous screen that’s a bit too large and power hungry to feel completely portable. As a console, it’s underpowered, unreliable, and lacking in basic features and conveniences that all of its competitors offer. It’s nicely built and cleverly designed to be used in a variety of ways, but ultimately, the Switch doesn’t do any one of the many things it can do without some sort of significant compromise.
The fact that I can lift my Switch out of its dock and immediately be playing a handheld version of the same game I was playing on my TV is one of the most remarkable things about this device. ... There are plenty of small things the Switch should do better ... But it does this one fundamental thing very well. ... I fundamentally like using the Switch. It accomplishes its central goal admirably, and has already gotten me thinking about it differently than my other game consoles. It also has a number of irritating flaws and hidden costs, and there are so many things about it that Nintendo still hasn’t explained.
It is a tremendously fun and innovative video game console that unfortunately feels a bit undercooked compared to the competition. While it will appeal to Nintendo’s core fanbase and dazzle early adopters with the Zelda of it all, I have serious concerns about its longterm viability until we see more robust features, more and better games, and the freakin’ Virtual Console.
New York Daily News
All at once this is Nintendo at its best and its worst, a gutsy bundle of innovations coupled with some troublesome ideas. The $300 Switch does a lot of things right and gets its core concepts down pat, but from charging limitations to minor hardware issues to a few too many hidden costs, little things hold it back, leaving it just short of a must-have.
And right now, that’s about all one can say about Switch: It has a new Zelda, you can definitely play it in handheld mode, and you might be able to play it in TV mode if you’re lucky. Switch has the potential to be all things to all people: TV console, next-gen Game Boy, wacky motion controls, traditional hardcore game machine, even multiplayer-in-a-box. But today, with just hours to go before launch, Switch is lacking some basic functionality.
The Wall Street Journal
The hardware is ingenious. ... Still, as incredibly versatile as the Switch’s hardware and technical capabilities are, the console feels incomplete at launch without a strong lineup of games, access to Nintendo’s rich back catalog of iconic titles, and really any online services to speak of. ... In terms of processing power, it doesn’t measure up to the latest PlayStation and Xbox consoles, which offer high dynamic range, or HDR, gaming, 4K video streaming and far better graphics.
As great as “Zelda” is, it’s not worth $360 (plus it’s releasing on the Wii U, which you might already own). With few other games worth your attention, tons of missing features and a potentially problematic hardware glitch, the Switch doesn’t make a great first impression. I have faith that Nintendo will solve some of this stuff, and that we’ll see a number of great games down the line. The Switch’s hybrid functionality is genuinely cool, and the core tech is some of the best Nintendo has ever built. But until we really see the software flow and the network flourish, it remains a system making big promises that it might not keep.
What about the games?
Of course, console hardware is only as good as the available software. The Switch does not come with any games in the box, though a dozen titles will be available for purchase separately at launch. Reviews will begin arriving on Thursday, March 2nd for at least two of the Switch's lineup of launch games, consisting of the following titles:
- 1-2-Switch *
- Fast RMX *
- Just Dance 2017
- Human Resource Machine
- I Am Setsuna
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (also available for Wii U)
- Little Inferno
- Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment **
- Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove **
- Skylanders: Imaginators
- Snipperclips *
- Super Bomberman R *
- World of Goo
* = exclusive to the Switch console
** = timed exclusive (will come to other devices this spring)
Other notable Switch titles due out in the near future (but not at launch) include Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (April 28th), Arms (spring), and The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ (date tbd), while major exclusives like Super Mario Odyssey and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will likely arrive at the end of 2017.
What do you think?
Are you planning on purchasing a Switch (or have you already)? Have you already tried one out? Give us your take in the comments section below.