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Nintendo Switch Lite one year later: What I love and what I hate

Nintendo Switch Lite
(Image credit: Future)

One year ago the portable-only Nintendo Switch Lite stole my heart with its fun colors, compact design and palatable price tag. I adored it so much I even wrote an animated column on why the Switch Lite is the gaming console I’ve been waiting for.

But that was after a few weeks of toting Nintendo's portable console around on my daily commute. Now, several months into working at home, my relationship with this adorable yellow device looks a little bit different. The on-go-lifestyle I once led is virtually non-existent, and I find myself sitting in front of a TV with my family more often than I could’ve expected.

So yes, there are times when I wish I had the regular ‘ole Nintendo Switch (it was near-impossible to find in the spring), and reasons why the Switch Lite isn’t the faultless gadget I once deemed it. But it’s still an excellent entry-level gaming device and that shouldn’t be disregarded in conversations comparing consoles, as exhaustive as they are these days.

Here’s what I love and hate about Nintendo Switch Lite after using it for a year.

Switch Lite is still accessible (and affordable) 

nintendo switch lite

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Some hardcore gamers may consider the Switch a novelty item or even a children's device. But it has a purpose, exactly the one Nintendo positioned it to have: being an accessible console made for a mild mobile user. 

While I’m not as mobile anymore, I still appreciate the Nintendo system and the fact that I have a functional gaming device for just $199. The Switch Lite hasn’t converted me to a fully-fledged gamer, but it caters to me enough that the Xbox Series X and PS5 are completely off my radar. I’m sure the next-gen consoles will make great holiday gifts for many, but I’ll take a Nintendo eShop gift card instead please. It’ll cost my family members much less, anyway.

Nintendo Switch has the best games for nostalgia...

As a sucker for nostalgia, getting to play modern versions of Pokemon and Super Mario Bros. and more is enough to make me feel like a kid again. I’ve found several of the best Nintendo Switch games are comparable to DS ones I loved when I was younger. The Switch Lite lets me disappear to 2005 for a few hours at a time, which I certainly prefer to 2020. 

Sometimes, I even get warped even further back into my childhood. Right now I’m working through the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, which reimagines the games I used to play on my dad’s PS2 before I tragically broke it. I somehow think I was better at destroying boxes when I was 6 than I am now (I literally destroyed that box-shaped PlayStation), but it’s exactly the escape I need from time to time.

…But I wish more games were available

Crash 4

(Image credit: PlayStation via YouTube)

In the timeless words of rapper JaRule, I felt hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hoodwinked and led astray when I realized not every game I wanted to play would arrive for Nintendo Switch. Again, novice gamer here. While there are enough titles to keep me satisfied, I am limited when it comes to some new releases like Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, for example.

I see the compatibility benefit to owning multiple consoles, but as I explained that’s not really an option for me, so I’ll just learn to let this one go. Besides, I have a habit of leaving games unfinished, so I shouldn’t complain about wanting more games when I haven’t completed the ones I already own.

The battery life is still a drag, but at least I’m always near a charger

My biggest complaint with the Switch Lite is its dismal battery life. I’m spoiled by Bluetooth earbuds, an e-reader and iPhone that last at least a day’s worth of activities before needing juice. The Switch Lite, on the other hand, gets less than 4 hours of game time. If my commute was particularly slow one morning, I would find my Switch Lite dying before I make it home at night. As a mobile device, it should have better stamina.

But, again, I’m not mobile anymore. I play my Switch Lite almost exclusively in bed, where a charger is never further than an arm’s reach (or perhaps a hang-off-the-side-of-the-bed’s reach) away. In this sense, I'd say the pandemic is the best thing that could've happened for the Switch Lite. 

Do I miss long commutes? Not really. But I do miss pulling out my Switch Lite on the train and disappearing to Koholint Island for a couple hours. Luckily, this year keeps on delivering excuses to escape reality — except now I can do it from the comfort of my home instead of on crowded public transportation.