Nintendo has just revealed their newest piece of hardware; the Nintendo Switch Lite. it’s a handheld only version of its big brother and on paper, doesn’t have much to shout about. The reception hasn’t been as positive as Nintendo may have hoped, with many questioning why such a piece of hardware needs to exist. I, on the other hand, think there is a very clear reason for its existence; one that current Switch owners have no need to worry about; because the Switch Lite isn’t aimed at them.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is missing several features that the original Switch has, like the ability to dock with your TV. It’s also missing the flip stand, the detachable joy-cons and it has a slightly smaller screen. This means that games like Super Mario Party, which requires the detachable joy-cons will not be available on Switch Lite. The new console does make some improvements over its predecessor, however. You’ll get around 3 – 7 hours of battery life, compared to the 2.5 – 6 hours on the original Switch. It also comes with a dedicated D-pad which is something Nintendo fans have lamented about the original since its release.
So why the cold reception? It seems to come down to an existential question on the original Switch, namely, how popular is the “switch” element of the console. Nintendo advertised the original Switch as the “Play anywhere” console. It was either the portability or the bump-up in graphical fidelity when docked with the TV. You could detach the joy-cons, allowing for two people to enjoy some CO-OP action, all while the Switch was stabilized by its flip stand. Original Switch owners would be forgiven for questioning whether the Switch Lite is a revision of the original, or simply an addition to the Switch console family.
We all know that advertising rarely reflects reality; perhaps people simply weren’t using the TV docking feature as much as advertising would have us believe? Nintendo has ruled the handheld console market for over a decade now. Their Nintendo DS has seen many iterations and still is highly popular with Nintendo fans. It’s possible that Nintendo took stock of how many people actually used the Switch in docked mode and found that having it in handheld was far more popular amongst its users. Nintendo fans have become conditioned to play their favorite Nintendo games in a handheld format for some time, whether it be on the DS, the ill-fated Wii U, or on the Switch. It’s hard to break a habit.
If this is indeed the case, then Switch owners don’t have anything to worry about as the original Switch will still offer those feature that people love to use. The Switch has sold exceedingly well since its release in 2017 and isn’t going away anytime soon. The Switch Lite isn’t for current Switch owners, instead, it’s aimed at those who haven’t made the leap to the Nintendo Switch. DS owners looking to upgrade their handheld experience for example. It’s also aimed at those who don’t need to play on their TV’s and even I didn’t buy the original Nintendo Switch because of this reason. While the original Switch is a jack of all trades console that provides a great docked as well as handheld experience. The Switch Lite, on the other hand, offers only half of that equation.
With a low price point of £200 and its handheld focus, I’ll definitely will be picking up a Nintendo Switch Lite when it releases on September 20th. It will be the first Nintendo console I’ve owned since the GameCube. Since I spend a lot of time commuting, the Switch Lite is the perfect solution for those long train, bus & plane journeys. And if the Nintendo Switch Lite managed to appeal to a Nintendo absentee like me to get back on the bandwagon, it may end up being more successful than people expect.
If the Nintendo Switch Lite sounds like the handheld console you’ve been waiting for, it can currently be pre-ordered for £199.99.