It’s nearly time for the Nintendo Switch, a $299 hybrid TV/handheld game console due March 3 that’ll let you play stuff like Nintendo’s new The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in bed, on a plane, or yes, even on a porcelain throne.
You can check out our first impressions of the hardware here, then have a look at our roundup below of accessories worth considering, including one related to a potentially vital system preservation wrinkle.
A micro SD card ($13 for 32GB, Amazon)
Switch comes with a paltry 32 GB of internal storage, of which you can access about 26 GB out of the box. A game like launch darling Breath of the Wild takes up 13.4 GB. If that’s in any way representative of the average size of a Switch game, well, you can do the math: Two copies of Breath of the Wild would be one too many for Switch.
The fix is to either buy the retail/box version of each game, in which case all you’re eating up is save game space (Breath of the Wild‘s saves take up 64 MB per user). Or, since Switch has a slot for one, you can buy a micro SD card, which run about $15 for 32 GB and scale up from there. (You can find 128 GB micro SD cards of varying speeds for between $39 and $69.)
If you’re determined to buy all your software purchases digitally, note that additional micro SD cards will become a mandatory hidden expense.
The Switch Pro controller ($69, Amazon)
Think of it as a slightly more rounded, comfortable version of Microsoft’s Xbox One gamepad, only with a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 40 hours off a single charge. Yes, it’s pricey at $69, but it’ll let you sidestep having to pull the Joy-Cons off the Switch tablet and slide them on to the Switch’s de facto gamepad grip—just drop Switch in its dock, heft the Pro controller, and you’re in business.
Note that the USB-C cable included with the Pro controller is only 4 feet long, so if you’re playing with it connected, you’ll need to stay pretty close to the dock. And since Switch plus the dock weighs relatively little, and the USB cable is locked in place, even a slight tug could send your Switch flying. Consider adding a longer 6 foot (or more) USB-C cable to your setup, which you should be able to find for $10 or less.
Velcro or some sort of thick, double-sided adhesive tape ($3, Amazon)
See my thoughts on the Pro controller above. Switch in the dock weighs virtually nothing compared to an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, and the cable plug-ins (power, HDMI, USB) are secured with a plastic door that makes pulling them out without first unlatching the door impossible.
That means your Switch will move with said cables if you yank on them. If you buy the Pro controller and wind up playing with it plugged in to charge, then trip on the cable, Switch may well fly off the shelf and, well, no one wants that. Securing the dock somehow, given its precious cargo, seems like an easy to do, inexpensive no-brainer.
More Joy-Cons ($79, Amazon)
They’re not cheap, and the pair you get out of the box is sufficient to play games like 1-2-Switch with up to four people. But if you want to play others like Arms (boxing meets Gunpei Yokoi’s Ultra Hand) or Super Bomberman R (supports up to 8 players), you’ll need additional Joy-Cons. Nintendo currently sells them for $79 as pairs in gray, neon blue, neon red, or one red plus one blue.
You can buy individual left or right Joy-Cons for $49, but at a $10 premium. You can also buy additional straps (in matching colors) for $7.99 each.
Another Switch dock
Want to drag Switch around the house to multiple TVs without pulling cables and schlepping the dock, too? Nintendo sells additional dock sets for $89, including the cradle itself, the power adapter and an HDMI cable.
If you want another power adapter for on-the-go play (it also plugs directly into the Switch handheld’s USB-C connection), Nintendo sells those separately for $29.99.
The Joy-Con charging grip ($29, Amazon)
Sadly, the grip Nintendo includes with Switch is electrically dumb. If you don’t want to pay $69 for the Pro controller, but plan to do a lot of TV gaming (or you’re planning lots of local play with friends), consider the $29 Joy-Con charging grip. It’ll keep the Joy-Cons topped up away from the slate itself.
There’s also a third party Joy-Con charging dock that lets you juice up four Joy-Cons at once. It’ll sell for $29.99 when it launches on March 31.
The Joy-Con wheel ($15, Amazon)
Arguably more for younger, less hardcore Mario Kart 8 players, the Joy-Con wheel (you get two in a pack $14.99) lets you drop the Joy-Cons into a steering apparatus where the horn would be, then torque left or right to approximate the controls of an actual steering wheel. (Note that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe arrives April 28, though another racing game, Fast RMX, is now a March 3 Switch launch title.)
A portable power bank ($24, Amazon)
Nintendo rates Switch at 2.5 to 6 hours of battery life, so if you’re looking to eek out more, it wouldn’t hurt to pick up an external battery pack. You can find models rated to 10,000 mAh (twice what a 15-inch MacBook Pro boasts) for in the mid-$20s.
A carrying case and screen protector ($20, Amazon)
I don’t know whether the Switch’s screen is as scratch-resistant as that of certain smartphones, but I wouldn’t bet on it. If you want to play it safe, Nintendo sells a combo carrying case and screen protector for $19.99.
A decent pair of over-the-ear headphones ($90, Amazon)
You can absolutely use earbuds if you must, but since the idea behind Switch is that you’re gaming as much or more away from your TV, why compromise on audio fidelity?