The Nintendo Switch OLED Model is the newest addition to the Nintendo Switch family, the third pillar in a series of consoles that first began in March 2017. The Switch boasts some impressive sales numbers, with over 89 million consoles and more than 630 million software units globally to date. It is home to some of the most beloved video game series ever, including Metroid Dread, the latest title in the 2D Metroid series, and the first new traditional game in the franchise for almost nineteen years. The following words will attempt to offer some of my personal thoughts on the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, and how Metroid Dread looks and feels on the new hardware.
If you would like to read a wider-range of thoughts on Metroid Dread itself, you can check out our group review here that the Shinesparkers team contributed to.
For the purpose of this review, I was able to sit down and play with the OLED Model fairly significantly over a period of three weeks, in all three modes.
To begin, I want to highlight some of the differences between the OLED Model and earlier versions of Nintendo Switch systems, including some of the features this latest hardware has to offer. The console launches in two designs, the first being a more traditional looking grey console with neon red and blue Joy-Cons, and a beautiful white and black model, which is the version we are reviewing today.
Like the original Nintendo Switch, it allows you to play in three different modes: It can be enjoyed on your television while resting inside the Nintendo Switch Dock, in handheld mode for on-the-go gaming, and in tabletop mode so you can rest the system on a table or desk and play independently from a television screen for some solo gaming, or multiplayer mayhem with friends. The console is very similar to previous models, with the noticeable addition of a 7-inch OLED screen. Compared to the 6.2-inch LCD screen of the original Switch Model, and the 5.5-inch screen in the handheld-only Switch Lite, the OLED screen provides a larger and sharper display, as well as richer colours, allowing players to enjoy games in greater clarity while playing in handheld and tabletop mode.
But the OLED is more than just its screen. It features some nice improvements over its predecessors, such as 64GB of internal storage, which is a doubling compared to previous consoles, although it may not be much of a talking point when the system is capable of reading MicroSD cards up to 2TB in size. It includes a robust kickstand at the back of the console, which is much more stable than the flimsy kickstand of the original version, and covers the whole length of the Switch, allowing you to adjust its angle in tabletop mode to suit your needs.
There has been a noticeable improvement to the speakers too, delivering a much clearer sound when playing a game undocked, due to a closed-type speaker design, where the back of the speaker is sealed. There are also enhancements to the overall build quality of the system, such as a stronger cover for the fan, where the plastic was prone to breaking in earlier models, and the connecting rails that hold the Joy-Con controllers don’t bend as much as they did before on the original model.
The Nintendo Switch dock now includes a built-in LAN adapter port, allowing for a more stable connection when playing games online, something that fans of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Splatoon 2, and other competitive online games will be keen to utilise. The flap on the back of the OLED Model dock can even be removed completely, allowing easier access to the HDMI and AC adapter cables.
Compared to the first Nintendo Switch Model, the latest version weighs in slightly heavier, and is a fraction larger in size, so it won’t be taking up any additional desk space. According to Nintendo’s own website, the OLED Model’s battery will provide a gameplay session of approximately 4.5 – 9 hours, matching that of the revised Nintendo Switch Model (HAC-001(-01)) released in 2019. It’s also an improvement on the Switch Lite, which offers around 3 – 7 hours of battery life per charge, and is far better than the original launch model, which offered a rather disappointing 2.5 to 6.5 hours by comparison.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of changes that were frustrating to encounter. The biggest complaint I have in terms of design, is accessing the game card slot. The cover that protects it is quite difficult to open, compared to a larger indentation on previous models. About 80% of my games are physical copies, meaning that switching between them became a bit of a nightmare. It’s certainly a highly puzzling design choice that I can’t quite comprehend.
I also had some difficulty in inserting and removing my Micro SD card from the system, which required me to really push it into the slot underneath the kickstand, which has also changed position from earlier releases. But it wasn’t as big of an issue as dealing with the game cartridge slot, and it’s unlikely I will need to remove the card again for some time, especially since it’s now possible to transfer screenshots and video clips via USB connection, or with a smart device. Regardless, I felt it was worth noting for the benefit of the review.
It’s also important to note that there doesn’t appear to be any difference to the Joy-Con controllers, meaning the “Joy-Con drift” that has plagued Nintendo Switch owners for the past few years, is still a distinct possibility with this new Switch model. Despite Nintendo stating in a development article that they have been improving the analogue sticks in their Joy-Cons for a while, including this latest system, it’s disappointing to hear the issue still hasn’t been addressed. While Nintendo continues to acknowledge and fix Joy-Con controller issues in the United Kingdom free of charge, it’s hard to support the continued use of defective products. But overall, these improvements, while small, are welcomed additions that give the OLED model a premium feel.
Even though the system already has an anti-scattering adhesive film across its screen, which is used to protect it from damage such as scratches, or even shattering. I decided to be cautious and purchased a tempered glass screen protector from eBay (Brand: TECHGEAR, priced at £5.95) which I applied to the system without much difficulty. Given the risk of scratching when docking the system with the original Switch model, I didn’t want to take any risks.
It is clear that the best way to experience the OLED Model is in handheld or tabletop mode, so as to utilise the key features of the system: its screen and speakers. For the screen, it truly is a night-and-day difference by comparison. Every colour comes through much more vibrantly, and shades of black are truly black.
I explored several titles that I felt would benefit the OLED screen, but Luigi’s Mansion 3, Splatoon 2, and Fast RMX are three titles I own that really stood out to me in particular, and are a joy to play on this system. Their bright neon colours display beautifully, and enhance them to a point where I think I may struggle to play them again in any other way. The OLED Model was a good reason to go back and replay some older Switch titles, and has potentially breathed some new life into them as a result.
The speaker quality was fairly impressive, both in clarity and in volume. While I would normally use my headphones to play in these modes, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to enjoying my games without them, now that I’ve experienced the audio quality first hand. As a result, the OLED screen and speakers spoiled me rotten, and I would find it tricky to go back and play my old Nintendo Switch again. Handheld gaming screens have certainly improved significantly since I first began playing Nintendo, back with my Game Boy Color in the late ’90s!
Metroid Dread is the first title in the series to grace the Nintendo Switch, and the debut game for the series that features Samus in high definition. I had played through the game on my original Nintendo Switch on standard difficulty prior to obtaining the new hardware, but with both products launching on the same day, I felt it was important to share my thoughts on how the new game fared exclusively on this OLED Model. For this review I started a Hard Mode playthrough, and explored Planet ZDR for a second time.
Right from the title screen, I could hear an immediate difference in sound quality as the iconic title theme played. The menu looked brighter, and sharper than it did on my original Switch system, and right from the outset I was benefitting from the OLED screen before I had even started a new save file. I went back to my old file to compare the unlocked images from the gallery, and was amazed by the difference in quality.
As I progressed through the game, there were noticeable differences in the appearance of Samus’s weapons and abilities, which were brighter and punchier than they appeared on an LCD screen. Shooting enemies using neon-coloured beams looks fantastic. The Screw Attack was probably my favourite from Samus’s arsenal, because the OLED really brings out the brightness and colour of the ability, and it actually felt more powerful and impressive thanks to these visual improvements. I found myself using it at every opportunity.
Environments felt like they had been given an upgrade in quality, allowing me to appreciate the backgrounds even more than before. While exploring Artaria, the first locale of the game, I could see the benefit of the true-black areas, adding to the shadows and making the underground caverns more unnerving. This was even more present as I entered Dairon for the first time, traversing the surroundings without power.
The fiery hellscape of Cataris radiates more vividly, the plants and trees within Ghavoran felt full of life, with sunlight breaking through the leaves of the alien vegetation. The bioluminescent regions within Burenia were striking, and I loved the underwater plants and coral environments even more than I did the first time around. But my favourite of them all, albeit brief, was Itorash. Serving as the location for the final showdown upon a ship in the sky, the sunlight breaking through the clouds and lighting up the ship through its windows with a golden yellow glow, was absolutely beautiful, reminiscent of SkyTown from Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The shadows on board contrasting the light within the craft felt exceptionally sinister to me, filling me with dread as to what was coming next.
While I have quite a lot of praise for how the game displays on the OLED Model, I have to come back to the speaker quality, and how the game’s fantastic sound design benefits greatly from this change. From firing weapons, to dropping Power Bombs, I was impressed with the enhanced sound. While I would normally play using headphones in handheld or tabletop mode, I appreciated the clarity of what the console offered Metroid Dread without them.
On a side note, I want to say that Nintendo missed a fantastic opportunity to make this system an “E.M.M.I. Edition” with the Metroid Dread game packaged with it, given how the design looks and feels like one of the killer robots seen in the game. I feel that such a decision might have pushed the new game even further.
Despite all my praise for the system, and acknowledging that it is my favourite way of enjoying Nintendo Switch software, the core experience the Switch OLED provides closely mirrors that of its predecessors. It makes upgrading difficult to justify, and its price point is just a little too high.
However, I can respect that others may feel differently, and if readers insist upon picking up the OLED Model, I do want to try and offer some advice to anyone who wishes to switch over.
If you own a Switch that was purchased within the first two years of launch, you could enjoy an increased battery life, an updated processor, and benefit from a better build quality compared to the original. If you purchased your original Switch during its launch in March 2017, this may be the best reason to upgrade your system.
If you acquired a Switch after August 2019, it’s likely you obtained the revised Nintendo Switch system (Model number HAC-001(-01)). This version has the same processor and battery life as the OLED model, reducing the need for an upgrade. Sure, you’ll still benefit from the build quality of the new console, but is there really a pressing need to do so?
If you own a Nintendo Switch Lite console, the chances are you will already be used to enjoying your games in a handheld setting. The OLED’s beautiful screen will definitely be a huge plus point over the portable system, and you will enjoy a longer play session with a battery that holds a longer charge. But be prepared to pay significantly more than you did for your Switch Lite (Almost £110!). This upgrade should only be considered if you plan to benefit from the option of playing your Switch in docked mode.
Speaking of docked mode, if you are a Nintendo Switch owner who plays their games exclusively on your television, you will miss out on the key focus of the OLED screen, and the specifications of the system are the same as others when docked, so there will be no benefits in power either. There’s the built-in LAN adapter of course, but it could be purchased separately.
Ultimately, the best audience the OLED model appeals to are consumers who have yet to purchase a Nintendo Switch system, or have a console that has had some heavy usage to justify the investment. I can’t help but feel that Nintendo and consumers could have benefitted from a “Switch Lite OLED Model” focused on improving the handheld experience instead, and offering a product that has the build quality and features, with a more attractive price point. Perhaps this is something they will consider in the future?
In conclusion, the Nintendo Switch OLED Model is a fantastic product, and the best way to enjoy Nintendo Switch if you are a new customer who wants to jump in for the first time. OLED screens on Nintendo consoles and handhelds need to be the standard from now on, there is no going back.
If you already own a Nintendo Switch however, there is a bit more to consider, and you should be informed of the pros and cons in upgrading, and I hope this review has given you an informed choice in doing so.
Lastly, Metroid Dread is an excellent choice if you are looking for software to enjoy on the OLED, and if you are still undecided on whether you should buy it, a demo is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop, which you should definitely try!
Written by Darren