Nintendo Switch Lite: Who is it for?

Brian Domingo

The announcement of the Nintendo Switch Lite back in July was not much a surprise given the amount of discussion on the Internet due to its supposed leak in April.

Fans were already mentally prepared for Nintendo’s next iteration for the well-received Switch. I do not own one, but I have followed news/rumours on its inevitable outing some time after the initial version’s release. The near 130-year-old gaming giant has been doing it for ages, for both its home and portable consoles. But as with most things in the zeitgeist of today, there will be a portion of the gamers who will certainly push back Nintendo’s next attempt in the portable gaming scene with great fervour. Naysayers may be asking, who is the Switch Lite for? Why even come up with one if it isn’t a significant upgrade?

Let’s preface the discussion with the Switch Lite’s features. It boasts a smaller (apparently sharper) 5.5 inch touch screen, unibody design, improved battery life (three-seven hours) and a full-fledged d-pad. It is however giving up some nice aspects from the original – an infrared sensor, HD rumble functions and the dock feature for TV play. The Lite will be available on September 20 in yellow, gray and turquoise for a lesser price of USD199.99 (original Switch price USD299.99).

We get it, why buy one without the feature that is basically the original version’s selling point? I mean it’s in the name for crying out loud.

Obvious answers are for those who love playing in handheld mode exclusively like local early adopter and gamer dad Hadi. “I find the Switch as a game-changer. It allowed me, as a father, to game at any time as opposed to sitting in front of a TV when playing your typical game console. I have seen quite a few people with Switches in public having fun in groups,” he said.

He seems to fit the bill for the demographic the Lite is assumed to cater to, gaming on the go while handling daddy duties as the dock that came with the original becomes an overrated dust collector. It can also be for parents who want a cheaper version for their kids during the holiday season or basically thrifty gamers who held back on purchasing the original.

The Nintendo Switch Lite will be available on September 20 in yellow, gray and turquoise for a lesser price of USD199.99 (original Switch price USD299.99. PHOTO: NINTENDO

Or could it be something else? Something so convoluted that maybe it could be borderline pretentious, as opinions go. The Switch Lite was probably made for what the famed gaming company knows it has – ‘Nintendo Magic’.

But what does this Nintendo Magic mean? It’s a general term several fans use to describe their unique personal experiences with products, be it on consoles or with first-party games. It encapsulates several defining features the company is known for, such as distinct game design, hardware aesthetics and more. Focussing on what that means for the Lite, we can look at its potential.

Nintendo can come up with several first-party themed colour schemes for the hardware that will cater to video game collectors. It was prevalent in the Nintendo 3DS line.

From Animal Crossing to some plumber named Mario, the 3DS had loads of themed consoles which fans just consumed with reckless abandon. The trend of releasing official themed consoles is appealing to any gamer, especially those who are fans of a certain franchise. Owning a console depicting art associated with one’s favourite franchise can invoke a unique sense of pride.

Adding on to what the Lite can offer is its more compact form. Loyal 3DS/2DS users may have held back on upgrading to the original Nintendo Switch because it diverged from what was considered the norm for a portable console. The Lite’s unibody form can also be enticing for PS Vita users. The somewhat similar hardware design will make fans of the old ‘legacy platform’ feel at home. Let’s face it, though the design may not be vastly unique, it may be the type of hardware that perfects the feel and style of the unibody form in handhelds.

I take into account my experience of owning a Nintendo 2DSXL when considering the Lite. I wasn’t sold on the 3D feature that the last gen portable console was known for. After trying it out on the original 3DS, I thought it was something I could do without. So I waited for a more refined wallet-friendly version sans the 3D. This might be another similar instance when considering the Lite. Without the docking feature and non-detachable Joy-Con, you can get all the core features in a simpler package without breaking the bank. Unless you go on a shopping spree for accessories and other stuff you think you need but don’t in actuality.

Let’s also consider how you can’t detach the Joy-Con from the console and how some games or features will not be compatible on the Lite.

We’re talking about games like Super Mario Party and the use of Nintendo Labo. But what Nintendo Magic also entails is a refined and personal experience.

What can be more contrary to that than engaging in chaotic multiplayer games like Mario Party?

I think single player experiences are the way to go. At least, that’s my interpretation of Nintendo Magic. You guys are entitled to interpret it anyway you can and that’s the beautiful thing about it.

I can go on about the about how the Lite will run on a new NVIDIA Tegra Chip and how seamless cloud save transfer features will rationalise owning two different models, but what I wanted to focus on was how every gamer has specific things they want in a portable Nintendo console. I think the Lite checks several boxes among my preferences.

The potential to own a uniquely themed console that provides a solely portable experience playing well-developed single-player games is just too enticing to pass up on. The amount of critically-acclaimed games already available on the console is attractive enough for late adopters as well, not to mention the greatly anticipated first-party and indie titles coming out later this year.

So who is it for in a nutshell? Probably gamers on a set budget who are willing to give up on innovation and would gladly stick with a proven formula; that one kid who received an original yellow Nintendo Game Boy as a gift for the holiday season with just a copy of Killer Instinct in 1998. No fuss no muss, just the meat and potatoes. That’s at least how I think seasoned gamers will look at the Lite.