The internet has been buzzing the past couple of months with talks of a brand-new Nintendo Switch variant. Theories on increased screen resolution or upgrades to a new, more powerful system have been discussed all over the internet. The waiting and theory crafting were brought to an end on July 10th with the introduction of the Nintendo Switch Lite.
The Trailer Reveal
At the start of a six-and-a-half-minute trailer, Yoshiaki Koizumi (General Producer of Nintendo Switch) thanked the audience for the Switch’s success and then pulled out a small yellow Switch device from the inside of his suit jacket. Koizumi then made a point to say that this new device is dedicated to handheld play, meaning it cannot connect to your TV. This new device was named the Nintendo Switch Lite.
The device will come in three colors: yellow, grey, and turquoise. The removable Joy-cons will no longer exist on this version. Instead, the device will be manufactured as one solid unit with the controller now integrated into the system. Furthermore, an interesting and highly requested choice was made in regards to the left controls: a directional pad will be replacing directional buttons. Additionally, the IR motion camera and HD rumble no longer exist on the new console.
Switch Lite Specifications
The dimensions of the Nintendo Switch Lite will be 3.6”x8.2”x.55” with a weight of approximately .61 pounds. The original Switch came in at about .88 pounds so the Lite will be over 25% lighter. The screen size was also slightly reduced to 5.5” from its original 6.2”. The reduction in screen size is likely what has slightly increased the battery life of the new console to 3-7 hours from 2.5-6.5 hours.
Worry not! Despite all of the changes from the original Switch to the Lite, most games that are already in a Switch owner’s collection should be compatible with the new console. In order to ensure the games are compatible with the handheld mode, check on the back of game boxes.
Nintendo’s Handheld Future
This new dedicated handheld console leads to a bunch of questions regarding Nintendo’s handheld strategy, most importantly “Is the Switch the sole future of the handheld market for Nintendo?” To me it appears to be the final nail in the coffin for Nintendo’s last generation 3DS handheld console and all of its variants. I can’t help but imagine Nintendo’s ultimate plan is to consolidate its gaming platforms with the hugely popular Switch. Having the capability to play blockbuster games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey away from a TV is a huge draw. It will be exciting to watch as Nintendo further increases its market share of the Switch with the latest Lite version.
The next question that ultimately arises is “Who is the Switch Lite for?” In my opinion, the new console seems to be a great purchase for those who primarily game on the go or for those that have kids. It is cheaper, has slightly increased battery life, and is a more refined version of the Switch console. I’m not sure how many individuals like myself, that already have a standard Switch, will end up getting the new model but I find myself enticed nonetheless. Despite me interest, I would miss the capability to play on my TV, and my Switch will still have the ability to be in handheld mode.
Another concern I would personally have if I were to purchase the Lite is the ability of Nintendo to help me manage my various games and save states from one console to another. Nintendo has not had the best track record in online play and capabilities, so I can foresee potential issues with syncing games. I imagine this will eventually be ironed out by Nintendo, if it even ends up being an issue at all, but do not believe there is much incentive for one in my situation to buy the console.
Pokémon is here to help drive sales!
To help push units Nintendo has also announced some special edition versions of the console based on the upcoming Pokémon games. This version will be based off of the legendary Pokémon from the latest games, Zacian and Zamazenta. The console is pictured to be a light gray with blue controls on the left side and pink on the right. Overall, it is very aesthetically pleasing. The console will be limited in quantity and ultimately available over a month after the Lite release date. This version will be the same price as the base Switch Lite consoles and, unfortunately, does not come with the new Pokémon games. It will surely drive consoles sales during the holiday period.
So, when does the new console come out? The worldwide release date is on September 20, 2019 which is only 2 months away. It will be $199.99, which falls a full hundred dollars cheaper than the now standard Switch model currently priced at $299.99. I don’t think this new console is for me, but my hope is that an increase in users of the overall Switch ecosystem will push developers to make more and better games.