‘Tis the season of enforced family gatherings, far too much of every food imaginable, and TV schedules filled with unnecessary modern remakes of old favourites. It’s also the perfect opportunity to stuff a controller in granddad’s hands and demonstrate the joys of gaming with those who might normally avoid it, bringing family young and old together in one single harmonious Nintendo-branded activity. Anything to avoid another dull game of Monopoly that lasts until 11pm the next day.
Would-be Nintendo missionaries have a captive audience over the holidays without having to ‘accidentally’ spill superglue on someone’s chair like last time. Couch multiplayer is always the best kind of multiplayer and you already own the most portable and unfussy modern gaming console on the planet. Conditions are perfect!
Wondering how best to navigate this delicate festive arrangement and make the most of those extra Joy-Con? Nintendo Life is on hand to make sure you don’t mess up this annual golden opportunity with seven tips for prepping your family for fun...
Tip #1 - Be more prepared than Christmas Batman
Whether you’ve promised to visit friends and family or if they’re all coming around to visit you, make sure you’ve already picked the perfect set of Switch family games, everything’s charged, updated, the controllers are already paired, and everything’s ready to go.
If bringing the gift of Switch gaming to another’s home, you have your own HDMI cable with you, preferably with a splitter as well as your own three-way multi-socket adapter so nobody has to choose between keeping the Switch or the twinkly lights around the living room window on. There will be people present who would choose the lights.
In short, follow the Boy Scouts' example and always be prepared. You are an island of technological certainty in a sea of tinselled chaos, and everyone in the room looks upon you with quiet awe*.
*Quiet awe not guaranteed. Side effects may include mild bemusement and active disdain.
Tip #2 - Don’t touch that dial
Nobody wants to see an enthusiastic demonstration of your new TV’s ImmersoAmbiLightFeels™ system before they get to play anything. Grandma doesn’t want you messing with her set either, not even if you’re going to switch to the correct aspect ratio or dig through the service menus and turn off motion smoothing.
No, not even if you’ve got a PowerPoint presentation set up and ready to watch on a tablet alongside a downloaded version of that video of Tom Cruise explaining why it’d be so much better for everyone if only she’d just let you do it.
Unless half the screen is cropped off or it's outputting in black-and-white, work with what you've got and resist the temptation to tinker in a misguided attempt to attain audio-visual perfection.
Tip #3 - Share the Joy-Con only when necessary
Splitting one Joy-Con into two emergency multiplayer controllers is a really clever money saving idea at this time of year — and also an uncomfortable one. If you have to do this, it's only polite you take one half of the hand-cramping hit for the family team.
It’d also be a good idea to avoid using any rare limited edition Joy-Con controllers if you’re lucky enough to have them. If your cousin/sibling/dad doesn’t accidentally fling them across the room during a spirited game of 1-2-Switch, there’s a non-zero chance they’ll drop them in a bowl of tepid custard instead, and nobody wants to spend the rest of dinner comforting you as you ugly-sob ‘But I had to buy a Let’s Go! Pikachu Edition Switch to get those!’ into the good tablecloth next to a bowl of gently steaming roast potatoes.
Tip #4 - Be a digital Santa
Is someone else in your family a huge fan of Animal Crossing or Pokémon? Then send them something special, right from the comfort of your Switch! It’s never been easier to share a custom-made virtual Christmas jumper design with a loved one or swap specially bred Pikachus and shiny Wooloos, whether they’re in the same room or thousands of happy miles away, slapping on sun protection on a warm beach in
Opposite Land Australia.
You’ve given someone a thoughtful gift, and you haven’t had to spend a single penny. They may or may not be acutely aware of this fact. It's the thought that counts, right?
Tip #5 - Keep it fun
Making a six-year-old cry because 200cc races are the only ‘real’ Mario Kart 8 races is going to get you hastily crossed off everyone’s Christmas card list, as is the old ‘It’s not my fault they weren’t good enough to stay on the course’ excuse.
Likewise, insisting everyone plays Smash Bros. Ultimate using your elaborate tournament-legal settings when the only other person still half-awake only vaguely remembers ‘green Mario’ from their youth and is splayed out on the sofa nursing a belly full of cranberry sauce and mulled wine isn’t a great idea either.
Remember, it’s not a merry multiplayer meet-up unless everyone’s having a good time, even if that means subtly throwing a match or two. They can face your unbridled gaming might another day.
Tip #6 - Keep it simple
Much as we’d like to tell you otherwise, this is not the perfect time to rope two other people who were really only feigning polite interest anyway into playing Secret of Mana through to the end with you. Today is also not the day for an epic Mario Tennis Aces session with formal brackets and seeding. No, not even if there’s definitely enough space in the room for your free-standing white board, matching tournament ladder, and umpire’s chair. Just let everyone hit the ball until they want to do something else and pretend not to mind at all when your uncle wipes the floor with you even though you really were playing at your best.
As a general rule any game you have to explain to people for several minutes before they can play — or that needs a lot of time to set up — is the wrong game for a casual family get-together.
Tip #7 - Keep it short
Was a single 9-hole round of Mario Golf: Super Rush more than enough gaming for everyone, even though you spent the past week charging up every Joy-Con you could get your hands on (as we advised in Tip #1) and came to the party wearing a bandolier stuffed with every multiplayer game imaginable? Perfect.
Now’s the time to undock that Switch, load up your favourite single-player game, enjoy yourself and let those still awake enough to do so have the traditional full-blown argument about Die Hard’s status as a holiday movie.
Are you planning on some multiplayer Switch action this holiday season? How do you prepare? What games would you recommend? And most importantly of all, is Die Hard a Christmas movie?