PC Gaming and Nintendo are tighter than the Mario brothers

Nintendo Switch: Hands On
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends
A pioneer in video games, Nintendo has built an empire on an army of loyal enthusiasts. From competitive kids to nostalgic adults, the company’s compelling and intuitive titles have always struck a chord with the masses. Among them are PC owners looking for something different — and finding it in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Nintendo offers truly exclusive titles, unique form factors, and pick-up-and-play mentality at the opposite end of the gaming spectrum from computers. Most PlayStation and Xbox game are available on a PC – and better for it. Nintendo, though, operates in its own world.

Real exclusive

While it’s hard to agree with exclusive titles from a consumer standpoint, it’s clear that Nintendo has the best collection. It’s easy enough to start with Mario.

Nintendo has consistently rolled out new editions of classic favorites in the Mario Kart and Mario Party series, as well as spreading out into basically every genre imaginable. There are puzzle games in several flavors, multiple distinct turn-based RPG series, and every sport from tennis to the Olympic games — not to mention the Donkey Kong and Luigi-focused spinoffs.

There’s no equivalent to Super Smash Bros on the PC.

Beyond the plumbers, Nintendo’s lineup includes some of the most popular games ever. Two major RPGs, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Fire Emblem Warriors, both have confirmed launches for the new Nintendo Switch handheld, and rumors are still swirling around a Pokemon release. There’s also a massive back catalog of classic titles that Nintendo has no reservations tapping into through its “virtual console” store.

That’s not to say the Playstation 4 and Xbox One don’t have their own great exclusives. The Halo series is a perennial favorite, and deeper titles like The Last of Us and Bloodborne, as well as PSVR, continue to draw crowds over to Sony. But these are exceptions to the rule. Most games, from Grand Theft Auto V to Dark Souls 3, are available on PC. And these games are often better on PC, with superior graphics, and mod support that leaves consoles looking like the inferior way to play.

Portable gaming that’s truly portable

Nintendo has always been able to claim two major points that gaming PCs have yet to conquer: battery life and portability.

While classic Nintendo handheld systems lasted for hours on end without swapping the batteries, newer options run anywhere from 3 to 7 hours, depending on the console. The Switch is quoted at 2.5 to 6.5 hours of gaming on a single charge, which sounds short until you consider all our favorite gaming laptops claim that during mixed workloads. In most cases, a gaming laptop will struggle to endure even an hour of actual gaming. Gaming laptops aren’t true go-anywhere systems. They rely on power outlets.

Nintendo Switch: Hands On
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends

The Nintendo Switch is compact enough to play on an airplane, and you can pick it up to take it with you. In short, it offers access to gaming at times when no PC is available. Nintendo’s previous mobile systems often filled this gap for PC gamers, and the Switch will continue to do so. Only now, PC gamers don’t have to worry about missing out on the most mainstream Nintendo titles, which often appear first, or only, on the company’s home console.

Anyone can play

Nintendo’s focus on easy to learn, hard to master games has made it the ideal ecosystem for casual players, and even people who have never picked up a controller before. While the stereotype of PC gamers hiding away in dark rooms is increasingly misleading, there’s a kernel of truth there. Apart from a recent exploration of the genre by games like Nidhogg and Rocket League, most PC games focus on providing an experience for one player at a time, or many over the Internet.

You can take the Switch with you, something the PC struggles with.

Nintendo has built an empire for its home consoles on some of the best couch games around. They’re all intuitive, a trend that picked up with the introduction of motion controls for the Wii. Even people who had never played video games in their life could pick up a Wiimote and play a round of tennis, or help you collect stars in Super Mario Galaxy. We have seen a handful of PC games with couch co-op in recent years, but it’s an experience that is, for the most part, foreign to the platform.

The Switch fills the “party machine” role a PC often can’t handle. Its controllers are classic and intuitive, and will immediately make sense to anyone who picks them up. The 1-2-Switch! Collection of minigames is the perfect example. It’s an unassuming title with simple, no-explanation-needed games. As we saw with the surprise hit Wii Sports, this sort of game has an enormous potential, and a surprisingly high skill cap, that draws in players instantly.

Shared passion

Even as PC gaming hardware squeezes into smaller form factors, and developers look for ways to ease the transition into the living room, there are some things a computer just can’t do. No gaming laptop will last a long flight, and try as they might, couch co-op games are still rare.

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have limited appeal to many PC gamers because they share these flaws, and lack the PC’s strengths. Game development is growing more homogenous, with only a few standout exclusive titles on each side. The only truly exclusive library belongs to Nintendo.

So don’t be surprised when you see gamers who normally argue over the benefits of AMD or Nvidia hardware bonding over a round of Splatoon 2.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Product Review

Samsung’s Galaxy Book 2 is a Surface Pro alternative with one big advantage

The 2-in-1 form factor is clearly a big deciding factor for anyone looking to buy a new device, which is why Samsung is again getting in the action this year with the new Galaxy Book 2.

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for October 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

These are the best Xbox One games out right now

More than four years into its lifespan, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

You're not a true fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.

Consider an extended warranty plan if you buy a Surface Pro 6

Though Microsoft offers a standard one-year warranty on the Surface Pro 6, consumers may want to purchase an extended warranty plan if they intend on keeping their tablet longer due to the device's low repairability score.

'World's best gaming processor'? We put Intel's new i9 through the ringer

Intel has launched the first Core i9 for the average gamer. Despite some controversies around its release, it’s the fastest gaming processor we’ve yet tested.

Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 vs. Google Pixelbook

Samsung's Chromebook Plus V2 attempts to answer the question: can you spend around half as much as on the premium Google Pixelbook and be happy that you saved some serious cash?

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step by step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.

Google Chrome 70 is finally getting a picture-in-picture mode

Picture-in-picture mode is finally coming to Google Chrome 70 on Mac, Linux, and Windows. The feature not only applies to YouTube but also any other website where developers have chosen to implement it.

Intel's 9th-gen chips could power your next rig. Here's what you need to know

The Intel Core i9-9900K processor was the star of the show for consumers, but a powerful 28-core Xeon processor also led announcements. Here's everything you need to know about the latest Intel chipsets.

Core i9s and Threadrippers are all powerful, but should you go AMD or Intel?

The battle for the top prosumer CPUs in the world is on. In this head to head, we pit the Core i9 versus the Threadripper to see which is the best when it comes to maximizing multi-core performance on a single chip.

Despite serious security flaws, D-Link will (again) not patch some routers

D-Link revealed that it won't patch six router models despite warnings raised by a security researcher. The manufacturer, for the second time in a span of about a year, cited end-of-life policies for its decision to not act.

Apple’s latest feature ensures MacOS apps are safer than ever

MacOS is mythically known for being more immune to viruses than Windows, but that doesn't mean there isn't room to make it safer. Apple is using an app notarization feature to protect users from downloading malicious apps.