It’s often noted that ‘bigger is better.’ But sometimes it’s more notable to appreciate the smaller things in life. The Nintendo Switch Lite aims to show that smaller is a viable option. The goal? To provide the same hybrid experience the original console produces, but in a handheld-only setting. With the 3DS reaching the end of its lifespan, Nintendo needs to retain that handheld audience which has dominated the market. The Switch Lite may just prove to be that very option.
Coming in the choice of 3 different colours (grey, turquoise, and yellow), the Switch Lite retails at $199.99/£199.99. Being at the more affordable end of the spectrum opens up the console to a wider range of people. Kids, seniors and casual gamers now have a gateway to a wealth of games. The ability to play such adventures as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or incredible RPG’s such as Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on a handheld device has always been one of the Switch’s triumphs. Now, with enhanced accessibility and better battery life, it becomes a gamer of any background’s necessity.
Instantly, the Switch Lite feels comfortable in the palm of your hand. The downsizing has made for a more compact experience while retaining most of the key features. Detachable joy-cons, rumble HD and docked play are relegated to its older brother, but a true D-Pad, increased battery life and a smoother handheld experience make up for any withdrawals. The console holds a 91.1mm x 208mm x 13.9mm display, which is marginally smaller than the original Switch (which clocked in with a 102mm x 239mm x 13.9mm screen). Reducing the screen size means for a sharper, crisper image. The resolution of 720p remains the same, but the Switch Lite manages to retain this image at a greater quality with a greater pixel density.
Compared to the original consoles battery life, the Switch Lite manages to hold a little extra power. Nothing that will massively exceed in terms of portability use, but an extension to its life is welcomed nonetheless. The new and improved version of the Switch, however, boasts a battery life which outweighs both of these models (you can recognize these by their red boxes in the store). Therefore, it’s disappointing to see that a version of the console that prides itself on being fully portable, can’t maintain the best battery life.
Other drawbacks come from audio issues that I experienced during my time. First of all, the headset port is located on the top of the console. A result of this is the chance of the leads to be covering part of the screen. Having the port at the bottom would have erased these issues and made for a more comfortable gaming experience. This wouldn’t be a problem if the standard volume of the console without headphones wasn’t so quiet. Originally, I thought the issue was with the console I’d received. After loading Lego Jurassic World it became immediately apparent there was a problem. The voice acting was considerably low, to the point that without subtitles, it would have been borderline impossible to decipher what the characters were saying. Testing a couple of other games confirmed this problem. After performing a swap on the console, I tested the issue again. The volume improved, but only marginally, pointing out that there is a fundamental issue with the audio when not using earphones. Compared to the original Switch in its handheld mode, it’s definitely a reduction.
Despite the sound issue though, the Switch Lite still maintains itself as a strong handheld console. The newly added D-Pad is a much-welcomed addition, which was gravely missed from the original rendition. Adding such controls creates an ease of access that the thumbsticks could never achieve. Menu management becomes much more streamlined and navigating the UI is simple with the intuitive controls. It’s a great step forward that I hope is implemented into future forms of the Nintendo Switch model.
This only highlights how well refined the design of Switch Lite is. It proves to be a much lighter model, with a weight of 275g. This is only slightly lower than the original weight of 297g, but the weight placement feels more spread across and crafts an even feel. The removal of the joy-cons throws away the loose feeling and instead creates a sturdier frame. It’s worth noting that the loss of the joy-cons creates a barrier of entry for some games. Some experiences such as Mario Party 11 and 1-2 Switch pride themselves on joy-con use and are unplayable without, meaning that a set of the controllers would have to be purchased (check the back of the game box or Nintendo’s website to check compatibility).
The buttons have also been buffed for smoother actions and quieter movements. Everything has a great general flow and it’s not long before your hands mould into the consoles framework. It’s hard to portray just how light the console feels in your hands, and it’s incredible how much power is packed into such a small device. For anyone who is purely using the Switch for portable uses, this is a must.
For anyone on the fence, the Switch Lite proves to a great entry point for gamers of any stature. Providing an incredibly relaxing gaming experience in the palm of your hand is a massive achievement that Nintendo should continue to be applauded for. Some technical drawbacks in its audio and battery department may become hurdles, but nothing to break the experience. The Switch Lite has released at a time before the next generation consoles dominate the market and may prove to be a holiday hit for 2019.