Why the Nintendo Switch Is the Perfect Lockdown Console

Forget those lockdown blues, for a few minutes at a time

Key Takeaways

  • The 4-year-old Switch is cheaper than the next-gen consoles, and has a huge catalog of fun games.
  • Connect to your TV, or lock yourself in your bedroom.
  • The Switch is the best retro-game platform out there.
Nintendo Switch tablet with separate controller on a white background, Animal Crossing displayed on the screen.
Sara Kurfeb @stereophototyp / Unsplash

The Nintendo Switch might be almost 4 years old (which is late-middle age in console years), but it's more awesome today than it ever has been. What’s more, it’s the perfect pandemic games machine.

Nintendo’s Switch game console can be handheld, like a Game Boy, or hooked up to a TV and used like a regular home console. This, along with a huge range of excellent games, makes it just about the most flexible and family-friendly console around. Because of this, the Switch is the perfect way to while away these pandemic-stilted days.

"If you’re stuck at home, games are a nice way to get yourself outside of yourself for a while. They’re engaging, fun, and they make you solve challenges of puzzles."

Nintendo = Fun

The Switch doesn’t have the graphical power to run the latest high-concept first-person shooter games, nor does it output a 4K signal to your TV. But this doesn't matter, because Nintendo games are all about fun.

My favorite games were always the SNES-era games, Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Super Bomberman (yes, they really wanted you to know the console was the Super Nintendo), and the Zelda games of the time.

It’s not just nostalgia that makes these games good. The Switch lets you play old NES and SNES games for "free" (you have to have an active online subscription to access them), and they’re just as good now as they were back then.

In fact, one current Switch game, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, is an exact remake of the 1993 Game Boy version, with only graphical updates and a few small tweaks for modern controllers. 

Control

The other DNA strand that runs through Nintendo’s history is its innovative controllers. Right back to the simple NES joypads, Nintendo has reinvented the controller with every new console. The SNES added shoulder buttons. The N64 added a trigger and an analog joystick. The Wii had the motion-sensitive WiiMote.

A green Nintendo Switch Controller.
Jippe Joosten / Unsplash

Now, the Switch’s motion-sensitive Joy-Con controllers detach from the main unit. This lets players use one tiny controller each, or allows one player hold a controller in each hand. Wiggling, swooshing, and shaking, these separated Joy-Cons bring all kinds of fun control. 

Putting It All Together

So far, we have the funnest games, a console useable anywhere by one-to-four players simultaneously, and a unique, two-controller, motion-based control system. Why is this the perfect lockdown combo?

If you’re stuck at home, games are a nice way to get yourself outside of yourself for a while. They’re engaging, fun, and they make you solve challenges of puzzles.

Of all the console makers, Nintendo focusses on fun rather than destruction and fancy graphics. Animal Crossing (which I haven’t played) was a sensation in 2020 because it let you go outside, meet people, and do dull, everyday things like fishing.

You could play games on your phone or iPad, but the Switch lets you hook up to the big screen and play with family members. The Switch also has proper controls, not just touch-screen interaction (iOS and Android do support games controllers, but it’s not the main play method, and so many games do not support them).

Someone playing a Nintendo Switch.
Alvaro Reyes / Unsplash

This combination of big screen and motion controls also lets you get physical. Games like Mario Tennis Aces and Ring Fit Adventure get you moving and get your blood pumping, and some of these games are multiplayer. So, instead of sitting in front of the TV and re-watching The Wire, you can burn some calories and fight the lockdown blues. 

But, if you feel like hiding out in your bedroom or a corner of the kitchen, the Switch works as the world’s best-ever Game Boy, running on battery power for hours.

Last, and possibly most important, is that you can play all those old NES and SNES games.

If you’re a fan of the originals, this is essential, and there’s no other place to play them without using emulator software and downloaded game ROMs. That’s a fine way to go, but playing Super Mario World on the handheld Switch is quite something. Especially if you pair it with this SNES-style gamepad.

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