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Nintendo Switch Lite announcement EXPLAINED

Image Credit: Nintendo

So two days ago, I woke up bleary-eyed and bored. So I opened up my phone and scrolled aimlessly through my notifications page. And the first thing I found would have had me do a double-take had I been sipping coffee or water at the moment—-Nintendo had just uploaded a reveal trailer for something called the “Nintendo Switch Lite” ten minutes ago from when I had boarded the bus.I couldn’t believe my eyes that this had been announced while I was eating an egg sandwich merely minutes ago, and almost hesitated to even click the video in case it was joke-clickbait from IGN. But this “Switch Mini” was no surprise at all. It was perhaps Nintendo’s worst kept secret for a year up to that point. For several months, industry rumors and even third-party accessory listings pointed to two new Nintendo Switch models for release in 2019. One, an upgraded model like how Nintendo did for the New 3DS XL from the regular 3DS. This model would be somewhat of a “Switch Pro”, an incremental upgrade with more power, subtle improvements, and presumably a heftier price tag.

But even more rumors seemed to point to just the opposite also happening, but sooner; a budget model of the Switch, which would be a downgrade in the way that the 2DS (which I own, by the way) was to the regular 3DS. The way to make the Switch target the same audience that the 2DS and 3DS did, which was often either young children or portable gamers on a budget, was to turn it into just that: A portable console. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, isn't the Nintendo Switch already portable? Yes, it can be taken out and about separate from a TV. But it isn't a "portable console". You see, Nintendo themselves has stated repeatedly that they consider the Switch to be a home console that can be taken on the go. Notice that they consider it a home console first and foremost. Also, since it can be played both on television and on its own screen, this makes it a new type of console altogether, or a "hybrid" console. It is not simply a portable console.

The 3DS is old. Very old. It has reached its eight-year birthday by this point. Nintendo has always kept the practice of having one primary home console, and one portable console at the same time, dating all the way back three decades ago to the NES and the Game Boy, and then the SNES and the Game Boy Color, and the Gamecube and the Game Boy Advance, and the Wii with the DS, and so on. But now that the Switch fulfills both audiences of those who want a more powerful, immersive home console experience, and those who want a more mobile device that can be used anywhere independently, it would appear that Nintendo's approach would have shifted.

But nope, Nintendo continues to have both a home console and a portable at the same time, and it isn't just in purely the Switch. The same year the Nintendo Switch launched, the 3DS line got another upgrade in the New 2DS XL, which launched in the summer of 2017 (merely months after the initial Switch launch!). Was this because they didn't care about the original Switch? No way! Of course, they would continue to work on games and models for the Switch, but the 2DS was, as they described it, a more budget and gateway model that appealed to a different audience altogether.

But now that all first-party development has officially ceased for 3DS games, and its death seeming eminent (besides Nintendo repeatedly insisting that it will still be sold for a few more years), you've got to wonder what will fill that gap of a cheaper, portable-only system that will be a successor to the 3DS. Well, on Wednesday morning, the 4DS was announced. But Nintendo would like you to call it the "Nintendo Switch Lite".

The Internet was absolutely set on fire by this announcement. While plenty of people were extremely excited and positive about it, many were still completely cynical and harsh on the whole thing. But, what even is this "Switch Lite" thing, anyway? Well, for those of you who haven't heard the news and YouTube videos about it already, the first part of this post will be just laying out the pure facts, plain and simple, without any opinions. The second part will be my personal thoughts and opinions, why on Earth that Nintendo would make such a device, and why it's basically a 4DS.

TL;DR: The Nintendo Switch Lite was announced on Wednesday morning by Nintendo. It is launching this September for $199, and it's a portable-only model of the Switch with only a few compromises that are definitely worth it for those who want an upgrade from a 3DS or portable-only players. The lack of tabletop mode makes it not worth it for me personally, but cynics of the system are forgetting the fact that if they own a Switch already, this isn't for them anyway. It will probably sell very well this holiday season and will keep the Switch momentum going. 

Just the Facts

You can watch the official reveal trailer above, or at this link:
The 6-minute video basically tells you all the facts about the system, like size, price, features, and specs, and also includes some renders of all the colors and short clips of advertisement people playing it, as you'd expect.

Image Credit: Nintendo 

But if you don't want to watch the video, I'll just summarize it all for you here. The Nintendo Switch Lite is a complementary addition to the Nintendo Switch family of products. It is a handheld-only system, and will not be able to connect to TVs at all (don't even try through the USB-C port, buddy, since that won't work here). Thus, the controllers are built into the device instead of being detachable, making it similar to a PS Vita or 3DS. It has the basic Switch layout and buttons besides detachable controllers. That means air vents, 32 GB of storage and a micro-sd card slot, a headphone jack (but still no Bluetooth headphone support, unfortunately), USB-C charging, and tilt-based gyroscope motion controls for things like motion aiming in Splatoon 2 are all present here. It will be able to play all Nintendo Switch games that support handheld mode, but has no kickstand for tabletop mode, though Nintendo says it has Bluetooth and therefore you can pair controllers to it to theoretically play multiplayer games or motion games like 1-2 Switch, Pokemon Let's Go, and especially Super Mario Party if you feel like propping the thing up and playing on the 5.5 inch screen anyway.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Oh yeah, about that screen: It may be smaller, but there are virtually no other compromises made here. It still has a 720p resolution, which actually makes it sharper than a regular Switch's screen since it is more pixel-dense, and is a capacitive touch screen, but there's no support for auto brightness like on the regular Switch (except that I don't see that being a big deal for most people). In addition, there's actually a slight boost in the processor that allows for more efficient handling that doesn't make a game-based or visual difference but allows for longer battery life than the base Switch, of course. Nintendo says to expect a 20%-30% increase in battery life, which roughly equates to 3 to 7 hours of play time, instead of 2.5 to 6 hours on the regular, more technically-demanding Switch. The size of the unit overall has been compared to holding a regular Switch without the right Joy Con attached for length, and it is slightly less tall and also thinner.

Image Credit: Nintendo 

Besides battery life, improvements, as opposed to the regular Switch, are an actual, proper + Control Pad, or a D-Pad. Many were upset that this was missing on the original Switch, due to it being more ideal for precise, 2D retro platformers and Tetris, but that was since the Joy Cons were meant to be able to be used sideways and detachable for local multiplayer, where the split buttons functioned as face buttons for each player. But since the controllers aren't detachable here, it makes sense that Nintendo would include a good-ol' D-Pad here, so that's a great addition. However, Nintendo has stressed in an interview that just because there is a D-Pad here, doesn't mean that they have plans to bring them to a regular Joy-Con, ever. Sorry D-Pad fans, but you, like I, will have to stick to good third-party options in the forms of controllers, shell swaps, and my personal favorite that I own, the 8-BitDo SN30 Pro retro controller.

However, do not be mistaken; This Switch is still a downgrade from the regular Switch, and that's reflected in not only the lack of TV mode but also in its features. Certain features were cut to save costs, such as any rumble whatsoever (which is a shame because some games used it well, like Super Mario Odyssey, where it was actually downright necessary to get one particular moon), and also an IR camera. But that IR camera isn't much of a loss since the only games that used it were1-2 Switch for that one sandwich-eating game, and much of the Nintendo Labo cardboard mini-game sets, which the Switch Lite obviously doesn't support anyways. But thankfully, for all the Amiibo fans and collectors out there, Nintendo's popular toys-to-life NFC figurines will still be supported, since there's an NFC reader under the right analog stick, just like how there is on the regular Switch, phew.

Image Credit: Nintendo/The Pokémon Company

You get all of this for the cheaper price of $200, instead of the regular Switch's price of $300. It comes in three color options at launch, all of which look very sleek and pastel inspired, which are the choices of a simple grey, vibrant yellow, or cool turquoise body with clean white buttons, sticks, and triggers. It launches September 20, 2019, which is the same day as the release of the new Zelda: Link's Awakening remake for the Switch. But it wouldn't be a holiday-season Nintendo handheld without a special Pokemon edition, which will be launching the same day as the Pokemon Sword/Shield games on November 8th. It has a nice, arctic white body and colorful buttons and triggers as well as a back printing that reflects the two legendaries in the game (I forgot their names, so don't get mad at me, Pokemon fans!), but it doesn't come bundled with the games. Now that I got all of that mumbo-jumbo out of the way, on to some opinions and further discussion!

About that Name
Image Credit: Nintendo

If you know anything about the history of Nintendo's portable console revisions, then the suffix "Lite" should be familiar. That's since it was last used for the DS Lite. The DS Lite, while obviously more portable and slimmer and lighter than a regular DS, was actually an upgrade from a regular DS. Unlike the Switch Lite, which is, well, a downgrade. I actually owned a DS Lite, and still have it. I like to joke that I have a 2DS as well as two DSes. (Well, one of them was my little brother's, anyway.) Unlike the chunky and ugly original DS, this thing actually had appeal. It sold crazy well and was inspired by Apple design aesthetics.

Instead of calling the cheaper, smaller Switch the "Nintendo Switch Mini" like how many people, including me, predicted it would be called after hearing the initial rumors, Nintendo called it the "Switch Lite". They called it this not only because it is lighter and more mobile than the original Switch, but it is actually a downgrade from it, meaning that it is more "light" on certain features and is also cut down to just the portable gaming essentials.

A Switch that doesn't switch???

Image Credit: Nintendo Life

 Now, this is where the Internet's negativity toward the Nintendo Switch Lites comes from. If you had been paying any attention at all, the name of the product still uses the word "Switch" in it. Obviously, this is so that people know that it still plays the same games that the original Switch does and is therefore not something entirely separate from Nintendo's newest console. But then a bunch of cynics came out an pointed out the blatantly obvious; The Nintendo Switch Lite doesn't "switch" from handheld to TV mode the way the regular Switch does. Obviously, this was Nintendo's intention. They wanted to create a 3DS successor, or a "4DS", as I mentioned before. Portable gaming has always been one of Nintendo's greatest strengths as a company and they needed to fill that gap but with a new option for potential customers.

This thing wasn't ever meant to replace the regular Switch. Sure, the regular Switch is definitely worth the extra hundred bucks in my opinion, but what you get for those extra one-hundred dollars doesn't even matter to the group of people the 3DS appealed to. Many people don't play on their TVs or prefer portable mode, and some people don't even have TVs to play on. For those people, who don't care about tabletop or TV mode, this device is just about heaven. This device isn't for all the people who complained. Why? They already own a regular Switch, for goodness sake!

Not every single product released by Nintendo, or any major technology company for that matter, has to appeal to you. You've got a regular Switch, and think this is useless and garbage? Then don't buy it! Spreading negativity around a device that you won't even have to own is a pointless way to get attention. So don't do it.

The Switch Lite, believe it or not, is a wonderful thing not just for Nintendo and their business, but for gamers like you. When more people are able to access the Switch and its library of games, more games are bought. When more sales happen, developers are able to make more amazing games. When the Switch ecosystem is thriving like that, it means the House of Mario will be able to continue supporting and making Switch games for years to come! You can't get upset about that, now, can you?

Who in their right minds would buy this thing? 

Image Credit: Nintendo

Well, I already said that this device isn't for current Switch owners. That won't stop current fans and collectors from craving this sleek-looking device anyways, and if Nintendo actually adds cloud saves between this and the Switch to make it easier for current owners to own both a regular Switch and this, this could become the go-to secondary portable version of the Switch for people who already have a Switch and are made of money. But that definitely won't be the majority of the audience of millions of people who will flock to buy this device during the holidays.

This device is for multiple people. One, first and foremost, those who were considering buying a Nintendo Switch due to its portability and amazing game-lineup but were put off by the $300 price tag. This Switch Lite is good for those people since it offers almost the entire phenomenal games library aside from a few motion-controlled games. This means that 2017 Game of the Year award-winning The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, along with other stellar games in the Mario, Pokemon, Animal Crossing, and other first-party franchises are more accessible to people with a lower budget. But these people should also be okay with the sacrifices that the Switch Lite has. The lack of any TV-connectivity should be an obvious warning right away, and most people will know immediately whether or not they are willing to make that sacrifice. Also, if you were interested in the creative and quirky Nintendo Labo DIY sets, don't buy this at all (it isn't compatible with the Lite) and get the regular Switch, which it is compatible with.

But the nail in the coffin for me personally if I were considering buying this over a regular Switch would be tabletop mode. Many of the families who are considering a Nintendo Switch want one for the vast amount of local multiplayer games for everyone to enjoy on a portable screen, like Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Super Smash Bros. Obviously, the Switch Lite isn't the best option for this, and my love of tabletop mode alone (I usually play the Switch without a TV, and tabletop mode is my favorite for multiplayer on the go) would have prevented me from buying the Lite over the regular Switch if it had been available near launch. People keep on talking about things like TV connectivity, and rumble, but if one of the Switch's main defining characteristics that no other console in history has replicated thus far (having a little portable TV for multiplayer) is gone, then this wouldn't be worth it for me personally.

While this is great for families who plan on buying multiple separate devices for children so they don't have to share controllers and screens, or for those who want to buy a cheaper, more durable Switch for a young sibling or relative, it is clearly also plain heaven for portable console lovers. If you only want to play in portable mode, and want something much more pocketable and affordable than a Switch, than the Switch Lite (AKA the best dedicated-handheld console of all time) at $50 more than a New 2DS XL is a deal that should have you drooling. This is not only more portable, but more personal, as evidenced by the fact that it isn't meant as much for sharing with tabletop mode, and the multiple unique color options.

But if we remove the word "Switch" from its title and try to focus on the biggest reason that Nintendo made this, on the thing that the cynics about the Lite are missing, then it all comes down to the third category of potential buyers for this: Those who want it as a Pokemon machine.

The 4DS that never happened 

Above: The Game Boy color scheme would look amazing for the Switch Lite and take it back to its Nintendo portable roots, but unfortunately, it isn't real. It's just a fan-mockup made by Twitter user Tom Storm, but it's an amazing concept. 

That's right, the Nintendo Switch Lite is the "3DS successor" that Nintendo talked about a year ago (and I even made a post about it here)! It isn't an upgrade to the Switch, but instead secretly an upgrade to the 3DS line of systems. Think about it; It's only a portable, but it has the full set of controls and clickable analog sticks that 3DS fans always wanted but weren't possible due to a clamshell design. It is small and portable, with a touchscreen that's much better and bigger than even the screens on the most high-end New 3DS XL models at the same price as the Switch Lite. It even has tilt controls, an awesome price, and can play some of the greatest Nintendo games of this generation. 3DS fans no longer have to wait for sub-par ports of Wii U games to get console-quality experiences; The entire Nintendo Switch library of games two years in the making is playable here (save for detachable motion control games, which 3DS users mostly don't care about). Why play a bare-bones port of the original Super Mario Maker when you have Super Mario Maker 2, fresh out of the oven with new features, online level sharing, and even a yellow color scheme to match! Sure, top-down Zelda games on the 3DS sure are phenomenal, but if you like that then I'm sure you'll adore Breath of the Wild even more! Who cares about Super Mario 3D Land anymore? Try out Super Mario Odyssey, the newest sandbox Mario adventure! If anything, the only things you're missing out on include Street Pass (which is a fun and unique feature but doesn't make sense with the Switch anyways), and a better virtual console, which is a loss. But once Nintendo adds free SNES games to Switch online, that won't matter anymore anyway. Plus, the battery life is actually somewhat comparable to the 3DS models in this version, unlike the often-disappointing regular Switch battery life.

If you are still holding on to your original 3DS from 2011, or a 2DS from 2013, or a New Old 23DSi U Lite XL & Knuckles or whatever it shall be, and would like to get a chance to experience the latest and greatest from Nintendo without paying the price of a home console, then this might just be a dream come true for you. And for those people, the people who buy portable Nintendo consoles as a Pokemon machine (despite the National Dex controversy in this year's upcoming Sword/Sheild), as well as longtime Nintendo portable fans, will buy this product to pieces. The only true con compared to the 3DS is that the games are much, much more expensive, but a Nintendo Selects line might come eventually, deals constantly happen, and Indie games can be found on the eShop for great prices anyways.

And when you look at the fact that 75 million 3DS family models have been sold in all time, that's a lot of people who would love getting their hands on a Switch Lite. So in other words, the Switch lite doesn't even have to "switch" to be a success. But it will still keep the Nintendo Switch and its lifecycle overall thriving.


That’s it for this post! Thanks for reading it, and be sure to share it with others if you liked it. All this month, I will attempt to post daily, so stay tuned. However, in case you noticed, I haven't posted most of this week, due to my very restrictive schedule caused by my current summer camp, but that will change soon, I promise. I will try to post each day this weekend, as well as possibly Monday and Tuesday. My next post might be a review of the animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. My blog is currently at 146.7K views, but my goal is to reach 150k before the end of this month. Click that “subscribe” button at the top of this site if you want to receive email notifications to be the first person to know when I make a new post! You could also bookmark this page to your browser if you want an easy way to visit my blog every day.

You might have noticed that this post has a new feature that I will try to put in more post from now on. If you are the type that doesn't like reading long articles, you may know what "TL;DR" means. It stands for "too long, didn't read", and basically its a brief summary of all the main parts of my post, but in a few sentences. I am aware that some people find my posts long, or don't have enough time to read it depending on their pace of reading, so I decided that I might include this on more posts so that I could still get my point across to these people.

Here’s my previous post, about my recent vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands and a mini-vlog for it:

Check out my YouTube channel, “Δrjay Meemz”, where I sometimes post vlogs and funny edits. I’ve got vlogs in the works for my recent trip across Italy, as well as for my Dominican Republic vacation with my pal Ege, and much more. Be sure to subscribe to find out when I make new videos. Here it is:

Here are some other blogs made by my close friends that you might like.

“The Way of Wakanda” is a brand-new blog run by my little brother, Onur. He posts humorous and short stuff every day during summer as well, and it’s all about video games, pop culture, and his life. In other words, it’s similar to my blog, so I think you guys should check it out:

“Burak’s Blog” is by my friend Burak from The AABO Show, and he posts very frequently about tech reviews and other news. Here it is:

See you next time! This is Arca, signing off.