The upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are already generating a ton of hype and speculation. The two next-generation consoles promise to be faster and more powerful than any console we have seen before. Yet, given all we know so far, their main competitor, the Nintendo Switch is looking better than ever.
Few companies have taken as many risks or transformed its products as much as Nintendo. It hasn’t always paid off, but with the Nintendo Switch the Japanese company struck gold. The hybrid console has seen a meteoric rise since its release in 2017, and for good reason. The Switch is portable, versatile, and offers a great blend of games.
The Nintendo Switch already wiped the floor with the competition in 2019 by selling more units than Xbox One and PlayStation 4 combined. But with the upcoming juggernauts that are the PS5 and Xbox Series X, is the Nintendo Switch still worth it?
Yes, absolutely. It will never rival them in sheer performance, but the Switch is a powerhouse in many other regards.
Size and simplicity
There is something to be said about the nostalgic simplicity of the Nintendo Switch. Consoles are becoming overly glorified entertainment centers that barely fit on our TV shelves.
Both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 are pushing size to the limits. The PS5 is around 15-inches tall, which is bigger than any previous PlayStation. The Xbox Series X might be shorter, but it compensates with width. Given their ever-increasing size and price, this leads to the question of what their advantage is over gaming PCs and laptops. It’s true that the size is necessary for their supposed graphical prowess, but the Switch is a tempting proposition to anyone more concerned with convenience and portability.
The Switch offers a fun, hassle-free experience. It allows you to enjoy all of your favorites on the go, and with friends. It’s hard to say “no” to a Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing: New Horizons session on a long train ride. It’s even better to play Super Smash Bros Ultimate against your friend on that five-hour flight. It might not be in glorious 4K, but that doesn’t make the experience any less enjoyable.
Ingenuity and creativity
The upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are so focused on performance that it seems they’ve pushed creativity and light-hearted fun to the side. The PS5 controller has adaptive triggers and improved haptics, but otherwise Sony and Microsoft’s new gamepads are fundamentally the same old controllers we’ve seen for years.
Nintendo’s Joy-Cons, on the other hand, have many fun and innovative uses. You only have to look at the Nintendo Labo kits to understand how ingenious the addition of an infrared (IR) camera was. It can be used to detect motion in the Vehicle Kit, allowing you to maneuver a Toy-Con submarine, car, or plane. It can also read specially placed stickers, allowing you to play a cardboard Toy-Con piano and much more. There’s even a Nintendo Labo VR kit, and none of it would have been possible without Nintendo’s Joy-Con innovation.
Even without Labo, the Joy-Cons are already incredible bits of kit. You can strap them to the console for gaming on the go, of course, but that’s just the start. When detached, you can use them as Wiimote-style motion controllers. Flip them horizontally and you’ve got two individual gamepads for you and a friend. You can even slide them into a gamepad attachment that comes bundled with every Switch console to form a regular controller. Can you imagine Sony or Microsoft ever making anything quite so creative as Joy-Cons?
Amiibos are another quirky and creative Nintendo invention worth mentioning. Although they predece the Switch, they are yet another example of the Japanese company’s ingenuity. Amiibos are not just plastic figurines, they can be used to save game data, give you access to exclusive characters or items, and plenty of other cool in-game bonuses, all while also serving as fun collectibles. Neither Xbox nor PlayStation offer anything remotely similar.
Consoles live and die on their exclusive games. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are both expected to host a number of glossy triple-A games, but in recent years the number of true exclusives has dwindled. Many beloved console franchises such as Final Fantasy, Red Dead Redemption, and Dark Souls have made their way to PC. Microsoft now launches almost all of its first-party games on both Xbox and Windows platforms. Even Sony has started to open the doors to PC users, with Horizon Zero Dawn’s PC release being the most high-profile example.
Don’t miss: The best exclusive games for the Nintendo Switch
The same can’t be said about Nintendo. The Japanese company’s AAA games can only be found on its consoles, and its catalog should not be underestimated. Games like The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild and Animal Crossing: New Horizons are not only critical darlings but fan favorites too. Nintendo’s game library is further complemented by a variety of Mario and Pokémon games, plus competitive titles like Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Splatoon 2.
More importantly, Nintendo games have their own unique charm. While many modern triple-A titles have become self-serious and overly dramatic, most Nintendo games have kept their light-hearted visual style and tone without sacrificing any of the challenge.
Although the Nintendo Switch’s price has risen due to COVID-related shortages, once it returns to its original retail price of $300 it will be the best console deal around. The PS5 and Xbox Series X are unlikely to beat it even with cheaper digital only-editions and inevitable discounts further down the line. The Nintendo Switch Lite is an even better offer for those that want a portable-only console. It still gives you access to the vast majority of the Switch catalog, but it costs only $200.
If there’s one major criticism that we can level at the Switch, it would be aimed at its lackluster online service. Having to use the Nintendo Switch Online app for voice chat is a painful experience, and unlike PlayStation and Xbox, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t offer free games to try out every month. You get access to the best games from the classic NES and SNES catalog for just $20 a year, which is something retro gamers are sure to appreciate, but it’s not quite the same.
Related: The best Nintendo Switch accessories
The Nintendo Switch will never be a graphics powerhouse or a performance champion, but it has carved out its own niche that is appealing to a wide variety of gamers. Compared to its over-sized and over-hyped rivals, the Nintendo Switch is looking better than ever.
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