Tut tut

With all the excitement of going hands-on with the games, controller and screen at the launch event it's easy to pass over some of the finer details of the Nintendo Switch. Chief among these details for families is the Parental Controls app.

Other features may be sexier or more enticing but for mums and dads the ability to set limits on play-time without the need to come in and play policeman is a boon - even if kids themselves may not appreciate being spied on or having their previously limitless play sessions curbed in favour of homework or other tasks.

Beyond the knee jerk reaction from gamers concerned their parents may lock down play-time, being able to automatically set how long can be played on a particular day of the week is actually a good opportunity to talk about games in the family. Parents sitting down with children to discuss what's appropriate and then agreeing a time together enables everyone to have some input.

I'll often intend to let my children play a game for an hour or two but then get engrossed in something else and realise five hours have passed. Having the time limit means that I'd need to enter a passcode to let them continue and would have a natural chance to see if they wanted to do something else. Having this enforced automatically also avoids me being the bad guy.

This Time Limit feature was first seen on the Xbox 360 as the Family Timer, and was something parents loved to discover. I've berated Microsoft in a number of articles calling for it to be in the Xbox One as well, but currently it's still missing.

Add to this the weekly report of games played — like we have in the 3DS Activity Report — and Nintendo steals a charge on its rivals when it comes to family-focused features. Not only by getting these options onto their console at launch but also by putting everything in an external smartphone app that can be easily accessed by parents without having to navigate complicated system menus on the console itself. Nintendo has really taken the lead in this area.

Whatever else the Nintendo Switch achieves in its life it is already a game changer in console parental controls and will no doubt encourage other platform holders to follow suit - and that's a big positive for parents.