A child-friendly Nintendo Switch gallery

A number reading this page will have spent the last weekend dabbling around with the Nintendo Switch. We've been doing this too, of course, and have also observed friends and family doing the same. Add to that the power of the internet and some interesting little discoveries have been made, some of which were spotted prior to launch and others that emerged once the first system update and group of owners got into things.

We've picked out some examples, some potentially useful and others that are silly but fun little Easter Eggs, that are worth checking out on your Switch.

The HOME Button's different menus

This writer, instinctively, has always tapped the HOME menu when in a game, which opens up the main user interface and gives the full core suite of UI options, including the ability to close software in use with a press of the X button.

It was through observing others we clocked that some, instinctively, press and hold the HOME button that little longer; while this doesn't let you close the software currently open it does provide some handy quickfire menus. It brings up a quicker way to go into Sleep Mode, you can turn Automatic Brightness on or off, set screen brightness manually or enable Flight Mode. In an interesting little nod that shows Nintendo's advertising team wasn't fully sure of the features when making the original 'preview trailer', the actor is shown playing Skyrim on a plane with the Joy-Con detached. Actually, the use of wireless controllers is out when Flight Mode is enabled (because of the Bluetooth, probably), so unless you want frustrated aircrew telling you off keep those Joy-Con clipped in.

While many will instinctively close software when they're done, it's also perfectly fine to just put the console to sleep, come back the next day and quickly jump back into your paused game.

My Nintendo Points on Retail Downloads

One of those details that may have been missed in the launch mayhem, Nintendo has finally opened up My Nintendo rewards to physical retail purchases, bringing back the benefits last seen in the Club Nintendo days.

The number of Gold Points is less generous than with an eShop retail download (we got 16 for our Breath of the Wild card copy) but it's better than nothing. You just need to put the game card in, navigate to its window and hit - / +; go down to 'My Nintendo Rewards Programme and select 'earn points'. Naturally you'll need to connect your Nintendo Account to the system before doing this.

'Local' Software Updates Are on the Way

Found in the same software menu under the 'Software Update' option, this is a feature not live yet but is a promising one for the future. For those having connection issues or have a spell without internet access, they'll be able to update software 'Via Local Users', in which the local wireless between the two systems will prompt a copy that has been updated to do the same for those that have been stuck offline.

It 'will be added in a future system update', so hopefully won't be far off.

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You Can Buy eShop Games for Any Region, and Play Those Games Online

The Nintendo Switch is region free, rolling back a controversial aspect of the 3DS and Wii U and allowing importers - once again - to pick up retail games / copies only available in other regions and actually play them. The eShop, though, is a slightly different beast, as when you link your Nintendo Account you pick a region; therefore those are the games you see in the store.

Nintendo naturally hasn't advertised it, but it's relatively easy to have your cake and eat it with downloads, accessing the eShop for territories such as Japan. The system supports multiple user accounts, so the process is all about creating a new Nintendo Account for the extra region you want to access. We explain how to do it in this region-free Switch eShop guide.

The downside? Depending on your credit card some may not work right off the bat in the Japanese store (some do), so you may need to buy Japanese eShop credit from an import site. The plus side? It works, and you can play compatible online games without any hassle; one of our US-based staffers has been happily playing online matches in the Japanese release of Puyo Puyo Tetris.

A Tiny eShop Menu Has Plenty of Useful Features

The Nintendo Switch UI is pretty decent, but it certainly relies on user curiosity to discover some features. Take the eShop, for example - where are all the menus? Well, you need to select or tap on the tiny little user icon on the top right. It's in here that you can adjust some account details like credit / password settings, Redownload games or check out your Watch List.

Adding games to a Watch List is easy-peasy, just pick a game profile from the main eShop UI and select 'Add to Watch List'; this is good for those retail games that, perhaps, are in your "when it's discounted" list.

Redownload Games relates to the Archive Game option found within 'System Settings' in the main system user interface. Under 'Data Management' and 'Software' you can select a game and opt to 'Archive Software', which deletes everything but the save data and the HOME menu icon. This is ideal for those struggling for space but aren't able to pick up a microSD card just yet. This is a minor alternative to the admittedly baffling and annoying fact that save data is tied to internal memory at the moment, so if you're genuinely running out of space you may need to clear out a game to allow for save data, if you've packed the 26GB allowed on the system to the gills.

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The Parental Controls App Shows Your Gameplay Time (But we still miss the Activity Log)

We're sad about the lack of an Activity Log on the Switch, to be honest, especially when racking our brains to try and figure out how many tens of hours a certain RPG adventure took to beat. Quite why it's missing is a mystery, as both the Wii U and 3DS had equivalents. Why did you do this to us, Nintendo?

There is a fiddly and slightly silly workaround, though - be your own parent. If you download the 'Switch Parental Control' app on your phone / tablet you can link it to your system, set the pin to something like 0000 and get regular updates on how long your mini-me (also known as the real you, keep up!) played on any given day. You can even set yourself daily play limits with a mean parental alter-ego, then rage against yourself when the system automatically turns off. Ok, maybe don't do that last one.

The downside is you only see an overall amount of time played, so we tested it with two separate games and the app showed us which games had been played along with an overall playtime - it didn't break down the time played in each individual titles.

Apparently you can also see how long someone's played a game in your friend list, but this seems to show for some and not others. Ultimately, the parental app is your best choice. There's a 30-60 minute delay between playing the Switch and the app updating, but it works.

Or Nintendo could give us a Daily / Activity log, whatever.

You Have Two Theme Options if You Look Hard Enough

Some things in life are certain - death, taxes, and Nintendo producing awesome HOME Themes that have us parting with cash despite our better instincts. The fact the system has two 'themes' means it's only a matter of time before Nintendo's ready to sell us that Splatoon 2 HOME Theme that we all secretly want.

By default you have the 'Basic White' theme, which is bright enough to make our TV creak on its wall hinges, for some reason. If you go into System Settings and scroll down to 'Themes' though, you can change it to 'Basic Black', which is as moody, complex and edgy as we all like to think we are.

The Lock Screen Makes Funny Noises

Well, it does. Observe...

Taking screenshots without restrictions

When we say without restrictions, we mean it. When you capture an image with that neat little button (the only time this doesn't seem to work is in the eShop, oddly) you can then view it in Gallery, edit by adding some text and then share it on social media. An example is below.

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Yet Nintendo has either forgotten to censor naughty words, or has simply given up the fight. Not only are well-known YouTubers giving their horses bad names in Breath of the Wild, but based on the inevitable Reddit and social media threads you can swear like a sailor in screens shared to social media, too.

Won't Nintendo think of the children?

Game boxes are the same size as the console

Some pointless trivia for you...


Those are some little details around the system, in any case. We're planning to summarise some of the complaints around Switch too, in the interest of balance, and will likely apply a scale - 'Real Problem', 'Trivial Issue' and 'Hm, who cares', or something along those lines. From save data restrictions to protecting that screen and to various other things besides, we've seen a mix of valid and not-so-valid gripes about the Switch in its launch form.

In any case, use the comments to let us know of any fun little features or capabilities of the system that aren't covered above.