The Switch Lite is Just Fine

The Switch Lite, like all Nintendo’s downgrade-revisions before it, is a perfectly fine addition to the current landscape of Nintendo gaming that we have. It’s not that far off from what we’ve seen in the past with the 2DS (even the 2DS XL), Gameboy Micro, DSi, and even the Wii Mini that sold for a short while. The fervor over it seems unjustified, but as with gaming in 2019, it’s expected.

Nintendo announced the Switch Lite on July 10, 2019 and with the announcement came scrutiny over how Nintendo did not simply make a Switch that has built-in joycons and somehow retains all its other features. The biggest differences between the two is that the Switch Lite does not have TV or tabletop modes, no HD rumble or IR sensor, is not compatible with LABO kits, and lacks the ability to change the joycon controllers. There are other smaller differences that ultimately tie back to the aforementioned changes, but, in a nutshell, those are the major changes. Gamers were not pleased with this – not at all.

Personally, I hate reading articles that simply utilize words like “entitled” to define someone’s characteristics and how their opinions and voice are guided because of that same entitlement. It lacks depth to cast opinions off as the thoughts of someone who is entitled when therein lie actual problems with how someone thinks or how they’re putting themselves above what would seem logical to anyone with no relation to the topic.

Let me explain this real quick.

If someone says something that is insanely ridiculous for a plethora of reasons, simply saying “you’re entitled” without explaining the why does nothing. Both people walk away unchanged with no actual learning from that conversation. One person has said someone’s thoughts are simply because they’re being mentally selfish and the other just doesn’t believe that. As inane as the comparison may be, the same applies for the Switch Lite announcement and its reaction from the community at large.

Everyone feels as if Nintendo personally promised and owes them a version of the Switch that is cheaper, a tad bit smaller, has built in joycons and everything else left alone. It should still be dockable or at the very least, connect via your own supplied USB-C to HDMI cable to broadcast the image to your TV, and all else that it lacks, it shouldn’t. But it’s fine that it does.

Nintendo now exists in a world where they have miraculously managed to make handheld gaming an anomaly. People today are more likely to pick up a mobile game, play for a small bit, and keep their lives moving. Handheld and console gaming requires the entirety of your focus if you plan on sinking your teeth into what you’re being shown. Console games work because they’re usually broadcast on the same TV you’d use to otherwise watch a show. Handheld gaming – a whole different device altogether. Nintendo is in a position where they are arguably the only company to successfully pull off handheld gaming time and time again. Every competitor they’ve had in this market has either tapped out early on due to sinking sales or has boomed to only flounder later. Sega has the Game Gear in 1991 and eventually abandoned handheld gaming altogether five years later. The PSP is revered as one of the best handheld consoles to ever exist, giving honest competition (but ultimately losing out) to the DS. However, the Vita is arguably the exact opposite. And it’s largely due to what Nintendo offers that others don’t.

It’s the charm. Nintendo games have a level of charm that can’t be forced or manufactured. You pick up a Mario game from any generation and you feel a sense of nostalgia, ease, and intuitiveness that just all clicks. You see a Koopa that’s about to get flattened, but you don’t fear it, you just proceed on with the game. Fighting Bowser never seems daunting or “hard” but rather feels like a final challenge that you’ve been waiting to get to. No company can recreate this. And this is just one of many franchises Nintendo owns and makes sure is perfected almost each and every time. Mario, Zelda, Kirby, Metroid, Star Fox, Donkey Kong. These things are what people want to play and they know Nintendo gives it to them. Handheld gaming should be going the way of the Vita in a world where smartphones reign supreme, but Nintendo reigns even higher.

Back to my point, the Switch Lite is exactly what is needed right here and now. Nintendo needs to make something that is essentially just a device to allow you to experience the modern version of Nintendo charm. A device that is capable of playing the same games that people have been raving about without needing to worry about having an entire setup – it’s just a classic handheld. People can pick it up and play Breath of the Wild for the first time and use a shield to sled down a mountain, throw Cappy at a whole ass tree, or see an odd but delightful mashup between the Mario franchise and Rabbids. It cuts out the extra weight that people don’t necessarily need and gives it to them in a smaller package. It’s exactly what makes the most sense for Nintendo to come out with right now when the Switch sales are booming and people, in everyday conversations, will continuously talk about it.

The reaction to the Switch Lite is phrased almost as if Nintendo announced plans to render current Switch units useless, immediately bricking them, and now your only options are getting the Switch Lite or not having a Switch at all. The Switch Lite is not geared for a vague demographic that encapsulates everyone. It’s made for people who have been interested in a Switch for its games alone, but don’t necessarily want to bother with the idea of having a whole console, understanding even what a joycon is. The current Switch is objectively speaking, better. But it may not be better for you. And until Nintendo decides to rip the Switch from your hands and tell you to get a Switch Lite, that’s just fine.

It’s just a game, why you have to be mad? – Ilya Bryzgalov