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A parent's guide to Nintendo Switch

Has Nintendo finally come up with a worthy successor to its family-friendly Wii games console?

The tech giant will be hoping so after officially launching its new Nintendo Switch.

It's already available to pre-order in some places, before the official UK release date on 3 March, but at time of writing, many outlets, including Amazon, weren't accepting orders and so you will need to check individual online and high street retailers to see who has availability.

It will sell for a recommended retail price of £279.99.

Nintendo Switch is designed to be played home and away, courtesy of the removable 'tablet' that can be used as a handheld device (see image on the box, above) and its new adaptable Joy-con controllers. Available in a variety of colours, the controller can be separated into two halves to let two players play together on the move.

Switch uses cartridges called Gamecards and is not backwards compatible, ie: you won't be able to play games from other Nintendo devices on it, such as Wii U or 3DS on it.

Games already announced include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (available from launch, 3 March), Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (28 April) and Splatoon 2 (summer 2017). The console offers online play, which will be free on launch and then by subscription.

Parental controls - in an app!

Nintendo has also announced a new approach to no-fuss parental controls on the system with its own app specially for parents to monitor game play.

Nintendo Switch Parental Controls will allow parents to set time limits for play from their smartphones rather than having to navigate their way around the console itself.

If play continues after the set time, parents get a warning on their phone letting them know.

The console won't switch off mid-game (cue howls of despair from mini gamers if that was to happen) but if warnings are continually ignored, there is a function to suspend games mid-play when the allotted time is reached. A few automated shut-downs in the middle of Mario... and the message should eventually get through.

The app also allows parents to:

  • set different play time limits per day,
  • receive monthly report showing parents how long their child has spent playing individual games,
  • set restrictions based on a game's age rating,
  • turn off online chat or social media posting.

Nintendo consoles have always been seen as more family-friendly than the PS4 or Xbox One. It looks like the Switch is looking to continue that tradition. The proof will be in the playing, come 3 March.


Read Parent Zone contributor Andy Robertson's thoughts on Nintendo Switch.

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Finding the right games and apps from your family tablet

Choosing the right console games for your kids

Pokemon Go: a parent's guide

Virtual Realty: a parent's guide

Gaming, gambling and young people: a growing concern

Details correct as of 17 January 2017