With the New Switch Lite, Nintendo (Unofficially) Kills the 3DS

We were hoping this day would never come.

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Nintendo

Move over, Nintendo 3DS: There's a new Switch in town, and it’s coming for you.

Nintendo just introduced the device with which it plans to finally bury the 3DS: the Nintendo Switch Lite. The revised version of the popular handheld and home console hybrid is a smaller riff on the current Switch model with fewer features at a budget price, and it’s hitting stores September 8.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is meant to be used as a cheaper, highly portable version of the more expensive original Switch, with all the bells and whistles integrated for TV play stripped out.

Everything You Need to Know About the Nintendo Switch Lite

For $199, you get a system that comes in yellow, gray, and turquoise with a smaller, more comfortable form factor for smaller hands that's better suited to playing on the go or in bed at night. In exchange for the price cut, however, it can't be docked for play on any display, its Joy-Con controllers don't detach, and the Joy-Cons are bereft of the HD rumble feature their full-sized brethren have.

Additionally, there's no kickstand to prop the Lite up for tabletop mode. It’s strictly to be played cradled in your hands like a DS, and it’s been sized down appropriately for that reason.

If the basic colors aren't appealing to you, there's also a special Pokémon Sword and Shield edition of the Switch Lite coming out ahead of the games on November 8, featuring a gray body with cyan and magenta buttons. Illustrations of the Legendary Pokémon Zacian and Zamazenta are emblazoned across the back. It'll cost the same as the base Switch models, but it will presumably be far more difficult to find.

There’s one addition to the Switch Lite’s controllers that the traditional Joy-Cons don't have: an old-school D-pad on the left side of the system. Typical Joy-Con models have directional buttons, but nothing close to the D-pad of Nintendo systems past.

According to Nintendo, there aren't any current plans to implement this same D-pad on regular Joy-Cons, either, so you’ll be getting something unique if you decide to pull the trigger on this smaller version—especially if the thought of being forced to use analog sticks exclusively to control characters bums you out.

The Switch Lite is capable of playing most games found within the ever-growing library of Switch games, but some titles will have limitations; certain games don't support handheld mode, and must be used with individual Joy-Con controllers, like 1-2-Switch. These games comprise a very small number of titles on the platform, however, so this shouldn't pose much of an issue for most buyers.

What could be concerning right now, though, is the fact that Nintendo hasn’t yet confirmed whether the Switch Lite will feature the same internals as a regular Switch or some sort of revised version to remove the docking functionality. It should feature the same kind of performance, but that’s all supposition for now.

It’s easy to see that Nintendo is angling for the Switch Lite to become its new entry-level handheld device. With the cheapest Nintendo 3DS going for $200 and the smaller Nintendo 2DS without 3D capabilities up for grabs for $79 and up, the pricing makes sense. Why buy a 3DS when you could upgrade to the technologically superior Switch for the same price?

🕹 The Nintendo Switch Lite: Our Take 🕹

Even though I know Nintendo is jockeying to make the Switch its main “portable” console by introducing different models of the handheld at different price points, I’m not exactly thrilled about it. The 3DS has been a fantastic system, and the gimmicky 3D visuals have always been a treat for the eyes, especially impressive considering they were accomplished without the need of special glasses.

I've been hoping this day wouldn't come for quite some time, because as much as I love the Switch, its library simply doesn't stack up (yet) to the vast amount of Nintendo DS titles available that can be enjoyed via backward compatibility. The Switch has a few killer apps: Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the recently released Super Mario Maker 2, to name a few.

But the 3DS and even the hundreds of old DS titles boast Mario adventures, every single Pokémon adventure past the Game Boy age, Zelda, and too many other franchises to count. And honestly, many of these games run circles around the slew of indies the Nintendo Switch eShop has been flooded with.

But the writing is on the wall, and has been for some time. With Pokémon Sword and Shield coming out as Switch exclusives, the latest Fire Emblem title following suit, and a whole new slate of Switch games on the way as the 3DS schedule is threadbare, it’s easy to see how this will end.

Nintendo is laying the 3DS to rest without a proper funeral, and that’s distressing. Hopefully the company moving on from its former flagship handheld means a new and improved version of the system on which it’s pinning its future successes.

At this point, a Switch Pro or something like it would be a great way to honor the clamshell bombshell that walked so the Switch could run. Rest in peace, time-tested friend.

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