All posts in “Switch”

8 reasons Nintendo Switch owners might not want to buy the Switch Lite

The baby-sized Nintendo Switch Lite is pure plastic eye candy. The new handheld comes in three fun colors, plays nearly all existing Switch games (digital or cartridge), and has a wee bit longer battery life. 

And at $200, you can bet all your Mario merch Nintendo will sell a ton of them come Sept. 20. I want it (in turquoise no less), but the more I look into the handheld’s features, the more the Switch Lite seems like it might disappoint existing Switch owners like myself.

To be clear: this isn’t a review or a hands-on. I haven’t put my mitts on the Switch Lite and can’t say definitively if the features Nintendo’s cut from the regular Switch are really dealbreakers.

As a gadget nerd and consumer, though, based on what’s Nintendo’s revealed, I think I’ll most likely stick to my regular Switch. Here is why. 

1. It doesn’t connect to a TV

Being able to switch between portable and TV mode is what makes the Switch — well — a Switch...

Being able to switch between portable and TV mode is what makes the Switch — well — a Switch…

Image: nintendo

Nintendo is making it very clear the Switch Lite is a portable gaming device as opposed to the regular Switch, which is both a handheld and a home console when connected to a TV via its dock.

How is the Switch Lite even a Switch if it doesn’t, um, switch between two modes? Yeah… 

Without the ability to switch between portable and home modes, the Switch Lite instantly loses a lot of its appeal. Don’t get me wrong, I mostly play my Switch on the go, but I know plenty of friends who really love connecting it to a TV, especially for multiplayer in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Visually stunning games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild look good on the Switch’s 6.2-inch screen, but better on a big screen.

2. The screen is smaller and still only 720p resolution

Text might be hard to see on the smaller screen.

Text might be hard to see on the smaller screen.

Image: nintendo

Which leads me to the next change that might frustrate existing Switch owners: the Switch Lite has a 5.5-inch screen, a downgrade from 6.2 inches. 

OK, a smaller screen on a smaller device (the Switch Lite is about the same size as a Switch with one of its Joy-Con controllers removed) makes sense, but it would have been nice if Nintendo at least bumped up the resolution to 1080p instead of leaving it at 720p.

In docked mode, the Switch can output video to a TV at up to 1080p resolution. Since the Switch Lite can’t connect to a TV, a sharper screen would have good way to compensate.

3. Doesn’t work with AirPods

No love for AirPods or Bluetooth audio? Wahhh!

No love for AirPods or Bluetooth audio? Wahhh!

Image: zlata ivleva / mashable

What year is it? Hang on. *Checks calendar*. Oh right, it’s 2019 and many phones don’t have headphone jacks. Which means wireless headphones and earbuds like Apple’s AirPods are all the rage. 

So why doesn’t the Switch Lite support Bluetooth audio (without needing a separate dongle receiver)? Nerd me is gonna say: audio syncing latency. Duh! Fair enough, but like come on guys! If a PlayStaton 4 and Xbox One can work fine with wireless headphones, surely Nintendo could’ve made it happen on the Switch Lite.

It’s all the more baffling that a device that’s being pitched as a portable, meant to be played on the go, doesn’t work with wireless earbuds. Ugh.

4. Goodbye Joy-Cons

The Switch’s signature detachable Joy-Con controllers are no more on the Switch Lite. While Nintendo’s spinning the death of the Joy-Cons on the Switch Lite (and the new D-pad on the left side) as a positive tradeoff for a more compact design, I think it’s a loss.

I play a lot of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with friends and Joy-Cons make instant local two-player races possible. Sure, you can still connect a Pro Controller or Joy-Cons to the Switch Lite, but that’s just extra plastic to haul around. It’s just not the same spontaneous multiplayer experience you’d get with built-in Joy-Cons that are always attached to the Switch and ready to be detached should you need to throw down.

5. HD Rumble and IR sensor take a hike

So much for HD Rumble...

So much for HD Rumble…

Image: nintendo

If there’s any one Switch feature that few people even know exists, it’s the HD Rumble inside of the Joy-Cons. Unlike most gamepads that have vibration motors that simply increase and decrease the intensity of the rumble, HD Rumble is more nuanced and lets you feel more subtle haptic feedback.

Basically, HD Rumble makes vibrations feel more realistic compared to regular buzzing. 

Much like 3D Touch on the iPhone, HD Rumble didn’t get much love from developers. Still, I believe the tech is innovative enough that Nintendo should be pushing it harder — really demonstrate to developers why it’s so sweet — instead of throwing in the towel so soon.

Similarly, because the Switch Lite doesn’t have Joy-Cons, it also doesn’t have an IR sensor for motion controls. What a bummer. Games that the use IR sensor won’t work on the new Switch Lite.

6. Incompatible with Nintendo Labo

If you like playing with cardboard kits, the new Switch Lite isn't for you.

If you like playing with cardboard kits, the new Switch Lite isn’t for you.

Image: adam rosenberg / mashable

Got a whole bunch of those Nintendo Labo cardboard kits for your Switch piled up at home? I got some bad news: they won’t work with the Switch Lite.

With the Switch Lite being smaller than the Switch, the Labo VR kit won’t fit. Also, since the Switch Lite lacks Joy-Cons, Labo just wouldn’t work since they require them to be detached in order to act as controllers and sensors. Womp womp, indeed.

7. The display doesn’t automatically adjust brightness

Sayonara adaptive brightness!

Sayonara adaptive brightness!

Image: nintendo

I’m sure the Switch Lite’s screen is plenty bright, but not keeping the Switch’s brightness sensor so that it can automatically adjust to different lighting conditions is a thumbs down in my opinion. There are many times where I’m moving my Switch from my dimly lit bedroom to my well-lit living room and not having to fiddle inside the menu to adjust the screen brightness is nice. 

Contrary to several initial reports, you can adjust the Switch Lite’s screen brightness. You’ll just have to do it manually in the handheld’s settings. That sounds super annoying.

8. No built-in kickstand

RIP kickstand.

RIP kickstand.

Image: nintendo

The lack of a built-in kickstand on the Switch Lite is probably the least disappointing missing feature.

Super flimsy as the Switch’s kickstand is — the thing snaps off if you so much as look at it — I admit it’s nice to be able to prop the device up on a desk or airplane tray table for streaming videos from YouTube or Hulu. (Can we get a Netflix app, Nintendo?).

I doubt many people will cry over the Switch Lite not having a kickstand, but still.

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Two more bangers for the Switch’s NES selection: Kirby and Super Mario Bros 2

Nostalgia for the NES is high following the success of Nintendo’s classic mini consoles and the launch of its Switch Online service, which just got a couple more great additions to its selection of 8-bit games: Kirby’s Adventure and the immortally weird Super Mario Bros 2.

Kirby had just made his debut on the Game Boy, but the NES follow-up really improved things. Better controls, better graphics, still hard as hell.

Super Mario Bros 2 is remembered as a curiosity, but it deserves more than that. Sure, it’s just an asset swap for Doki Doki Panic, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a fantastic game and you should take this opportunity to play it all the way through.

As long as you’re here, I feel I should also plug the games added a couple weeks back that probably didn’t get the love they deserved, then or 30 years ago.

Blaster Master is one of my favorite games of all time and massively underplayed. It’s an early “Metroidvania,” as we call such things these days, with amazing controls both in the side-scrolling and top-down portions, and a huge, crazy world to explore. This is an absolute classic and anyone who loves the NES should play it — or, if you find the original a bit clumsy, try the recent remake, which was both faithful and added some serious upgrades.

Zelda 2 also got added two weeks ago, and while it definitely has its problems, it’s actually a really compelling game and worthy of the name. But cast aside your associations and just play it as if it’s an old gem — use a walkthrough or VGmaps to help, though, because this game is a real bastard.

So far the selections for NSO have been quite good, and they play well. The service is still extremely barebones even for its paltry asking price, but at least you can’t complain (too much anyway) about the selection of free NES titles. With a few more trickling in every month, the library will soon be quite formidable and I might even start using it instead of my hacked SNES Classic. Especially with the rumor (and near certainty) that SNES games are soon to join their 8-bit cousins.

Nintendo is definitely going through some growing pains with its online service, but I feel that in a year it’ll be up to snuff. They tend to approach everything by first establishing essentials, and then adding bit by bit. No doubt we’ll hear more at GDC and E3 later this year.

Nintendo’s ‘souped-up’ NES Zelda loads you with gear for an easier adventure

Nintendo has set a strange new precedent with the release of Legend of Zelda SP on the Switch: it’s essentially the original NES game but Link starts loaded up with good gear and cash. In a way it’s no different from a cheat code, but the way it’s executed feels like a missed opportunity.

The game itself (SP stands for “special”) is described by Nintendo in the menu as a “souped up version” of the original: “Living the life of luxury!” It’s a separate entry in the menu with all the other NES games you get as part of the company’s subscription service.

You’re given the white sword, big shield, blue ring, and power bracelet, plus 255 rupees to replace that shield when a Like-like eats it. Basically they’ve given you all the stuff you can find on the overworld (including max bombs and keys), but no items you’d get from inside a dungeon. You also have six hearts, and traveling around a little bit I determined these were awarded by raiding nearby hidden areas, not simply assigned. Secret passages are already revealed, and so on.

Because it skips the title screen and save game selection it seems like someone must have essentially played through the game to this point (or more likely edited the values in game RAM) and then walked to the classic starting point and made a save state that automatically loads when you start or reset the game. This means the only way to save is to use the Switch’s built-in save states, not the rather inconvenient save method the game used.

It’s plain enough that this will be a less frustrating way to explore this famously difficult game, but it seems untrue to Zelda’s roots. I understand perhaps gifting the player some of the impossible to find things like a heart hidden inside a random block here or there. Getting some bombs to start is great too, and maybe even the rings (warping is helpful, and the game is pretty punishing so damage reduction is nice). But the white sword?

For one thing, a player experiencing the game this way misses out on one of the most iconic moments in all gaming — “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this!” Then the ritual lifting of the wooden sword. And then setting out into the world to die again and again.

And for me, the white sword was always sort of a rite of passage in the game — your first big step towards becoming powerful. You earned it by finding those extra heart containers, perhaps after asking in vain after it before you were ready. Once you have it, you’re cutting through enemies like butter.

To make it the default sword and to skip these steps seems like it causes the player to miss out on what makes Zelda Zelda.

To be fair, it’s not the only version of the game you can play — the original is available too. But it seems like a missed opportunity. Why not just have a save game you can load with this stuff, so you can continue playing as normal? Why not have the option baked into the launch of the original Zelda — have a couple secret save states ready with differing levels of items?

Nintendo has the opportunity to introduce a new generation to classic NES games here, having provided a rather barebones experience with the NES Classic Edition. Why not enhance them? Include the manual, god mode, developer commentary? This is the legacy the company has been stewarding for decades, and what better than to give it the respect it deserves?

I’m probably overthinking it. But this Zelda SP just seems like a rushed job when players would appreciate something like it, just not so heavy-handed. It’s not that these games are inviolable, but that if they’re going to be fiddled with, we’d like to see it done properly.

Nintendo’s NES Switch controllers activate the nostalgia centers (and wallets) of retro gamers

The news that Nintendo would be adding NES games to the Switch as part of its paid online service had a mixed reception, but the company has made up for this controversial decision by releasing wireless NES controllers to play those games with. At $60 they’re a bit steep, but come on. You know you’re going to buy them eventually. Probably next week.

The controllers were revealed during the latest Nintendo Direct video news dump, alongside a host of other nostalgia bombs, like a new Animal Crossing and about a million Final Fantasy ports. But first the details of those sweet, sweet controllers.

They’re definitely NES-style down to the buttons, meaning they aren’t going to replace your existing Switch Joy-Cons. There’s no force feedback, no shoulder buttons, no gyros. So why do they cost so much? Because Nintendo. At least they’re wireless and they charge up by slotting onto the Switch’s sides like Joy-Cons.

You’ll be able to pre-order a two-pack starting on the 18th for $60, which also happens to be the launch date for Nintendo Switch Online. Yeah, it’s time to fork out for that online play Nintendo has generously given away for so long.

Fortunately, as you may remember from previous announcements, the cost is pretty low. $20 per year, and it gets you online game access and a growing library of NES classics. 10 of those games were confirmed before, but 10 more were added to the list today.

So at launch you’ll be able to play:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Dr Mario
  • Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Donkey Kong
  • Ice Climber
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Tennis
  • Soccer
  • Baseball
  • Double Dragon
  • Excitebike
  • Ghosts ‘n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Hockey
  • Pro Wrestling
  • River City Ransom
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • Yoshi

The service will also enable cloud backups of saves and possible special deals down the line. It sounds like it’s basically a must-have, although plenty of people are angry that their virtual console games have been essentially stolen back from them. At least we have the NES and SNES Classic Editions.

Nintendo Switch online service will launch on September 18th

Nintendo has communicated quite a lot on its new online service. And the company just shared the last missing piece of information — the service will launch on September 18th.

For the first time, Nintendo will launch a subscription service to access online services. It’ll cost $20 per year, $3.99 per month or $7.99 for three months.

Subscribers will be able to play multiplayer online games, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and Arms. If you were already playing those games over the internet, you’ll have to start paying.

In order to sweeten the deal, the company is adding new services for subscribers. Your save data will finally be synchronized with Nintendo’s servers. If you break or lose your Switch, you’ll be able to restore your user profiles. Unfortunately, it won’t work with Splatoon 2, Dead Cells, Dark Souls Remastered, Fifa 19, NBA 2K19 and Pokémon Let’s Go.

Subscribers will also be able to play NES games for free. Around 20 games will be part of the library. If you plan on subscribing, Nintendo will offer a 7-day free trial on September 18th.