Saturday, June 8, 2019

Switch Shortcomings

By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

Welcome welcome welcome everyone welcome back to LegalSpeak A ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series where I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. You can see everything we do all in one spot over at This week we are going to be discussing where I think the Nintendo Switch falls short and what I think can be done to overcome those shortcomings so lets get right to it.

Now before everyone gets out their pitchforks and gets ready to burn me at the stake let me start by saying that I love the Nintendo Switch. I love the switch as a handheld for just lounging around the house. I love the switch as a home console to play on my living room TV. I love the Switch as a unique local multiplayer focused console, a throwback to a bygone era. But no matter how much I love the Switch when it comes to leaving the house its not the one that always comes with me. So that got me thinking, why is it that when it comes to taking a gaming console with me I still depend on my 2DS XL for my every day carry and not my Switch?

Nintendo has dominated the handheld market since the introduction of the Gameboy in 1989. There have been a small handful of real contenders that have put up a decent fight over the years like the Sega Gamegear and more recently the PSP but even at the height of their popularity those consoles were still a distant second to whatever Nintendo was offering at the time. While it's not the biggest sales wise physically the Switch is the biggest Nintendo handheld to date. It's an extremely personal device and when used at home the size of the console is no problem whatsoever but as soon as you leave the comfort of your own home it becomes very apparent that the Switch is not a small device. In the home it's manageable but on a train, bus or plane it becomes almost unwieldy. I consider the switch borderline to big but this cant be the only reason my switch rarely leaves my house.

In 2012 I owned both a 3DS XL and a PlayStation Vita I loved both of those consoles and had games I played on both but when it came to leaving the house there was really only one that I took with me and that was my 3DS. Even at the smaller screen size and overall footprint the Vita was still unable to edge out the 3DS as my every day carry console of choice. So why did I prefer my 3DS XL to my Vita way back in 2012 and why do I prefer my 2DS XL to my Switch today? Form factor.

Nintendo's Switch and Sony's last handheld share a similar form factor, a slab design held horizontally with controls on either side and a large screen in the middle. The 3DS and 2DS XL on the other hand both feature a clamshell design. Now I don’t just prefer a clamshell design for no reason, what really kill the slab design of the Vita and the Switch is the exposed screen. Way back in 2003 Nintendo made an adjustment to their Gameboy Advance line by implementing the SP and with the SP came what I consider to be the two most significant improvements ever made to handheld consoles: a lit screen and a clamshell design. I know the first SP was front lit but I am still going to give it to them they were definitely on the right track. The clamshell design protected the screen and controls, and made the entire console significantly more pocketable and in turn more portable. It was a design that worked so well that with the exception of the standard 2DS Nintendo would continue to iterate on that same design for the next 14 years.

But then the Switch came along and gone was the clamshell design that could easily fold up and be thrown into a bag or put in my back pocket without having to worry about the screen or controls. As soon as the gigantic screen was left exposed I immediately knew I was going to have to carry a case at all times. It took me a few tries but eventually I found a case that I actually really like watching Bob Wulff on The Wulff Den, you can find a link to their channel and a link to the case I bought in the description. So I found a case that I liked but that doesn’t change the fact that even having a case at all slows down the entire playing experience. Now what was pulling my 2DS out of my pocket flipping it open and playing has turned into taking the Switch out of my bag, taking it out of its case, finding a place to put the case, then turning on the Switch to play. I know it sounds like I'm complaining about very minor things here but the fact of the matter is is that the exposed screen puts me in a position where the time it takes to get into the experience makes it a complete non starter when it is having to compete with pulling my iPhone out of my pocket and browsing reddit. Getting my 2DS out is a comparable amount of effort as getting my phone out (maybe a little more) but widening that gap is a great way to ensure that I don’t spend that public transit commute playing games. The Switch has fallen victim to a similar fate as the iPad: its great for use at home but when taken out and about my iPhone is always more convenient.

So how do I propose Nintendo fixes this whole Swithuation? With the rumors of the Switch mini and the Switch Pro on the horizon it seems more people are hoping for a Switch pro over a Switch mini. But to those people I ask, why? What could be done to make the Switch better enough that it could justify buying a Switch Pro? Sure they could put a 1080p screen in the thing but then that kills battery life. They could up the internal memory but with the 500gb micro sd cards selling for less than a hundred dollars these days im not to concerned with the 32gb standard. And yes they could build it around a faster SOC for better gameplay performance but to that I say I already have a PS4pro and an Xbox one X so if I want something with power Ill just go there. What I want for the future of the Switch is for Nintendo to really lean into the portability aspect of the console.

I want the Switch mini to be a clamshell design at a similar size to the 2DS XL possibly a bit bigger. Beef up the controls with bigger and better buttons than the ones on the joy con and use two full size circle pads in place of analog sticks. Pack all those controls into the bottom half of the device and give the player plenty of room to move around on that surface. Then fill the top portion up with screen. Even if the screen has to be a bit smaller that’s fine with me if it means it wont be constantly exposed. Nintendo make the Switch Flip and I will be ready to buy on day one.

What do you think about the possibility of a smaller more portable Switch with a clamshell design? Let me know in the comments down below.

If you're new here don’t forget to subscribe for a new video essay and two new podcasts every week. You can find everything we do all in one spot over at  I'll be back next week talking about my predictions for E3 2019 so until then just go play some games.

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