I got swept up in the preorder madness for an Xbox Series X on Sept. 22 (yes, I was able to get through). I had it in my cart — the Xbox Series S to be precise — and, as I sat and stared waiting for the “complete purchase” button to appear, I changed my mind.
And it wasn’t because it’s too expensive or there aren’t enough games yet. It was for the same reason I didn’t preorder Sony’s PlayStation 5: Neither is family-friendly enough for me.
It’s about the games and the characters
From the NES and GameBoy to the Switch, a majority of Nintendo’s homegrown games manage to appeal to children and adults. This is well-covered territory, so I’m not going to dwell on it. Suffice to say, when I’ve discussed this point with other families, I’ve simply mentioned my wife, who generally has no interest in video games but is more than willing to sit down as a family and play Mario Tennis Aces or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. (Overcooked! 2 always ends ugly, though.)
But, for me, it’s the huge cast of core Nintendo game characters that really drive the multigenerational appeal. I grew up playing games with Mario and Luigi, Donkey Kong and Link, and now my kids are playing all-new games with those same characters. Then you’ve got cute characters like Pikachu, Yoshi and Kirby that are comically violent, especially when set loose in games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Kirby Fighters 2.
Not that everything about the Switch is G-rated. Opening up Nintendo’s eShop to look for games with my kids has resulted in the occasional uncomfortable question or two. Still, there’s no denying that Nintendo has a larger selection of titles geared towards families and kids.
You can use it just about anywhere
The Switch’s dock is connected to the one large TV we own. That means there are occasional conflicts with my kids wanting to game while my wife and I want to watch a movie or whatever. But thanks to inexpensive third-party docks and power adapters, I can quickly connect the Switch to a computer monitor and the problem is solved.
On top of that, the Switch is perfect for travel. You can use it as a handheld or you can stand it up and play with its Joy-Con controllers detached. Also, it can be charged or powered by a USB-C power bank. It’s this capability — to switch between a docked console and mobile gaming device — that is tough to beat for family use.
Disciplining my kids has never been easier
This is probably going to sound terrible, but a perk of the Switch’s mobility is that it makes it incredibly easy for me to take it away from the kids. Why mess with removing a power supply or lugging off a larger console, when you can just take a tiny tablet out of a dock?
The design is particularly handy when things get heated while they’re gaming and I can just walk in, pop it out and walk away without saying anything. Plus, it means I can still game on it on my own. See? Terrible.
Switch Online seals the deal
When I bought the Switch, there was a good bit of nostalgia that pushed me toward it. While I’ve owned consoles from Sega, Sony and Microsoft over the years, I’ve always circled back to Nintendo. A big part of that, again, is the characters and their games. Nintendo’s Switch Online service and its collection of retro titles brought all the feels rushing back.
The service, which is $20 yearly for one person or $35 for a family subscription, is required for online multiplayer games and voice chat, also includes a ton of classic titles from the original NES and SNES. Sure, most if not all of them are available with an emulator somewhere, but being able to easily pull up Donkey Kong or Metroid or Tecmo Bowl is awesome. Plus, I get to play titles I didn’t get a chance to the first time around.
Really, though, it’s just nice to be able to introduce my kids to the original games. My son started with Breath of the Wild and Link’s Awakening, but now he’s into The Legend of Zelda. They also have a greater appreciation for how much better the graphics and gameplay have gotten.
No system is perfect or offers everything, of course, but between the games, the design and the online service, the Switch is just an unbeatable combo for my family. What do you think? Am I missing something about the new consoles that make them better for an entire family of gamers? Let me know in the comments.