Nintendo is on a roll, with no end in sight.
The new “Super Mario Odyssey” is receiving near-universal praise, and the Nintendo Switch is beating the competition month after month in sales.
There’s a good reason for that: The Nintendo Switch is the best console to buy this holiday. Here’s why!
1. The Switch has the best lineup of games …
Since launching in March, the Nintendo Switch has taken the mantle as the must-have console for playing the best games. This is the No. 1 reason to buy the Switch this holiday: It’s the only place to play the best games of 2017.
Yes, there are excellent exclusives on the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. “Horizon Zero Dawn” on PS4 and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” on Xbox One stick out as strong arguments for each, and that’s not wrong.
But let’s be clear: The Switch is stacked with huge, new games that can be played only on the Switch.
… like “Super Mario Odyssey” …
The latest hit that can be played only on the Switch is “Super Mario Odyssey.” It has an average score of 97/100 on Metacritic, putting it among the 10 highest-rated games.
It’s highly rated because it’s an outrageously good game, full of delight and surprise around every turn. “Odyssey” is the latest example of Nintendo’s approach to major games of late: Take classic franchises and evolve them to new heights.
It’s hard to overstate the quality of “Super Mario Odyssey”; it’s clever, and massive, and beautiful, and deeply referential, and so much more. It is, frankly put, one of the best Nintendo games of the past decade – perhaps of all time.
… “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” …
Whether you’ve been playing “Mario Kart” games for years or you’ve never touched one, “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is a tremendous delight.
It’s the definitive “Mario Kart” experience, with a ridiculous number of courses and playable characters. Best of all, the Switch becomes a portable “Mario Kart” machine if you take the console in portable mode – each Joy-Con becomes a gamepad, and the Switch is the screen. Being able to casually challenge a friend to “Mario Kart” by simply having the Switch with you is pretty incredible.
Crucially, “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is a perfect game to play alone or with friends. The vast majority of the time I’ve spent with the game has been sitting next to my wife, playing together online against the world. Since the game came out in late April, it’s been a constant in my apartment.
… and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”
Nintendo really set the tone of the tremendous first year of the Nintendo Switch with “Breath of the Wild” in March.
More than a great new entry in a classic franchise, “Breath of the Wild” moves forward the entire video game medium. Through meticulous game design that demanded more from players, Nintendo once again demonstrated its uncanny ability to redefine foundational aspects of gaming.
It’s the kind of game that changes player expectations – what they expect of themselves and what they expect from games. It’s also an excellent game to dig into while traveling over the holidays.
2. It’s affordable.
At $300, the Switch has a relatively low barrier to entry.
The competition has Nintendo beat in this regard – both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 can be purchased for well below $300, especially if you’re OK with buying a “refurbished” model.
But, if you’re willing to splash out and drop the $300, you get a combination home and portable game console.
“Super Mario Odyssey” looks great when you’re playing the Switch in handheld mode or on a TV. I’ve been playing the game on a 55-inch 4K TV, and it looks fantastic. I’ve also been playing it on the subway in handheld mode. Surprise: It also looks fantastic there!
Being able to simply grab the console and slide it into my bag is a delight and adds tremendous value to the console. It adds enough value, I might argue, to make it worth the extra money over the lower-priced competition.
3. It’s the perfect console for families, big and small.
My family is small – just my wife, me, and our dog. We play games together on all the consoles and have for years, but the Nintendo Switch is one we’ve spent an especially large amount of time with this year. Most of that time was with “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” admittedly, but now that “Odyssey” is out we’ve taken to swapping the controller between us while hunting down moons.
Games like “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” can easily be expanded out for more than two players, and even buying just one extra controller enables three players to play against one another because the Joy-Con can act as two separate gamepads. Besides, you should probably buy a Pro Controller – it’s the best addition you can get for the Switch.
4. The Switch is a console that’s big on joy.
It sounds ridiculous, I know. The Switch is just a little game console!
What it feels like, though, is a little portal into Nintendoland – like an interface for accessing a Nintendo universe. It doesn’t feel like a computer, really. That’s notable, as the Xbox One and PS4 feel distinctly like computers.
The Switch interface is stark, simple, and fast. The console turns on instantly. At every step, it puts your time at a premium – it’s seemingly optimized for going from zero to gaming as quickly as possible.
That the console’s main feature outside playing games is taking photos within games makes a lot of sense: If you’re using the Switch, it’s to play games. There’s no internet browser, or social media, or even streaming services – the console is laser-focused on gaming.
And the Switch isn’t just for any gaming but the type of gaming Nintendo is known for: big, precedent-setting, joyous gaming. The type of gaming that players dive into for hundreds of hours as they scour the remains of Hyrule or track down every last moon – that’s what Nintendo’s Switch is all about.
5. While the competition focuses on 4K, Nintendo is focusing on game design.
The Switch isn’t as powerful as the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4; it’s certainly not as powerful as the PlayStation 4 Pro or the coming Xbox One X, each of which is capable of powering 4K gaming (the next step up after HD).
The Switch, however, is powerful enough. “Super Mario Odyssey” and “Breath of the Wild” and pretty much every other game on the Switch looks more than good enough. Does “Assassin’s Creed Origins” look better than “Breath of the Wild” on a purely technical level? It sure does. The sun rays in “Origins” are look incredible against the desert sand.
“Breath of the Wild” is still a far better game.
“Origins” is excellent, to be clear, but Nintendo’s focus on game design over everything else is really showing in 2017. And the future looks ever brighter.
6. The streak doesn’t look as if it’s ending anytime soon.
Nintendo has a strong 2018 planned for the Switch.
Between a new Kirby game, a new Yoshi game, and promises of a new main-series Pokémon game, the future looks bright. And that’s before we start talking about the coming $20-a-year subscription service designed to offer access to an ever-expanding library of classic Nintendo games.
There are, of course, great games to play on the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and the PC. Owning any of those three, especially in addition to a Switch, is a strong choice.
But if you’re making a bet on one platform, and you want the best games out right now, Nintendo’s Switch is the way to go.