In an anticipated move, Nintendo finally unveiled a Switch revision with the Switch Lite. This model strips away a lot of the fat of the original model for a more portable form factor and focus. Gone are removable Joy-Cons, HD Rumble, the kickstand, and the screen is smaller with better battery life. By doing this, Nintendo chopped the price down to $199, a full $100 off the regular MSRP. They also announced that the Switch Lite can’t be docked and it can’t connect to the TV in any way. Begin meltdown now. What if I told you, there’s no need to worry. In fact, if you’re worried about a switchless Switch, I think you’ve missed the point.
The Switch Lite isn’t for everyone, let’s just get that out of the way. In fact, I personally don’t plan on getting one. My Switch works great, I’ve got two pairs of Joy-Cons, a Pro Controller, and a boatload of games downloaded. If anything, I’m waiting out for the rumored “Pro” model that is supposed to beef up the specs a little bit. The biggest reason why I’m not buying one? I play on my big screen TV too often to buy a Switch Lite.
Who is the Switch Lite for, you may ask? The Switch Lite is clearly Nintendo’s answer for a 3DS successor. This is for the people that want to introduce younger players to video games, anyone that wants to have a second or third Switch in the household, or someone that is just looking for a cheaper way to play some amazing titles.
I love playing Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the TV, it helps that I get to play with my fiancee this way. We’ve played games using Tabletop Mode, and it works, but the screen can make it difficult to follow our fighters in Smash when the chaos begins. I love being able to bring my Switch with me to work or school so I can get my fix in on breaks. Plus, it’s always a conversation starter with people. They always ask me how I like the Switch and even if they can play a match.
So again, I don’t plan on buying one. Unless my fiancee wants one for herself or mine suddenly breaks.
The way the internet seems to be acting though is surprising. One too many takes have been, “What’s the point?” or “If it can’t switch, why call it that?” Well, I can tell you why, because the Switch Lite STILL IS a Switch.
When Nintendo announced the Switch, it was looking for a win. The Wii ended its life in lackluster fashion (still selling over 100 million units), the 3DS was a slow burn, and the Wii U was on life support out of the gate on its way to 14 million in lifetime sales. In hindsight, the Wii U was the prototype for the Switch. Nintendo came out with a bang for the Switch by showcasing Breath of the Wild and what became Super Mario Odyssey, and shocking the world that their next home console was also portable.
Sure, playing these games at home on the big screen or anywhere else is a fever dream, but is that the reason why we play the Switch?
Nintendo sold us all on the gimmick.
In the last two years, we’ve seen a new Nintendo. A company that isn’t afraid to come out and put its best talent on the best games. The company has arguably released three games that would qualify on a five out of five/ 10 out of 10 scale with Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. They’ve committed to making the Switch the best place for indies by highlighting dozens of games during their Nindies showcases. They’ve partnered up with other third-party companies and gave them access to some of their premiere IP with Mario + Rabbids and Cadence of Hyrule. Plus, there is a gluttony of other titles like Splatoon 2, Pokken Tournament, Mario Party, and the list goes on and on. I haven’t even gotten to future stuff like Pokemon Sword and Shield, Metroid Prime 4, Bayonetta 3, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Luigi’s Mansion 3; they’ve got some big guns ready to fire in the future. While the eShop is a mess to look through, you’ll eventually stumble upon a great game around every corner.
They sold us on the gimmick, but we’re staying for the games.
The games are exactly why the Switch doesn’t need to switch. Nintendo has the stats to show the splits between Handheld and TV Mode are even. So it’s not like people aren’t using Handheld Mode as their primary way of playing.
Ask yourself, why do you play games on the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One? The high resolution? The online capabilities? Your friends? It could be any of those reasons. But nobody is complaining that you can’t play the games on the go. Sure, each revision of those consoles didn’t remove major features (except for the Kinect), but you play the PlayStation 4 for the games. You play the Xbox One for the games. Not because of some gimmick.
The games are the point of the Switch. There isn’t a need for Nintendo to drop the name of the Switch just because it can no longer switch between the TV and handheld. Nintendo has already struggled with its naming convention over the years. Calling this model something other than the Switch could cause more problems than just having to explain the differences between the two.
Plus, the Switch Lite can play just about every game that’s been released over the last two years. Nintendo even pointed out that games like 1-2 Switch can still be played by syncing other Joy-Cons to the system. So yes, you can’t play it on the big screen, but you can still play. Nintendo is still selling the Switch that can switch, so if that matters to you (as it does to me), just buy the correct model.
The Switch Lite may not have been a shock, but the lack of TV support is probably the biggest surprise of the announcement. While many people are angry about this feature, I think they’re missing the point. This is for the crowd of people that want to play the Switch without the extra fat. It’s bright and bold, cheaper, and has access to a fantastic library of titles that have brought a smile to millions of gamers around the world. There’s no need to panic, the Switch is still the Switch even if it can’t switch, not because of the gimmick, but because of the games.