With exclusively a handheld mode, players will want to make sure to have handheld games for the Nintendo Switch Lite. You can't dock the Switch Lite to play on your home TV, but it's more compact and portable than the original version of the Switch. And since the Switch Lite has built-in, non-removable Joy-Cons, that means that some games aren't compatible without having to go out and buy separate controllers. Fortunately, there are plenty of games that work just fine in handheld mode, and these are some of our favorites!
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is one of those crossover games you wouldn't expect to work, but boy, does it! The gameplay offers more of a turn-based style that plays well with the handheld and smaller screen. And the puzzle-like scenarios are timed well to play whenever you have a few minutes of downtime.
3... 2... Punch it!
If you are a Mario Kart fan like me, you won't be disappointed by Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch Lite. Mario Kart's clean and bright graphics look great, even on the smaller screen. An entire Grand Prix seldom takes more than 30 minutes to complete, so it's a great game to play even if you only have a little time free.
We are Legion
The art style of Astral Chain is beautiful. At times, it can feel more like an animated show instead of playing a game. That's not to say there isn't some fantastic gameplay and story as well. Plus, none of that loses any impact from being played on a handheld. Grab your Legion and get to that crime-fighting.
If you have ever wondered what it is like inside of a 1930's cartoon — well, you don't need to wonder. Cuphead brings that classic design into the modern era in a challenging platformer. And platformers feel right at home on the Switch Lite. This game will beat you down with its difficulty, so your eventual win feels that much more significant.
Splatter packed party
Splatoon 2's gameplay is comparable between docked mode on the Switch and handheld modes. However, when you are trying to hone in on those perfectly aimed shots having the screen in your hands can actually be better. There is less room for error with the handheld controls. Splatter some paint where you will; this is a great handheld option.
Slay the Spire is a roguelike deck builder game where the deck is different every time you play. No two games will be exactly alike, which creates strong replayability. While this game was initially designed for the PC, the port over to Switch was smooth; the controls feel like it was built for the Switch Lite.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is both a fleshed out construction game and a full-fledged RPG game complete with interesting characters and areas to explore. While the controls can be a little frustrating at times, it's hard to dwell on that as you quickly become distracted by striking visuals as you quest or build out your functional town.
Demon slaying and looting
Diablo III Eternal Collection comes with the base game and all DLC content. Choose from seven different hero classes and go through the story of Diablo III or grind and gear up through Adventure mode, competing with others with seasonal characters in your never-ending quest for gear and loot. Send those demons back to hell where they belong!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the latest installment of the Animal Crossing franchise. Make your new home on a remote island paradise, recruit your favorite animal villagers, gather resources and craft items. Customize your character and your home to your liking, and even play with friends. Nothing is more soothing.
Gotta catch 'em all!
Pokémon Sword and Shield takes you to the region of Galar, which is heavily inspired by the UK. Discover many kinds of new Pokémon, as well as some old favorites, and embark on your journey to become the next Pokémon Champion. The new legendaries are also a cool addition to your collection.
Pure handheld happiness
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There are plenty amazing Nintendo Switch games, and few are docked TV mode only. With so many games available to the Switch Lite, finding one that makes you happy won't be difficult. But that also means it's hard to pick the best handheld games. Having controls and graphics which feel good on a handheld is a large part of it, but at a certain point, so many games feel good that it comes down to preference.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are prime examples of a game that feels good on handheld consoles. The controls are intuitive, the graphics are clean and strong on a smaller screen, and gameplay fits well into any amount of free time you have. Diablo III Eternal Collection is also a big favorite here, because who can resist fast-paced dungeon-crawling action where you can slay hordes of demon mobs in seconds with the right gear on? Plus, it's so fun to play and hunt for perfect loot anywhere you go.
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.