My kids have been bugging me about buying a gaming console. I don’t know which one to get, and know there are a few options out there. Do you have one, and if so, what brand and what do you like about it?
Thanks for writing in. Back when I was a kid, gaming consoles were new, and I was lucky enough to have a shiny new Atari 2600. The joysticks were a bit awkward, but I didn’t care, and oh how I loved it. When I’m at a stop light, sometimes in my head I still hear the beep beep beep beeeeeep from Pole Position, indicating the start of a race. I don’t burn rubber, but get a little giggle out of it. These days, the three mainstream options for video game consoles are the Sony Playstation series, Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo’s offerings. I know Playstations and the Xbox are amazing units and immensely popular, but since your question pertained to what I have, I will write about my family’s Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo’s Wii (which came out in 2006) was popular and groundbreaking, encouraging users to be active, using controllers in your hands and encouraging movement simulated on the screen. It was followed up in 2012 by the Wii U, which was an advancement but caused substantial arguments in my house, as one controller had a screen on it and the other controller did not. The Wii U became something I often cursed at, and it ended up collecting dust. In 2017, Nintendo came up with its newest console, the Nintendo Switch, which so far has received high grades from my kids and myself.
The Switch is a small console that connects to a TV, but has an internal battery so it is also portable. The controllers fit in the palm of your hand for active games such as Just Dance 2018, where you attempt to copy the dance moves of an electronic dancer on the screen, and gain points for accuracy based upon how the controller is moving. Two controllers can be used together by snapping them into a base that makes them function and look like a standard video game controller.
Ease of use was one of my factors in deciding what console to buy, and Nintendo’s products seem to be geared more toward children, but fun enough for an adult. I was determined to buy something that didn’t have many “kill everything graphically” games. Nintendo has a number of fun games, and with Mario as the face of the franchise, it speaks volumes to the target audience. I can proudly say that I have outraced my 10-year-old daughter in Mario Kart. The disclaimer here is that I did indeed beat her in that game … once. The rest of the time, she and my 13-year-old son have crossed the finish line ahead of me. I comment on how their driving tendencies wouldn’t play out well on the roads, but to adequately trash-talk, I think I need to get more wins under my belt.
The Nintendo Switch costs $299, and comes with a pair of singular controllers called joycons. For multiplayer games, aside from Just Dance and others, you’ll want to buy another set of joycons (approximately $70) and a charging grip ($25), which will charge them and allow the joycons to snap into it to function as a second controller. You could also opt for their pro controller, a different wireless controller option without the easy ability to do the more physically active games, for $70. There are additional accessories, given the portability of the small gaming console. There are attachments to mount it to the headrest of a car, for example, as low as $20. I’m not necessarily endorsing kids playing this in the car, but would be remiss if I didn’t mention it.
I have to say we love our Nintendo Switch, and thus far my children have managed their screen time effectively. There are nowhere near as many games available for it as there are for Playstations and Xboxes, but the ones I’ve found have been kid-friendly, fun, and simple to play (though challenging to win). Now if I can only figure out how to drive my Mario Kart faster than my kids, I’ll earn some bragging rights.
Thanks for writing in Dig,
Adam Darack is the IT administrator for the town of Edgartown. He writes regularly about the technological issues facing Island business owners. Got a question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Dear Geek.”