For the first time since the height of Wii mania, the gaming community as a whole is talking about Nintendo in an almost universally positive light. The Nintendo Switch is selling at a phenomenal pace and is breaking records left and right, showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Still, it hasn’t all been good news for the Switch. On paper, the system is doing great and is meeting or exceeding all expectations where it counts most: sales. That doesn’t mean that the console is without its flaws, or that it doesn’t have areas in which needs to improve if Nintendo wants to keep up with its two main competitors– the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One– as well as gaming trends in general. From archaic and obtuse online features to various issues with the hardware and accessories, Nintendo has definitely made a lot of confusing decisions with the Switch that the company really need to take a closer look at.
This list shouldn’t be viewed as a takedown of either the admittedly awesome Switch or the undeniably iconic Nintendo in general– rather, it’s a call for Nintendo to iron out some of these issues in order to make a great system even better. Nothing is ever perfect– gaming consoles included.
With that out of the way, here are the 20 Things That Make No Sense About The Nintendo Switch.
20 Online Features Are Still Behind The Times
To be fair, Nintendo has come a long way with implementing online functionality into its games and consoles. It’s not nearly far enough, unfortunately, as it remains behind the competition as well as continue to do things with online that make no sense.
First and foremost, the continued use of Friend Codes is obnoxious, even if they are for a noble purpose. Forcing players to use a smartphone app for voice chat is inexcusable, however. The bizarre things choices about some of the games– like Splatoon 2 only having two maps available to play online per day– continue to make it seem like the company is still kind of winging this whole online thing. As for the Switch’s eShop, well, we’ll be getting to that later.
19 Loading Times
When Nintendo decided to defiantly stick with cartridges for the Nintendo 64, it proved to be a bad move in the long run as the limitations and high cost of the format sent a lot of developers running to the PlayStation. Cartridges aren’t without their advantages, however, and one of the big ones is the lack of load times. At least, that’s supposed to be one of the great things about cartridges.
Apparently, Switch cartridges didn’t get that memo. Load times on the Switch are as long and as frequent as any disc-based system. Now, we don’t pretend to know the tech behind it all, and maybe there is a perfectly valid reason why Switch games still need to load, but what could’ve been a huge selling point over the PS4 and XB1 doesn’t exist, and that’s a shame.
18 No Netflix
These days, just about any device that connects to the internet can run Netflix. There are literal refrigerators available right now that you can watch Netflix on. The fact that the Switch still not only doesn’t have a Netflix app, but that Nintendo has to even confirm that one is coming, is baffling.
In the beginning, Nintendo did downplay Switch’s multimedia capabilities and was focusing on games, which is respectable. Since then, Hulu and YouTube have been added to the device, so clearly that has gone out the window. Why Netflix is still absent is a mystery, especially when it would be pretty cool to be able to watch Castlevania on a device made by the company that was home to the game the series has been directly based on so far.
17 The Official Dock Can Scratch The Tablet
Ever since game consoles with their own built-in screens have existed, so too has the threat of having those screens get scratched. Given that the only things to be done about a scratched game system screen are very costly repairs or outright replacing the whole thing, it’s best to go through all the necessary precautions to prevent that from happening.
Getting a screen protector for your Switch should be a no-brainer. However, what shouldn’t be a no-brainer is that you need a screen protector to protect the Switch literally from itself. An unfortunate design flaw in the dock has led a number of Switches’ tablet screens to get scratched from the simple act of inserting and removing it.
16 The Mii Maker Is Buried In Menus
One of the most enduring legacies of the Wii has been Miis; little cartoony caricatures that players could make of themselves or whomever else they wanted, and used as both a system menu avatar as well as playable characters in various games. So popular did Miis prove to be that they were then carried over to both the Wii U and the 3DS, only to seemingly be abandoned for the Switch.
Except that they weren’t! Miis are alive and well on the Switch and can even still be used in certain games. You can’t be blamed for not knowing that, as it isn’t a very widely advertised feature and requires digging around in various system menus to even find the place where you can make them. Why include them, but then hide them?
15 Joy-Cons Don’t Have Auto-Shutoff
Battery life is a relatively new worry for console gamers as a whole, as wireless controllers didn’t really become standard until the Wii/Xbox 360/PS3 generation. One of the things that all three console manufacturers realized at the time is that they should have a feature built into their wireless controllers that has them automatically shut off after a period of inactivity so that controllers that aren’t in use don’t just sit there losing power.
Nintendo apparently forgot all about this with the Switch, as once a Joy-con has been paired for a game session, it remains on for the rest of the time the Switch is powered on, even if the controller isn’t actively being used anymore. It’s an annoying quirk that has us needing to charge our controllers way more often than we should have to otherwise.
14 1 2 Switch Not Being A Free Pack-In
To be fair, consoles coming bundled with free games from day one is no longer the standard– but it was a tradition that Nintendo kept alive with the Wii and with at least the pricier version of the Wii U. It seemed as like it would happen again with the Switch when we first caught wind of 1 2 Switch.
1 2 Switch definitely seems to follow in the tradition of Wii Sports and NintendoLand, as it is a simple collection of minigames designed to show off the features of the system and is thrown in for free for that purpose. Yet that’s not how things panned out, and Switch came with zero games and 1 2 Switch was sold separately, and for full price to boot.
13 Glaring Omissions In The NES Game Lineup
The Switch’s paid online service, particularly the NES games that come “free” with the service, has been one of the most hotly-debated topics in video games since its launch last fall. Some say NES games aren’t a good enough bonus when compared to what games are offered with Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, while others point out that getting access to dozens of NES games– some with online play– for $19.99 per year is a steal.
Even if you fall on the positive side of things, it’s hard to deny that the NES lineup is missing some really obvious heavy hitters. No lineup is going to please everyone, but to be several months in and still not have no-brainer titles like Super Mario Bros. 2, Castlevania, or Mega Man 2 is hard to justify.
12 It’s Region-Free– but You Have To Work For It
At one time, it was almost unheard of for a game console to be region-free (meaning it could play the video games released in multiple countries). These days, it’s a lot more common, and the Switch has even jumped on that bandwagon, which is a surprising move for Nintendo, as it has historically reluctant to do such things.
However, the Switch’s ability to play Japanese and North American games doesn’t come without a trade-off. You have to go into the Switch’s menu and change the region to Japan, which then lets you play Japanese games and access the Japanese eShop– but it also makes everything else Japanese as well, including your news feed.
11 Full-Priced Ports Of Five-Year-Old Games
Post-SNES, Nintendo has perpetually struggled to get strong, consistent third-party support for its consoles. Every Nintendo console from the N64 onward has been more ideal as a “second console;” one that you have mostly just to play Nintendo-made games while having another console to play all the big multiplatform games that Nintendo doesn’t get.
Things seem to be improving a bit on that front with the Switch, but a lot of its third-party output has been Nintendo playing catch-up on all the multiplatform games the Wii U didn’t get. That would be fine, except that the Switch versions of those games launch at full price and stay that way for a while, which doesn’t look great next to the PS4 and XB1 counterparts that are sitting next to them on store shelves for less than half that price because of their age.
10 No Ethernet Port
It’s true that wireless internet is much better than it used to be, to the point that it is even reliable for online gaming for the most part. Still, there’s no substitute for the strength and reliability of a hardline internet connection, and that will always be the preferred method of playing games online for the most hardcore gamers.
With the Switch, that option doesn’t exist without a costly, non-Nintendo-made accessory, as there are no Ethernet ports on the system. The only way to have hardline internet is through a third-party accessory that lets you connect through a USB port. This is hardly ideal for a system that is currently trying to get people to play its latest, hyper-fast fighting game online, necessitating a lag-free connection.
9 Sharing Screenshots Is Needlessly Cumbersome
Nintendo made a surprisingly progressive move with the Switch by including a capture button right there on the Joy-con, allowing gamers to take screenshots and record gameplay video with the press of a button. Since you can link a Twitter and Facebook account to your Switch, you are able to share those screenshots directly to your social media platform of choice.
However, it isn’t quite that simple. Even after you’ve already gone through the steps to link the social media accounts to your Switch, the process of actually sharing them still requires way too many clicks through way too many menus. It would be nice if Nintendo could streamline the process just a bit more. It also only currently supports Twitter and Facebook; not Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, et al.
8 It Doesn’t Communicate With The 3DS
Unless you’ve only been gaming for the last decade or so, or you just completely sat out the entire GameCube era, you no doubt remember Nintendo’s failed attempts to make “connectivity” happen. It was a nice enough idea– being able to connect Game Boy Advance to GameCube in order to share data and even play multiplayer games– but it also required costly accessories and a whole mess of cords that made it not worth the trouble.
Now that everything is wireless, Nintendo should revive that idea with the Switch and the 3DS. Unfortunately, the two systems don’t seem able to communicate with each other in any way. Even the PS4 and the Vita can connect, and far fewer people have Vitas than 3DSs.
7 Includes A Web Browser That Can’t Be Accessed
The idea of using a game console as a web browser has lost a lot of its novelty, especially with the prevalence of smartphones. However, it’s still one of those things that is kind of expected for a console to be able to do, and given that the Switch also doubles as a tablet, it would be pretty cool to be able to use it to browse the web on the go.
What is perhaps most frustrating about the Switch’s inability to let you surf the Net is that it has a web browser built into it– that’s what it uses to let you access Facebook. Knowing the functionality is already in there but is just locked away and only usable for certain dedicated functions is just frustrating.
6 Makes You Re-Confirm Your Controllers Again And Again
“Press L + R on the controller.” It’s the message that Switch users probably see more than any other, as it is on the screen that pops up whenever you need to pair the controller you want to use for the game you’re about to play. Even if you’re already playing, the Switch seems to frequently “lose” your controller and has to ask you to re-confirm it again and again.
Given the versatility of the Switch’s various controller schemes, the system needs to know exactly what configuration you are using and rechecks when you change something or when more players join. However, it seems to have to do that way more than necessary, and many games have been interrupted by the dreaded controller confirmation screen for no apparent reason.
5 $80 Per Extra Dock Is Outrageous
From the very beginning, Nintendo marketed the Switch as a “hybrid console” that was both a home system and a handheld system all rolled into one. Much was made of the Switch’s portability, and how easy it is to take the system from one place to the next. Many people had visions of being able to have docks at different places– their own home, a relative’s home, work, whatever– and just take the tablet from one place to the next and be able to charge it and play it whereever they happened to be.
All of those hopes were dashed when it was announced that standalone Switch docks retailed for $79.99 in the U.S. Eighty bucks isn’t exactly the kind of price that invites having even a second dock, let alone multiple.
4 Splatoon 2 Dropped The Ball On The System’s Party Play Promise
One classic gaming tradition that Nintendo has continued to carry the torch of in spite of it being abandoned by almost everyone else is couch multiplayer– that is, playing games with friends in the same room, rather than just over the internet. The early trailers for the Switch seemed to confirm that this wasn’t going to change with Nintendo’s latest console.
The problem is, they threw all that out the window with their first big exclusive multiplayer game, Splatoon 2. The ink-spraying shooter sequel has literally zero offline multiplayer modes that can be played with a single Switch. The only way to play Splatoon 2 with people in the same room is to have multiple Switches, which betrays the whole spirit of the system and also Nintendo’s legacy with local multiplayer shooters like GoldenEye and Perfect Dark.
3 32GB Of Default Memory Is Unacceptable
The cheapest current-gen console that you’re likely to find brand new these days is the Xbox One S, which hovers close to the $200 mark, includes Minecraft, and comes with 1TB of hard drive space. By comparison, how much memory storage comes built into the Switch out of the box? 32GB.
Yes, we realize the Switch itself is pretty small and doesn’t have room for a 1TB hard drive, but 32Gb of memory for a modern-day system is inexcusable. Nintendo could’ve easily thrown a MicroSD card in there to pad things out a bit, instead of just counting on us to go get one. As it stands, there are Switch games like L.A. Noire that require a 14GB install– which instantly takes up almost half of the total available space on your entire system.
2 Requiring An Extra Purchase To Get A D-Pad
Going all the way back to the days of the Game & Watch line, Nintendo’s iconic “cross” d-pad has been the standard by which all other digital control input methods have been judged. In fact, Nintendo even has a patent on it, which is why Xbox and PlayStation controllers always have to get a little creative with their d-pads instead of just directly copying Nintendo’s design.
Well, add that to the list of things Nintendo inexplicably abandoned with the Switch, as the system’s default controllers– the Joy-cons– don’t have a d-pad on them. While it’s understandable, it’s still hard to accept, and as of now Nintendo has yet to make a wireless Joy-Con that has a d-pad. Having to buy the overpriced Pro Controller to get a d-pad isn’t an acceptable alternative, either.
1 Abandoning Virtual Console
Nintendo continues to double down on Virtual Console not coming Switch, claiming that the retro games that will be made available through Switch Online are to serve that function on the system. Well, unless Switch Online starts including SNES, N64, GameCube, Wii, Game Boy, and DS games, then it is not going to be a suitable substitute for a digital storefront that would feature all of those platforms and more.
It’s sad that the Virtual Console on the Wii continues to the most robust that Nintendo has ever had– especially now that it is shutting down for good. With the Switch’s ability to play games on the go, we want more than ever to be able to buy games from Nintendo’s decades of platforms– especially GameCube, which has yet to have a presence on any of the eShops.
Have you noticed other issues with the Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the comments!