Nintendo returns to the handheld gaming scene with the Nintendo Switch Lite. The handheld market has been a cornerstone of Nintendo's model for decades. Gunpei Yokoi's LCD-based Game & Watch predates even the Nintendo Entertainment System. Shortly after Nintendo's NES saved the Western games market from its disastrous 1983 crash, the prospect of being able to play "Mario," "Zelda," and "Metroid" on the go appealed to many a gamer.

Portable power

Mr. Yokoi sated those demands with the iconic Game-Boy.

Released in 1989, the Game-Boy dominated the market with hit titles such as "Pokemon Red and Blue," "The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening," and "Tetris." The Game-Boy would be vastly improved over the years with a color upgrade, in 1998, and the Game-Boy Advance, in 2001, before being succeeded by the DS in 2004 and the 3DS in 2011.

Over time, other game companies such as Sega, Atari, and even Sony saw the success that Nintendo was having and threw their respective hats into the handheld ring. However, due to factors such as the lack of third party support, high costs, and un-intuitive hardware, none of them could match Nintendo's success.

Sony's Vita may have had respectable handheld versions of "Uncharted" and "Little Big Planet," but gamers could already enjoy those on their PlayStation 3.

The mobile market changed everything. With the advent of Apple's smartphones and app stores, the mobile gaming scene offered a variety and convenience that Nintendo seemed ill-prepared to combat. Why spend a bunch of money on a 3DS when consumers could just use their phones to play "Angry Birds" or "Candy Crush" at significantly cheaper costs? Over time, sales of the 3DS started to decline and higher-ups, such as the late Satou Iwata, took massive salary cuts.

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While Nintendo still supported the 3DS, they seemed to see where the wind was blowing and tried dipping their toes into the mobile scene with "Super Mario Run" and "Pokemon GO."

Switch Lite

The Nintendo Switch Lite is one-hundred dollars less than the Nintendo Switch and like it's bigger brother, emphasizes gaming on the go. However, the Switch Lite cannot be connected to a TV, making it a strict portable only affair. In addition, there are smaller design differences such as a D-pad in place of the four buttons on the left side of the controller.

On the surface, it seems like it could be a good entry point for people who want the Switch but can't yet afford it.

However, the Game-Boy and the DS were not just smaller versions of their console brethren. While competitors such as Sega's Game-Gear and PlayStation's Vita were very much just portable Sega Master Systems and PlayStation 3s, Nintendo's handhelds forged an identity of their own with titles that played to the hardware's respective strengths. "Pokemon" and "Castlevania Aria of Sorrow" were epic adventures that lent themselves well to road trips and long plane rides.

The intuitive touch screen design of the DS made it the perfect platform for point and click adventure games such as "Ace Attorney" and "Professor Layton."

The Switch Lite has just launched and time will tell if it manages to re-capture the success that its handheld forefathers enjoyed.

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