Switch Lite With Joy ConsSource: Rebecca Spear / iMore

Unlike the original Switch and Switch OLED, the Nintendo Switch Lite is a dedicated handheld gaming system that doesn't have removable Joy-Cons, can't dock to a TV, doesn't include motion controls, and doesn't include a kickstand. The lack of these features make it so the Switch Lite has issues playing some of the best Nintendo Switch games that rely on motion controls and Joy-Con waving.

Now, if you pair a Pro Controller or Joy-Cons to the Switch Lite, you can still play most of these games. However, since there is no kickstand on the smaller Switch, you'll need a great stand to prop up your gaming system for tabletop mode.

Here are all of the games that either don't support handheld mode or are less convenient to play in handheld mode. Alternatively, we also have a list of the best games to play on Nintendo Switch Lite. We can also help you learn how to pair Joy-Cons or a Pro Controller to the Nintendo Switch Lite.

Switch games that don't support handheld mode

Games that don't support handheld mode require you to have external Joy-Cons in order to play them. Here are all Switch games that don't support handheld mode.

Super Mario Party

Super Mario Party Nintendo Switch screenshotSource: Nintendo

The fun mini-games offered in this silly multiplayer use technology that you won't find in the Switch Lite. For instance, some of these mini-games rely on HD rumble, while others require you to swing around a detached Joy-Con. As we previously mentioned, the Switch Lite doesn't have HD rumble and the Joy-Cons don't detach. You can still play this game on the smaller Switch, but you'll need to pair a set of Joy-Cons to it. Having a stand also makes it easier for every player to see what's happening on screen.

If you have a Switch Lite, we recommend you get Mario Party Superstars, another Switch game in the series that does allow for handheld mode.

Ultimate game night

Super Mario Party

Super Mario Party

Hilarious digital board game

Compete against other players while making your way around a digital board game and attempting to acquire the most Stars. There are minigames in between rounds that are sure to get everyone hooting and hollering.

1-2-Switch

People playing 1-2 SwitchSource: Nintendo

To effectively play this two-player party game, you'll need a detached Joy-Con for either person playing. Many mini-games also rely on HD rumble to succeed, so you'll need a controller that supports that technology. Once again, the Switch Lite doesn't have a kickstand, so you'll want to purchase a stand that props your system up for both players to see. Pair an extra set of Joy-Cons to your Switch Lite and you'll be good to go.

Motion control mania

1-2 switch

1-2-Switch

Fast-paced minigames

This game uses the Joy-Cons' motion controls to their best advantage by having you perfrom various tasks like milking a cow, fighting with a sword, or opening a safe. Compete with a friend to see who's better at each activity.

Nintendo Labo/Labo VR

Child playing Nintendo Labo vehicle kitSource: Nintendo

Labo games work by placing detachable Joy-Cons into cardboard Toy-Con accessories and moving them around. Since the Switch Lite's Joy-Cons aren't removable, this isn't doable. This is the same across the board, whether you're referring to original Labo or Labo VR. The latter also requires you to strap the screen to a headset. Considering that the Labo headset is designed for the larger Switch, the Switch Lite won't fit securely and will likely fall out if you attempt to use it this way. It's not worth the risk of damaging the device, so we don't suggest playing Labo VR with the Switch Lite.

Creative cardboard

Nintendo Labo VR Hero

Nintendo Labo/Labo VR

Use cardboard accessories with games

There are several different cardboard Labo kits to choose from like a steering wheel, fishing pole, camera, and VR headset. Using these accessories with their included games makes the playing experience more immersive.

Just Dance (any version)

Just Dance 2019 screenshot Nintendo SwitchSource: Ubisoft

Ubisoft's Just Dance games are all about holding Joy-Cons in hand and moving around to different positions. As such, it's completely unusable on the Switch Lite unless you pair an extra set of Joy-Cons to your system. At this point, you'll also need to purchase a stand, since the Nintendo Switch Lite can't be propped up on its own. A new Just Dance edition comes out every year featuring the latest hits, so you can grab whichever ones have your favorite songs.

Move to the beat

Just Dance 2021 Twice

Just Dance

Dance to hit songs

Each year a new Just Dance releases filled with the latest and greatest hits. Play by yourself or have a dance off with friends to see who has the best moves.

Fitness Boxing / Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise

Fitness Boxing screenshot on Nintendo SwitchSource: Nintendo

Once again, these games require you to hold Joy-Cons in hand — this time to mimic boxing motions. These games can really make you work up a sweat. If you plan on playing these games on the Switch Lite, you'll need to pair Joy-Cons to the system so you can make those jabs with Joy-Con-enclosed fists. You'll also want a stand of some sort to prop the screen up for easier viewing.

Punch into fitness

Fitness Boxing 2 Two Player

Fitness Boxing/Fitness Boxing 2

Let's see your fight stance

This game has you holding Joy-Cons in hand as you bounce back and forth to a beat and land different types of hits in rhythm. It can really make you work up a sweat.

Ring Fit Adventure

Ring Fit Adventure screenshot Nintendo SwitchSource: Nintendo

This fitness game relies on you having external Joy-Cons strapped to the Ring-Con and Leg Strap accessories. Whenever you make a pose or move your body a certain way, the motion controls react in-game. For this reason, this game is not playable on the Switch Lite unless you purchase extra Joy-Cons. Due to the movement-focused nature of this game, it really would be easier to play on a TV anyways.

Workout RPG

Running in Ring Fit Adventure

Ring Fit Adventure

Defeat enemies by working out

Run through a fantasy world and encounter enemies. Instead of fighting them like you would in a normal RPG, you defeat them with squats, running, and stretches.

Surgeon Simulator CPR

Surgeon Simulator CPR screenshot Nintendo SwitchSource: Bossa Studios

This hilariously irreverent game has you conducting surgeries while waving detached Joy-Cons about. You can play on your own or pass a controller to a friend and work together to try and get a high score or be as destructive as possible. Since this game requires that you use detached Joy-Cons and motion controls, the Switch Lite on its own won't be able to play this game. You'll need to purchase additional external controllers if you want to play on the smaller Switch.

Zany doctor

Surgeon Simulator Cpr

Surgeon Simulator CPR

Motion control operation

See how accurate your movements with the Joy-Cons can be while attempting to perform surgery. This game features co-op so you and a friend can attempt procedures together for hilarious fun.

Games that aren't as convenient in handheld mode

Some games still support handheld mode but have elements that either won't work or won't be as easy to use on the handheld Switch Lite. Remember: HD rumble, detachable Joy-Cons, and IR camera motions aren't available on the mini Switch, which will cause complications for some games.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

A shrine in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild screenshotSource: iMore

I don't know about you, but I had to detach my Joy-Cons from my console to effectively complete many of the motion-controlled puzzles found in various shrines (like the one featured above). Otherwise, I found myself holding the Switch upside down or at such an awkward angle that I couldn't see what was happening on screen. The same goes for Sheikah Slate skills. Moving the screen around might make it hard for you to see exactly where you're throwing a bomb or lifting a metal object. Switch Lite players might want to consider purchasing a stand and an extra pair of Joy-Cons just for that reason.

Open-world Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Complete puzzles and explore a fantasy world

As Link travels around Hyrule, he encounters several shrines with puzzles in them. Many of these puzzles require motion controls found in Joy-Cons in order to complete them.

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey screenshotSource: Nintendo

A vital part of this Mario adventure is collecting Power Moons. The thing is, many of them are hidden. The game alerts you to nearby secret goodies by vibrating your controller, but the Switch Lite doesn't have HD rumble. Additionally, when playing this game on the original Switch, a second player can take control of Cappy, Mario's hat friend. When in handheld mode, this ability is taken away. The only way to bring it back would be to pair wireless controllers to your Switch Lite.

Plumber platformer

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey

Save Princess Peach from Bowser

Peach has been kidnapped again and it's up to Mario to try and save her. Along the way he'll platform his way through various locations. In order to find collectibles he'll need to rely on rumble within Joy-Cons to indicate where hidden things are.

Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee

Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu screenshotSource: Game Freak Inc.

When played on the original Switch, these reimagined Pokémon games allow you to throw Poké Balls using motion controls and even let you have a second player play along with you. However, these options aren't available in handheld mode since it requires the swinging motion of the Joy-Con in one instance and separate Joy-Cons in the other. You'll still be able to play these games in handheld mode. However, to take advantage of the features previously mentioned, you'll need to pair an extra set of Joy-Cons with your system.

Reimagined Gen I

Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee screenshot

Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee

Will you pick Pikachu or Eevee?

Run through the familiar Kanto region from the very first Pokémon games and take on the original gym leaders and Team Rocket. Players can use motion controls to fling their Poké Balls to catch wild Pokemon.

Luigi's Mansion 3

Luigi's Mansion 3 screenshotSource: Nintendo

The newest game in the Luigi's Mansion series takes advantage of motion controls to help you aim your Poltergust vacuum at various specters and obstacles. Since the Switch Lite doesn't feature motion controls, you won't be able to use this feature. Fortunately, you can still use the right joystick to aim the vacuum up or down.

Ghost Dustbusters

Luigi's Mansion 3

Luigi's Mansion 3

Defeat ghosts in a haunted hotel

Mario, Peach, and Luigi have been invited to a humongous hotel, unaware that it's actually run by ghosts. It's up to Luigi to use his vacuum-like Poltergust G-00 to suck up specters and save everyone.

The World Ends with You: Final Remix

The World Ends With You: Final Remix screenshotSource: Square Enix Co., LTD.

Square Enix's classic game works differently in handheld mode than it does in docked mode. When in your hands, you must use touchscreen controls to play since it doesn't recognize Joy-Cons. This means that if you're playing this game on the Switch Lite, your only option will be to touch the screen, which may not be appealing to many people. Fix that by pairing a wireless controller to your Switch Lite.

Game of life and death

The World Ends With You Final Remix

The World Ends with You: Final Remix

Compete with others to survive

Neku and his friends have been pulled into a strange competition with other teams of players. Those who come in last for completing the weeks' daily missions face total erasure. Can he and his friends stop this madness and save everyone?

So there you have it, every Nintendo Switch game that's harder to play on the Nintendo Switch Lite. Some games just downright won't play on the Switch Lite without external controllers, while only certain game features will be affected in others. At any rate, you must look into the mechanics of a game before you buy it to make sure that you have all of the necessary equipment you need to play it on your smaller Switch.

Other Switch games that rely on motion controls or allow you to enable them

Not a rapidly growing list

The number of games that don't work at all or as well on the Nintendo Switch Lite is, fortunately, not a list that frequently grows, with the vast majority of Nintendo Switch games being designed to take advantage of every mode, including handheld. If you do run into issues with a game, remember that you can easily solve it by picking up a new pair of Joy-Cons or a Nintendo Switch Pro controller.

Two halves

Nintendo Switch Gray Joy-Cons

Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons

The original Joy-Cons

These controllers sync to your Nintendo Switch or Nintendo Switch Lite, allowing you to play a variety of games. They feature HD rumble, motion controls, NFC functionality, and IR motion cameras. They come in a variety of colors so you can get the look you like most.

Serious gamer

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

Pro Controller

A more traditional controller

This controller feels great in your hands and is perfect for heart-pumping multiplayer games or complex action RPGs. The right set of buttons associated with the Joy-Cons are swapped out for a D-pad for better control during gaming. It works with amiibo, provides HD rumble, and operates with motion controls.

Lean on me

Hori Compact Playstand for Nintendo Switch

Hori Compact Playstand

A stand for all Switch systems

Whether you have the standard Switch or the smaller Switch Lite, this stand will be a great asset while playing games. It folds away for easy storage and can be propped up at three different angles.

Get More Switch

Nintendo Switch

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