Nintendo Switch: Important facts for the handheld console

Steven Rondina • May 24, 2022 6:09 pm

The Nintendo Switch has been a smashing success, selling over 100 million units worldwide and cementing itself in basically every major market.

Nintendo is easily the most innovative video game console manufacturer. While there’s a Virtual Boy miss for every Nintendo Wii hit, those hits often wind up being home runs.

The Nintendo Switch was very different from the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Instead of being a traditional game console, Nintendo tried to bridge the gap between video game consoles and handhelds in a compelling way. This was flanked by Nintendo’s propensity for delivering strong first-party exclusives.

Here’s everything there is to know about the console-handheld hybrid.

Nintendo Switch fast facts

Name: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Price: $299.99 USD
Units Sold: 107 million (as of April 2022)

The Nintendo Switch launched on March 3, 2017 with a splash. Following the flop of the Nintendo Wii U and declining support and interest for the New Nintendo 3DS, the company combined elements of both platforms into one piece of hardware.

The Nintendo Switch console is a low-profile piece of hardware, at just 6.8 inches across and 4 inches tall. It effectively looks like a thicker large-screen smartphone but packs the processing power of an actual video game console. It has detachable controllers dubbed Joy-Cons that can be used individually. The Joy-Cons can also be used together as a grip that aligns the screen to feel like a standard video game controller.

The Nintendo Switch was a quick hit with both hardcore and casual fans of gaming. This was a much-needed turn of events for Nintendo after the failure of the Wii U. Though the Switch didn’t become a major part of popular culture like the Wii, it resonated with the broader audience in a similar way.

As of April 1, 2022, the highest-selling games for the Nintendo Switch are:

  1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (45 million units sold)
  2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (38 million)
  3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (28 million)
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (26 million)
  5. Pokemon Sword and Shield (24 million)
  6. Super Mario Odyssey (23 million)
  7. Super Mario Party (17 million)
  8. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl (14 million)
  9. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu, Let’s Go Eevee (14 million)
  10. Ring Fit Adventure (14 million)
  11. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (13 million)
  12. Splatoon 2 (13 million)
  13. Pokemon Legends: Arceus (12 million)
  14. Luigi’s Mansion 3 (11 million)
  15. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury (9 million)

The Nintendo Switch struggled in some ways with its game lineup, relying heavily on ports or enhanced versions of Nintendo Wii U games. Many of the Switch’s top-selling games are enhanced ports of Nintendo Wii U games including Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Beyond this are other ports including Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Pokken Tournament DX, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, and Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD.

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp on Nintendo Switch
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp continues the Switch’s focus on prettying up older games.

There are also many remakes of Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS games on Nintendo Switch. The list includes The World Ends With You: Final Remix, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, and Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. There are also modernized reimaginings of classic handheld games including Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee.

Despite that heavy reliance on the back catalogs of past Nintendo consoles, there have been a number of originals to make a splash. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a smash hit in early 2020 as gamers were forced to stay at home. Enduring Nintendo series such as Pokemon, Fire Emblem, and Metroid have also seen successful sequels on the platform.

There have also been a handful of completely original games that enjoyed strong sales. Square Enix RPG Octopath Traveler, Ubisoft crossover Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, and Arms all moved over 2 million units.

What are the differences between the Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, and Switch OLED models?

There are currently three different versions of the Nintendo Switch including the standard version, the Switch Lite, and the Switch OLED model. The Switch Lite is purely a handheld gaming device with no docking capability but comes at a lower price than the normal Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch OLED model is an improved version of the standard Switch, but comes at a higher price point.

Nintendo Switch models.

The Nintendo Switch Lite has an MSRP of just $199.99 compared with the $299.99 price tag of the original Switch. The drawbacks of this are that it doesn’t have detachable controllers, cannot be docked to a TV, and has a smaller screen. It can still play almost every game as the regular model, but some are better suited to a TV than a handheld.

The Nintendo Switch OLED model has all the same features as the normal Switch, but with a cleaner overall design. The major difference between the OLED Switch and the regular Switch is the OLED screen compared to the standard LCD. The OLED screen is larger, brighter, and has greater contrast compared to the normal. The regular and OLED Switch models are of nearly identical sizes despite the difference in screen sizes, so it’s still compatible with standard Joy-Cons and docks.

On top of this are some quality of life improvements. The Nintendo Switch OLED model also has 64 GB of internal memory compared to the standard 32 GB. It also has a significantly improved kickstand relative to the regular Switch, with a design more similar to the Microsoft Surface. Finally, it also has superior internal speakers than the regular Switch.

Worth noting is that there is functionally no difference between the regular Switch and OLED model when playing in docked mode. There is a $50 price difference for the improved tabletop and handheld experience, with the OLED model having a $349.99 MSRP.

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