Oh a lovely, sunny Japanese Tuesday, Nintendo was all geared up to announce a new, lovely colour for their next Switch Lite model. “How the public will love it,” they thought. “It’s been ages since we did anything blue, not counting those Skyward Sword Joy-Cons.”
And lo, the internet did rage. “It’s not blue,” they said. “That’s bloody purple.” Some people compared it to the colour of a Game Boy Advance; others said it was more like a GameCube.
Listen, chaps. We can solve this with science. After Googling a few key questions, like “where does purple begin” and “what is the difference between blue and purple”, I learned a lot about mattress companies and shampoo to tone down brassy colours in blonde hair, but not an awful lot about whether something is, or is not, purple.
I did, however, learn a little bit about indigo, a colour only generally referenced when you sing about the rainbow, or Joseph’s technicolour dreamcoat. Indigo is an in-between colour, a liminal colour, that’s not-quite-blue and not-quite-purple. It’s mostly blue, though the GameCube was officially called “Indigo” despite definitely being purple. It comes from a plant named indigo (which is pink) and has potentially the most boring Wikipedia page I’ve ever seen.
Importantly, I also learned about “Electric Indigo” – which is, apparently, the brightest colour indigo that can be approximated on a computer screen. It is also more purple than the Switch Lite, but not as purple as the GameCube. It’s quite a nice colour, but it does sort of sear the retinas a little.
Long story short: the Switch Lite is not really indigo, and it’s also sort of indigo, but that doesn’t answer the question of “is it blue or purple” – it’s a bit like being asked “do you want chips or a salad” and answering “oooh can I have a bit of both?” Sure, you’re technically allowed to do that, but everyone will think you don’t like making decisions, and the waiter will probably find you very annoying. Back to the drawing board, then.
I went deeper. I found the individual hex codes of the Switch Lite, the Game Boy Advance, and the GameCube, and set out to find if I could convert the hex codes into the wavelengths of the visible spectrum. You might be able to argue with Pantone’s colours, but you can’t argue with wavelengths, partly because they don’t have a PR representative.
But you can’t convert hex codes neatly into wavelengths, because a hex code is simply a bunch of numbers that tell you how much red, green, and blue is in an individual pixel. Pixels on a screen trick your brain into seeing colour by just BLASTING lots of colours at your face until your brain gives up and says “I dunno, that looks pink/grey/orangeish to me.” The visible spectrum doesn’t work like that. The way light displays colours and the way pixels and paint display colours are entirely different, and trying to compare them is a lot like trying to replace your oven with a photo of a campfire.
Colours are stupid and confusing and I regret starting this article.
Okay, new tactic. We grab the RGB value of the Switch Lite on a relatively neutrally-lit monitor, convert it to a hex code, and pop that into this “Name That Colour” website, on which the creator says: “Being a typical guy, I have no clue what the colors Lavender and Mauve look like. You can show me Indigo and I won’t know if it’s more like Violet or Purple.” Wow, can you imagine having that issue?
Apparently, the colour of the new Switch Lite lies somewhere between “San Marino” and “Chambray”, depending on which exact area of the Switch you’re looking at. San Marino, Wikipedia tells me, is a football team. Chambray is a town in France, and also a type of fabric. More importantly: both are classed as blue. Aha!
So, there you have it. The new Switch Lite is blue. Of course, we could have told you that by just looking at the product name, since Nintendo of America is confidently calling it “fresh new blue”. Even the Nintendo Japan site is calling it blue, and we weren’t sure whether the concept of “blue” would be slightly different in another language. Then again, can any of us really trust a company who only ever released the Spice Orange GameCube in Japan?
Did we just write an entire article on blue vs purple? Yes. Will we fight anyone in the comments who insists that it’s actually purple? No, because our lawyer said we’d get in trouble. But we have made this lovely poll for you to express your opinions on this extremely important issue, so vote your hearts out: