When Nintendo announced the Switch Lite, a smaller, mobile-only variant of the popular Nintendo Switch game console, it felt like the gadget gods had answered my prayers. At last! An adorable, yellow electronic device!
The Switch Lite is the perfect entry-level gaming device, but it's also the perfect vehicle for placing nostalgia in the palms of people like me who haven't committed to PC gaming or an Xbox entertainment system. In the week I've used the Switch Lite, I've been transported back to an era when nothing evoked more joy for me than a new gaming gadget.
I have not owned a gaming device since my 2004 Nintendo DS snapped in half after I spent years with it caring for Nintendogs and conquering Yoshi's Island. By that point, I had a Pong-packed BlackBerry, a decent air hockey table, FarmVille and a semblance of a social schedule. As the years passed, a game console didn't fit into my life. A desire for new iPhones usurped the longing for, say, a Nintendo 3DS or Sony PlayStation Vita.
This all made sense. As someone who uses "mobile" as an adjective to describe themselves, an all-in-one, on-the-go device like a big smartphone fit my lifestyle. But when I began my big-girl job over the summer, I slipped into a cycle of wake-up-commute-work-commute-sleep. As a result, I grew tired of consuming .io games and completing the New York Times daily crossword between answering emails and scrolling Instagram on the train.
Working with some of the most informed gamers at Tom's Guide (where lists of the best SNES games of all time or best free PS4 games this year are regularly written) piqued my interest in a gaming console. But the standard, widely recommended Switch didn't suit me; truth be told, I don't have a good TV, let alone one of the best TVs, for docked mode. So when the Switch Lite arrived, I thought, "Here's my chance."
Since I've unboxed my preordered, yellow Switch Lite, I've struggled to put it down. I kicked things off with Pokémon: Let's Go (the Pikachu version, not Eevee — I've since learned there's a divide). This brought on the same gleeful addiction I experienced when I tackled Pokémon Pearl on the DS.
Next, I resurrected my Super Mario Bros. prowess for Super Mario Bros U Deluxe. It seemed I'd lost my touch for scrollers, but I was thrilled to reexperience a part of my youth.
Despite my joy for games of old, I felt a bit like my parents, who haven't enjoyed a new song since the 1980s except for Macklemore's "Thrift Shop." I wish I were kidding. So I asked my co-workers for more "hip" recommendations, and they did not let me down. I dipped into Stardew Valley, which made my 45-minute train ride feel like 30 seconds the first time I played. I approved.
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I followed Stardew up with a dip into an established favorite, Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This game is simply amazing from what I've seen so far. In fact, I'm itching to whip out my Switch Lite to play it while I'm at work writing this article.
But I'm really waiting for the games, like Return of the Obra Dinn and Luigi's Mansion 3, announced during the Nintendo Direct stream. I watched the event live on an iPhone 8 Plus in a bar with the same folks who have been encouraging me on my Switch Lite journey. We shared excitement over brews about forthcoming games that I'll probably play now, too. Maybe I'll even try to review one.
Still, the Switch Lite wasn't my mechanism for infiltrating the gamer world. If I wanted to be part of that world, I wouldn't have bought this device. Seasoned users of sharper, pricier consoles call the Switch a novelty item or even a children's device. But it has a purpose, exactly the one Nintendo positioned it to have: serving as an accessible console made for a mild mobile user.
The Switch Lite just feels more "me" than any device I've seen in my short time as a technology writer. I don't make a habit of identifying with inanimate objects, but as a happy medium between modern entertainment and nostalgic nature, the Switch Lite and I have a lot in common.