My affair with the Nintendo Switch started on a whim: I pre-ordered the system and the Legendary Edition of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild before anyone could tell me not to. Pre-orders went live during my bus ride to school—far too early for my parents or friends to talk me out of spending money I didn’t have—so I grabbed my emergency credit card and deemed this an emergency. My parents weren’t thrilled, but I assured them that the cost was of little consequence in the face of true love. They were slightly worried for my sanity.
From first glance, I was enamored with the console: it was elegant, mysterious, colorful, and sexy. I imagined wining and dining my Switch, spending the time to really get to know it and prove that we were clearly meant for one another. I impatiently counted the days until March, crossing off my calendar daily until our technological tête-à-tête. On launch day, all I had to do was persevere through dreadful classes, endure play rehearsal, and impatiently jitter all the way home, where my treasure awaited.
I’ll never forget the excitement I felt holding the console’s box, so glossy and sturdy it could only be high quality cardboard. With the precision of a surgeon, I pried away the packing tape and cautiously excavated its innards. Plastic bags and foamy sheets piled on the floor as I dissected everything piece by piece: the charger, the HDMI cord, the dock—the console. The vibrant red and electric blue Joy-Cons stared at me in their mismatching glory, and with the tenderest of forces, I opened the card slot and inserted the humorously small game cartridge. As Breath of the Wild’s title screen filled my television, I fell in love.
Our torrid love affair was steamy and intense; everywhere I went, my Switch would go, and many late nights were spent crushing the greens in Golf Story or wriggling around in Snake Pass. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe became a lunchtime staple, four high-schoolers yelling about red shells and banana peels for a half hour each day. By the time October rolled around, I celebrated submitting college applications by dumping hours of time exploring the world of Super Mario Odyssey, which, to this day, I can proudly say I’ve 100% completed.
My Switch journeyed to Hawaii, hosted mile-high races mid-flight to Italy, and survived a nearly month-long road trip through Canada. Crammed in the back of my car, I obsessively completed almost the entirety of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy; meanwhile, nights at the hotel were filled with my two companions carrying me through cross-platform Fortnite games.
Nothing quite matched those first few years of play, and like any couple who grows overly familiar with one another, my Switch and I began to take breaks. When films and television weren’t capturing my attention, I’d succumb to the siren call of the PlayStation 4 or Xbox Series S, each practically begging me to play games on them instead. It felt like cheating; it felt like moving on.
It never took long for a Dualshock 4 or Xbox controller to feel comfortable in my hands, and after a few hours I could almost forget that I’ve played games on any other system. A flirtation with foiling the fiends of New York in Spider-Man here, a speedy seduction stalking and slashing enemies in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice there. I had to remind myself that these were experiences I couldn’t get on my Switch, that everyone plays multiple systems, so why should I feel bad? Months would go by without so much as a hello between me and my Nintendo lover, and I’d sometimes hang my head in shame upon seeing its dusty screen around the room.
But I’d eventually cave-in, the allure and romance of the hybrid too powerful and tantalizing to ignore for long. These reunions were intense but brief: a few weeks obsessed with exploring the beautiful mysteries of Hollow Knight, planning to save the world in Into the Breach, a dalliance into school and war with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, a headlong rush into escaping planet ZDR in Metroid Dread. At some point, I got my entire friend group addicted to Hades, people rotating on and off the big screen while the rest of us played handheld. For a few moments, all would feel right in the world.
Inevitably, I wake up from my blissful euphoria, queasy guilt hovering around me as I readjust once again to life without the Switch by my side. As the time passes, my hands mold to my Xbox controller and my brain connects with new shows or books, but my heart is always with the Switch. The back of my mind always recalls the rapturous times we had together before swearing that next time will be different. But it never is.
Even now with aging control sticks and drifting Joy-Cons, the cracks in the vents and bends from my extended five years of play, it looks as beautiful as ever. Aging looks good on the Switch; wine wishes it aged this gracefully. And with each Nintendo Direct, I search for a new excuse to reconnect, with each new first-party title comes a reason to text “u up?” And the answer is always the same: “yes.”
So, my beloved Switch, my most bewitching and bedazzling and beau-tea-ful Switch, on this belated of anniversaries, I don my sparkliest dress and fluff my hair just so, wholly embodying the late Marilyn Monroe as I breathily and seductively sing: Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Nintendo Switch. Happy birthday to you.
Mik Deitz is a freelance writer and Paste intern. They inhale stories in videogames, films, TV and books, and have never finished God of War (2018). Yell at or compliment them on Twitter @dietdeitz.