You can officially buy the Nintendo Switch on March 3. It’s Nintendo’s first console since the Wii U — considered by most to be a letdown — and Nintendo fans are super excited; for proof, consider that most retailers ran out of preorders almost immediately after it was revealed.
If you still don’t know about the console, here’s our explainer. If you already know about it, you’re probably here wondering: should you actually buy it? Here’s what we know so far.
The new Zelda is amazing, 1–2 Switch is weird, and Mario isn’t here yet. As many have noted, the Switch is pretty light on launch titles (there are 12; many of them are re-released older games). Nintendo did recently announce a slew of promising indie games, and the company’s first-party titles are sure to please; Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are coming this year, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild currently scores a 98 on Metacritic.
The console nails its main selling point, but flubs some details. Many reviews, such as Polygon‘s, have noted that the transition between handheld and console play is amazingly seamless. Many reviews have also noted that the kickstand for tabletop play is kinda flimsy, the included HDMI cord is a bit short, and the Joy-Cons have a troubling object-interference issue. (They’re also not quite perfect for all hands, but your mileage may vary.)
Retro games are coming, but we still don’t know when. Details on the Virtual Console, Nintendo’s retro gaming service that debuted with the Wii, are still scarce. CNET‘s Scott Stein argues that it’s vital to the Switch’s success.
Same goes for online play, but local multiplayer is available right out of the box. Nintendo will be offering a paid subscription service for online multiplayer, but we still don’t know the details. But if you and some friends are considering buying the console, know that up to 8 Switches can sync up for local multiplayer (read: hours of Mario Kart).
You’ll need to buy a microSD card along with the console. The Switch has 32GB of built-in storage — which is not a lot. The new Zelda alone will basically take up all your built-in storage. Plan ahead.
You’ll need to charge it often. The Switch is positioned as a hybrid between a stationary console and a portable handheld device, with Nintendo advertising its battery life as lasting 3–6 hours. Reviewers have put that figure at 2–3 hours when playing Breath of the Wild; so it’ll probably be more useful commuting or waiting for a friend than it will be on a redeye halfway ’round the world.
You’ll also need to buy games, since the console doesn’t come packaged with any. So what’s in the box? The console, Joy-Con controllers, wrist straps, one Joy-Con grip, a dock, an HDMI cable and an AC adapter.
Where to buy it? The Switch is going to be hard to find for a while, though perhaps not as hard as the NES Classic Edition, given the price difference. Some participating retailers are running midnight launch events: look and see if your local GameStop or Best Buy is doing one. Target will also be selling consoles for those who didn’t preorder on the day of the launch. Otherwise, wait till after the launch and start hunting through Walmart, Toys R Us and the Nintendo World Store.