The Nintendo Switch Lite has officially been announced. Its a smaller, cheaper version of the existing Nintendo Switch that will be attractive to those who want to live a handheld-only gaming life, or have a second Switch at their disposal. Of course, to hit that $200 price point Nintendo has had to make some sacrifices and one of them is the Joy-Cons.
The Joy-Con controllers are a key piece of the portable, social-friendly gaming experience that the Nintendo Switch enables. They are small, lightweight controllers that can be detached from the Switch and given to others for multiplayer fun.
However, for the Switch Lite, Nintendo has opted for a dedicated, always-attached input method akin to its previous handheld devices such as the Nintendo 3DS. The upside of this is traditional directional inputs will make playing a variety of games more comfortable and intuitive.
Although this aligns with the company's vision of the Switch Lite being a purely handheld device, the decision to eliminate detachable Joy-Cons doesn't preclude the Switch Lite enabling multiplayer entirely as Joy-Cons can still be connected to it. Nevertheless, multiplayer will be a little trickier as the Switch Lite cannot output to TVs and with a smaller screen (5.5-inch instead 6.2-inch), players will need to crowd around. The Switch Lite also lacks a kickstand, which means positioning it is going to be a bit difficult.
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The Switch Lite also loses the rumble functionality, which means you won't be getting any force feedback when you're playing games. Conversely, one of the new features the Switch Lite has--which could be an improvement depending on your perspective--is a more traditional d-pad, instead of the Joy-Con's four small buttons for up, down, left, and right. Nintendo does not currently have plans to introduce this d-pad to Joy-Cons for the original Switch.
For $200, the Switch Lite certainly still has a fair share of features and use cases that make it appealing. Speaking to CNET, Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser said he could see the Switch Lite "fitting into a household where there are multiple players ... and one flagship Nintendo Switch."
Nintendo has revealed further Switch Lite details, including its release date, battery life changes, and more. Prior to this announcement, reports suggested a more powerful Nintendo Switch targeted at hardcore players would is in production.