Best answer: Yes, you can use a single Joy-Con as a controller for most playing modes in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Just detach it from your Nintendo Switch and use it horizontally. But we'd also recommend picking up a Pro Controller at some point.
Joy-Cons are great starter options for local multiplayer
The Nintendo Switch's Joy-Cons are quite marvelous in that together they offer a full control scheme for any game, but as lone units, they make for very capable controllers on their own.
That's because Nintendo smartly designed them to be symmetrical when you turn them sideways, giving you directional movement, face button inputs, and even basic shoulder button support when used horizontally. While Super Smash Bros. Ultimate can be deep with the moves and strategies you use, the underlying control scheme is very simple, so you can do anything in the game that those using both Joy-Cons or a different type of controller can.
As such, those who are playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate locally can enjoy two-player matches out of the box without having to buy any additional controllers. It also has its uses for those playing alone, such as when children with small hands are playing, or if you just prefer using a lone Joy-Con whenever you can.
But you'll want to consider better options later on
We want to stress that using Joy-Cons is only a starter option. If you want to graduate from playing the game at a casual level, you'll probably want to stock up on more traditional controllers. Thankfully, there's no shortage of options as you can use the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller with the game, as well as the GameCube controller.
In fact, Nintendo is not only releasing a brand new USB-C GameCube controller for this very launch but also making it possible to use original GameCube controllers if you have an adapter.
And you can mix and match, too
The Nintendo Switch is a refreshingly flexible system. That flexibility is most cool in the core functionality of being playable on a TV or in handheld mode, but the more underrated capability is its controller ubiquity.
Namely, you can mix and match controllers to your heart's content. If you decide to add a Pro controller or a GameCube controller down the line, you won't have to buy even more for the times you have friends over — just use the Pro controller and have your guests use Joy-Cons!
There is one exception to this, and that's if you're playing local wireless multiplayer between two or more Nintendo Switch consoles, in which cases you can not use a single Joy-Con.
The biggest Smash title yet.
With every single Super Smash Bros. character in the series' history and all new ways to play, there's never been a better time to join this fight.
Greater control over your fights.
While the Joy-Cons work just fine, it may be worth investing in a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller instead. It's more comfortable, and unlike the GameCube controller, it's appropriate to use for all types of games.
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