PS5 and Xbox Series X aren’t family-friendly enough, so I’m sticking with the Switch

PS5 and Xbox Series X aren’t family-friendly enough, so I’m sticking with the Switch

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Sarah Tew / CNET

I was caught up in the pre-order madness for an Xbox Series X on September 22nd (yes, I got through). I had it in my shopping cart – the Xbox Series S to be precise – and as I sat and stared and waited for the “Buy Full” button to appear, I changed my mind.

And it wasn’t because it’s too expensive or because there aren’t enough games yet. For the same reason, I didn’t pre-order Sony’s PlayStation 5: neither is family-friendly enough for me.

It’s about the games and the characters

From NES and GameBoy to Switch, most of the games developed by Nintendo appeal to children and adults. This is a well-covered area so I won’t go into that further. Suffice it to say, when discussing this point with other families, I just mentioned my wife who is generally not interested 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 up ugly, however.)

But for me, it’s the huge cast of Nintendo game characters that really drives the cross-generational appeal. I grew up with Mario and Luigi, Donkey Kong and Link and now my kids are playing brand new games with the same characters. Then you have cute characters like Pikachu, Yoshi, and Kirby who are hilariously violent, especially when let go of in games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Kirby Fighters 2.

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Kirby Star Allies is one of many great family games for the Switch

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Not that everything on the Switch is G-rated. Opening Nintendo’s eShop to search for games with my kids has occasionally led to uncomfortable questions. However, there’s no denying that Nintendo has a wider variety of titles for families and kids.

You can use it almost anywhere

The Switch’s dock is connected to the one big TV we own. That means that there will be occasional conflicts with my kids wanting to play while my wife and I want to see a movie or whatever. However, thanks to inexpensive third-party docks and power supplies, I can quickly plug the switch into a computer monitor and the problem is fixed.

In addition, the switch is perfect for on the go. You can use it as a handheld or set it up and play with the Joy-Con controllers removed. It can also be charged or powered from a USB-C power bank. This ability to switch between a docked console and a mobile gaming device is hard to beat for family use.

Hyperx Chargeplay coupling

Accessories such as HyperX’s ChargePlay clutch, which protects, charges and supports the switch, help improve mobile gaming.

Sarah Tew / CNET

It has never been easier to discipline my children

This will probably sound awful, but one benefit of the Switch’s mobility is that it’s incredibly easy for me to take away from the kids. Why bother removing a power adapter or unplugging a larger console when you can only take a tiny tablet out of a dock?

The design is especially handy when things warm up while playing and I can just walk in, jump out and walk away without saying anything. Also, I can still play alone. See? Dreadful.

Switch Online seals the deal

When I bought the Switch, there was a fair bit of nostalgia pushing me to do it. While I’ve owned consoles from Sega, Sony, and Microsoft over the years, I’ve kept coming back to Nintendo. Again, a big part of that is the characters and their games. Nintendo’s Switch Online service and collection of retro titles brought all feelings back.

The service, which is $ 20 per year for one person or $ 35 for a family subscription, is required for online multiplayer gaming and voice chat, and also includes a ton of classic titles from the original from NES and SNES. Sure, most, if not all, are available with an emulator somewhere, but just being able to pull up a Donkey Kong, Metroid, or Tecmo Bowl is fantastic. I can also play titles that I didn’t have a chance the first time.

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The Switch Online service includes access to many classic NES and SNES games.

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Really, it’s just nice to be able to introduce the original games to my children. My son started out with Breath of the Wild and Link’s Awakening, but now he’s into The Legend of Zelda. They also better appreciate how much better the graphics and gameplay have gotten.

No system is perfect or of course offers everything, but between the games, the design and the online service, the switch is just an unbeatable combination for my family. What do you think? Is there something I miss about the new consoles that makes them better for a whole family of gamers? Let me know in the comments.

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