The Nintendo Switch Lite is a gaming console for adults

The Switch was an impressively fun piece of hardware. Thanks to the removable Joy-Cons and the HDMI-based dock system it picked up where with Wii U left off, offering portable and TV-based gameplay in one small package.

But that package was for kids. Traveling with the Switch was a chore. The Joy-Cons were fiddly and the size, while fine for a kid toting Switch in a Splatoon case, was a bit much for inflight or subway entertainment.

The device cased in monochromatic plastic and comes in blue, yellow, and grey. The blue – the one I bought – is bold without being too wild and the entire package looks like a kindergarten toy: rugged, colorful, and designed for single purpose.

If you travel, this is the Switch for you. The non-removable joysticks ensure that you don’t lose anything in your bag and the compact size make it a great “briefcase console.” Because it doesn’t pretend to be a home console there is no kickstand, no dock, and no fear that the removable parts will snap off.

The real question, however, is why would you need a Switch when there are so many other ways to amuse yourself in line at the DMV.

Nintendo’s specific Switch offering is simple: offer expansive games in a portable format that pushes all of the nostalgia buttons. You can’t really play Breath of the Wild – or even A Link to the Past – on your phone. Believe me: I’ve tried all of the emulators out there and nothing is quite as satisfying as this thing.

You can’t really fire up Mario Kart or SMB or anything that isn’t a Nintendo clone of Flappy Bird or Candy Crush. And in the end the offerings available from Nintendo are rich, nuanced, and fun. It’s a higher level of mobile gaming, a level that few devices can match.

I bought a Switch Lite because I wanted to play Civilization VI on a device that wouldn’t die in an hour and had a big enough screen to be viewed with my aging eyes. You’ll buy a Switch Lite – a steal at $199 – to play Mario or Zelda games or to play Untitled Goose Game or whatever strikes your fancy. You won’t miss the detachable Joy-Cons. You won’t miss the bigger screen. You won’t need the dock.

And, thanks to Nintendo’s oddly consistent ability to get things right, you’ll have fun.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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