- The Nintendo Switch, the Japanese video game giant’s latest console, is expected to be one of the most popular gifts of the holiday season.
- Released in March 2017, the Switch is a hybrid console: It can be used as a handheld, or easily connected to a TV via a dock.
- Like most modern video game consoles, the Switch also has a wide range of online and multimedia features.
- Adults setting up parental controls for their children can use a separate app to monitor playtime and restrict inappropriate content.
The Nintendo Switch is the fastest selling video game console of this generation, having sold more than 8.7 million units since its launch in March 2017.
Plenty of people will be giving the console as a gift this season as well, and there are a few important things to keep in mind when first unboxing the new console. While the Switch does a good job of walking new players through the process of getting started, there are a couple of extra steps that could ultimately give you a better experience.
Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your Nintendo Switch, and fast:
Create a new profile for everyone who will use the Switch.
- Nintendo Switch
You’ll create your first user as soon as you turn the Switch on.
If the console is being shared by family members or friend, though, its important to create a user for everyone who plans to play. Creating separate users will allow players to maintain separate save data for their games, making sure that no one accidentally erases anybody else’s game.
The Switch will also ask users to link or create a free Nintendo account. Not every user needs their own Nintendo account – but you’ll need one to buy games from the digital eShop. Users can have different Nintendo accounts on the same Switch to make their own separate purchases, if they so choose. Every user on the Switch will be able to play games that are installed under different accounts.
Learn how to connect Switch Joy-Cons and other controllers.
- Nintendo Switch
In addition to being a portable hybrid console, one of the Switch’s most impressive features are its Joy-Con controllers. The Joy-Cons on the side of the Switch can be used as a pair, for a traditional gamepad experience, or on their lonesome as individual controllers. That means that you have two controllers, right out of the box – though they’re a little small for most adult hands.
The Switch will also let other controllers, including more J0y-Cons or the official Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, connect via bluetooth or USB.
If you have trouble connecting your controllers, or want to separate your Joy-Cons, navigate to the Change Grip menu to see exactly which controller is assigned to which player. To get there, hit the Home button on the controller, and navigate below your library of games.
On the main menu, the Switch will also show you which controller is being used, and which way you should be holding your Joy Con, with an icon in the lower left-hand corner.
Some controllers and accessories that were originally designed for Nintendo’s Wii U actually work with the Switch, like the “Pokken Tournament” controller and the GameCube controller adapter, which can be used to connect up to four controllers for “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.”
Make sure your system software is up to date.
- Nintendo Switch
Your system should prompt you to update as soon as you connect it to the internet. If your console isn’t up to date, you’ll lose access to important online features and game specific updates. Unfortunately, Nintendo’s online services aren’t the fastest and the updates need to be downloaded directly to the system. Expect it to get even slower than normal on Christmas morning, as every new Switch owner does the exact same thing.
The dark mode setting for the menus might be easier on your eyes.
- Nintendo Switch
It’s quite possible to overlook the fact that the Nintendo Switch has a dark theme. While I, myself, prefer brighter backgrounds, many people feel that looking at white text on a dark background is more comfortable for their eyes. The setting can be found under System Settings > Themes.
Check out the Nintendo eShop for deals on digital games and downloadable content.
- Nintendo Switch
Once you’ve got your console setup and online, you’ll need games to play. While the Switch uses teeny-tiny cartridges for physical games, you can find hundreds more digital games for sale in the Nintendo eShop.
Some of the most popular games are actually free to play, like “Fortnite: Battle Royale” and “Warframe.” Digital titles go on sale every now and then too, especially during special occassions like holidays.
The Switch has been slow to get apps for popular streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, but Nintendo did add support for YouTube and Hulu earlier this year.
Digital content calls for extra storage.
The Switch’s 32GB of storage space can only hold a handful of games. If you prefer to buy digital copies of your games, rather than dealing with the small Switch game cards, it will be important to invest in a microSD card for additional storage.
A $20 microSD card like the 128GB one pictured above could quadruple the amount of space on your Switch. All you have to do is insert the card in the slot underneath the stand on the back of the Switch, and let the console format the extra storage space.
You’ll need Nintendo Switch Online to play games online; consider sharing a family plan if you know friends with a Switch or have more than one at home.
If you want to play your games online with other people, you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. The subscription is just $20 a year, compared to the $60/year fee for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold.
If you have more than one Switch at home, or know a few friends who have one, you can save a bit of money by investing in the family plan. Up to 8 devices can use the Nintendo Switch Online family membership, which lowers the price to less than $5 per Switch.
Watch the video below for more help adding multiple devices to a family plan.
Nintendo Switch Online will give you free access to classic NES games.
If you do invest in the Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you’ll also gain access to a growing library of classic Nintendo titles. These games were for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and have been faithfully ported to the Switch.
The NES library started with 20 games in September 2018, and Nintendo is adding a few new titles each month.
Most of the NES games are pixel-perfect recreations of their original versions, but a few do have special variations on the Switch, like a co-op version of Super Mario Bros., and a version of Metroid that powers you up and leaves you near the end of the game.
Download the Nintendo Switch Online app for key features like voice chat.
Despite having an online subscription service, the Switch is still missing some key online services out of the box. To voice chat with friends while playing online you’ll need to download the Nintendo Switch Online companion app.
The app will sync with your Nintendo account and give you access to messaging, voice chat, statistics, and some game specific features.
The separate Switch Parental Controls app allows you to control your child’s device from your phone.
Nintendo also offers a second app specifically for parents. As the name suggests, Nintendo Switch Parental Control app lets parents monitor their child’s playtime with timers and hard limits, and restrict them from accessing inappropriate content.
This means that parents can simply use the app to control their child’s device, rather than trying to navigate the Switch console.
Consider buying a LAN adapter for more consistent online play.
If you’re an absolute purist when it comes to online play, or just want to cut down on the stuttering in your “Mario Kart 8” races online, consider purchasing a LAN adapter to give your Switch a wired internet connection while docked.
While the Switch doesn’t come with an ethernet port, the adapter will convert your USB port into a functioning one. Nintendo sells its own adapter for $25, but you can find a third-party USB LAN adapter online for about half the price.
Remember that after plugging in your adapter, you’ll need to change the system settings to support a wired connection. Nintendo actually recommends using a wired LAN cable while playing “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” online, as the wired connection is more stable than wi-fi.
Go out and enjoy your Switch!
The Nintendo Switch is an amazing piece of technology, packing the full power of a video game console into a portable package. While getting used to all of the bells, whistles, and extra apps may take some time, the Switch offers an incredibly fun experience for casual and hardcore gamers alike.