I Finally Bought a Nintendo Switch

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I had a Nintendo Entertainment System when I was a kid. Depending on how you measure, this would have been my third video game console. I’ve been a fan of just about every game in the Super Mario Bros. series ever since, and I do my best to play through every important game in the series.

The last Nintendo console we owned was the original Wii. Super Mario Galaxy parts 1 and 2 were both fantastic. New Super Mario Bros. Wii was awesome, as was the extremely well executed fan-made hack titles Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Nintendo Switch in the dock

I’ve been contemplating finding a used Wii U for a few years just to play New Super Mario Bros. U, but this wasn’t high up on my list of priorities. I’m skipping ahead in the story a bit, but I should mention that an updated version of this game exists on the Switch, so I no longer have a reason to need a Wii U!

Our niece and nephew are going to be visiting us next month, and I’ve been saying we should have a recent gaming console on the TV to help keep them entertained. There are a handful of PlayStation 4 exclusives that I’d like to play, so I figured it was a toss-up between the PS4 and the Switch.

While chatting about this choice I needed to make with a friend of mine, he said, “Dude! You should just borrow my PlayStation 4!” That PS4 is running in my living room right now. In theory, this solved my problem, but I bought a Nintendo Switch two days later.

Should I buy the Switch or Switch Lite?

If you’re the same sort of gamer as me, you’ll be drawn directly to the Switch Lite, and it will have almost nothing to do with the much lower price. I play precise platformers like Super Mario Bros. or Super Meat Boy. I play old-school shmups like Gradius and Zanac; these are the sort of games I play on my custom arcade cabinet. I’m currently up to 4 boss cells in Dead Cells on the PC, and Dead Cells is available on the Switch.

These aren’t the only types of games I play, but these are some of my favorites, and they all have one very important thing in common: they all require a good d-pad.

Nintendo Switch on my desk

Last month, I played some Dead Cells on a friend’s Switch with the joy con. It felt clunky. Sure, you can use the four buttons on the left controller as a d-pad, but I didn’t enjoy it.

The Switch Lite has an actual d-pad, and it feels pretty good. You’re telling me that I can save $100 AND have better controls at the same time? Sure, the screen is a bit smaller, but that also makes the entire Switch Lite with controllers roughly the same size as the full Switch without its joy cons attached. It seemed like a no-brainer to me. Sign me up for a Switch Lite, right?!

I didn’t buy a Switch Lite!

Chris’s favorite game ever is the original The Legend of Zelda, and she is excited about being able to play Breath of the Wild on the big screen. She’s also interested in being able to spectate.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the lack of a d-pad. I’ve played four or five games of Dead Cells so far. I ended the first life early, because Breath of the Wild had finished downloading. On my second play, I made it past the concierge and died in the Stilt Village. One the fourth or fifth play, I got my first boss cell and completed 0BC.

I have to be honest. The fake d-pad isn’t as bad as I expected, but it does take some getting used to. It is definitely better than playing Dead Cells with the analog stick!

We haven’t even had the Switch for 24 hours

I’ve played through one level of Super Mario Bros. U. I believe I just started my fourth kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey. I’ve beaten the Hand of the King in Dead Cells and acquired my first boss cell. Chris has made some progress in Breath of the Wild, but I don’t know how to describe how much! We’ve also played some Tetris 99, which happens to be quite cool!

When I was writing that heading, I assumed we’ve had the Switch for two days. I had to check my email. All the confirmation emails from Nintendo for my game purchases happened yesterday. Only 22 hours ago!

If you buy a switch, you will be sending a lot of money straight to Nintendo!

As has been the case for a long time, the best games on Nintendo’s consoles are made by Nintendo. The switch costs $300. So far, we’ve spent $200 on Zelda and Mario games. I imagine we’re going to have to buy Mario Kart, and it will be difficult to avoid Super Mario Maker.

It looks like you can get a PlayStation 4 for roughly the same $300. I can tell you with great certainty that I would not even be able to spend $200 to $300 on games today for the PS4, let alone on first-party titles.

Nintendo Switch joycons on my couch

Most of the games I would eventually buy for the PlayStation 4 will go on sale. Sales on Mario and Zelda games are few and far between.

This isn’t meant to be a complaint, and I am comparing apples to oranges. These just happen to be the two consoles I was debating the merits of for the last week or two!

What am I going to do about the lack of a d-pad?

The most obvious answer is the Switch Pro Controller. Let’s not ask why it costs nearly twice as much as a Sony DualShock 4 controller. Let’s talk about whether it is a good fit for my needs!

Why would I play Dead Cells with the Pro Controller? I can just continue to play Dead Cells with my DualShock 4 on my computer. If I’m playing Dead Cells on the Switch, I want it to be portable!

I’m not ruling out the idea of buying a Pro Controller. I just don’t think it does a good job of solving my problem.

There are some options for joy cons with d-pads. HORI makes an officially licensed left joy con with a nice-looking d-pad, but it doesn’t support wireless operation. This would probably get the job done, but it seems like it could be limiting when on the go.

There are some replacement shells available for the stock joy con that swap out the four individual buttons for a d-pad. I think this eXtremeRate Classics shell looks neat, because it is available in designs that mimic either the original Nintendo or Super Nintendo controllers!

I think modifying the stock joy con is the way to go. I don’t want to lose the wireless functionality. I can play on the porch. I can play on the TV from the couch. We wouldn’t have to give up the two-player joy con option when on the road, either.

I need to do more research, and I’m not exactly in a hurry to start taking apart my Switch. I’m having enough fun playing games that don’t even need the d-pad for now. I’m sure I’ll get antsy at some point, and I’ll be wanting to play a bunch of Dead Cells!

I didn’t buy my Nintendo Switch from Amazon!

Not too long ago, Nintendo refreshed the Switch hardware. They both play games exactly the same, but the new edition of the hardware has an updated CPU and GPU. The updated hardware isn’t faster, but it is much more efficient.

Nintendo says the original hardware has a battery life of 2.5 to 6.5 hours while the new hardware can manage 4.5 to 9 hours. I had heard this stated as being a 2-hour increase in battery life, and it didn’t sound like a big deal, because I thought the improvement was from something like 6 to 8 hours.

Going from 2.5 to 4.5 hours is HUGE. You need the new hardware. Most of the listings on Amazon either have the old part number listed in the description, or they don’t actually say one way or the other.

I don’t normally like to waste my time shopping in brick and mortar stores, but two extra hours of battery life seemed worth a trip to Target!

If you want the much better battery life, look for model numbers starting with HAD. The model numbers that start with HAC are the old ones! I’m sure that in a few months, this won’t matter. For now, though, many vendors still seem to have old stock!


The Nintendo Switch is fantastic, but I am certain you’re already aware of this. As I’m writing this, I can hear my wife hollering at Mario in the other room. She’s playing New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, and it sounds like she’s having a good time.

I’m already tempted to buy more of my favorite games. 10tons Ltd. makes some of my favorite top-down shooters, like Neon Chrome and JYDGE. I’ve been wanting to play Time Recoil and Undead Horde, and I will definitely be picking these up for the Switch. I already have quite a few games in my library that I need to make some progress on, so I’m doing my best to wait!

What do you think? Should I have bought a Switch a long time ago? Am I missing any important games? Am I going to stop worrying about the missing d-pad in a few weeks? Let me know in the comments, or stop by the Butter, What?! Discord server to chat with me about it!