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Why the Nintendo Switch is the comforting dose of nostalgia I needed

I haven't owned a video game system in 10 years — but I'm obsessed with the Switch.

The Nintendo Switch was originally released in March 2017, but it's more popular than ever a full three years after its launch. The system has officially joined toilet paper, hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes as one of the hardest items to find in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Much like the Wii that came before it, the Switch has seemed to even capture the attention of non-gamers — including myself. I haven't owned a video game system in 10 years, but the hype surrounding the Switch piqued my curiosity. Maybe it was seeing "Animal Crossing" all over social media or simply my boredom taking over, but I was curious to know what the hype was all about.

I was able to get my hands on a Nintendo Switch Lite for review — and I finally understand the appeal of this little gaming system.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Editor's Note: The Nintendo Switch Lite is currently not available on Amazon or Walmart at the suggested retail price of $199.99.

What is the Nintendo Switch Lite?

Unlike the original Nintendo Switch, the Lite cannot be connected to a TV — it's for handheld use only. Despite the lack of TV output, the Switch Lite can still play the same games as the original model. It's also $100 cheaper and comes in four colors, ranging from vibrant turquoise to sleek gray.

It also has a slightly small form factor than the original Switch, making it potentially more comfortable for longer gaming sessions. You may still want to consider the original Switch if you're hoping to play multiplayer games, but the Switch Lite is the perfect size for personal use.

Why the Nintendo Switch Lite is so appealing right now

Considering this is a full gaming system the size of a small tablet, I fully expected the Nintendo Switch Lite to wow me with its technical prowess given its compact design. However, I didn't expect it to make me feel nostalgic. The first time I turned it on, I had flashbacks to the many hours I use to spend on my bedroom floor playing the original Game Boy.

It didn't take me long to realize why the Switch is becoming important to so many people at the moment: The tried-and-true Nintendo gameplay and design makes it feel familiar and comforting, while the impressive graphics and innovative games make it an exciting and worthy distraction. This is especially true of games like "Super Mario Odyssey" — you know and love Mario, but you've never played a Mario game as expansive as this right in the palm of your hand.

Super Mario Odyssey

The ergonomic design and touchscreen controls also make the Switch Lite surprisingly simple to use, even for "non-gamers." If you know how to use an iPad, you'll be able to maneuver the Switch with ease — just ask this 88-year-old grandma who has become obsessed with "Animal Crossing." Whether you spend your nights playing "Fortnite" or haven't pickup up a video game since "Tetris" was all the rage, the Switch Lite might just win you over.

So, what's the deal with "Animal Crossing?"

You've probably seen this strange little game taking over your social media feeds recently, and you may have been as confused as I initially was. I could tell there were a variety of cute animals and people and living on a deserted island, but I had no idea what the game actually entailed. I just knew that Chrissy Teigen is a fan, so I was basically sold on trying it.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

When I first booted up the game, I was a little underwhelmed. You arrive on a deserted island and are told to pick a spot for your tent, which will eventually become your house — not the most thrilling start to a video game. However, before I knew it, three hours had flown by.

Your character is essentially set free to explore this little island, and you soon realize your main objective is to start gathering supplies and random objects like apples and seashells. Whatever you choose to do with these items is entirely up to you. You can use them to create tools to help you gather even more items, or you can sell them for money — which you can then use to either pay off the loan you took out for your house or to buy new clothes and furniture for your character. And that's all before you start visiting other islands.

Just me on my island, ready to catch some butterflies.
Just me on my island, ready to catch some butterflies.Nintendo

The gameplay is admittedly monotonous, but it's this constant repetition that makes the game so ridiculously addictive. It's so easy to complete your daily tasks and find new items to collect that it's tough to know when to put it down. On paper, this might sound boring, but once you try it, you'll wave goodbye to many hours of your life.

Who should buy a Switch Lite?

If you have fond memories of playing any Nintendo system in your childhood and are in search of a welcome distraction while stuck at home — the Switch Lite is an absolute no-brainer. You'll feel right at home, and visiting your "Animal Crossing" island will feel like a much-needed dose of escapism.

Of course, Nintendo's family-friendly offerings also make it a great choice for those looking for a way to keep their kids entertained in the house. The handheld design means they won't need to take the TV away from the rest of the family, and its durable construction should hold up to any even the clumsiest of little hands.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my island.

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