Nintendo is the largest gaming company in the world by revenue, and the producer of the best-selling game franchise ever, even if the business has its roots in playing cards and, later, electronic toys.

It first entered the game console business making light guns for a shooting game on the Magnavox Odyssey console — the first commercial home console. In 1974 and 1975 Nintendo produced its first console and began creating games for homes and arcades. It was Donkey Kong in 1981 that catapulted it to international success. And when a dumpy, mustachioed Italian plumber named Mario was introduced to the world, a fandom was born.

Mario’s exploits are still wildly popular 36 years later. Millions of gamers are counting the days to the April 28 release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch — their latest console, which was launched early in March.

The Switch is a smart combination of portable and docked gaming, with various play modes: with two controllers that interact with the main console, snapping off for TV-based play or attaching back on as part of console-screen-based play. The console itself has a 6.2-inch touch screen, and offers game time of up to six hours — or plug it in to power and your TV via the dock.

Each controller contains a gyroscope and accelerometer for motion-based play, and the requisite contingent of gaming buttons, so they can be used in each hand, attached to the console in a two-handed hold, attached to each other using a supplied grip, or provide independent controls for two separate players.

Add in smart pinpointed vibrations to simulate certain tactile experiences and object-recognition cameras, and this console combines fun game play with being bang up-to-date.

The Switch also offers a nod to gaming in the age of social media, with a capture button to take screenshots of the action. Finally, they can be connected with up to eight other Switches for local wireless networked play or enable online multiplayer gaming. The device will set you back around R5,600.

Frankly, even from the point of view of this occasional gamer, the Switch is a big win for Nintendo. The game play experience is intuitive and fun, with all those extras setting it apart.

Nintendo Switch

Cool factor *****Usability *****Value for money ****

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