The Nintendo Switch Lite

The Nintendo Switch Lite

It’s starting to get to being that time. New consoles are right around the corner. 2019 saw one of the most quiet E3s in a generation and it’s pretty much just for one reason, Xbox and Playstation are getting ready to produce their next consoles. I can feel the end of this generation coming swiftly, but at the same time have NO idea what to expect next. We’ll most likely get a big PS5 announcement sometime later this year and expect Sony’s next console to release in the fall of 2020. Microsoft with Xbox Scarlett will most likely not be too far behind. Which leaves us with Nintendo. I love how Nintendo will always walk to the beat of their own drum, and the Switch is no different.

I’ll be honest right up front, I love the Switch. I’m completely biased as a gigantic Nintendo Fanboy, but the Switch has provided me with some of the most memorable gaming experiences in my recent memory. The concept works as it’s amazing to play a game on your television, then take it with you on the go with very little time lost. The sleep function alone on Nintendo Switch has me ranting and raving at how amazing it is. Is it a little underpowered when compared to its competitors? Sure, but to me that doesn’t fully matter. The rise of indie games and the proliferation of Nintendo properties have shown us that games have to be great on a fundamental level and that a bad game is a bad game no matter how good (or bad) it looks. I understand the importance of power as well and I’m not throwing PS4 under the bus either, the PS4 has had some of the greatest games of all time grace its console over the past few years. The Switch has found a place in the industry to operate very effectively and provide gamers with a varied library of amazing video game experiences. It’s got something new, old, borrowed, and blue…

As Nintendo showed off at E3 2019, there’s something for everyone to play on Switch. Shooters, adventure games, RPGs, fighting games, classic games, and the list goes on. Now that the console is a little older than 2 years old, it would make sense that Nintendo would want to iterate upon the hardware in some fashion. There was much speculation on the Internet due to patents and rumors that circulated for months. Rumors that spoke of a smaller, lighter, portable-only Switch and a more powerful, Pro Switch. No word has been said about a Nintendo Switch Pro, but earlier in July of 2019, Nintendo showed off the Nintendo Switch Lite, the next member of what they call the Nintendo Switch family of devices.

What is the Nintendo Switch Lite?

Nintendo announced a handheld only version of their Nintendo Switch. It has a smaller screen, doesn’t dock with the Nintendo Switch dock, So yes, the joke on the Internet is that Nintendo developed and created a Switch that doesn’t….Switch. Those folks don’t fully understand the importance of branding and marketing, but I’ll let that slide. The Switch is still a new console and creating a new device that plays switch games but loses some functionality doesn’t make it an entirely different console. Switch is a great name, it’s quick and easy to remember and it performs similarly to the base model. I feel that calling it something else would be a fumble.

Nintendo Switch Lite is a dedicated handheld console. This new handheld puts an end to the 3DS/2DS lineage as the true successor to that line, by delivering new experiences in the handheld space. Ultimately, the Nintendo Switch lite is a smaller, more portable Nintendo Switch that can only be played as a handheld. I love the way it looks and I’m excited to get my hands on one this fall.

Who’s It For?

The Internet loves to share their hatred and love for pretty much everything to the most extreme of opinions. As the Switch Lite was announced, the message boards and Facebook groups were a blaze with so much vitriol that I decided to take a day off from the Internet that day. All over a device that looks cool, plays Switch games, and something that no one is forcing you to buy. As always, gamers’ hearts were shattered because they expected to receive news about a Nintendo Switch Pro, a more powerful version of Nintendo’s hit console. Nothing makes people angrier than when their pet theories turn out to be slightly wrong…(see: Star Wars: The Last Jedi). I wanted to tackle what or more importantly WHO this machine is for, if you’re a hardcore “docked-only” player…there’s a good chance this isn’t for you.

When I first saw the Nintendo Switch Lite I thought of the Fall release lineup and the looming cloud of Pokemon Sword and Shield. This will be the “first” mainline Pokemon game to be released on Switch and its November 15th release date means that it will be a very important item to have for the Holidays. While Pokemon speaks to everyone nowadays, the series has always had a push to appeal to children. For many it’s the first RPG a kid will play and it’s simplistic presentation speaks to children as they can finally get into this universe. Hand-in-Hand with this year’s Pokemon will be the Switch Lite, a less expensive Switch that plays mostly all of the same games. If Nintendo wants to make a big splash this holiday, then the Switch Lite and Pokemon are the way to do it. You can get two Switch Lites and two copies of Pokemon for around $500, making it the perfect holiday gift if you have some kids in your family. Judging from what I’ve seen the form factor also looks a little more durable than the base Switch and a lesser price point of $200 also means that it would be a easier to replace if something happens to it. The Switch Lite is mostly for these three groups of people: Kids, Families, and people who travel frequently.

The Switch Lite is also for people who travel. I’m on the road a lot and having access to a smaller console that could better fit in my bag or pocket is a huge benefit. I’m contemplating buying one of these devices just for travel. The standard Switch is also fairly easy to travel with, but I like having the option to pack a smaller console that I can enjoy on a plane or in a hotel room. My favorite aspect of the Switch Lite is that it also has a dedicated d-pad…something that the Joycon on the Switch do not.

Is a Dedicated D-Pad That Important?

The short answer…yes a dedicated d-pad is very important. Switch has become a brilliant home for independent and classic games, including their own NES library. I don’t mind playing some of these games with an analog stick, but the 1990s kid in me demands a d-pad. The analog stick makes my Mario feel sloppy and my Mega Man feel wrong, but as the Switch Lite has an actual d-pad it will make my 2D gaming feel that much better in portable mode. My first exclamation when I saw the Nintendo Switch Lite was that it had a d-pad! This has me excited and while it’s not the only driving factor in purchasing one…it’s definitely swayed my opnion a little bit.

My Actual Fear About the Switch Lite

I do not have fears about the performance of the Switch lite nor am I concerned about how it will effect game experiences. Nintendo has been making the best handheld consoles of all time for 30 years, they know how to make their games work on the go. My real concern is that the Switch Lite will be the console in the Switch family that has all of the amazing alternate colors and special editions. As seen with the 2DS, Nintendo loves to create special Switch editions for different releases. We’ve already seen a Pokemon Sword and Shield version, but what happens when they make Mario, Zelda, Metroid, versions of the Switch Lite? How many of these will I have to buy??? I bet the answer will be somewhere between 1 and 15. And I’m scared….Look at these awesome mockups some folks over at IGN came up with.

You can’t tell me that SNES model don’t look amazing. I’ll take 8. Even the normal colors look pretty great. I personally favor the turquoise color scheme, but the Yellow and Grey both stand out, especially with the white buttons. The color selections give the console a little bit of a toy-like appeal as Nintendo produces a nice, clean console for the newcomers to series like Pokemon and Smash Bros.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is shaping up to be a hit. I’ve put it on my Christmas list so hopefully I find one under the tree this December. With my subscription to Nintendo Switch Online it should be easy enough for me to get access to all my games and save files. I’m pumped to have a new toy this year. For all the haters out there, don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your current Switch. I do feel that a Nintendo Switch Pro will be coming at some point, but I think we’ll see something like that next year, with the release of Breath of the Wild 2.

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