Summer may be slowly trying to come to an end here in Toronto but this past weekend Nintendo Canada helped heat up the weather ahead of Fan Expo 2019 for a few members of the gaming media with a hands-on preview of the hottest new games and the soon to be released Nintendo Switch Lite!
Now initially I thought I may have been the wrong person for this event, I’m that rare 5-10% of Switch users who never removes the Switch from its dock. I’ve dabbled in the realm of handheld consoles, borrowing my best friend’s Gameboy Color in 99’ to play Pokémon Silver on road trips to my little brother’s hockey tournaments are some of my fondest childhood memories. While fun, something just didn’t click with me when it came to handheld devices be it the weight or the small size of the screen and after having had the opportunity to play Link’s Awakening (oh my god this game is beautiful!) and Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Gooigi for Smash Ultimate, make it happen Nintendo) I can happily say I may be a convert.
Now the original Switch had fixed one of my issues with handheld consoles and that being the small size of the screen, the original Switch has a 6.2” touch screen while the Switch Lite is just slightly smaller at 5.5” and to be completely honest felt barely noticeable while playing. It really feels like Nintendo hit the sweet spot when it comes to the display size, nothing feels lost by cutting the screen size down by 0.7” and visuals felt just as smooth as I am used to while playing on my docked Switch.
The biggest and most surprising thing for me about the Lite is the weight, the standard Switch weighs in at .88lbs with the joy-con attached while the Lite comes in at .61lbs. Now just by looking at the two different weights, you wouldn’t think .27lbs would make much of a difference but oh boy let me stop you right there! I’ve realized that the weight and new dimensions (3.6” high, 8.2” long vs 4” high, 9.4” long) make this a game-changer for those like me who just could not click with Switch outside of docked mode, everything felt better resting in my hands and I can see myself picking one up specifically for work commutes on the Subway or long flights. So if you are one of those who feels the Switch may feel a bit awkward being held I highly recommend getting your hands on a Switch Lite to feel the difference for yourself!
It should be noted too that since the Lite can not be docked it does run off of its battery always but thankfully we are getting an enhanced battery with the Lite that has an expected battery life of 3-7 hours compared to the original Switch’s 2.5 to 6 hours depending on the games being played. The lack of docked mode, however, does come with what could be considered a negative and something that I wouldn’t have even considered, some games (very few) do not support handheld modes such as Mario Party or Just Dance.
It’s not that these games can’t be played on the Lite but if you don’t already have an original Switch you will have to go out and buy separate joy-cons at either $64 CDN for a single one or a pair for $99 CDN in order to wirelessly connect. On top of that if you want to continue using them you will need to pick up a charging dock to keep the batteries charged which will run you another $36 CDN, something to consider if thinking of picking it up when it drops on September 20th.
A big thank you to Nintendo Canada for having me out ahead of Fan Expo weekend to give the Switch Lite a little test run! The Nintendo Switch Lite releases on September 20th and will cost $259.96