Nintendo Switch Holiday Buyer’s Guide

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It’s no secret that we’re rather fond of Nintendo’s latest console here at FBTB. It’s somewhat hard to articulate just how great the little machine is until you own one, but once you do, you know exactly what we are talking about. And with Christmas around the corner, chances are some of you may be getting the system for the first time. We compiled list of what to get and what not to get to make being a new owner enjoyable and stress-free.

Switch Lite vs. Switch

This is honestly the big question right now… should you save the $100 and get a dedicated Switch handheld, or put out the extra money to get the dock and joycons? I’ll admit… I’m a bit biased, as I split pretty evenly between handheld and docked time. But for first time buyer’s I’m going to have to suggest the original Switch. The Joy-cons still have drifting issues and should your Switch Lite suffer its symptoms, you’ll have to send the whole system in for repair. At least with with regular Switch, you can send in just the affected joy-con leaving one behind to gimp along with or use a Pro Controller or your spare set of Joy-cons, assuming you have either of those. FBTB’s suggestion: full-strength Switch. Also, make sure you get the second version with the redder box as it has an improved processor that saves battery life.

Essential 1st Party Games

These are the top tier games direct from Nintendo that would be welcome in just about any Switch owner’s library.

3rd Party Games

One of the big criticisms about Nintendo has always been the lack of 3rd party support; the first party and exclusive stuff is always great, but if you’re wanting the latest game from a AAA publisher, you’re going to have to go elsewhere. It’s… not an underserved criticism, but also not entirely accurate. Yes, the bleeding edge games aren’t going to come to the Switch at launch, but if you listen to my advice, you wouldn’t be buying it at launch anyway.

That being said, there are some real gems in this category if you know where to look. First, we’ll talk about what to avoid: basically any sport or wrestling game. The WWE game this year was a travesty on all platforms, but it was even worse on the Switch. The version of FIFA that came out was just a complete repack of the version last year, at a full price. If you’re in to the NBA… well, it’s microtransactions and poor performance all the way down for it.

What really does shine here are RPG games and games from companies that take the time to optimize their stuff. A lot of these games you may own on other systems, but never underestimate the power of playing something on the go. Here are some of the best games you can get for your Switch that aren’t made by Nintendo. Stuff like Doom, Skyrim, and the Witcher 3 are all made with some compromises, but they’re fun and understand the form factor.

Indie Titles

When it comes to Indie games… the Switch is really going to shine. Yes, the big titles are why you buy the system, but it’s the little stuff that will keep you playing.

The best thing you can get for Indie titles is a Nintendo Gift Card. Almost all of the Indie titles are going to be download only (you’ll also need one of those extremely useful microSD card we link to below), so having money available to grab them is always nice. In addition, indie titles are far more likely to go on sale than the first party titles are, so there are plenty of times you’ll want to grab a title you’ve been side-eyeing for awhile.

Untitled Goose Game is subversive fun that became a cultural touchstone for a few minutes. It’s not a long game, but it is a very entertaining one. More than that, even though it’s a single-player title, it jut gathers a crowd to laugh at the antics of that jerkbag goose.

Hollow Knight is a tough-as-nails (pun fully intended! you’ll get it once you play the game) metroidvania. One of Ace’s favorite games that he can’t seem to shut up about. Also, a sequel, Silksong, is still under development.

Golf Story is a golfing RPG. I know, that sounds bonkers, but it’s strangely fun and works so well. It’s by no means a golf simulator… but it does have golf elements. You know what game it reminds me of most when I play it? Hal’s Hole in One Golf from the SNES. It’s equal parts skill and luck, with RPG elements that build weird things into it like traps and challenges, and it’s just money well spent.

Shovel Knight, no relation to Hollow Knight, is another metroidvania indie game. It’s only worth mentioning here because the three-pack amiibo FINALLY came out. FINALLY! Okay, that’s some snark… it’s a great platformer with a silly premise. If you like indies and the metroidvania style while we wait for a real Metroid or Castlevania game to come out on it, you have a lot of options with your Switch.

Enter the Gungeon, a crazy stylish rougelike, is the perfect game to sit back and relax with while listening to a podcast. Actually, any rougelike is great for that, and the Switch is perfect for tuning out on the go. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Dead Cells, Into the Breach – all of these games are perfect.

Celeste might be one of the strongest platformers ever, and while I recommend the Pro Controller 100% for this game, you can’t go wrong with picking it up and playing it. It’s hard. Like, probably the hardest game on here. But once you can fly through the game, you’ll already be in love.

Stardew Valley has no right being as fun and addictive as it is. It’s a game that was fun on PC, but it just glows when you put it into the handheld formfactor of the Switch. It will be hours and hours of idle fun that hits a sweet spot between easy fun and a bit of challenge.

Battle Chef Brigade is a combination side-scrolling beat-em-up, fighting game, monster hunter, puzzle match, and cooking simulator. None of those are accidentally included on the list… it is a weird game that mixes things that have no business being together into a product you can’t help but enjoy.

Overcooked! and Overcooked! 2 are some great multiplayer games. Say what you will about Xbox and PlayStations consoles, but the Switch is probably the most accessible console for local multiplayer games. And these are some shining examples of that experience. It’s simple controls are easy to use but the chaos is what makes the games so much fun.

Nintendo Switch Online

Is this worth it? That’s debatable. Do you need it? That depends entirely on what you’re going to be doing with your Switch. Do you want to do anything other than local multiplayer, which is unfortunately very rare in most games? Then you need this subscription. Do you want to play some old-school NES and SNES games? Well, they’re included, and unfortunately Nintendo isn’t giving you another way to get them.

Nintendo Switch Online isn’t perfect, but it’s the only game in town. If you really want the fun of titles like Super Smash Bros., or trading capability in Pokemon Sword/Shield, you’re going to need to get Switch Online.

The Essential Accessories

Like getting any other electronic item, once you make the plunge, you’re going to have to go all in and get the accessories to really make the most of your new console. Nintendo has never had a shortage of accessories available, especially compared to other consoles, but they run the range from “don’t bother” to “you absolutely need this.” Here are some of the accessories that we think are the most important to have.

Carrying Case

Outside of the games, there’s nothing more important than getting a good case for your Switch. Even if you can’t imagine playing it on the go, you’re absolutely going to be playing it on the go. Or just storing it somewhere. I mean, I can neither confirm or deny that my Switch is sitting in my laptop bag, right next to my desk at work, as I write this.

The Amazon Basics one, pictured above, is just fine, and budget-friendly at $12.11.

You can go for a bit of color and splash with the Splatoon 2 edition. This one comes with a screen protector too. Ships and sold by Amazon Global UK for $18.34 + $6.96 shipping, making it just $25.30 delivered. This is the one Ace obnoxiously shows off every chance he gets.

Screen Protector

I like to live dangerously, so I don’t really do the screen protector thing. I hate the feel of screen protectors… and in my defense, my kids don’t get to use the Switch in handheld unsupervised. Everybody else with any sort of sense knows that you need one on the screen, because breaking or damaging the screen is a huge pain in the butt. And if you get a regular Switch and play with it docked and on the go, you’ll need one as a barrier between the screen and the inside of that dock. Trust us on this. This amFilm one is highly rated, only $7.99, and you get two in a pack.

Pro Controller

The Joy-cons come with the Switch, so there’s an obligation to use them. Trust me, don’t use them. They’re great for light gaming with friends, or if you use the Switch undocked, but if you’re doing any serious gaming in front of the TV, like Smash, Dark Souls: Remastered, or Hollow Knight, you’re going to need a proper controller. The difference between the Joy-cons and the Pro Controller is astounding, and once you get a taste of the magic of the Pro, it’s hard to go back without the Joycons feeling way too flimsy. Plus, the Pro Controller doesn’t have horrible drift issues like the Joycons.

Extra (or more colorful) Joycons

Pink (L) and Green (R) Joy-cons

If you have little ones around the house like we do, chances are they’re going to want to play. And you know when they get older, their siblings are going to want to play, or their friends, or all of the family at once. Extra joy-cons are a pretty good investment.

And here’s the thing. In this day and age of wireless controllers, it just makes sense to have a spare around. I play on my PS4, I don’t really do local multiplayer, and I don’t let my kids play on it only because there’s no games on there for them. But I have two dualshocks because as I’m playing, it’s inevitable that the battery will run out. I can easily swap the dead one in my hands with a fully-charged one and keep playing with barely an interruption. Having an extra set of joy-cons and/or a Pro Controller just makes sense for the same reason. And given the failure rate of joy-cons and its drifting issue, it just makes more sense. You can send one pair off for repair and still keep playing.

Memory Card

The console comes with a paltry 32GB card. Yeah, you’re gonna want to increase that right away. We posted a deal for a 512GB Samsung EVO card a few weeks back, but that deal expired with the price shooting back up to $79.99 (still worth getting in my opinion). Not as much storage but you can still upgrade up to a 256GB on sale for only $28.99.

That about wraps it up. The tl;dr version is this: get some extra controllers, more memory, a screen protector, a carrying case, and at least The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

As usual, FBTB may receive a small commission from any sales from clicks through our affiliate links in this post. And as always, we thank you for your continued support.

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