Where can I buy the hugely popular Nintendo Switch in the UAE?
The sought-after console has become difficult to get hold of globally amid the coronavirus pandemic
I went paragliding off a cliff against the backdrop of a beautiful setting sun last night and then rode a horse through the mountains, chatted to the villagers and solved a few puzzles. All in all, time well spent.
And no, I wasn't breaking the movement restrictions in place across areas of the UAE during the coronavirus pandemic. This was the virtual world of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch.
The handheld console has become one of the must-have items during the period of lockdown for many in nations around the world.
But getting hold of one hasn't been straightforward as demand has outstripped supply for the device, which can also connect to a television and provide hours of multiplayer fun when played with other family members within a household, or online with friends (and strangers).
The Switch even sold out in its home country Japan, leading to an apology from Nintendo.
Is the Switch available to buy in the UAE, then?
Yes, you currently can get hold of one, but will need to shop around to find the best deal and will find that many places are out of stock for particular bundles, or don't have any stock at all.
Nintendo provides two main options for gamers to choose from – the full-size Switch which connects to the TV and can also be used as a handheld device, and the Lite version, which is just handheld and is cheaper.
Here's a rundown of what you can buy at UAE retailers online:
Carrefour: Out of stock.
Lulu: Lite Pokemon Edition (Dh1,199), Lite standalone console (no games included) in turquoise (Dh1,099).
Jumbo: Lite standalone console in turquoise (Dh1,049).
Virgin Megastore: Switch + Neon Joy Con + The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild + Xenon Racer + Starter Kit (Dh1,899). Also various bundles of the Switch Lite (Dh1,199)
Sharaf DG: Lite in various colours + Fifa 20 (Dh1,198).
Toys R Us: Switch + Grey Joy Con + Smash Bros (Dh1,839). Various Lite bundles are available with a game (Dh1,198) and also without a game (Dh1,005).
Emax: Although the website showed a bundle at Dh,1,699, they were said to be out of stock on enquiry.
Geekay Games: Switch + Sonic Mania + Pokemon Mystery Dungeon or Super Mario Odyssey or Mario Kart 8 + carry case (Dh1,899). Standalone Switch also available with grey or neon joy cons (Dh1,699), and Lite (Dh999).
Amazon.ae: Switch standalone grey (Dh1,990), Switch Animal Crossing Edition (Dh2,584.93)
Noon: Switch standalone blue and red or grey (Dh1,729). Lite in pink colour (Dh1,199). Delivery in two days.
Online shoppers in the Emirates have had to become accustomed to lengthy delivery times due to the high volume of orders being placed.
While it can be a good idea to call the retailer to check on their stock ahead of ordering, many call centres are only taking calls related to certain or vital requests, and as such not all of the above prices and availability quoted could be verified.
However, Geekay Games confirmed it had plenty of stock and said the Switch has been "extremely popular".
It added that the delivery time was 3-5 days for Dubai and Sharjah and 5-6 days for Abu Dhabi.
What about the Animal Crossing phenomenon...
Indeed, this new game is considered to be part of the reason why the Switch has sold so well, and sold out, in recent weeks.
Amid the stress of the pandemic, people have been keen to find ways to relax and Animal Crossing: New Horizons is seen as the ideal solution.
Released on March 20, the fifth game in the Animal Crossing series is a real-time life simulation that allows players to live on a deserted island with all sorts of cute animals, and can join up to eight friends in the game online.
There's no masks, no economic meltdown, just a slice of the good life and the chance to get away from it all.
What else is worth adding to the shopping list?
There's no shortage of decent Switch games as the console has been around for a few years now.
Super Mario fans will want to head straight for Super Mario Odyssey, an open-world platform game full of typical moments of Nintendo magic. Then there's the latest version of the classic racer Mario Kart, and Super Mario Maker 2 for those who need to stretch their creative instincts.
Pokemon enthusiasts will likely find themselves enthralled by Let's Go Eevee and Let's Go Pikachu, while the critics regard The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as Nintendo's greatest achievement.
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Updated: April 22, 2020 11:00 AM