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Nintendo Switch Lite Review Round-Up: A Wonderful Downgrade

Reviews are in for the Nintendo Switch Lite, praising the console as a fully-dedicated handheld platform. Announced in July, Nintendo Switch Lite is an alternative option for those looking to buy a Switch, featuring a number of differences from its parent console.

When it comes to the discussion of video games, it's impossible to not bring up Nintendo's current generation console. Released in 2017, the Switch miraculously saved the company from the Wii U's notable failure. The Switch took a unique approach to console gaming, offering players the opportunity to play big titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey either on handheld or a television screen. This concept has benefited Nintendo greatly; the Switch has done phenomenal in sales.

Nintendo is no stranger to releasing sleeker, more affordable versions of its consoles. There was the Nintendo DS Lite, the Game Boy Micro, and the Wii Mini. More recently, Nintendo released the 2DS, a less expensive version of the popular 3DS. Often with these cheaper versions come with the caveat of a lack of specific features. The Wii Mini and Game Boy Micro lacked backward compatibility. The 2DS lacked the 3D option of the 3DS. But, the positive aspects were that these consoles were either more compact, cheaper, or both. Now, Nintendo has launched a more affordable version of the Switch, called Nintendo Switch Lite.

RELATED: The 5 Best Things About The Nintendo Switch Lite (& The 5 Worst)

The Nintendo Switch Lite launched September 20th, and of course, there are a number of critic reviews to help consumers decide if the console is a right fit for them. Reviews agree that Switch Lite greatly improves the handheld function of the original Switch, being lighter to hold, and having a far better D-pad. Common criticism is that due to the controllers being built into the system, some games requiring motion control are going to be difficult to play. Check out excerpts from some of these critic reviews below.

IGN - Tom Marks

"The Switch Lite offers a different take on a console I love. It’s beautifully put together in a way that makes the original seem downright clunky and is $100 cheaper to boot, but at the same time it’s missing an assortment of useful features and there are a handful of games it can’t effectively play. But if size and price are more important to you than flexibility and a bigger screen (or if you’re just trying to replace your 3DS) then the Lite is a wonderful way to get your hands on an awesome system."

TechCrunch - Brian Heater

"Forced to choose between the two models today, I’d almost certainly go for the Lite. Though I would grit my teeth a bit at the idea of sacrificing a couple of hours of battery life in the process. Of course, not everyone is me (thankfully). Most of you, for instance, are normal, well-adjusted people with television sets in their homes, and moving to the Lite means sacrificing the Switch’s namesake and most innovative feature.

As someone who spends much of his life on subway cars and planes, this is the Switch I (and others, I’m sure) have been waiting for."

The Verge - Andrew Webster

"The Switch Lite is for people who are sitting on the proverbial fence: someone who liked the idea of Nintendo’s tablet but couldn’t quite stomach a $300 price tag and who didn’t really want to play games on a TV anyway. The kind of person who just wants a machine for playing Breath of the Wild on a plane or a kid who needs the latest Pokémon to fill those quiet summer afternoons. If the cut features don’t feel necessary to you, the Switch Lite will likely be a good option."

Kotaku - Mike Fahey

"As I began, it’s one of the finest handheld gaming devices I’ve ever used. It’s larger, and feels more mainstream, than the quirky 3DS. It’s more rugged and earthy than Sony’s precious-looking Vita. It’s the sort of gaming hardware I wouldn’t feel bad just tossing in a bag unprotected. It’s console gaming in the palm of your hand, and you can pull it out during a rooftop party without feeling obligated to share."

Polygon - Ben Kuchera

"The Switch Lite gives Nintendo a dedicated portable on top of its hybrid portable/console without requiring another line of games to be developed or purchased. It has never been easier, or less expensive, to keep up with everything the company is doing. This is a great direction for Nintendo’s product line, and the company will likely sell an untold number of units this holiday season."

Game Informer - Andrew Reiner

"Minor complaints aside, the Switch Lite is a fantastic option for people who view Switch as a handheld-only device. The attractive price point, increased battery life, and slightly improved controls make it the perfect vehicle to play Switch's awesome (and rapidly growing) library of games."

Engadget - Devindra Hardawar

"At first, I thought the Switch Lite was similar to the 2DS -- a stripped down, kid-friendly version of a more technically complex console. But that might be dismissive of what Nintendo has actually accomplished. The Switch Lite is refined and ergonomic in a way I'd never think of the 2DS. It might be missing key aspects of the Switch experience, but it's also the best way to play Switch games on the go."

Forbes - Dave Thier

That's the upshot of the Switch Lite. It can't do everything that the Switch can do, that much is obvious. But it can do and play so much that if it were released in this state without the Switch around as a point of comparison, it might still be hailed as a kind of Holy Grail for portable consoles.

Pity the PlayStation Vita, though that's a subject for another day.

GamesRadar+ - Sam Loveridge

"Regardless, this is clearly the Switch for the handheld core. It offers all the Switch's best games in one delightfully compact package and should appeal to anyone whose Switch dock is gathering dust right now. It might not have all the gimmicks and gizmos of the classic Switch, but for those who like to experience their Switch games solo and from the comfort of wherever they damn well please, this is going to be an easy sell."

Via nintendo.co.uk

The big question fans want to ask is if the Switch Lite is worth purchasing, either for those who already own a Switch, or those looking to take the plunge into Nintendo's latest console. First, reviews agree that Switch Lite is a fantastic handheld console. If you are someone who primarily plays handheld, or goes traveling a lot, the Switch Lite is for you. Plus, it is $100 cheaper than the original console. The included D-pad instead of the four separate buttons on the original console appears to be a big improvement as well.

Technically speaking, while the Switch Lite may improve on some things, there are numerous downgrades to consider before making a purchase. Of course, you can't play it docked (Though if you are buying it solely as a handheld console, this doesn't matter). Reviews agree that the lack of detachable Joy-Cons makes playing certain games a negative experience. Games like Arms and 1-2-Switch were built with motion control in mind, so these will not play well on Switch Lite. You could buy separate Joy-Cons, but as reviews note, the Switch Lite does not come with a kickstand. The audio has been noted to have the issue of rumbling the console at times, something that can be fixed with wired headphones. Sadly, there is no direct support for Bluetooth headphones.

Finally, one more potential drawback based on reviews is that playing locally with a friend or sibling on one console is probably not going to work well. It doesn't make sense to grab a group of friends for some battles in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on Switch Lite due to how small the screen is. Thus, it appears the console is really meant for an individual.

All in all, the Switch Lite sounds like a great alternative to the main Switch under the right circumstances. Players who are always on the go, or treat their Switch like a 3DS, may have their dream console in the Switch Lite. Those who already own a Switch might benefit from having a second, smaller one to carry around while traveling. It's up to the individual to decide what priorities they want in Nintendo's Switch experience.

It is interesting that the Switch Lite has released now, in the midst of the 3DS's seemingly final days. Nintendo has stated in the past it was not done with the 3DS, but that no longer appears to be the case. The 3DS has not gotten any big titles recently, and there's nothing on the horizon. Meanwhile, the Switch Lite is very affordable. At $199, it is only a bit more expensive than buying a 3DS today. Plus, the Switch Lite is going to be receiving all the big games coming up, such as Pokémon Sword & Shield, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Suffice to say, the Switch Lite could be the final nail in the coffin for the 3DS.

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