If you think of all the problems that most people have with the Nintendo Switch — a lack of brightness, rough performance even in some indie games, Joy-Con drift and storage space — the Nintendo Switch OLED doesn’t fix any of those. Which is why today is probably the best deal you’ll get on a console in ages: by buying the original Nintendo Switch.
I’ll put one caveat right up the top here. Any Switch you grab today won’t be the original Switch: those hardware revisions have been phased out for the 2019 model, which upgraded the console’s battery life to a maximum of 9 hours from 6. (Or if you were playing something like Breath of the Wild in handheld mode, it’s more like 5.5 hours instead of 3.)
But functionally, what you’re getting is the same internal guts and performance from the Switch OLED. The OLED’s stand is nice, but it’s also one of the least frequently used parts of the console: most people are holding the Switch with two hands or sticking it in a dock, where the OLED won’t make a difference.
And sure, if you’re a regular Smash Ultimate player, still grinding Splatoon 2 or frequently sick of the constant wireless issues in multiplayer, having an in-built LAN port for the Switch is a bonus. But you can buy those for practically nothing: this UGREEN $18 adapter works just fine.
With most places selling the 9-hour Switch for $379 today, that leaves plenty of money for the various accessories that make a substantial difference to your console’s quality of life. Hate controller drift? Grab a Switch Pro controller or 8BitDo’s excellent alternative. 64GB not enough because one game will inevitably eat up at least a third of it? Add 256GB storage for an extra $45. You can have all of those and you’ll still come out ahead of the Switch OLED, plus enough money left over to buy one or two good indies (something like Hades or Griftlands, for instance).
If you have all of these already because you were invested in the Switch ecosystem, then this argument won’t matter to you. But there are literally thousands upon tens of thousands for whom that doesn’t apply. The pandemic saw an astronomical amount of Aussies discover or reacquaint themselves with gaming. And there’s many more who are still stuck with an aging PS4, a PC they can’t upgrade because of GPU shortages, and an Xbox that’s still not suited for cloud streaming because we still live in Australia with Australian internet.
And for a lot of those people — especially those who woke up to the news that it looks like lockdown will be extended by another week — I can imagine there will be a good amount of confusion. New consoles are shiny, they offer plenty of promise, and OLED screens are the real deal. But the real power of the Switch when you’re living with it, day to day, is just how extensive its library is.
It’s not just because it’s the only place to play games like Mario Kart, Breath of the Wild, Animal Crossing or Super Mario Odyssey. It’s the hundreds and hundreds of $20 to $30 bangers hiding on its eShop. It’s games like Hades, Slay the Spire, Spiritfarer, the Jackbox Party Packs, Umurangi Generation, Paradise Killer, Pikmin, Monster Hunter Rise, Celeste, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, Hollow Knight. And while sometimes cheaper or available first or earlier on other platforms, many games also take advantage of the Switch in smart, meaningful ways. Umurangi is a great example: it was on Steam first, but I can’t physically pick up my monitor and rotate it for a smart portrait photo the way you can with the Switch’s gyro controls.
They all run just fine on the current Switch hardware, and they’ll continue to run fine on the Switch OLED. (Some have even questioned whether some games, particularly those with aggressive dynamic resolution scalers like DOOM and DOOM Eternal, will look better on original Switch hardware due to the subpixel arrangement with OLED screens. It’s an interesting suggestion, but we won’t know for sure on that until the Switch OLED is released.) The OLED won’t force developers to create a have or have-not situation with their games, as the hardware between all three Switch models is functionally the same. You get the same 1080p(ish) performance out of the dock. Battery life changes, and what you see might be more or less vivid, but there won’t be future Nintendo games, or third-party games, that OG Switch owners can’t enjoy.
It’s not like I’m not disappointed by some improvements in specs, to be sure. But let’s keep things in perspective: the Switch is still the most successful console since its release. It’s on track to outsell the absurdly popular PS4. And in an era where the PS5 and Xbox Series X are only available for five seconds every three weeks or so, it’ll continue outselling those, too. It’s getting more games every week — even though a lot of those are ports most of the time — and it’s still got a vastly better UI than what Sony or Microsoft is offering.
If you had to buy a console today, or you were recommending something to someone, chances are it’d be the original Switch. And given the price it’s currently at, the fact that you can reliably buy it, and the sheer range available, there’s never been a better time to jump on the Nintendo train.