Note: This post is one of those things that I started writing up for a family member, then realized very quickly I should share this with the broader world. If you feel like something is missing, please feel free to suggest it. Also, I may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.*

Someone in your life wants a Nintendo Switch, and you don’t know what to do. You know you don’t want to blow it, and here we are. First things first: Is the player (the one getting the Nintendo Switch) a gamer already, or is this their first console?

If it’s their first console and they are under 18 (or an adult who travels frequently), they will play mainly on the Nintendo Switch’s screen, not a TV. Even as a traditional gamer, I play the Switch while mobile more often than sitting in front of the TV. All Nintendo Switch screens have a 720p resolution (4K is the leading console standard). The Zelda games are visually stunning and worth playing on a big screen.

Which Switch

It’s important to note that there are three Nintendo Switch to choose from:

  • Nintendo Switch Lite: Released in 2019, priced at $199.99 (US), available in various colors, carries a 5.5" LCD screen, 32 GB of internal storage, has no detachable joy-cons, and no TV connectivity. It’s the lightest Nintendo Switch because there’s a smaller battery, too.
  • Nintendo Switch (V2): Released in 2017 (V2 released in 2019), priced at 299.99, carries a 6.2" LCD screen, detachable joy-cons, and connects to TV (through a dock at 1080p resolution).
  • Nintendo Switch OLED: Released in 2021, priced at $349.99, it carries a 7" OLED screen, 64 GB of internal storage, and all the same features as the regular Nintendo Switch.

If screen size or battery life matters, get the Nintendo Switch OLED. If budgetary constraints exist or lightweight and portable are valued more than screen size and battery life, go with the Nintendo Switch Lite. Given the $50 price difference plus the improvements in screen quality and battery life, I only recommend the Nintendo Switch (V2) if you’re trying to save $50.

Additional Storage

All Nintendo Switch consoles can utilize an SD card for additional storage. I recommend not skimping here, as it will directly impact load times. I would go with a SAMSUNG PRO Endurance 256GB MicroSDXC Memory Card ($20 at the time of writing). There is also the official Nintendo SanDisk 256GB memory card for a few bucks more. I would go with the Pro Endurance model over the officially branded one. 256GB gives gamers plenty of room to grow and store everything locally so they can play without internet access or needing to download anything else.


There are very rarely discounts on the Nintendo Switch. Bundles that feature a game or accessory come along that add more value. But getting a deal is tough. Nintendo and Amazon both feature refurbished/renewed Nintendo Switch hardware. I bought a used V1 Switch from a friend. Eventually, I got bored with Zelda and Mario Kart. I ended up giving it to my daughter. Fast forward to the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Booster Course Pass release and I suddenly wanted a Switch again.

You can find games on sale in a lot of places. Be sure to investigate the Nintendo eShop to see if there are any sales. I try hard not to pay the retail price for any video game unless it’s release day. I’m using other things to earn extra money, points, etc.

Nintendo Switch Online

There are deals on Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo’s online service, which is very affordable when compared against the competition. Plus, it gives you additional content from previous Nintendo consoles. It’s a must-have for Nintendo Switch owners if you are into some of the older games that are available.

Accounts and Parental Controls

If you give the Switch to a child as a gift, the parent/guardian will want to set the following up in advance (plus charge the Nintendo Switch). You can reasonably repackage everything once you’ve gone through the setup process and logged into your child’s account for them. This allows them to hit the ground running.

According to Nintendo’s instructions, “Parents and guardians can create and manage individual Nintendo Accounts for children ages 12 and younger.” Go to to create an account for yourself. Once you have your account, select “Family group” from the left-hand menu, and add a member. You’ll make a unique account for your child attached to your login. You’ll need a micro-transaction with a credit card to prove your adulthood. According to Nintendo’s website:

An account for a child is a Nintendo Account that allows users under 13 (and up to 17) years of age to use Nintendo Account services.

When a child shops via the Internet or on a smart-device application, information will be sent to the e-mail address registered for the parent’s or guardian’s account.

There is also the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls mobile app, should you decide to be more hands-on about your kids’ playing time. Check out the other Nintendo Parents Crash Courses if you need to learn more.

Must-Have Games

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Bundle Standard: This bundle contains the original game and the $25 Booster Course Pass. Nothing beats Mario Kart for racing fun, and this provides many opportunities.

Super Mario Wonder: I am not done with this game, but it’s a fun remix of the traditional Super Mario experience. It’s beautifully animated. It will likely win a few awards. It’s cool to venture outside the Mushroom Kingdom.

Nintendo Switch Sports: Sporting fun for everyone. We like to play this on rainy days. Also good at parties. One word of advice: only bother with the leg strap accessory if you love soccer.

Untitled Goose Game: Teach your children or friends in your life how to rebel against everything. This is usually on sale in the Nintendo eShop for $10.

Games to Consider

Depending upon your interests, consider some of these staples going forward. Most of these get discounted throughout the year on the Nintendo eShop


Depending upon your giftee’s propensity to throw the console in anger, you may or may not want a case or screen protector. A ton of carrying cases are available from almost every major retailer that sells video games. I’d recommend the versatility and affordability of Deluxe Travel Case - Elite Edition for Switch or HORI Nintendo Switch Slim Tough Pouch.

There are also upgraded Joy-Cons and holders for the Nintendo Switch. I am no fan of the lack of ergonomics of the stock Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons (which come in a variety of colors if you do like them). Rectangle-shaped controllers went out with the NES controller (more on that later). I’m a tall person and have big hands. I can feel myself making mistakes on the stock controllers.

I have been joyfully using the Hori Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro for years. I pack them in my checked bag if I’m taking one. Some other well-rated alternatives exist for a holder/controller upgrade to the Switch console.

Be wary of the potential for the Nintendo Switch to overheat. A Switch needs free air flow during most gameplay. Anything that encases a Switch without heat management is something I would avoid. Also, remember that if they play on the console directly and you get them a case or grips, they’ll need a compatible carrying case.

I like the feel of the Pro Controller when I’m playing from the couch. But this is rare, so it’s safe to hold off on one initially. There are also controllers for all the different consoles you can access through Nintendo Switch Online (N64, SEGA, Super Nintendo, NES).

How we got our Nintendo Switch consoles

We got my Nintendo Switch (brand new) for less than retail at Kohl’s when no Nintendo Switch was available anywhere. Some were going for double the price or more on eBay. It was a “right time at the right moment” purchase. They had some locked in a display case squirreled away on the floor of the home goods section. I would’ve missed it if the packaging wasn’t so distinctive.

We went to GameStop to get Max his Nintendo Switch Lite (brand new). I traded in some games and got additional discounts, which made the console more affordable. We got Max’s to play Mario Kart Live Circuit, which is worth every penny. Just make sure you don’t drive through any WiFi dead spots!

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