If you’re after an all-in-one Nintendo Switch accessory that offers a comfy and responsive gaming experience, then look no further than CRKD’s superb Nitro Deck. Essentially a portable dock for your console, the Nitro Deck offers several quality-of-life enhancements that make portable play even better.
The Nitro Deck swaps out your Joy-Con controllers for its own on-deck modules. These include all the buttons, sticks, and triggers you’d expect on a Nintendo Switch, as well as four programmable back buttons for custom secondary inputs. Best of all, the Nitro Deck makes use of Hall effect sticks - an upgrade over traditional analog that greatly reduces the risk of stick drift. If you’ve had bad luck when it comes to replacing older Joy-Cons, then you could save a lot of cash in the long run by purchasing the Nitro Deck.
Furthermore, a dedicated USB-C port on the dock, into which you’ll slide your Switch handheld, means that you’ll experience less input lag than you would through a wireless or Bluetooth connection. Additional input and output ports also allow you to charge up your console while playing with the Nitro Deck. In short, if you’re a portable-first Switch owner, we highly recommend the Nitro Deck as one of the best Nintendo Switch accessories you can buy.
Price and availability
The Nitro Deck will be available to buy from September 18, 2023, via CRKD’s official store page. It’s purchasable in the US and UK, with the individual unit coming in white, black, or gray colorways for $59.99 / £59.99.
Alternatively, you can opt for a limited edition version of the Nitro Deck which includes a carry case, 2.5m USB-C cable, and a pair of extra concave thumbsticks. This version will run you $89.99 / £89.99, and you can choose from three distinct color variants: Retro Mint, Classic Grey (emulating the look of the original Game Boy), or a Retro Purple that riffs on the Nintendo Gamecube’s aesthetic.
Design and features
The Nitro Deck and Nintendo Switch OLED tablet combined weigh just shy of 1.3lbs / 600g, which is about on par with the Asus ROG Ally, and less than the Steam Deck’s 1.47lbs / 669g. This means that, with the Nitro Deck, you’re getting a relatively lightweight portable experience. Though given the unit’s rather bulky 4.3” x 10.2” x 1.8” (110mm x 260mm x 46mm) size, you may want to consider purchasing the Limited Edition version that comes with a carry case, especially if you plan on taking it out of the house.
As for the Nitro Deck’s modules, they’re of mostly high quality. The dock itself is made of sturdy plastic, with a comfortable grip design that rests securely in your hands. Both analog sticks have a nice, firm weight to them, rocking easily under your thumbs with just the right amount of resistance. The shoulder buttons and those programmable back buttons are similarly satisfying, with a lovely tactile and clicky feel.
The triggers are a highlight, too, featuring a very soft and quiet press that’s perfect for portable play, especially if you’re in busier environments. The only real drawback here, in terms of design, is that the D-pad can feel a touch stiff. It’s still an improvement over the Joy-Cons’ button-based D-pad, but the Nitro Deck’s is a slight letdown given just how nice the rest of its modules feel.
Rounding out the design is a simple kickstand, useful if you want to use the deck in conjunction with one of the best Nintendo Switch controllers. There’s also a handy switch at the bottom rear of the device, which helps to neatly take your Switch back out of the Nitro Deck to return it to its original dock for TV play.
The Nitro Deck provides a greatly enhanced portable play experience for Nintendo Switch. Improvements over Nintendo’s official hardware, such as Hall effect sticks similar to those found in the 8BitDo Ultimate, effectively eliminate the risk of analog stick drift. That means you can potentially shelve your finicky Joy-Con controllers for good.
The dock’s dedicated USB-C connector firmly clicks your Switch into place. Similar to mobile controllers like the Backbone One or Razer Kishi, being directly connected to the dock reduces input lag for more responsive play, relative to using a wireless or Bluetooth connection.
It’s also very easy to set up those programmable back buttons. Simply hold the Program button found on the rear of the device, in conjunction with one of those back buttons. Then, press the button on the front of the dock you wish to assign a secondary input for, and you’re set. I found this to be useful for some of the best Nintendo Switch games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; being able to assign the jump command to a rear button meant I could keep my fingers on the attack commands, thus more effectively maintaining an offensive playstyle.
Lastly, while there’s no dedicated 3.5mm headphone jack to be found on the Nitro Deck, it leaves the Switch’s port at the top accessible for if you own one of the best wired gaming headsets.
Should I buy the Nitro Deck?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
How we reviewed the Nitro Deck
The Nitro Deck was tested with a Nintendo Switch OLED, playing a variety of games to best get a feel for its high level of comfort, Hall effect sticks, and programmable rear paddle buttons. I tested the Nitro Deck with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for a robust single-player experience, Splatoon 3 for multiplayer gaming on the go, as well as the recently released F-Zero 99 to really get a feel for its overall responsiveness.
Even if you’re used to wearing one of the best wired gaming headsets on the market, PDP’s Realmz wired gaming headset for Nintendo Switch may surprise you, as it did me. Technically a collectible, with its Sonic the Hedgehog branded aesthetic and figurine embedded in the translucent right ear cup, it’s also a highly competent gaming headset boasting solid build quality.
It’s also sitting at a very agreeable price point, making the Realmz headset one of the more affordable wired options for Nintendo Switch. Perfect, then, if you primarily play in portable mode, or own one of the best Nintendo Switch controllers that features a 3.5mm headphone port.
What surprised me most, though, is the Realmz’s relatively high audio quality. Yes, it’s not quite on par with pricier wired headsets like the EPOS H6Pro, but its 40mm drivers deliver competent audio without sacrificing much clarity. Its microphone is also decent, making for a well-rounded gaming headset.
PDP Realmz wired headset - price and availability
The PDP Nintendo Switch Realmz wired gaming headset is available to buy right now for $39.99 / £34.99 (around AU$61.99). US buyers can pick the headset up directly from the manufacturer’s website, though do keep in mind that as it’s under $50 / £50, additional shipping costs will be added. UK shoppers, however, will need to go to online retailers like Smyths Toys to get their hands on one.
PDP Realmz wired headset - design and features
One of my favorite things about the PDP Realmz headset is that despite bearing a popular third-party brand, it deftly avoids the trap of looking overdesigned. There’s an even mix of blue, red, and white colors here which all complement each other well, giving the headset a rather sporty look that’s in line with Sonic the Hedgehog stylings. And if you’re not overly keen on Sega’s mascot, fear not, as PDP confirmed to me at Gamescom 2023 that more Realmz products featuring other popular gaming icons are on the way.
The keystone of the headset's design, though, has to be the Sonic the Hedgehog figurine embedded in the right ear cup. The figure itself is only about the size of a Kinder Egg toy, but it’s of good quality and certainly helps the Realmz headset stand out from the pack. It’s purely aesthetic and doesn’t impact its performance in any way, but I can’t help but love it.
The padded headband and cups also provide a high level of comfort, and it’s certainly one of the comfier sets at its budget price point. A flexible mic arm and on-board volume control complete the feature set, though I do wish there were some additional settings here, like a mic monitoring slider or an EQ toggle. It’s a fairly basic setup, then, but that's to be expected for this price.
PDP Realmz wired headset - performance
The PDP Realmz gaming headset’s audio output is surprisingly solid, too. It features 40mm audio drivers that deliver a clear sound profile. Vocals are the standout winner here, making the Realmz a good choice for listening to music. The overall sound profile is a touch on the flatter side, without much clear distinction between lows and highs. Thankfully, though, audio doesn’t sound muddy through the headset, though it’s tough to recommend to those wanting a wider dynamic range for online games like Fortniteor PUBG: Battlegrounds.
If you do decide to jump online, though, know that the PDP Realmz headset also boasts pretty decent microphone quality, too. You shouldn’t expect peak clarity here, but mic output does get the job done, and you should sound clear enough to your friends and teammates. It was a great fit for Fall Guys, for example, which hardly requires anything in the way of advanced team strategy or the need for rounded, dynamic audio.
Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch Available on: Nintendo Switch Release date: July 28, 2023
2D platformers are a dime a dozen on Nintendo Switch, but rarely are they as polished or charming as Disney Illusion Island. A fairly open-ended platformer that supports co-op play and featuring some of the best 2D visuals on the hardware, it’s well-suited for players of all ages looking for their next platforming fix.
Something of a spiritual successor to the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive’s Castle of Illusion and World of Illusion, two of that console’s best games, Disney Illusion Island is more than worthy of holding your attention until fellow co-op platformer Super Mario Bros. Wonder launches later this year.
Disney Illusion Island differs from its roots with an adoption of a metroidvania-style format. That means it’s not just a straight dash from left to right. Rather, the world map is somewhat open-ended, with many avenues gated off until you’ve found a new ability that lets you progress further. The game doesn’t wholly commit to the formula, and still has broadly linear progression as you explore the map, but it’s a welcome change that incentivizes combing areas for secrets and collectibles.
And while Disney Illusion Island is primarily aimed at younger audiences, that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of difficulty. Checkpoints are aplenty, but the game still lets its slick, satisfying movement shine through platforming challenges that have a pleasantly steady difficulty curve.
On top of that, you can also choose a difficulty level before starting the game that either increases or reduces the number of hits you can take. During play, I didn’t notice any changes to enemy layout or platforming toughness, which is a slight shame. Still, it’s nice to have the option for a tougher or easier challenge depending on your preferences.
Tiptoe through the tulips
What’s immediately noticeable about Disney Illusion Island is just how gosh-darn pretty it is. Playable characters and NPCs have a resemblance to the newer Mickey Mouse animated shorts, which translates beautifully to a 2D sidescroller format. The world itself is even more gorgeous, largely featuring a pleasantly warm color palette that really pops on the Nintendo Switch OLED’s handheld display.
The quality of animation is impressive across the board, too. Our four playable characters – Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy – all play identically, but each have a unique identity when it comes to their animations. Mickey’s confident strides are well-realized here, but I particularly love Donald’s snappier, often impatient-looking movement that fits him to a tee. Goofy’s dumpy, comical run cycle is also a highlight that had me grinning when I first saw it.
Disney Illusion Island gets so much right, but for us, the moment-to-moment platforming challenges are what keep the game consistently engaging. No two areas are the same, and you'll constantly be taking on new challenges as the difficulty curve steadily increases.
There’s a delightful level of attention to detail with each character, too. No matter which you pick to play as, they’ll all receive the same traversal abilities throughout the game, but all four are given unique tools to get the job done. For example, one of the earliest power-ups you’ll get is a double jump. For Minnie, this comes in the form of a life-sized paper airplane. Donald, meanwhile, gets a giant firework with matching sound effects. It’s a small, but nonetheless charming addition that gives a little extra incentive to try out each of the four heroes.
The game is a metroidvania at its core, meaning you’ll be collecting a whole bunch of new abilities as you progress. These extra skills are honestly quite standard, such as being able to swim, using a grappling hook on certain pieces of scenery and a ground pound to destroy brittle platforms. However, the rate at which you get these abilities is well-paced, and the areas in which you receive them are always flush with platforming challenges to help you get to grips with each.
Rounding out the presentation are occasional, lovingly animated cutscenes, featuring the characters’ contemporary voice actors (you might recognize Donald and Goofy’s actors from the Kingdom Hearts series). There’s plenty of good chuckles to be had in these cutscenes thanks to some sharp writing and delivery, and while not every joke lands, it’s all deliciously tongue-in-cheek; perfect for a narrative that’s aimed at younger audiences.
House of Mouse
Disney Illusion Island presents a pretty captivating world, then, and it’s just as fun to explore as it is to gawk at. Developer Dlala Games has nailed movement in this game. It’s crucial to nail simple acts like running and jumping in a platformer, and here that movement is quick, responsive, and doesn’t feel the least bit floaty.
It’s not long before the map starts to mix up its platforming, forcing you to make use of multiple abilities at once, making traversal and progression constantly brisk and satisfying. Part of me wishes these power-ups were a touch more inspired, as none break new ground in the subgenre, but what’s here works and serves to form Disney Illusion Island’s platformer-centric format.
One element I think will be divisive is that Disney Illusion Island doesn’t feature combat of any kind, despite having enemies players will need to avoid while platforming. This isn’t so much a complaint as it is something I thought was just worth mentioning for those who might prefer a more action-heavy title like Hollow Knight or Metroid Dread. Bosses are present, but these utilize your existing abilities rather than have you confront the enemy directly. The game’s highly enjoyable platforming does make up for this, though, and fans of the genre will find Disney Illusion Island scratches that itch more than adequately.
And if you vibe with the game’s fluid platforming, you’ll definitely want to scour the whole map for hidden items, of which there are many kinds. Collectible cards and ‘Mickey Memorabilia’ are the primary objects here, with the latter forming a charming database of the mouse’s long history.
My favorite, though, are the secret Mickey symbols dotted throughout the world. You’ll need a pair of keen eyes to spot some of these, as they can blend into the background quite ingeniously. Unlike other collectibles, they’re also not marked on your map, so you’ll have a real scavenger hunt on your hands if you wish to find them all.
In Disney Illusion Island, you’re getting a cozy, somewhat easygoing platformer that’s nonetheless worth your time. Gorgeous visuals, smart level design, charming cutscenes and no shortage of collectables pack a whole lot of goodness into its relatively short length. If you’re excited for Super Mario Bros. Wonder, I can’t recommend Disney Illusion Island enough.
In Disney Illusion Island, there’s quite a handy suite of accessibility settings to aid players of all kinds. You’re able to adjust options like screen shake, display tells for certain secrets and adjust the time allotted for timed platforming elements.
In the ‘Player’ menu, you can freely adjust the amount of health afforded to you, as well as toggle various assists for a number of abilities. Lastly, subtitles are customizable, allowing players to adjust their size, color and opacity. Overall, a pretty fleshed out accessibility suite.
How we reviewed Disney Illusion Island
We played Disney Illusion Island through to its conclusion, picking up as many collectibles along the way as we could on our first playthrough. We finished the game in roughly seven hours, thoroughly testing (and enjoying) its style of platforming, and the various secrets and unlockable gallery content provided by optional secret hunting.
Mous takes a leap into a brave new world, adding to its line of rugged protective cases and accessories with the Mous 25L backpack, landing firmly on its feet. This premium, well-thought-out backpack offers a host of features alongside brilliant build quality to provide maximum comfort and protection.
It’s fairly expensive at $279.99 / £219.99 / AU$430, and is available from Mous direct or via third-party resellers such as Amazon. However, I’d heavily caveat this drawback with praise for its sophisticated and well-made design. If you’re serious about protecting your kit, or are someone who travels regularly, then it will more than prove its worth. In fact, I’ve been traveling plenty while testing this backpack, and it’s saved my hide (and, I expect, the integrity of my MacBook) multiple times.
This ultra-protective black backpack is made with water-resistant materials including carbonated nylon and PU coating, and even has AquaGuard YKK zips to ensure rain and splashes don’t reach your gear. The design is understated yet chic, especially for a rugged backpack.
On its front you’ll find the magnetic Fidlock security latch, which serves to prevent thieves from quickly accessing the top of the backpack. There’s a knack to opening it, which, once you become familiar, shouldn’t prove a problem – although on occasion I do still find myself yanking at it for a few seconds.
To the right of the backpack is the first compartment, a zipper that houses a small strap with a split ring to which you can attach your keys, while on the left is a stretchy pouch for a bottle plus another surprisingly deep compartment towards the rear of the backpack.
On the underside of the backpack are two adjustable harnesses for storage, which would easily hold one of the best yoga mats or best travel tripod, and predictably, on the rear of the bag are the two adjustable shoulder straps with an additional sternum strap. These are immensely comfortable and distribute any weight you’re carrying evenly across the back – which is a good thing, because the protective measures built into the backpack mean it weighs in at 1.8kg even while empty.
Two kissing YKK zippers command the wraparound zip for the main compartment, which opens to reveal a grey interior with a further eight storage compartments; these are ideal for cables, small cases and any accessories. The material used for this lining feels quite thin, and perhaps prone to damage over time – but it doesn’t feel cheap, at least.
Behind the main section are the final storage compartments – a small alcove, and the AiroFoam-laced laptop and tablet compartment, which has three pockets for different devices.
Having used the backpack for three weeks, traveling up and down the UK and to France for a weekend, I’m a complete convert to rugged backpacks. Instead of fearing for my laptop’s life every time I take a knock, or using socks to pad out my tech, I could simply throw my kit into the bag and go.
The compartments offer plenty of clever space-saving features and allowed me to keep all my bits organized. Even with it packed full, I didn’t suffer an achy back from carrying the backpack around.
Without a doubt, I’d say that the Mous 25L is one of the best laptop backpacks around. If you’re serious about your equipment, it’s well worth the expense for the peace of mind it delivers. The fact that it looks and feels so luxurious is a bonus.
Mous 25L backpack: Specs
Should you buy the Mous 25L backpack?
Buy it if...
You want ultimate protection
With its AiroFoam padding and use of water-resistant materials, this backpack is about as protective as it gets – perfect for travel and outdoor activities.
You go wild for tech organization features
I never thought that the presence of pockets could induce such excitement, but each of the 17 compartments in the Mous 25L backpack is neatly designed with specific use cases in mind.
You want something that will last
Well built using premium materials, the finish here is spectacular – it’s a backpack I envisage using for a long time.
Don't buy it if...
You’re on a budget
This is by no means an affordable backpack, but in my opinion it’s worth the money; but not if you just need something to grab-and-go.
You want a bag that’s lightweight
Without any contents, this backpack weighs in at 1.8kg – and it’s noticeable. The straps are well-designed to reduce strain, but if you’d rather something built with lightness in mind, the Mous 25L isn’t for you.
You get hot easily
All that protective foam right by your back, plus the black casing, means this backpack can be a little uncomfortable and sweaty on a hot day.
Mous 25L backpack: Also consider
How I tested the Mous 25L
I used the Mous backpack for three weeks
I made several long-haul journeys, as well as everyday trips, with it
I dropped it with my laptop and Nintendo Switch in situ
I used the Mous 25L backpack for almost all of my travel and daily activities for three weeks, including for daily commuting and a few weekend trips away. Inside it I carried all of my most prized tech possessions: my laptop, iPad, Nintendo Switch, alongside other everyday items.
I tried as many drop tests as I was willing to risk with my own devices, and I’m pleased to say even after a drop from 2 meters, my MacBook Pro survived unscathed. I also splashed the backpack with a glass of water and found the interior remained completely dry.
I’ve been a regular backpack user for 12 years, using everything from Vans to Jansport to Dr. Martens backpacks. This is my first rugged backpack, but it’s started a love affair I imagine will last a lifetime.
Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch Available on: Nintendo Switch Release date: 21 July 2023
I thrive in systems of organization that wouldn't make much sense to anyone else, but the real-time strategy meets puzzle adventure that is Pikmin 4 makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, my life is somewhat in check.
Reintroducing a colorful world brimming with curious critters, Pikmin 4 offers a variety of all-new environments to explore and adds a handful of new companions, but really it’s the same premise of the older games: you’re in a completely alien land, and you need to utilize the strength of the planets minuscule plant-like inhabitants (Pikmin) to collect various parts and treasures, take down enemies, and solve puzzles in order to progress.
It’s the same formula which has made the Pikmin games so enjoyable since the series debuted on GameCube in 2001, and that formula holds up today.
Despite being less popular than many of Nintendo’s other long-running offerings, there was still a lot of anticipation surrounding Pikmin 4’s launch, especially given how long it has been since the last. Those expectations, I’m confident, will have been exceeded for many players. Pikmin 4 is a charming game, and there are many reasons you should consider shrinking down and seeing what the world has to offer, even if you haven’t sunk into the franchise before.
Explorers old and new
Instead of continuing the tradition of taking on the role of the franchise's favorite captain and protagonist of the previous three games, Olimar, you’re first tasked with creating your character who will be the face of your exploration. I felt skeptical at first about having to take the reigns and create my explorer, but after getting stuck in and seeing how Pikmin 4 has been built to not only scratch the itch of veteran Pikmin fans but also welcome new players with open arms, this platform to personalize your experience through creating your own unique rookie does help make the experience more approachable.
The voyager logs created by Olimar, which detail the narrative and purpose of Pikmin 4 help to reintroduce the concept of the game to older players, while explaining things to new players without feeling overwhelmed by information overload. There is a lot to learn, and the introduction to each character presents a huge amount of information to digest, but the humor between characters eases the pressure slightly and despite the barrage of information, you’ll slowly learn everything you need.
Finding a music box that immediately started playing the Song of Storms from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time when my Pikmin picked it up.
There are also numerous new mechanics introduced to the game to separate it from alternative titles and keep what could become a pretty stale routine of fetching items to bring back to your ship. New Pikmin species and their accompanying capabilities are introduced, so while you still have the traditional red, blue and yellow, you also get to meet and in turn utilize the new skills of both Ice and Glow Pikmin. The introduction of night time excursions as well also offers a more high-stakes mission for anyone brave enough to face stronger enemies in a style that leans more heavily toward a tower defense-like minigame.
But, the most valuable new addition has to be Oatchi. This sweet pup accompanies your adventure from the very beginning, and rather than being a take-it-or-leave-it addition to your crew, he is an integral part of the adventure. In fact, his support is so integral to your experience, it’s hard to believe there were games before this one that didn’t think to include such a perfect pooch, and hopefully, any future Pikmin games think to bring him along for the ride.
Alongside being a more convenient way to bound about the map and keep all your Pikmin in one place, the ability to switch between playing as your character and Oatchi makes it a lot easier to navigate dungeons and puzzles which need an extra pair of eyes, especially during your first few days in an entirely new environment.
One day at a time
An in-game day spans 20 minutes of real-time, which sounds like a pretty reasonable chunk of time until you’re running around a garden throwing Pikmin onto ledges and desperately trying to find the next castaway before the dinner bell rings. Fortunately, this time is slowed to a snail's pace when you start to explore the various cave systems underground on the hunt for castaways, giving you a slight leeway in how much you can get done in a single day.
There’s a huge emphasis on organization and prioritizing tasks to ensure your days are as streamlined as possible, which I think I drastically overlooked across the first few days alongside my crew of fellow space travelers, but once you’ve got to grips with the general location and you’re coming in armed with an array of Pikmin species rather than a single color, you’ll naturally start to optimize the flow of your day.
But, in case you feel like fleeting days will have you rushing through the game, there’s no actual time limit to how many days you can spend exploring, so there’s no need to rush through things like caves and locations in a frantic rush to find Olimar. With the amount to do in each different environment, like locating any hidden treasures and completing simple puzzles to gain access to new areas, you’re likely to get swept up in side tasks more often than not too, which is why the lack of time restriction helps make Pikmin 4 more enjoyable.
A few growing pains
While there’s no denying the fact Pikmin 4 is an incredibly consuming game from start to finish, it still does have a few creases that prevent it from being seamless. They aren’t detrimental to the experience, and they certainly aren’t enough for us to not recommend this game to anyone looking for a genuinely sweet slice of classic Nintendo gaming, but they are worth considering before you jump in with both feet.
Firstly, the auto-lock, which guides you to target specific items or enemies when throwing your Pikmin, is a great feature in theory but it’s not much use even when you do try and lock on to either an item or a creature. I often found myself having to go out of my way to force the target to select the thing I wanted to hurl my Pikmin at, which feels like it defeats the point of an auto-lock ability entirely.
In addition, multiplayer within the story mode feels slightly lackluster. With the ability to switch between Rookie and Oatchi, I would’ve assumed multiplayer might hand the role of the lovable pup to a second player, but instead, any stand-in adventurers are left to throw projectiles from the back of Oatchi and generally just follow the lead of player one. Although multiplayer is redeemed slightly through the chaos of a Dandori Battle, a separate game mode entirely, it is a shame that multiplayer in the story feels like an afterthought rather than a core feature.
But, as a whole, these things don’t stop Pikmin 4 from being a fantastic game for both new and old players alike. Content from previous Pikmin titles has been reintroduced in a way that keeps the title from feeling repetitive while not straying too far from the franchise so many players have grown to love. Sure, it has its teething pains, but the general experience of returning to PNF-404 makes these issues worth overlooking.
Even though Pikmin 4 offers incredibly in-depth information regarding every other aspect of the game, it has very limited accessibility options. You have the option to change your camera controls, and the ability to turn off motion control, but that’s about it.
There are no options regarding text size or speed, which is surprising given just how much information you are bombarded with toward the start of the game. Cutscenes come equipped with subtitles, but they still sit on the smaller side of the scale. Luckily if you do miss something though you can easily skip back through the Message Log to catch up, where text is slightly larger than during any animation.
How we reviewed Pikmin 4
I played Pikmin 4 for over 18 hours in both docked and handheld mode on my Nintendo Switch OLED. I completed the central storyline and main objective within just under 13 hours and spent the following few jumping into side quests set by my rescued castaways or returning to locations to continue collecting treasures for my collection.
In addition, I spent an hour or two with a second player to test out what multiplayer is like within the story mode in comparison to standalone Dandori battles, and can safely say that the latter is the way forward if you’re searching for a way to make the most of Pikmin 4 with a companion.
Nintendo has had some fantastic releases already this year, but there are many upcoming Nintendo Switch games worth keeping an eye on if you’re ready to jump into the next adventure once you’ve completed Pikmin 4. If you don’t want to wait though, we’ve compiled the best games on Nintendo Switch too, so you’ll know which games are worth investing in.
I’m delighted to say that the GameSir T4 Kaleid was a pleasant surprise. It’s certainly an eye-catching gamepad with its see-through casing and lovely RGB lighting, yet it stands head and shoulders above other controllers in its price bracket thanks to incredible customizability and high quality buttons and sticks.
That being said, it’s unfortunately not quite the best fit for its target console. The T4 Kaleid is wired only, which isn’t a great fit for Nintendo Switch. It also doesn’t have the reversed X and Y button placement, opting instead for the more standard Xbox Series X|S layout. However, the T4 Kaleid thrives on PC when paired with the T4k app which allows you to customize button layout, assign inputs to the rear paddle buttons and, perhaps most importantly, create your own RGB pattern.
GameSir T4 Kaleid: price and availability
The GameSir T4 Kaleid is available to buy right now for $41.99 / £41.99. You can purchase it either from GameSir’s official store page, or through retailers like Amazon and AliExpress.
I’ve got a huge soft spot for controllers with translucent designs, so the GameSir T4 Kaleid was already starting to win me over when I first took it out of the box. However, the controller uses its aesthetic choice creatively. That’s because the circuit board within is gorgeously laid out, and the pair of RGB strips that wrap around either side of the controller are dazzling. It’s certainly a step up from many Pro-adjacent controllers that tend to play appearances safe with plain black or white colorways.
The fancy aesthetic wouldn’t amount to much if the controller wasn’t of a decent build quality, and thankfully the T4 Kaleid delivers here. The plastic shell is sturdy, while the sticks and face buttons feature a clicky, tactile feel. In the case of the face buttons, that’s due to the use of microswitches for a springy, crisp feeling press.
That same feeling applies to the D-pad, triggers and shoulder buttons, too. Overall, we have a rare case here of a controller delivering on almost all fronts. You really have to nitpick to identify design issues with the T4 Kaleid when it comes to its buttons. But if I had to, I’d say the placement of the Start and Select buttons are a little higher up the controller than I’m used to.
Additionally, this is the one of the few cases where I lament the fact that the controller is wired only. I feel that wired pads aren’t a good fit for Nintendo Switch. There’s no outward facing USB port on either the Switch or Nintendo Switch OLED, so the use of a wired controller here can be cumbersome. Plus, the T4 Kaleid isn’t compatible with Xbox Series X|S despite bearing the Xbox button layout. I still highly recommend it as a PC-first controller, however.
GameSir T4 Kaleid: performance
The GameSir T4 Kaleid is a surprisingly feature-rich controller for its relatively low asking price. And that’s not just because of its cool design and RGB lighting. There’s also a pair of mappable back buttons that can be assigned via the T4k desktop app.
This is another reason why I recommend the T4 Kaleid if you play on PC. The T4k app is incredibly robust and lets you tweak everything from the RGB pattern to button assignments and more.
One feature you might not know the T4 Kaleid has is a hair trigger mode. It’s not immediately apparent as there’s no on-board switches like with the HyperX Clutch Gladiate or the Xbox Elite Series 2. However, the mode can be toggled within the app and allows you to activate trigger inputs with just a short press. A bit of a roundabout way of doing things, but it’s likely a way for GameSir to save on components and keep costs down. A pretty smart move, overall.
Customization with the app leads the T4 Kaleid to be a fantastic controller for gaming. As mentioned, those hall effect analog sticks and microswitch-powered face buttons make for a sturdy controller that’ll resist much wear and tear over the years. The dual rumble motors also provide a strong layer of immersion, and can also be customized in the app.
It’s a fantastic controller for when fast button presses matter. Take online shooters like Fortniteor Halo Infinite, where quick reflexes and quicker button presses can be paramount to success. Or even platformers like Mega Man 11 and Super Mario Odysseywhere precision is often key.
Should I buy the GameSir T4 Kaleid?
Buy it if...
You’re after an affordable controller for PC The T4 Kaleid excels as a PC pad thanks to its companion app and sturdy build quality
You’re on a budget Simply put, the T4 Kaleid won’t break the bank. In fact, it’s a bargain price for the features you’re getting.
You love customizability Between its RGB lighting and fully mappable controls, the T4 Kaleid is perfect for players who like a layout to call their own.
Don't buy it if...
You’re after a wireless controller The T4 Kaleid’s biggest drawback is its lack of wireless functionality. If it had that, we could be looking at a near-perfect pad.
You need a Nintendo Switch controller The T4 Kaleid isn’t a great fit for Nintendo Switch, thanks to its wired-only nature and the X and Y buttons following the Xbox controller placements.
If you’re after a fight stick for your Nintendo Switch, you should seriously consider the 8BitDo Arcade Stick. There’s no shortage of fighting and arcade games – both old and new – available on Nintendo’s current-gen console, and 8BitDo has manufactured an excellent controller, perfect for exploring these games.
8BitDo is well known for its high-quality controllers on Nintendo Switch. The 8BitDo Ultimate is a shining example that finds itself at the top of our best Nintendo Switch controllers guide. I’ve also been impressed by the 8BitDo Arcade Stick. It’s ticked all the boxes that I expect the company to offer; top build quality, robust features and customizability that throws in a retro aesthetic which is more charming than gimmicky.
Sadly, the biggest drawback of the 8BitDo Arcade Stick is that it’s not compatible with PS5 or Xbox Series X|S consoles. Still, it’s certainly one of the best fight sticks around for its targeted systems, and at its mid-range price point, it is well worth considering if you’re looking to leap from controller to stick. It’s one of the best fight sticks you can buy in 2023.
8BitDo Arcade Stick: price and availability
The official page for the 8BitDo Arcade Stick links off to the company’s Amazon store page, where you can pick one up for $90 / £82. That makes the stick pricier than 8BitDo’s other controllers and the official Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. But it’s relatively affordable in the fight stick space. As a result, I recommend it if you’re looking to break into fight sticks for the first time.
8BitDo Arcade Stick: design
Exceptional build quality for the price
Gorgeous, NES-like aesthetic
LED lighting for button layout is a nice touch
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick is an eyebrow-raiser right out of the box. Naturally, its retro look will be the first thing to catch your eye. Personally, I love it. Giving off an 80s/90s Nintendo aesthetic, it fits the stick’s target console. The color scheme works excellently here; the NES gray chassis perfectly complements the bright red face buttons and glossy black casing surrounding them.
There’s a strong color coding element here, too. Function buttons for Home, Turbo (toggle for holding a button to perform repeat inputs) and Pairing are nicely laid out at the top-left of the stick in blue, yellow and green hues, respectively. Next to these are toggle switches for X-Input and Switch button layouts and a stick toggle to assign it as a left stick, right stick or d-pad.
Lastly, a connection toggle switch lets players swap between Bluetooth or 2.4g connectivity if they plan to go wireless. The package includes a USB dongle if you want to connect via the latter. A USB-C cable is also packed in the box if you prefer wired. A thoughtful and welcome inclusion is a protective cover over the USB-C slot, too.
Let’s revisit that input toggle switch, as it has another function I really love. There’s a set of LED lights next to the stick’s face buttons, denoting which control method you’re currently using. If you’ve got Switch toggled to, the lights will display the console’s button layout. X-Input, meanwhile, will turn on a separate set of lights that show the Xbox Wireless Controller’s button layout. It’s an excellent touch that’ll surely save newcomers some headaches, especially if you’re wondering how each button is assigned.
8BitDo Arcade Stick: features
Fully customizable, letting you swap out buttons and stick
Square gate stick by default
Two macro buttons
Likely as a means to keep costs down, the 8BitDo Arcade Stick doesn’t feature Sanwa-manufactured buttons out of the box. What’s here by default certainly gets the job done, but if you’re looking to upgrade, you’re in luck. The stick is fully customizable, and can be opened with a screwdriver, meaning you can swap in your own 24mm or 30mm buttons. There’s also a universal joystick plate here, useful if you want to swap out the 8BitDo Arcade Stick’s square gate for an octagonal one, for example.
Customization goes one step further with the two macro buttons at the stick's top-right. Designated P1 and P2, you can assign additional commands to these buttons via the 8BitDo Ultimate Software app. You can, of course, assign macros to any button on the stick, but it’s nice to have two extra dedicated to this functionality. Need to do a long, tricky input string in Street Fighter 6? Those macro buttons can go a long way to saving you the frustration of a fumbled input.
8BitDo Arcade Stick: performance
Pinpoint responsiveness for both wired and wireless
30 - 40 hours of battery life when wireless
Amazingly clicky, tactile feel
The 8BitDo Arcade Stick certainly looks the part, but it plays even better. Playing a broad range of the best fighting games, including Tekken 7 and Guilty Gear Strive, I found responsiveness to be pin-sharp during play. You’ll naturally get a modicum of input lag when playing wirelessly with any device. Still, it certainly wasn’t noticeable with the 8BitDo Arcade Stick, meaning you should be comfortable playing against others regardless of your connectivity preference.
Being wireless, the 8BitDo Arcade Stick boasts some phenomenal battery life. You’ll get roughly 30 hours via Bluetooth connection and 40 with 2.6g connectivity. And when you need to charge via the USB-C cable, you’ll find it only takes 3 - 4 hours. Overall, it’s an extremely wireless-friendly stick.
Again, while you may wish to opt for higher quality Sanwa parts somewhere down the line, the 8BitDo Arcade Stick’s default buttons and sticks are certainly no slouches. The joystick itself rocks around with satisfying tactility. The face buttons, meanwhile, offer little resistance when pressed. That leads to a delightfully bouncy feel that makes repeated presses both easy and fun.
Should I buy the 8BitDo Arcade Stick?
Buy it if...
You’re looking for your first fight stick Being relatively affordable and of a very high quality, 8BitDo’s arcade stick is a fantastic entry-point for beginners.
You primary console is Nintendo Switch The 8BitDo Arcade Stick is tailor-made for Nintendo Switch but also works on PC.
You love customizability The 8BitDo Arcade Stick is customization-friendly, allowing you to easily swap out parts and faceplates.
Don't buy it if...
You’re after a PS5 / Xbox Series X stick If you primarily play on PS5 or Xbox Series X|S, you’ll need to look for another stick (like the Nacon Daija) as 8BitDo’s device doesn’t work there.
The Nintendo Switch is the first step in bridging the gap between both home and handheld consoles, so it's an incredibly significant addition to Nintendo's esteemed family of consoles and boasts a tonne of shiny features to make it stand out. It packs some impressive capabilities into its hybrid form, especially when considering its flexibility.
Six years on, following a 2019 revision of the console and the release of the Nintendo Switch OLED and Nintendo Switch Lite models, the Nintendo Switch is more popular than it's ever been, and it's apparent Nintendo has struck a winning formula with its handheld hybrid.
The design of the Nintendo Switch has helped Nintendo to continue its high reign in the console space with something entirely unique, especially running off the back of the innovative Nintendo Wii and beloved Nintendo 3DS.
The Switch is a significantly different device from what we've seen prior, and the handheld nature of the console provides the best of both worlds. As the list of best Nintendo Switch games gets bigger with high-quality first-party games and unique third-party offerings, you'll more than likely want to sink hours into the console whenever you can.
Whether you've already made your purchase or not, it's hard to deny that the Nintendo Switch is a fine idea, mixing some of what made the Wii and Wii U appealing for gamers (even if developers had a more challenging time figuring out how to make the most of the latter device).
The Nintendo Switch brings with it a central idea that can benefit literally every game, not just the select few that can use motion control or a second screen. Who hasn't at one time wanted to pack up their console and take it with them? Essentially, the Switch delivers on this hybrid idea. You'll find it a solid, premium handheld that can flip into docked mode and work as you'd expect a home console.
At the same time, the Nintendo Switch certainly isn't perfect: most of the issues it has are a consequence of the way that it dares to try and do everything at once, and it doesn't always get the compromise right.
Those who aren't sold on its hybridity and want that classic Nintendo handheld experience will no doubt be interesting in the compact, lighter alternative: the Nintendo Switch Lite, which offers a solely handheld Switch gaming experience. For those after something more premium, there's also the Nintendo Switch OLED, which mainly improves the portable aspect of play.
Nintendo Switch: price and release date
What is it? Nintendo's hybrid console
When did it come out? March 3, 2017
What does it cost? $259.99 / £259.99 / AUD$435
The original Nintendo Switch launched over five years ago, arriving on March 3, 2017. While it previously cost $299.99 in the US, £259.99 in the UK, and $469.95 in Australia, Nintendo gave this a small price cut after the Switch OLED model arrived October 2021.
Nowadays, you'll find it going a new RRP worldwide of €269.99 / £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435. Thankfully, Nintendo has confirmed there won't be a price hike just yet for the Nintendo Switch in the wake of rising global inflation, unlike the recent hikes for Oculus Quest 2 and PS5. So, if you've not yet picked up any of the Nintendo Switch family, there's no need to rush.
Nintendo Switch: design
Three form factors: handheld, console (docked) and tabletop
Lots of accessories, which are at risk of being misplaced
In the box with your shiny new Nintendo Switch, you get the main console, two detachable controller sides (Joy-Cons), a grip which enables you to combine these controller portions into a more traditional gamepad, two straps which can make them into two individual controllers, and a dock for plugging the console into your television.
You also get a USB Type-C power cable (with a non-detachable power brick) and an HDMI cable for connecting the device to your TV. If you think that sounds like a lot of accessories, then you'd be right: we suspect many Nintendo Switch owners will have misplaced at least one or two of these within a few months.
We've wrapped our Joy-Con straps around our Joy-Con grip just to keep everything together, but we'd love some way of attaching them to the console, so they don't end up getting misplaced. It's a pretty novel (not to mention somewhat complicated) setup, so it's worth delving into each of the different ways you can use the console.
Nintendo Switch: handheld mode
Bigger than traditional handhelds
Slightly cramped for the right hand due to right analogue stick
Split D-pad on the left side
First in the Nintendo Switch modes is the handheld mode, the form factor most like the hardware devices that came before the Switch. In this configuration, you attach the two controller portions (the Joy-Cons) to the left and right edges of the screen, then game much as you can with the PlayStation Vita.
In fact, the size and shape of the console's analogue sticks make it feel a lot like a modern Vita, though it's not as solid because of the joints that exist between the Joy-Cons and the screen. Along the top of the Nintendo Switch is a slot for game cartridges, a headphone jack (Bluetooth headphones are now supported after a post-launch update), a volume rocker and a power button.
The bottom of the device is less busy. You've got the kickstand for tabletop mode (more on this later), which conceals a small microSD slot for expandable storage. Internal storage on the Nintendo Switch is limited to just 32GB, so if you're planning on downloading games rather than buying them, you'll want to invest in a Nintendo Switch SD card (capacities up to 2TB are theoretically supported).
Check out our unboxing video of the Nintendo Switch below.
The detachable Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons have a lot going on. The right-hand side has the classic A, B, X, and Y button configuration, an analogue stick (slightly awkwardly placed underneath the face buttons) and two shoulder buttons. A small plus-shaped button is the equivalent of the Wii U's 'Start' button and a home button for reaching the console's system-level menus.
Across on the left, Joy-Con, it's a very similar story, as you would expect. You've got a minus button that acts as the console's 'Select' button, a share button for taking screenshots and video (in selected titles), an analogue stick, two shoulder buttons, and the most un-Nintendo D-pad we've ever seen.
Instead of the classic cross D-pad Nintendo utilized since the NES, the left Joy-Con has a set of four circular buttons that are identical in shape to the face buttons on the right Joy-Con. This design decision, which appears very odd at first glance, is so the left Joy-Con can be used as an individual controller, with the D-pad acting as face-buttons in this configuration (again, more on this later).
Nintendo Switch: console mode
Connects to your TV via an included dock
Docking process is seamless, and can be done mid-game
The second Nintendo Switch form-factor is console mode. You place the main portion in the included dock, which connects the device to your television – you're then free to detach the Joy-Cons to control the Switch from a distance.
The way the console transfers the viewing experience from its own screen to the television is as seamless as it could possibly be, and you don't even have to pause your game. Everything happens in real-time. Detaching the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons can be a little fiddly, admittedly: it's done by holding small buttons on their backs and sliding the controllers up.
The TV dock is roughly the same size as the Nintendo Switch's middle portion. Around the back, you've got a USB Type-C port to provide the console with power, an HDMI port to connect it to your television, and a USB Type-A port. On the left-hand side of the console are two additional USB ports, mainly used for charging your Switch controllers as you play wirelessly (more on this in a moment).
If you want to use the Nintendo Switch with multiple televisions throughout your home, you can buy additional Switch docks, which make it easy to transition from one screen to another, plug-and-play style. You can even use an OLED model's dock, which has a built-in Ethernet port.
Nintendo Switch: tabletop mode
Screen can also be detached and propped up on a table
Great for two-player gaming, but four players on the console's small screen is a push
The final form factor for the Nintendo Switch is what Nintendo calls 'tabletop mode'. Using the kickstand attached to the back of the screen, you can prop the console up on a table and then detach the Joy-Cons for some semi-portable gaming. In theory, this is perfect for long journeys on public transport where you have a tray table to place the console on; in reality, we found it a bit of a mixed experience.
We do like being able to use the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons in the grip rather than having them attached to the console – the grip provides just enough extra plastic to make the controllers much more comfortable in the hands, and having the console a little further away means your sitting posture can be a lot more natural.
Tabletop mode is also great for multiplayer on the Switch. Detaching both Joy-Cons to allow two people to play against one another is a pleasure: it makes the Nintendo Switch perfect for whipping out at small gatherings where you'll already have everything you need for a multiplayer session. However, a couple of issues prevent the console from fully capitalizing on this intriguing tabletop mode.
First is the kickstand. Although it's rubberized, which means that the Switch doesn't slide around, it only supports the console at a single height. If your tray table is a little closer to you, then there's no ability to prop the console up so that it's facing you more directly, and instead, you'll be stuck with the screen pointing at your chest rather than your face.
Second is the Nintendo Switch charging port, which is inaccessible when you use it in tabletop mode. During a recent train journey, this meant that although we were in the perfect situation to use tabletop mode, we ended up using the console as a handheld to charge it up.
Finally, the Nintendo Switch screen is just a little too small for multiplayer gaming for more than two players. Four-player Mario Kart is almost impossible due to the size and resolution of the display (we found ourselves putting our faces inches from the console to be able to make out distant details).
Overall, tabletop mode on the Switch feels better suited to short periods of use, which is a shame when it feels like it should be the de facto way to use the Nintendo Switch over long periods.
Nintendo Switch: set-up
Set-up is simple enough
Console needs to be told whether Joy-Cons are being used together or separately
Setting up a brand new Nintendo Switch is refreshingly simple; you'll be pleased to learn. If you're using the device as a handheld, attach the Joy-Cons, press the power button, and... er... that's it.
If you want to play Nintendo Switch games on your TV, you need to plug the dock into the TV via HDMI, then hook it up to some power via the included USB Type-C power lead. The console then easily slips into the dock.
Pairing the controllers is a little more complicated than with other devices because of the fact that they can either be paired or used separately. The way you tell the Switch which controllers you're using is to press both the L and R shoulder buttons in whichever configuration you've opted for. So if you're using the Joy-Cons individually, you press the buttons on the Joy-Con straps to indicate this is the case.
On the software side, the console asks for the standard combination of Wi-Fi details and user account set-up info. These details are a doddle to input on the console's touchscreen – the keyboard isn't quite as good as a phone's, but it's much better than a typical console experience. Afterwards, games can be played off a cartridge or the Nintendo Switch's internal memory.
Nintendo Switch: recent updates
Nintendo’s continued building upon the Switch since the Lite's launch. Alongside the launch of the Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch OLED, it's also seen continued system updates.
Let's not forget Nintendo has designed some absolutely classic controllers in its time – the original NES controller wrote the blueprint that console controllers have followed ever since, the N64 was the first console to have a controller with an analogue thumb-stick, and the Wii (for better or for worse) introduced the world to motion-controlled gaming.
With the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has attempted the seemingly impossible in creating a system that's simultaneously one whole controller and two separate controllers, while also functioning as controllers in the handheld mode.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: general impressions
By trying to do many things at once the Joy-Cons don't do anything perfectly
HD Rumble tech is impressive – but developers need to find a use for it
Ultimately these multiple roles mean the Nintendo Switch controllers end up being jacks of all trades and masters of none. None of the controller configurations are unusable, but we've used more comfortable controllers in the past that have had the advantage of only having to do one job very well.
The left Joy-Con's D-pad sums up the problem in a nutshell: rather than going for the cross D-pad that Nintendo has been using since the NES, the D-pad is instead split into four separate buttons to allow them to be used as face buttons when the Joy-Con is utilized as an individual controller. The result is a D-pad that you're not going to want to use for classic games that rely on it a lot, such as Street Fighter.
The Nintendo Switch analogue sticks also feel like a compromise between form factors: too small for a traditional gamepad, yet big enough that we wouldn't want to throw the device too carelessly into a rucksack for fear of one of them snapping off.
You do have the option of buying separate accessories which don't have these issues (the Nintendo Switch Pro controller being a prime example), but in this review we're going to limit ourselves to talking about what you get in the box, since this is the primary way most people are going to be using the console – at least initially.
One part of the Switch controllers that we absolutely love are the face buttons. They're a little smaller than those on other consoles, but they've got a really satisfying click to them that we really appreciate. The Joy-Cons feature an interesting form of rumble, which Nintendo has dubbed 'HD Rumble'. From what we've seen so far this isn’t just a marketing gimmick – it feels like a step forward for rumble tech.
One mini-game in the launch game 1-2 Switch has you milking cows, sure, but it also counts the number of (virtual) balls inside a Joy-Con. It's impressive just how well the HD Rumble creates the impression of there being real balls inside the controller. Another mini-game impresses by tasking you to crack a safe by feeling the click of a dial as you turn it.
Both mini-games have us excited for the possibilities of HD Rumble in the future, but the success of the technology depends on the ability of Switch developers to make use of it – the potential is there, but we're still waiting for a killer app. Nintendo made practical use of the feature in the Switch 3.0 OS update – if you've lost one Joy-Con but the two are still paired, you can make the other vibrate to find it.
There were initially reports of connectivity issues with the left Joy-Con on the Nintendo Switch, something which we experienced ourselves. The problem is that sometimes during gameplay, the left Joy-Con's connection just drops out completely. Fortunately, Nintendo is now offering a Joy-Con repair service for any broken ones, so we'd advise sending yours in if you experience connectivity issues of any kind.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: handheld
Handheld controls are a little cramped and awkward
Right analogue stick in particular is uncomfortable
It's in the handheld configuration that the Nintendo Switch controller's deficiencies are most apparent. The main problem is the low positioning of the right analogue stick, which we found very difficult to operate comfortably.
Either you hold the Switch precariously on the tips of your fingers in order to operate the analogue stick with the tip of your right thumb, or you hold the device more tightly and operate the thumbstick with the inside of your thumb knuckle, which feels rather cramped and awkward.
Looking back, the Vita layout is very similar, but the increased weight of the Nintendo Switch makes it much more difficult to comfortably hold on the fingertips. It's a mode that we think works in small bursts, but it's not comfortable over longer periods.
If you're gaming on Nintendo Switch on a flight, for example, we'd expect most people to opt to put the console in tabletop mode on the tray table in front of them. We are, however, fans of the shoulder buttons, which manage to feel big enough without impacting on the depth of the console too much.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: grip
Analogue sticks smaller than traditional controllers
Overall the controller is comfortable and nice to use
Clicky face buttons are especially appealing
The main way we expect people will play with the console when it's docked is by combining the two Joy-Cons together into a single controller. This is done by using the included Joy-Con grip, which the two sides slide neatly into.
We were initially concerned when it was revealed that the Joy-Con grip that comes with the Nintendo Switch is unable to charge the two controllers – this means that if you want to charge your controllers you'll need to plug them back into the console's screen.
The Joy-Cons' battery life is rated at 20 hours, so we'd be surprised if they ever run out of battery mid-game; at the same time, having to dismantle our controllers after every play session is somewhat annoying. A grip that charges the Joy-Cons is available, but this is sold separately. Aside from charging concerns, we were surprised with how the Nintendo Switch controller feels when assembled in the grip.
Although the analogue sticks are a little small, we found them perfectly usable for lengthy Breath of the Wild play sessions, and the addition of a little more plastic massively helps the ergonomics of the controller as a whole.
It's just a shame that the controller doesn’t have a proper D-pad on its left side: as it stands you're going to need to buy the Pro controller if you want that traditional Nintendo controller feel on the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: individual controllers
Oddly positioned buttons due to having to work as a combined controller
A nice option to have if you want a friend to join you for multiplayer
Split the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons apart and they can work as individual controllers complete with an analogue stick each, four face buttons, and (if you attach a Joy-Con strap) two shoulder buttons. It's this configuration that feels like it's required the biggest compromise in Nintendo's pursuit to make them work in multiple ways.
On the left Joy-Con the D-pad/face buttons are in the centre of the controller, which means your right thumb is uncomfortably far over, and the same is true of the analogue stick on the right Joy-Con. The asymmetrical configuration also makes describing controls to another person very difficult, since the control buttons have different names between the two Joy-Cons.
The lack of hand grips is also prone to causing cramp if you use the controllers over long periods, especially if the game you're playing relies heavily on the Joy-Con's shoulder buttons. As a final point, the shoulder buttons can feel a little stiff to press, which adds to the discomfort of using them over long periods.
So while this configuration might work in a pinch if you want to let a friend join you for a couple of rounds of Mario Kart, we don't see it being something you'll want to spend a lot of time with. Additionally, you'll need to remember to carry the Joy-Con straps with your Nintendo Switch if you want to use the shoulder buttons, which will be an annoying inconvenience for most people.
Alternatively, you can use the two Joy-Cons as a single controller while split apart. Here they function identically to when they’re assembled into the Joy-Con grip, although we found it much less comfortable because of how cramped the right analogue stick ends up feeling.
Again, this feels like a compromise, this time for when you've forgotten your Joy-Con grip. We can't see ourselves using this configuration much at all unless a motion-controlled game specifically calls for it in the future.
Nintendo was a little late to the online party. While Microsoft stormed ahead with its Xbox Live service and Sony got to grips with the PlayStation Network, Nintendo was languishing with inconvenient friend codes and limited voice chat options.
After a lengthy initial wait, Nintendo Switch Online is in full swing. As you're probably aware, it brings with it the ability to save games in the cloud, access to a host of classic NES games, and of course online multiplayer. The downside is you have to fork out £3.49 / $3.99 to Nintendo every month for the basic plan.
Nintendo Switch: online multiplayer
Basic service has been online for a while
Full service launched in October 2018
Online multiplayer was available in some games from the launch of the Nintendo Switch, but now it's here in full – if you're willing to pay for it. We've already had a play around with the console's companion app, which was compatible with Splatoon 2 right away.
You could invite friends to matches, and voice chat with them, even if the whole process was rather cumbersome. Using a separate device isn't ideal, and connectivity usually wasn't perfect. Since the full Nintendo Switch Online service launched, things improved with direct in-game invites, but these aren't often utilised.
What we can tell you is that regular updates to the Nintendo Switch companion app and the firmware on the console itself have continued to introduce some very welcome features – such as the ability to add friends directly from your 3DS and Wii U Friend Lists.
Nintendo Switch: local wireless multiplayer
Easy to set up and join other players
Supports up to eight Switch consoles
Local wireless multiplayer within a game such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe works very well in our experience. We used three Nintendo Switch consoles to have six people playing at once and found the entire process simple to set up, with no lag or connection problems.
To set up an online multiplayer game using local wireless, players simply start up Mario Kart and select local wireless mode for either one or two players within the game itself. After this, one player will set up a room which the other players then join, and the player who set up the room selects the race rules.
Each player will be given the chance to vote for their track preference and the game will randomly choose a track from those that players have voted for, much like online play works. If you have two players to one console, then the screen will split for each of you to see your place in the race, but you won't see what everyone else is seeing on their screens unless their consoles are in front of you.
In the specific case of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the maximum number of players that you can have in a single race over local wireless is eight, with one or two players per Switch. You can also do LAN matches with up to 12 players. However, if you don't have multiple consoles then up to four friends can play on a single Nintendo Switch console in TV mode, or in tabletop mode.
Alternatively, if you have a lot of friends and a lot of consoles to hand, up to 12 consoles in TV mode can be connected via LAN Play, with one or two players per connected Nintendo Switch. However with each player required to have their own USB Ethernet adaptor, it's unlikely that many outside of tournaments will end up using their Nintendo Switch consoles in this way.
Nintendo Switch Online
Limited functionality at launch
Full service arrived in October 2018
Nintendo Switch Online certainly looks better than what it's offered in the past, but it still falls short of what competitors Sony and Microsoft are doing. The service costs $3.99 / £3.49 / AU$5.95 if you're paying month by month, with the monthly cost dropping slightly if you commit to more months at once.
And remember those are the prices for one user. If you've got a family on your Nintendo Switch then you'll be looking to sign up for the more expensive family plan which costs £31.49 / $34.99 per year. It seems like a fair bit more, but it does allow up to eight accounts across multiple consoles, meaning you get a decent discount if you know a few people with Switch consoles who are willing to split.
Large parts of the service function through an app on your phone, so you'll have to have it on you if you want to use some of the online functions. The service also offers its own somewhat limited version of Sony's PlayStation Plus free games and Microsoft's Xbox Games with Gold, giving players access to a small library of 20 NES games at launch (with modern features like online multiplayer).
Nintendo has continued adding NES and SNES games regularly but if you opt for the more expensive Expansion Pack, there’s Mega Drive and N64 games too.
Something a lot of people have been waiting for has also arrived with the online service: cloud saves. Those who subscribe to the online service can finally back up their saves for the games they've plugged hundreds of hours into (though they do have to pay for the privilege).
Though the Switch launched without the popular video streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime we've come to expect from consoles. Nintendo was quick to promise that these services would come to the console 'in time', though five years on, this remains sparse.
Hulu is the first of these services to have launched. It's US-only, but we're hoping this is a good sign that other streaming services will be arriving soon. YouTube and Crunchyroll have since arrived, too.
Nintendo Switch: eShop online store
eShop available at launch with modern games
Retro games available through Nintendo Switch Online
Like the Wii U before it, the Nintendo Switch features an online store that will allow you to download games rather than buy them in-store.
As for the Virtual Console seen on previous Nintendo devices, that's not coming to the Nintendo Switch. Instead, retro games are available through the online subscription service we've already mentioned. We like the eShop's minimalist design. Along the left are sections for Recent Releases, Coming Soon, Charts, Current Offers and Redeem Code, alongside some search functionality too.
You can add upcoming games to your Watch List, and there's also a section for downloading previously purchased titles to your Nintendo Switch. Nintendo is clearly planning to continue to add to the store as time goes on, too.
This original review was based on the Nintendo Switch model released at launch. However Nintendo has since updated its standard model to one which boasts a longer battery life.
With the Nintendo Switch having to work as a handheld as well as a home console, we were initially worried that the console's graphical abilities would be limited. Internally the Switch is using an Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which is broadly similar to what was found in the Nvidia Shield.
That's not exactly a bad thing considering the Shield is a 4K-capable set-top box, but you have to remember that as a portable device the Switch needs to make compromises to ensure decent battery life. At launch, concerns over graphical horsepower appeared to be partly borne out, but we wouldn't call them deal-breakers.
Nintendo Switch: graphical performance
Roughly equivalent to Wii U
Not on a PS4 or Xbox One level
Strength of Nintendo's art direction makes up for technical shortcomings
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for example, runs at a resolution of 720p on the Wii U, while this is boosted to 900p on the Switch when docked and outputting to a Full HD screen (4K output isn't supported).
On the surface this suggests the Switch has the graphical edge on the Wii U, but we experienced frequent frame rate drops when playing the game on our television. Meanwhile, when played on the Switch's own 720p screen, the game maintained a consistent frame rate.
These observations would suggest that we're looking at a new console with roughly equivalent power to Nintendo’s last-generation system, but we'll see how the situation improves as developers continue to get to grips with the new hardware.
Nintendo has never been one to push the graphical envelope though, not really. Past games such as the Wii U's Mario Kart 8 have certainly looked good, but this has been more as a result of their distinctive art style than the technical prowess of their graphics. We're thankful then that this has tended to be a strong suit of Nintendo's in the past.
The look of the games (in handheld mode at least) is also helped by the quality of the Switch's screen. Although it's only a 720p resolution, the screen is bright and its colors are vibrant. It's not up there with the best smartphones on the market, but it's definitely a step above Nintendo’s past handhelds.
We'll have to see what the Nintendo Switch achieves in the graphical department going forward, but this certainly isn't a console to rival the likes of the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Since the release of Sony and Microsoft's new generation successors, the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, that technological gap has only widened further.
Still, the games we've played look very good for handheld games, but as console games they don't quite have the same fidelity of current-generation games on other consoles.
Nintendo Switch: battery life
As low as 2.5 hours for graphically intensive games
Enough for a commute, but longer journeys might prove problematic
Ability to charge over USB allows use of portable battery packs
Much has been made of the Switch's battery life, which Nintendo has claimed will last between 2.5 and 6 hours. In our experience this claim has rung true. When actively playing Zelda we got around 2.5 hours, which was enough to cover our commute to and from work in a single day before we charged the Switch overnight.
If you're looking to use the console for a longer period, such as on a flight, then there are a couple of things you can do to squeeze some more battery life out of the console – turning on airplane mode for example (although this prevents you from detaching the Joy-Cons), and dimming the screen.
Additionally you're able to use portable battery packs, but this is hardly ideal, and we found that the Nintendo Switch draws so much power that at best they prevented the battery from dropping during play, rather than actively recharging it.
It's difficult to compare this battery life to previous handheld consoles, as even on the Switch itself this battery life will vary massively between different games, but we've seen a rest-mode comparison that put the Switch ahead of the Vita and PSP, while losing out to the DS and GameBoy Advance.
The bottom line is that this is a console that should be able to deal with your daily commute, but might struggle with longer journeys.
Update: This page originally covered the games that launched alongside the console. However after five years on sale, the number of games on the Nintendo Switch has increased significantly – check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch games for a constantly-updated list of the games you absolutely need to pick up.
Plenty of good games over the first 12 months
Eventual success will rely on third-party developers
Lack of graphical parity may harm long-term support
The Nintendo Switch's launch lineup comprised a combination of ports of existing games such as Shovel Knight, World of Goo and I Am Setsuna, new entries in existing franchises like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Bomberman R, and all-new games like Snipperclips, 1-2 Switch and Fast RMX.
All in all it wasn't a bad launch lineup, but the first 12 months that the Nintendo Switch was on sale also saw big new releases in the form of Super Mario Odyssey, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Splatoon 2 and Arms.
How this will continue playing out isn't fully clear, but Fils-Aime did say that a main Nintendo development philosophy is to have at least one of its classic franchises on every platform. In its first year, the console received ports of big games like Minecraft and FIFA. Though hardly new, these remain important for consumers who don't plan on using the Switch as a second console, but their primary gaming device.
The real test in the long term will be how third-party developers (i.e. those not financed by Nintendo directly) embrace the console. Although its graphics are good for a handheld, we worry that a lack of graphical parity with PS4 and Xbox One will prevent developers from easily supporting the console alongside those devices, which may harm the number of game releases it gets in the future.
So far there have been some positive signs for third-party support on the Nintendo Switch. Rocket League developer Psyonix brought the game to the console, for example, and Snake Pass' launch suggests games can be brought over to the Switch without too many compromises.
Mario and Zelda have always been excellent games. Still, without the likes of franchises with more regular release schedules like Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed and Far Cry, you might find yourself lacking games to play in the long run. Thankfully, Nintendo usually releases at least one first-party game each month, so there's never a major drought.
We've had the chance to try out a select portion of the console's games at launch, so read on for our thoughts.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Impressive modernization of a classic franchise
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of Nintendo Switch's launch lineup. Although the game also arrived on Nintendo's older Wii U console, the thought of being able to take a full-on, modern Zelda on the go was always going to be a compelling proposition.
But quite apart from being the best handheld Zelda game ever made, the game is also up there with being one of the best in the series too. It feels fantastically broad and open, with dozens of weapons to find, items to craft, and environments to explore.
Yes, the game breaks with tradition in so many ways but the experience still ends up feeling quintessentially Zelda, with all the charm that this entails. If you're picking up a Nintendo Switch or have done already, then Breath of the Wild is an absolutely essential purchase. It won't be long before its direct sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, also arrives.
An interesting showcase of the hardware, but doesn't quite have the staying power of Wii Sports
Like the Wii before it, the Nintendo Switch introduces new technologies to gaming that haven't been explored before. Whereas the Wii had Wii Sports to show off these new concepts, the Switch is banking on 1-2 Switch to demonstrate what the new hardware is capable of. The result is a mini-game collection, which cover everything from sword-fighting, Wild West gunslinging, and cow-milking.
It's a fun collection of games, but we don't think it has the same 'replayability' as the classic Wii Sports did. The fact this isn't a pack-in game and requires a separate purchase doesn't help it, either.
The games are more about performing in front of your friends than outright winning. For example, one game has you pulling yoga poses and trying to keep as still as possible for as long as you can, but since the Joy-Con is only tracking the movement of one hand, there's nothing forcing you to actually hold the pose specified by the game (aside from drawing the ire of your friends).
There's also no single-player mode for you to practise with when you're away from a group of pals. Overall the game is a bit of a mixed bag, but it's a fun one to use to show off your new Nintendo Switch to friends.
A great little co-op indie game
One of the nice surprises of the Switch launch event way back when was Snipperclips, a small puzzle game in which two players solve puzzles by cutting sections out of each other and changing their character's shapes.
It’s a delightful, charming, little game, and with its budget price tag we think it's another essential purchase for anyone who owns a Nintendo Switch.
Just Dance 2017
A competent entry in the series
You've almost certainly heard of Just Dance, the dancing series that first premiered on the Wii way back in 2009.
The game tasks you with completing various dance routines, either on your own or with a friend, and judges your progress based on the movement of a Joy-Con in your hand (unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a way to use two Joy-Cons simultaneously).
Much like 1-2 Switch, there's little to stop you cheating and not dancing with your whole body, but (also like 1-2 Switch) this is meant as a party game, so social niceties will hopefully stop you from spoiling the fun.
It's not the most feature-packed or technically advanced game in the world, but if you've enjoyed Just Dance games in the past then this appears to be a very serviceable version for the Nintendo Switch.
By all accounts the Nintendo Switch has had an amazing start to life, with a number of excellent exclusive games and solid sales. However, the complete package (including Nintendo Switch Online) has only recently become available, so we'll have to reserve judgment on that part of the wider Nintendo Switch experience for the time being.
When compared with the handheld consoles that have come before it, the Nintendo Switch blows them out of the water with its graphical quality, which comes close to the last generation of consoles. This is helped by its impressive screen which is bright, crisp, and colorful.
Providing the console with a controller that also doubles as two individual controllers is a very neat inclusion, and should mean that you're always able to join a friend for a quick multiplayer game while you're out and about.
We're pleased to report that the Nintendo Switch docking and undocking process is impressively seamless too, with games that don't even need to be paused before being plugged into a television. We also like the pattern of regular updates that Nintendo has established: Fortnite has just been added, for example, and the online service seems set to shake things up once again.
The phrase "jack of all trades and master of none" may sound negative, but the impression the Nintendo Switch has left us with is that sometimes compromise is necessary and good.
Yes there are better home consoles out there with controllers that can be good at doing just one thing, and yes there are handhelds out there that have better battery life and a more compact form-factor, but no other piece of gaming hardware has attempted the sheer number of things as the Nintendo Switch does – and then delivered so competently on so many of them.
The graphics aren't the best around, but they're good enough that they don't feel dated. The controller isn't the most comfortable, but it never feels outright difficult to use. The battery life isn't the best, but it's enough for daily use.
All of these trade-offs have been born out of compromise and an attempt to make something that works in so many situations, and on that final point the Nintendo Switch is a great success.
What remains to be seen is if, in the years ahead, its games library can shape up to be something you'll want to play both at home and on the go, and whether its online service can compete with the existing efforts from Sony and Microsoft. If both of these play out well, Nintendo will have found a set of compromises worth making.
So is the £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435 asking price justified? At this point, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. Nintendo has released excellent game after excellent game for the system, and the hardware does a great job of making these games come alive.