Nintendo Switch Lite Doesn't Use Joy-Cons, And Its Controller Features Some Big Changes
Nintendo has finally confirmed the long-rumored revision of the Switch hardware, although it's not meant to replace the existing system. Instead, the Nintendo Switch Lite, as it's called, is 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, which have undergone several changes.
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. But because the left input device no longer needs to double as a horizontal controller, its four-button layout has been replaced with a proper directional pad. That should make playing a variety of games more comfortable and intuitive. Nintendo does not currently have plans to introduce this D-pad to Joy-Cons for the original Switch.
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.
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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." The company has spoken previously about seeing the Switch as a system that could be purchased multiple times per household, rather than the one-per-household nature of non-portable gaming consoles.
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 is in production.