More than a decade before the advent of the Nintendo Switch, on Christmas Day in 2006, my brother and I sat cross-legged from each other and unwrapped the ultimate cozy gaming gift any indoorsy child could want: a Nintendo DS. The handheld console had been out for two years, but this year was our time to shine, and accompanied by a copy of Pokemon (Pearl for me, Diamond for him) I quickly descended into an obsession with Nintendo courtesy of the best Nintendo DS games.
Before this, we’d only had an original PlayStation as our home console. It was fun, I spent a lot of time on Tekken 3, but it wasn’t as comforting as my DS would go on to be. My older sister had a GameBoy Advance SP - which I’ve now acquired - but we rarely used it, and the family PC wasn’t exactly a gaming powerhouse in the early 2000s. The Nintendo DS was the first console that belonged to me, and while it took me a little bit to discover which games I really wanted to sink into, it quickly became glued to my hip. Having something that I could take anywhere with me, from the garden to the back of the car on a trip to the shops (I was a child - this was about as exciting as my life got) was incredible. I wasn’t tethered to the TV and a controller, it was power in the palm of my hand, and a whole world of comforting gaming was at my fingertips.
So when I received a Nintendo Switch in 2019, also as a gift, I felt the same amount of joy as I did all those years ago, and there’s something about the console that has stuck with me and become a comfort in the same way that my Nintendo DS did. The Switch is the console I always find myself falling back on and there is a swelling library of comforting games now, all of which would satisfy my younger self.
The portability of the Nintendo Switch is undeniably the biggest factor in replicating this DS-like satisfaction and cozy feeling. I can take it wherever I please, and there are a lot of journeys further than the back garden or to the shops in adult life which could do with a little bit of comfort. Although it can't fold away and it doesn’t quite fit in my pocket (except for one jacket) it is still a fantastic travel companion, so I’m never too far from being able to jump into a familiar game like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, or even remakes of some of the best Pokemon games.
This also means I can use my Nintendo Switch whenever I’m in bed - an integral factor and part of any cozy gaming experience. There’s just something about the comfort of being in your own space all tucked up playing games on a Nintendo handheld. Here, the cozy factor multiplies exponentially, which I find also can create a far more immersive gaming experience in comparison to sitting on a couch, tethered to a television.
I’m certain that every kid who ever owned a DS used to tuck it under their pillow to play past their bedtime. Panicking as soon as it made the bootup noise because you forgot to turn the volume down is basically a right of passage, and while I don’t have to worry about this with my Switch anymore because I’m an adult with their own place now, there’s still a level of excitement with getting into bed to wrap up warm and boot up something on the Switch which simply wouldn’t apply if I had a PS5 or Xbox Series X set up in my bedroom.
A hub for cozy games
The best cozy Switch games give you a variety of different adventures too, and, regardless of your preferences in genre, there’s almost certainly something for you. I love to sink myself into a farming sim like Stardew Valley for a few hours at a time when I try to unwind, but equally, a puzzle-led game like The Last Campfire might be what I need to keep my brain occupied. Fortunately, the Nintendo Switch is not shy when it comes to cozy games - and even in the way it presents them to you on the digital storefront.
The eShop is fantastic in displaying the games on offer in a way I think the Xbox and Playstore just muddle. Although those consoles do have sections for games tailored to your interests and gaming history, it does feel messy and difficult to navigate, whereas the Switch basically holds your hand through your entire shopping experience. This only serves to replicate the feeling I used to have when going to the store to pick up a new DS game. Sure, digital downloads don’t quite scratch the same itch as a physical case, but the eShop comes very close when browsing for more games to help feed my cozy gaming habit.
So even though I’ll always have that little bit of hope that a new version or updated variant of the Nintendo DS will eventually make its way into the modern age of Nintendo consoles, it’s clear, to me at least, that the Nintendo Switch is the ultimate cozy gaming console. And it will remain so until the next handheld games console that consumes me for hours at a time is released and I can temporarily relive the joy of Christmas ‘06 again.
The best Nintendo Switch games are worth checking out if you’re looking for more recommendations on how to bolster your library. We’ve also got a list of the best Nintendo Switch accessories for ways that might enhance your setup to make it all the more convenient and cozy.
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Kara is an Evergreen writer at TechRadar Gaming. With a degree in Journalism and a passion for the weird and wonderful, she's spent the last few years as a freelance video game journalist, with bylines at NintendoLife, Attack of the Fanboy, Prima Games, and sister publication, GamesRadar+. Outside of gaming, you'll find her re-watching Gilmore Girls or trying to cram yet another collectible onto a shelf that desperately needs some organizing.