The Nintendo Switch is a great console—part living room system, part portable device, and all Nintendo. While the Switch isn’t as packed with extra features and apps as other modern consoles are, there are still many things it doesn’t tell you. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your new Switch.
Nintendo has a few different online account types, so this can be a tad confusing. The Nintendo Switch now uses a “Nintendo Account”, which is different from the old “Nintendo Network ID” used on the Nintendo Wii and 3DS. That Nintendo account has a “Nintendo Account User ID”, which is a unique name that identifies the account online. However, you can link your old Nintendo Network ID to your new Nintendo Account.
The Nintendo Switch offers both digital games you can download and physical games on cartridges. Digital games are convenient—you can buy them from home, download them instantly, and play immediately. You can play them without swapping cartridges and you’ll always have them with you, making your Nintendo Switch more portable.
But there are some big downsides to digital games. You can’t share digital games with your friends or family—unless you loan them your console—and you can’t resell them afterwards. Physical games tend to go on sale more often, too, and for lower prices.
It’s up to you which you prefer, and you can mix and match physical or digital games—but be sure to consider which you’d prefer before you start spending your hard earned money on games.
There are quite a few accessories you might want for your Switch. In particular, you’ll want a spacious micro SD card if you plan on buying any games digitally. The Nintendo Switch only comes with 32GB of internal storage space. The digital version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will use nearly half that on its own, and some games are even bigger than 32GB! So you’ll need an SD card to hold them.
This only applies if you’ll be buying those games digitally. If you buy physical games, you can insert a physical game cartridge and play it without any installation—just like in the old days.
Like Nintendo’s previous consoles (and unlike the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), the Nintendo Switch has a strong focus on local multiplayer. There are a lot of great multiplayer games for the Nintendo Switch, so you can actually play games with your family and friends in the same room.
The Joy-Cons on the Nintendo switch can be used together as a pair, or they can be separated and used as two tiny little controllers. This allows you to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and other great multiplayer games without buying more controllers—although you can buy more controllers too, if you like. You may need to change your controller configuration to have your Switch treat those Joy-Cons as separate controllers, though.
Some games have more advanced multiplayer modes, too. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers “wireless play”, allowing multiple Nintendo Switches in the same room to play together. It also offers online multiplayer.
The Nintendo Switch can automatically switch your TV to the Switch’s input when you turn it on, or even automatically switch your TV to the Switch’s input when you place your Switch in the dock. Or, if your TV is off, turning on your Switch or placing it in the dock will automatically turn your TV on. This makes the experience of using the console much more seamless.
However, this requires you enable HDMI-CEC on your TV. If your Switch is already automatically switching inputs, HDMI-CEC is already enabled. If it’s not, you’ll need to enable it. This feature disabled by default on many TVs, for some reason.
You’ll find this feature in your TV’s setup menu, but it’s probably called something other than HDMI-CEC.
Or, if you don’t like this feature at all, you can disable the input switching on your Switch.
The Nintendo Switch is no longer region-locked, as previous Nintendo consoles were. If you have a Nintendo Switch purchased in the USA, you can buy physical game cartridges from Japan or Europe and play them normally.
However, there are still some regional differences. Different regions have their own eShop online stores. For example, some games have only been released in Japan, and may never come to the USA. You can switch your console’s region and access the eShop for that country, allowing you to buy and play those foreign games that would have otherwise been inaccessible.
The Nintendo Switch offers parental controls, allowing you to set time limits for your children, monitor their activity remotely, and even disable access to the console entirely. It can of course restrict games by age rating, too.
To use all these features, you’ll need to install Nintendo’s Parental Controls app on your iPhone or Android phone and connect it to your Switch console. You can then manage everything from your phone.
Once you’ve installed a few games, that 32GB of space can fill up fast. Even if you don’t play digital games, physical games you play will download their patch data and DLC to your Switch’s storage.
RELATED: How to Clean Your Nintendo Switch
Your Nintendo Switch is shiny and new, but it will likely get dirty over time if you share it with other people or just use the touch screen. You can clean your Nintendo Switch’s screen with just a microfiber cloth, and a simple cotton swab can get any gunk out of hard to reach areas. Avoid harsh cleaning products or you could damage the screen.