The State of Our Switches, One Year Later

By Mike Fahey on at

On 3 March 2017, Nintendo launched the Switch, the miracle gaming system that’s a console and a handheld at the same time. Let’s see how ours are holding up.


Stephen Totilo’s Switch: Safe Inside His Sock

Photo: Stephen Totilo

Date Acquired: I got my Switch in late February of 2017, directly from Nintendo, a week or so before launch.

Usage: I started playing Zelda and 1, 2 Switch. At least in that moment the ratio of Switch games that I had that I’d played versus not played was in the former’s favour. Those first couple of games were sent to me by Nintendo for review. Since then, I’ve bought most of my Switch games with my own money and yet not played a lot of them. There are 46 game icons on my Switch right now, 20 of them for games I’ve yet to start.

I’ve got a 128GB Micro SD card in the system. In addition to games, that includes 661 screenshots and 14 videos.

I’ve never used the Joy-Con grips.

Condition: I’m fairly rough on my Switch. I carry it in a wool sock in my bag five days a week, mostly playing it as a portable on the train. The machine has held up pretty well. The screen is unscratched, but there is a faint vertical line that shows up in the pixels near the left side of the screen, from time to time. I’m not sure the commute can be blamed for my system’s biggest performance issue, which is the eternal confusion that is its low battery warnings for the controllers. I can leave my Switch plugged in for the night and then get an alert the next day that the blue Joy-Con is low on power. Sometimes I get an equally inexplicable warning about the red one. My left Joy-Con has the signal transmission problem that many launch Switches had, but I play the system connected to a TV so infrequently that it’s not mattered to me to fix it.


Michael Fahey’s Switch: True Colours Shining Through

Photo: Michael Fahey

Date Acquired: Midnight launch, baby!

Usage: I’ve kept my Switch close at hand since launch day, slowly filling it with as many games as my 128GB Micro SD card can handle. I’ve played each of the 46 games (take that, Totilo!) currently occupying the console’s “All Software” screen at least once. Rhythm games Superbeat Xonic, Thumper and Voez are key parts of my regular rotation, with Disgaea 5 my go-to for longer play sessions.

I imagined playing the console with my children on the living room television as well as my office TV, so I bought two official Nintendo Switch Docks. I use neither of them.

Condition: I may have made a few modifications.

Before swapping my dull grey Joy-Cons and case for lovely translucent Watermelon Red, I treated my Switch with the utmost of care. It had a screen protector. It was always in a case when not in use. No one else could touch it.

Armed with the knowledge that I can tear it apart and put it together again any time I want, I’m a lot less careful and concerned. Before the above photo was taken, my Switch was sitting on the floor under a chair in my office. I picked it up, gave the screen a quick wipe down and it was good to go. Ah, freedom.


Heather Alexandra’s Switch: Perched Atop The PS4

Photo: Heather Alexandra

Date Acquired: 3 March 2017.

Usage: I used my Switch most extensively when Breath of the Wild came out. In addition to over 100 hours of regular play, I did Any% speedrun attempts and that took up a lot of my time. I take semi-regular trips between Boston and NYC, taking my Switch with me most of the time so I can play Stardew Valley. But in spite of this, I probably don’t use my Switch as much as other people on staff. Unlike my Playstation 4, which I used pretty religiously, the Switch feels a bit more like a work tool that I use for reviews. It’s fun and I love it but outside of some indie titles, it doesn’t have games that pull me in as much as other systems.

Condition: As you can see from the photo, my flat is a veritable menagerie of consoles and cords, but my Switch has mostly remained in good shape, even if I’ve left it uncharged on my bedside table far more times than I’d like to admit. My biggest sin is not purchasing a screen protector—something which probably made a few readers gasp right now. The screen doesn’t really have any scratches but it is a bit smudged right now.


Gita Jackson’s Switch: Impressively Pristine

Photo: Gita Jackson, whose battery level is atrocious.

Date Acquired: Early March? I was supposed to get mine the day of but then Amazon screwed me over.

Usage: I go through long, long bouts of never playing anything but Switch games, and then it’ll just sit in my purse for a month. At first, I used to only ever used it docked. After I moved, my TV set up made it more convenient to use in my bed, under the covers. I’ve also taken it in lieu of a laptop to watch TV on when I go to visit my parents. That Hulu app is really slick on the Switch! Most of the time it sits in its carrying case with a completely dead battery, until a new game comes out that I get obsessed with.

Condition: The worst of the wear and tear is the fingerprints all over the screen. Because it basically lives in the carrying case, it’s been pretty pristine. I’m impressed!


Kirk Hamilton’s Switch: Handled With Care

Photo: Kirk Hamilton

Date Acquired: I got my switch in mid-February 2017. I was reviewing it for Kotaku, and Nintendo sent me one.

Usage: I’ve used my Switch to play a tonne of games. Breath of the Wild has by far my highest playtime, but Splatoon 2, Stardew Valley, and Minecraft (?) are all doing well for themselves, too. I still carry it in the Waterfield Cityslicker case I reviewed last year, and I still like that case a lot.

Condition: Late last year I bought a pair of boring grey Joy-Cons because I actually like how they look more than the neon ones that came with the console. I’ve been very careful with my Switch and haven’t damaged or scratched it, but I’m perpetually terrified of breaking it and losing all my saves.


Maddy Myers’ Switch: Shhh, It’s Resting

Photo: Maddy Myers

Date Acquired: 17 May 2017.

Usage: I have used my Switch almost exclusively to play Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the latter of which should surprise no one, given my breathless competitive Mario Kart coverage over the past year. Every now and then, I dock it and play some ARMS with friends, but most of the time, I play my Switch in handheld mode while lying in bed.

Condition: I bought a screen protector in mid-June, only a month after having the Switch. The only wear and tear that’s visible is from my own fingerprints. I didn’t wash them off of the screen protector before taking this photo, for the sake of realism... but, readers, I wanted to. I like keeping my electronic equipment clean and organised. I’m proud to offer my Switch a stable and safe home.


Luke Plunkett’s Switch: Untouched By Tiny Hands

Photo: Luke Plunkett

Date Acquired: Bought at midnight launch.

Usage: Playing games.

Condition: Fahey: So pristine! And you have two children?

Luke: They use the Pro Pad.

Fahey: Good call.


Jason Schreier’s Switch: Read Blood, Sweat and Pixels

Photo: Jason Schreier

Date Acquired: I got my Switch a couple of weeks before launch (for review).

Usage: Playing JRPGs, holding down books.

Condition: It still works just fine, other than the Left Joy-Con issue that everybody ran into. I probably should’ve sent it to Nintendo for fixing by now, but that would take too much work.


Chris Kohler’s Switch: Amiibo Obscura

Photo: Chris Kohler

Date Acquired: February 2017

Usage: So far I’ve mostly used it docked with a Pro Controller, to the point where sometimes I forget it’s portable and am then pleasantly surprised. When I was reviewing Mario Odyssey I played it in a first-class aeroplane seat in kickstand mode with a Joy-Con in each hand, which was exquisite. Probably the only time I’ve ever wished a plane flight was longer.

Condition: I had the standard desyncing issue with the Joy-Con (L) at first, but I sent it in for repair and now it’s... well, it’s better than it was.


Paul Tamayo’s Switch: Like A Tank

Photo: Paul Tamayo

Date Acquired: I got my Switch at launch the morning it came out exactly a year ago. I took off work at my previous job to go spend the entire day playing Zelda.

Usage: It spends more time docked than in my actual hands but if I’m lucky enough to get a seat on my commute to or from work, I’m that dude playing Bayonetta on the train. It’s loaded up with 33 games using a 128GB card. My Switch is always in my bag in case I need it for work or get stuck in a lift or in a dark tunnel.

Condition: I was one of the unlucky ones to get a bad left Joy-Con that had to get sent into Nintendo for repair. I also got an adorable Splatoon 2 carrying case for my Switch after a cheap thin one gave my left Joy-Con’s thumbstick a weird air bubble after being squished in my bag. That poor Joy-Con’s been through hell. I also don’t have a screen protector because I’m not a dad and my cat knows to not even look at my Switch the wrong way. No scratches yet! At least that I can visibly see. Despite all the abuse on my part, my Switch has held up like a tank.


Riley MacLeod’s Switch: Next To His Terrarium

Photo: Riley’s Phone

Date Acquired: I got it in September or October of this year.

Usage: I don’t use it all that often, so it’s been pretty ok!

Condition: Once it forgot the left Joy-Con existed and I had to detach and reattach it a whole bunch and then make it ‘forget’ the Joy-Con ever existed so it could remember it again. That was weird.


Brian Ashcraft’s (Middle Child’s) Switch: Mint In Box

Photo: Bashcraft

Date Acquired: Santa gave it to my kid. Santa had an easier time finding a Switch here than Japan.

Usage: He uses it every day after playing piano for 30 minutes and finishing his homework. The kid also has to feed the dog and walk her. He can add time depending on how much studying he does. If he doesn’t do this shit, he cannot play. He’s almost beaten Super Mario Odyssey, though! I play it when he’s asleep or in the morning when he’s at school. Like many houses in Japan, we have one main TV in the living room. With five people in my house, the Switch’s portable gameplay is a welcome feature!

Condition: Santa did not give the kid a Switch case, so he keeps it in the packaging.


Tim Rogers’ Switch: Strap In, Folks

Photo: Tim Rogers

Date Acquired: I purchased my Nintendo Switch on the day after launch day. I bought it off a guy in a store car park.

Well, it’s a tiny bit more nuanced than that. The guy was a guy I knew. He was not a popular YouTuber then. Today he is. I drove my police car (I owned a police car) 25 miles up to see him in Concord, California.

My friend had reserved multiple Nintendo Switches from multiple stores. He wound up with two neon ones and one grey one. He wanted one of the neon ones for himself. He didn’t have immediate eBay success with the other neon one. He told me he’d sell it to me. He knew I wanted one. He also knew I’d been too broke to preorder one back when preorders were possible. He knew I’d been broke, because I’d been repeatedly reminding him to pay me.

I did some work for him. Actually, I’d played the part of “Uncle Death,” the Grim Reaper character in the official TV commercial for Grasshopper Manufacture and GungHo Online Entertainment’s game Let It Die. I wore a Grim Reaper outfit and gave stilted interviews with pedestrians for 24 total hours over a three-day weekend in Los Angeles in October of 2016. My friend was the director of this commercial. He agreed to pay me a certain amount. Well, he ended up $500 short. So it goes! I hassled him about the $500 for a couple of months. I stopped hassling him because hassling him wasn’t working. He might have figured I’d stopped hassling him because I had won the lottery. I had not won the lottery. I was still driving a police car with barely any paint left on it.

So when he texted me about selling me a Nintendo Switch with neon red and neon blue Joy-Cons for $350, a richly comedic idea burst like a loud popcorn kernel in my brain. I hesitated before replying. I formulated a nuanced, complex sentence through which I communicated that, oh man, I sure did want that Switch. Though man, money was tight and such. Man, I sure could afford it and it was hecka tempting. Ah, man, I didn’t know what to do! I was like, “Ahh! I want that Switch! I technically have *enough* money to buy it. I wouldn’t *die* if I bought it, though just...money! Money is so complicated and unpredictable!”

He told me to Think It Over, Dude. If I wanted the Switch, he could get it to me the day after launch.

The morning after the Switch came out, I texted him. “Alright, man, let’s do it.”

I agreed to meet him halfway. When we met in a store car park, he hoisted a bag out of the pile of trash in the backseat of his Honda Civic—which would be stolen one month later in my hometown, while we were watching a movie. So: owned.

“Alright, dude,” he said. “Here’s little Timmy’s birthday present. That’ll be three hundred and fifty big ones.”

I took the bag.

“Alright, uh, so should I PayPal you or what?”

“PayPal is fine.”

“Alright—hey, I have a neat idea.”

“What?”

“What if I *don’t* PayPal you?”

His face blankened (is that a word?).

“Wh-what do you mean?”

“Dude you owe me $500.”

“Oh. Uh.”

“I’m gonna put this in the boot of my car. Then let’s go in here, which has four copies of Zelda and one Pro Controller in stock.”

He cackled like a maniac.

Usage: On my tour around the Kotaku office, I saw a brand-new box of the then-yet-unavailable Neon Yellow Joy-Cons on Stephen Totilo’s desk.

“Whoa, the neon yellows.”

“They sent these to me for ARMS,” he said. “Do you want them?”

I immediately said, “Yeah.” Perhaps Totilo meant them as a welcome present. Perhaps he saw that the neon yellow perfectly matched the “volt” yellow of my Nike Apple Watch and the Nike windbreaker I was wearing.

They are on my Switch to this day. Heck, ARMS is the one Nintendo first-party game I don’t own, which is weird.

I bought a 200GB Micro SD card on Amazon after spotting a flash sale link, I have shoved dozens of games into that card, and it’s still barely a quarter full. I bought maybe every Neo Geo arcade game available. I’m playing them as research for my own Neo Geo-like arcade shooting game TRUCK HECK (coming QX 201X). Today I played some Shock Troopers Second Squad on the train.

Condition: The Nintendo Switch is the only electronic device I have ever put a screen protector on. I ordered the top-selling one on Amazon. I turned on my shower to fill my bathroom with steam before I put it on, and everything.

I keep my Switch in a generic Hori-brand case. I charge it with this red Anker “PowerLine” braided USB-C cable here at my desk in the Kotaku office. (The gold Anker cable is for my Xbox One Elite Controller.) My Switch is in near-mint condition, because I’m a weirdo who does stuff like bundle his USB cables with Velcro strips when he’s not using them.


So, how’s your Switch holding up?