The Nintendo Switch, which released worldwide on March 3, is one of the biggest gaming success stories of 2017 and the console shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. One of the most exciting things about getting a new console is discovering all of its various features and getting comfortable with how it works. Some features, like the ability to dock the system for instant TV play, are pretty self-explanatory but like any piece of tech with its own unique user interface and hardware, there are quite a few features on the Nintendo Switch that may not be so obvious.
If you’ve just picked up a Nintendo Switch, you may not yet be aware of the following things it can do.
16. GameCube Controller Support
Fireware update 4.0.0 added some much-needed features to the Switch when it dropped in October 2017 but one that nobody was expecting was support for GameCube controllers. Somewhat bizarrely, Nintendo never even intended to add GameCube controller support, with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime explaining that it was a surprise discovery brought about by another system feature that enables third-party peripheral support. The controllers will actually work with most games on the Switch but the caveat is that you have to have an adapter to make it all work. The good news is that while Nintendo no longer manufactures the Wii U controller adapter that allowed for GameCube controllers to be connected, there are a variety of third-party options available. Much like with official Switch controllers, all you need to do is hit the L and R buttons on the GameCube pads to register them with the console and you’re set.
15. Use Airplane Mode To Increase Battery Life
Nearly every portable electronic device has an Airplane Mode these days and the Switch is no exception. Designed to turn off wireless signals that could potentially interfere with an airplane’s systems, using Airplane Mode while you’re flying with your Switch is a no-brainer … but it’s also useful in any setting. See, activating Airplane Mode helps preserve battery life since it turns off battery draining features like WiFi and Bluetooth and since the Switch’s battery life isn’t the greatest to begin with, this can help make a charge to a little further. The great thing is that Airplane Mode is customizable on the Switch, meaning that you can choose which services you want to disable for those cases when you still need WiFi on but still want to maximize battery life.
14. That Click Sound Easter Egg
We have to admit that we became instant fans of that delightful little click sound Nintendo used in all of its Switch adverts at its January 2017 console presentation. Clearly, Nintendo knew it had something great as the company actually copyrighted the sound effect, which makes it all the more disappointing that it’s not implemented anywhere in the Switch’s menu system.
Or is it?
As it turns out, you can recreate the click sound on the Switch under a very specific set of conditions. You need to be in the middle of the game and have the Joy-Cons disconnected from the system. If you then slide the Joy-Cons in, you’ll be treated with a white burst effect on the screen (that sounded oddly sexual – sorry), followed by the classic click sound. Of course, you could always just watch this video on a loop too.
13. Use The Switch as a Portable Battery Pack
As already mentioned, the Switch’s battery could stand to be a bit better, which makes it kind of ironic that the system itself can be used as a portable power bank to charge other devices! In the very specific scenario where your phone dies and you can’t charge it anywhere but just so happen to be carrying your Nintendo Switch around with you, you can use the console as a battery pack for you dead phone. Simply connect the console to the phone or other device via USB-C. This also works for laptops and tablets, with the Switch actually charging the other device rather than the other way around.
12. Video Capture
The biggest new feature to be added to the Switch post-launch has to be video capture. When the Switch launched, the system’s capture button was only capable of taking screenshots but thanks to firmware update 4.0.0, video capture is now possible, albeit in a very limited capacity. For one thing, videos are limited to only 30 seconds or less, though Nintendo has said that this limit may be increased in the future. It’s also only available on a handful of games right now (as of this writing — The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, Arms, and Skyrim are the only titles that support it), which severely limits the variety of cool videos you can record on your Switch. Still, it’s better to have something rather than nothing, right?
11. Sleep Mode
Tapping the power button on the Switch will put it into sleep mode and suspend whatever game you’re playing, meaning that you can jump back in right from where you left off. However, it turns out that there’s another neat way of waking the Switch up from sleep mode using the Joy-Cons. If, for instance, the Switch is docked across the room and you have a Joy-Con handy, you can hold down the home button to wake the system up and start playing on your TV, which is great if you’re super lazy and can’t be bothered with getting up to do it.
10. Battery Percentage
By default, the Switch’s battery life indicator doesn’t display its charge percentage, but you can toggle it on and off by going to the System Settings > System and turning it on or off. Alternatively, if you don’t want to always have the percentage displayed but still want to check it every once in awhile, you can hold down the ZL and ZR buttons when on the home screen to briefly see the battery percentage displayed.
9. Regional eShops
My Nintendo accounts can only be tied to one region at a time, but if you create multiple accounts and assign a different region to them (Japan/Americas/Europe/etc.) you can access the different eShops from each region. Right now, there isn’t really much difference in what each shop is offering in terms of software, but you can always change your Switch’s region game art if it happens to be different between regions, such as the artwork for the American and European editions of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
8. Facebook Browsing
Although the Nintendo Switch currently lacks an internet browser, there is a way to access Facebook on the console by using the social sign-in feature found in a player’s profile page. Go to a profile page > User Settings > Posting to Social Media, then hit the Link button. You can then sign into an existing account and browse your Facebook feed, check notifications, and watch videos. Unfortunately, you can’t leave the website for a different URL, but it’s something at least.
7. Joy-Con Connections
By now, you know all about the various ways to play the Switch with the Joy-Cons: you can have them attached to the system in handheld play, you can detach them and use them like a Wiimote and Nunchuck, or attach them to the Joy-Con grip to form a more traditional controller. However, did you know what you can also play with one Joy-Con docked on the Switch and one detached in your hand? I have no idea what the use case for this option would be, but it’s there if you want it!
6. Unlocking Sounds
When unlocking the Switch from rest mode, you have to hit the same button three times. Most people probably just hammer away on the A button each time, but you may want to consider trying out some different button combinations, as each one makes a unique sound with each tap. For instance, the R-trigger has a honking sound, and clicking the right analog stick will elicit a ribbit-type sound from the system. I don’t want to spoil them all here, but consider experimenting with this neat little Easter egg then next time you’re desperately trying to jump back into Breath of the Wild.
5. Brightness Quick Access
You can change the Switch’s brightness setting in the System Settings menu, but no one wants to bother with that when they’re in the middle of playing a game. Fortunately, there’s a way to quickly access the brightness setting. If you hold down the home button, an options menu will slide out from the right side of the screen that not only lets you adjust brightness, but also toggle Flight Mode (aka airplane mode) and Sleep Mode on or off. Holding the home button again will exit the menu and return you to whatever you were doing before.
4. Dark Mode
The Switch UI is clean and intuitive, but lacks much in the way of bells and whistles. This extends to theme options as well, as there is currently no way to do custom wallpapers or download game themes to liven up the menus. Fortunately, there is a way to change the Switch’s default white them. In System Settings, scroll down to Themes. You’ll see an option for Basic White (the default) and Basic Black. Not much, I know, but at least it’s there if you find the white theme a bit hard on the eyes.
3. Create Your Own Memes
Like other modern consoles, the Nintendo Switch allows you to instantly take screenshots and upload them to the social platform of your choice thanks to the handy screenshot button on the left Joy-Con. However, the Switch allows you to go a bit further than just uploading an unadorned screenshot. The “Album” section allows you to arrange your screenshots, delete ones you don’t like, and even add text to them. In other words, you can easily create your own Switch memes right on the system!
2. Pro Controller Secret Message
Not exactly a feature, but a pretty cool Nintendo Switch Easter egg nonetheless. The Pro Controller doesn’t come standard with the Switch, but you should consider investing in one given that it’s the console’s best traditional controller option. If you do, you’ll be pleased to find that Nintendo hid a secret message on the controller. If you pull the right analog stick all the way down, you’ll spot a message in small font that reads “thanx2 allgamefans!” It’s pretty tough to find because it’s so small, but it’s definitely there and is a nice little treat for early adopters.
— じお@ゴードン・フリーマン (@geo_stream) March 3, 2017
1. Activity Log
The Nintendo Switch may lack the Wii U’s Daily Log feature, which tracks the number of games played and your time spent playing each one, but it actually still has an activity log … sort of. If you go to your user profile page, you’ll be able to see how many hours you’ve put into each game. However, the caveat is that it seems to take some time for the hours to display, as most Switch users are still only seeing the date they started playing a particular game at the time of this writing, less than a week after the Switch launch. But as evidenced by games writer Andre Segers on Twitter, your time played will eventually display (it seems to take about a week). It’s weird that Nintendo would hide this feature, but at least it’s still there.