It is not surprising that Nintendo has announced a redesign of the Switch, but it is a little surprising that the Switch Lite has lost the system's signature ability to … pass. The new revision is only for hand play, that is, it does not have removable controllers, kickstand, or playability on a TV.
It's the same with video game consoles. While new generations of hardware introduce much greater power and functionality, revisions of the same generation sometimes take some steps backwards. Whether compromises are made to reduce costs or because some elements were deemed unimportant, in their history, the three current console manufacturers have released several machines that have destroyed various features.
The question, as always, is how much these missing features represent for you.
Nintendo does this since its first home console, the NES. Released in 1993, the NES-101 was a complete overhaul of the 1985 NES with a new controller, a top-loading cartridge slot and a price of € 49.99 for stickers. The hardware was pretty much the same, but the composite video and audio outputs were removed, which meant you had to connect it to your TV with an RF connection.
Nintendo followed a similar formula for the release of the New-Style Super NES in 1997. This new version of SNES removed the power LED and the eject button, while reducing video output options . S-Video and RGB were dropped for a composite port only. The new Super NES style also did not have the extension port that was only used for the exclusive Satellaview device in Japan, which allowed users to access games and other content via satellite broadcasts. .
The Nintendo 64 came and went without any modifications, and the GameCube was never redesigned either (unless you were counting on the Panasonic Q, which was an exclusively Japanese DVD player, which looked like a toaster and which contained a GameCube). The GameCube however received a silent revision that further removed the video output capabilities. Models produced from 2004 removed the cable port of the digital AV component, which meant that the system could no longer use the 480p progressive scan mode in compatible games.
The Wii took over from the GameCube and had much in common with its predecessor, including full upward compatibility and ports for memory cards and controllers. However, this feature was discontinued five years after its launch, with a 2011 hardware revision removing backward compatibility and no longer delivered with the Wii's iconic vertical support. Instead, this model was intended to sit horizontally under a television. Nintendo has gone so far as to redirect the Wii logo 90 degrees to get the message across.
The Wii Mini was a much more drastic reduction. It looked absolutely like the original Wii, with a red and black body and a top-loading disk drive. More importantly, it excludes all Internet features as well as backward compatibility, which means that it literally only reads Wii physical disks. Even for $ 99.99, it was a tough sell in 2013.
The first portable versions of Nintendo, on the other hand, tended to be simple improvements that replaced their predecessors in every way. Unless, for example, you missed the original Game Boy green screen on the upgraded version of Game Boy Pocket for whatever reason, or the Pocket Contrast switch on the much more powerful Game Boy color. (In fact, I did not know it a bit.) Even the move to a new generation in 2001 with the Game Boy Advance has preserved all the features of the Game Boy Color.
From now on, things get complicated. The first revision of the Game Boy Advance, SP, followed in 2003 and was generally well received for its shell design which finally included a screen illuminated by the facade. But it was also a portent of misfortune, because Nintendo decided that it would not matter if we dropped the headphone jack. If you wanted to listen, for example, the Aria of Sorrow Relatively faithful soundtrack, you have to buy a dongle.
It was even less convenient now than it is today – it's not like the Game Boy AirPods were never a thing to do – and Nintendo reversed the game with the 2005 Game Boy Micro, an elegant redesign with a tiny screen of high quality and, yes, a headphone jack. But the Micro had a big disadvantage in that it broke compatibility with the entire library of original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.
The Nintendo DS, launched the same year, had the same degree of compatibility with the Game Boy Advance-only. The 2006 DS Lite was an extremely simple improvement, with much brighter screens and a tighter design around identical interiors. But the 2009 DSi was a more complicated upgrade proposal.
On the one hand, the DSi was by far the largest upgrade ever made by Nintendo's mid-generation. It had larger screens, a faster processor and more RAM than the DS Lite, while adding two (very bad) cameras, 256 MB of internal storage and the ability to download DSiWare games from an online store. The design was even more refined than that of the DS Lite and the integrated operating system was much more complete.
On the other hand, the DSi has also completely cut the link between the Nintendo console and the Game Boy by completely removing the secondary cartridge slot. This has not only affected compatibility with earlier versions. (A good number of contemporary DS games used the Game Boy slot for their accessories, like Rumble Pak and Guitar Hero The DSi series and its larger variant, the DSi XL, were much more efficient systems, but this disadvantage meant that they did not necessarily directly replace the DS Lite.
The 3DS was a brand new platform with many new features and has not lost much in its lifetime. The 3DS XL was more or less a larger version, while the new 3DS was a mid-generation review that improved technical capabilities and added more controls without taking anything away. When the time came to withdraw something, it was a bomb.
The 2DS was not only strange, but its name looked like an April joke. A 2D version of a console that used 3D as the main selling point? The jokes were written. But finally, Nintendo turned out to be right. Many prestigious titles have ceased to support 3D and the final revision of 3DS – the 2DS XL – was the best at the moment, for those who did not care about this feature.
Sony has also changed the capabilities of its console from the first days of the PlayStation. Different versions of the original PlayStations have been released with internal mechanisms and modified AV outputs. The most important was probably the removal of the RCA connectors of the first model, which has subsequently made him cult in audiophile circles. The smaller redesign of PSOne in 2000 removed the serial port, which was used for the PlayStation link cable, but otherwise it was not missed; the unused parallel port had already been removed in a previous revision.
The PlayStation 2 has also undergone many minor changes. Did you know she had a FireWire port at launch? – before landing on a more substantial overhaul. This time, however, the change was much more radical. The "PS2 Slim" of 2004, as it was now called, represented an incredible reduction in size, which meant that there was no room for the bulky 3.5-inch drive bay of the original model that housed the network card.
It was not a problem for the online game itself, because the PS2 Slim had an integrated Ethernet port. But that meant that the console had dropped support for the PS2 hard drive, a 40GB hard drive that could speed up the loading times of some games and was required for some, including Final Fantasy XI. The lack of compatibility of hard drives also prevented the PS2 Slim from running the PS2 version of Linux, which proved much less controversial than when Sony removed it from the PS3.
In fact, just about everything on the initial model of the PS3 was controversial. Sony launched this ambitious system at $ 599 and quickly found it in the obligation to do everything in its power to reduce costs. Even the console released in Europe four months after the US launch was less efficient than the original model.
In its early days, the PS3 achieved hardware backward compatibility with the PS2 by integrating the Emotion Engine processor and graphics processor of this system's graphics synthesizer into the motherboard. For the European launch, Emotion Engine was removed, the software emulation taking up some, but not all, of the game. As a result, the European PS3 could only read 72% of the PS2 library, as well as the 80GB model launched in the United States.
The situation worsened later in the year with the global launch of the 40GB PS3. This model was sold for $ 399, a significant price cut that Sony was able to partially achieve by reducing the Cell processor. to a 60 nm processor more energy efficient and more economical. But the machine was seriously reduced: it lost two USB ports, all flash card readers, support for Super Audio CD and upward compatibility of the PS2 in its entirety. The 40 GB PS3 no longer included the graphical synthesizer and thus completely lost the ability to play PS2 discs. All of the following PS3 units, including the two major thin changes, were based on the 40 GB features.
At about the same time, Sony created various versions of its first real portable console, the PlayStation Portable. The 2008 PSP-2000 was a "minor" minor update with some welcome changes, while the next year's PSP-3000 offered a much better screen. However, neither model actually removed the important elements of PSPs – this would come in 2009.
The PSP Go has been one of the most radical console remakes of all time. It was much smaller than other PSP models, with buttons hidden behind a sliding mechanism, and the most controversial did not include a UMD disk drive. It meant no physical games or UMD movies: everything had to come from the digital PlayStation Store. Despite this, Sony has charged a much higher price for the PSP GB than for other models of PSP. Not surprisingly, Sony has started to bundle it with several free games. It was an experimental device that was ahead of its time in some respects: it was the first time that a console manufacturer was trying to sell complete retail games in digital format.
The final model of PSP, however, went completely in the opposite direction. The PSP-E1000 was launched in Europe only in 2011, and it was a cheaper business model with a mono speaker and no Wi-Fi support. You can still download and transfer digital games from your home. A PS3 if you really want it, but in practice it was a PSP-based physical drives.
The follow-up of Sony on the PSP, the PS Vita, only lasted the time necessary to obtain a unique overhaul. It was an interesting proposition at the time. Almost everything was an improvement: the size, the weight, the life of the battery. But switching to a perfectly good but boring LCD display on the original model's bright OLED screen made it feel a bit cheaper, even though the build quality was better. It was not really about losing a feature film, it was rather a subjective change that made you nostalgic for the time when you burned psychedelic. Lumines steps in your retinas.
Microsoft also has a history of controversial console revisions, although it took a while to get started. The first Xbox had only internal changes to improve reliability and defend against modding, although Microsoft quickly backed down on its original controller unwieldy by switching to the smaller model S.
The Xbox 360 had a smaller S model in 2010, adding a dedicated proprietary port to the Kinect sensor, as well as an integrated Wi-Fi network and additional USB ports. The 360 S did not remove any major functionality, but it dramatically changed the storage situation by removing expensive memory devices and cost-sensitive hard drives from Microsoft for a standard SATA drive.
A new design, the Xbox 360 E 2013, removed a single USB port, as well as component and S-video outputs, and was primarily notable for its visual similarity with the upcoming Xbox One. Overall, Microsoft has passed the 360 generation without much controversy over hardware revisions. His biggest problem, by far, was the original model that worked badly.
But we all know what happened with the Xbox One. Launched in 2013 with Kinect at the forefront of its user interface and its gaming lineup, the platform has collapsed alongside the smaller, faster, and cheaper PS4.
Microsoft worked quickly to straighten the ship, tweaking the dependence of the user interface on Kinect then, in 2014, selling versions of the Xbox One without the sensor present in the box. When the time came to release a redesigned version of the console, the Xbox One S did not even include a Kinect port, and last year Microsoft completely shut down the hard-to-find Kinect USB adapter.
The Xbox One S would have been completely unthinkable for all viewers to watch the original presentation of Microsoft on Xbox One. With this in mind, it's one of the most important console revisions of all time. But by the time the S was published, it was not at all controversial.
This is partly because it was an excellent update, placing a 4K Blu-ray drive and HDR support in a much smaller and more attractive package. (At about the same time, Sony released a slightly thinner PlayStation 4 that removed the optical audio port.) But it's mostly because few people, consumers or developers, really liked Kinect. Microsoft's infatuation with technology almost sank the platform before the company realized it was on the wrong track.
This is something to keep in mind when evaluating products such as the Nintendo Switch Lite. An important feature has been lost, yes, but are there many people who would prefer not to have it in the first place?
In the case of the switch, I think the answer is actually yes. This is a much more impressive handheld than a home system and its wearable nature is why Nintendo was able to charge $ 299 US for such a modest hardware with modern console standards. For people who use it anyway in pocket mode anyway, the chance of getting a more portable device, with a better battery life and a saving of $ 100 will be very appealing .
For anyone, well, they do not have to buy the Switch Lite. According to rumors, Nintendo is also working on a more powerful model. Wait for that instead.
As long as he has nothing useful removed.
Photography by Evan Amos, public domain works on video game equipment is an amazing gift to the world.