Nintendo's Switch console has seen a lot of praise and success in the market, already at more than 22 million Units sold WW as of the past October. The Console's unique mobile hardware and controllers have allowed the console gaming to adapt to an increasingly mobile world, and with their Smartphone games, Nintendo has once again shown that On-the-go gaming is their bread and butter. But in a way, the Hybrid nature of the Switch can be seen as a logical evolution of Nintendo's handheld design, and is what the company was building up to with their past mobile devices.

  • The Game Boy originally launched in 1989 and it popularized the modern handheld we know now. Marketing itself as an NES in the palm of your hand (abiet without color), the Game Boy offered the same types of games and gameplay found on Nintendo's hit home console at the time, and even found a niche with Adults thanks to the pack-in game Tetris. Other, more powerful competitors challenged the Game Boy, but the console's low price, strong battery-life, and superior developer support plowed through all who dared to challenge it. However, when we came to the SNES, the Game Boy looked a bit behind. Nintendo's home scene had evolved into 16-bit action, while Game Boy players were still rocking monochrome 8-bit graphics. Despite this, developers during this time began squeezing more juice out of the hardware, with some games looking close to the 16-bit graphics of the SNES. This was also the period where Nintendo introduced the Super Game Boy, letting players play their favorite Game Boy games on the Big Screen. Little did Nintendo know, this concept would be revisited in the future.

  • By the time the N64 rolled around, the Game Boy really started showing its age. People still liked it, but sales were flattening as it seemed there was nowhere left for the little 8-bit brick to go now that consoles began to move into 3D polygons. But a little known developer at the time, Game Freak, swooped in and provided the platform's biggest killer app since Tetris, Pokemon. The critter catching RPG phenomenon gave the Game Boy a new lease of life, and led the way for the Game Boy Color, an upgrade of the original system that brought full color to the Game Boy, and a bit more juice. While still 8-bits, the addition of color held developers and gamers over until the real next generation

  • The Game Boy Advance, released in 2001, was the first true successor to the original system. Modeled closely after the SNES, the 32-bit system allowed for more complex games, graphics, sound and gameplay to exist on a mobile device. This meant more long form games like RPGs, racers, strategy games, and a host of other 2D/pseudo-3D style games and genres, even full console games, adapted to the Sprite-based machine. The GBA was the first step in handheld games becoming as substantial as their console counterparts. So much so, that Nintendo released an add-on for its struggling Nintendo GameCube, that allowed you to play GBA games, as well as the entire Game Boy catalog, on the TV with the Game Boy Player. Given the GameCube's software droughts and poor third party support, having access to the GBA library gave it more of a compelling niche, and would be the second time Nintendo revisited the concept of handheld games on the TV.

  • The Nintendo DS released in 2004, and would become quite possibly the most influential gaming device of the modern era. But ignoring the revolution of its touch screen, the DS marked Nintendo handhelds first leap into full 3D. The system launched with Super Mario 64 DS, showing that 3D Gameplay and visuals were finally possible on a handheld, and it brought the DS more in line with modern consoles. Sure, the graphics were pretty blocky and it didn't have analog control, but the fact that full 3D worlds and presentation can now travel with us was another major leap for mobile gaming. The DS was also around the time Nintendo pulled out of the arms race on the home console front with the Wii, which was pretty much an extension of the GameCube hardware wise. This put the DS only about a generation behind its then current home console

  • The 3DS was when the transition finally was completed. The last dedicated handheld from Nintendo. The 3DS perfected 3D gameplay introduced on the DS. Complete with a new analog Circle Pad and visuals resembling the 6th generation, the 3DS was the point where Nintendo's handheld games really started feeling like their console brethren as worlds and gameplay became more console-like, with Nintendo even porting some of their console games to the system complete with touch ups, hinting at the direction its future platform would take, even when Nintendo moved into HD with the Wii U. In fact, you could argue that the 3DS was good enough to serve as a substantial replacement for Nintendo's home console that generation.

  • That brings us to Nintendo Switch, where after years of handheld-on-tv add-ons and handhelds playing catch up to console gameplay and presentation, Nintendo has decided to cut-out the middleman, and build an entire system around this concept. The progression of Nintendo's handhelds getting closer and closer to their consoles, was fully solidified with this hybrid system. Now, the Switch gives you the entire full blown Nintendo/Home Console experience on the go, as well as at home. At the same time, the console games also take lessons from the handheld side regarding short-burst play sessions.

So from the history of Nintendo's handheld hardware, the Switch feels like this was the inevitable conclusion Nintendo would've ended up at. Their mobile games progressively began to resemble their console offerings more and more, leading up to the Switch.