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Games That Are Better On The Nintendo Switch Lite (Because The D-Pad Is Better)

The Switch Lite has some obvious disadvantages compared to the normal version, but in these cases the improved D-pad comes in real handy.

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There are quite a few differences between the original Nintendo Switch and the newly released Nintendo Switch Lite. The Switch Lite is smaller, doesn’t have removable Joy-Cons, and it’s strictly portable and won’t connect to another display. One major advantage it has is the fact that there is now a D-pad built into the controls.

On the original Nintendo Switch, there were buttons that worked similarly to a D-pad, but anyone who has played any type of platformer that requires a D-Pad will know that it’s just not the same. That means there are some games that are easier and more fun to play on the Switch Lite because of the new D-pad.

Aegis Defenders

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Aegis Defenders is a 2D platforming-style game that was released on the Nintendo Switch and other consoles in 2018. In this game, players control a team of characters. These characters are Ruinhunters who recently discovered a weapon known as the Aegis and have to stop it from falling into the wrong hands.

This game has a lot of tower defense elements in each section of the game, meaning that players have to stop enemies from reaching their base. Controls are done through the D-pad buttons and although this works fine on the Switch, it’s even better on the Switch Lite since there’s a real D-pad.

Super Mario Maker 2

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Super Mario Maker 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the Wii U’s Super Mario Maker. In this game, players are able to create their own levels in any style of Super Mario game they could imagine. Players can share their levels and even play the levels that other players have worked to create.

Some of the levels that people make in this game can be tough. They involve really precise jumps and moves in order to make it through the obstacles and past the enemies, so it’s important to hit the right buttons at exactly the right moment. Having the D-pad on the Switch Lite makes these precise moves easier than ever.

Shovel Knight

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Shovel Knight is a 2D side-scrolling platformer game that was released on the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Prior to this, ti was released on other consoles in 2017 and already had quite a following of people who loved this retro-style platformer.

The game has multiple different campaigns that the player can go through. Each campaign has its own unique storyline, giving players a reason to sink a lot of time into this game. The fact that it’s a platformer-style game means that being precise with your moves is key.

Celeste

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Celeste is a platformer-style game that was originally made over the course of four days at a game jam before being turned into the full game that was released in 2018. This game follows the main character, Madeline, as she climbs up to the peak of Celeste Mountain.

Although that sounds simple, Celeste can be a pretty challenging game. Luckily, playing this indie game on the Nintendo Switch Lite gives the player a little bit of an advantage. The D-pad makes it easier for players to get every jump, dash, and move exactly right.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a game that was originally released on the Wii U in 2014 before being added to the Nintendo Switch’s library of games in 2018. This game is the sixth main game in the Donkey Kong franchise and has our title character travel through several different islands to defeat the Snowmads.

Since this game was originally released on the Wii U, many players became used to playing it with the Wii U’s gamepad. This means that people got used to controlling the character with a real D-pad and playing it on the Switch took some getting used to. Luckily, the Switch Lite takes care of that problem.

Sonic Mania Plus

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Sonic Mania is a game that was released on several different platforms in 2017. The following year, Sonic Mania Plus was released and added more characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise to this game.

This platformer game is a throwback to the Sonic the Hedgehog games that were popular back in the 1990s. Because this game is so similar to those, it’s definitely more comfortable and familiar to play with the D-pad. Although it’s playable on the Switch, having the real D-pad of the Switch Lite is a far superior experience.

Hollow Knight

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Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania-style game that was released on the Nintendo Switch in 2018. This game is one that was partially funded through the gaming community on Kickstarter back in 2014.

This game follows a knight who is traveling through the abandoned kingdom of Hallownest. This 2D Metroidvania game is really fun and challenging and pulls players in who want to discover all the secrets of Hallownest. This game got a lot of fans on the Nintendo Switch and other platforms, but playing it with the Switch Lite’s D-pad makes it even better.

Octopath Traveler

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Octopath Traveler was released in 2018 on the Nintendo Switch and quickly became one of the most popular games on the platform. This turn-based roleplaying game combines Super NES-style character designs with high definition backgrounds and effects for a really unique art style. The art style of this game isn’t all that draws people in,t hough.

This game features turn-based battles in which the players can use the different abilities and weapons that each character possesses to try to defeat the enemies that they face throughout the fictional world of Osterra. Being able to use the D-pad to quickly select an option from the list during each turn is so much easier on the Switch Lite.

Mortal Kombat 11

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Mortal Kombat 11 is the 11th main game in the Mortal Kombat series and was released in 2019 on the Nintendo Switch and other game consoles. This game is like others in the Mortal Kombat franchise in that it’s a pretty brutal fighting game.

This game is like other fighting games in that the player needs to be really precise with their inputs. Pressing the buttons just slightly wrong can mean the difference between landing a perfect fatality and getting completely torn down by the opponent.

Cadence of Hyrule

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The Nintendo Switch is definitely no stranger to games from the Zelda franchise. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launched with the console and other games like Link’s Awakening have since been added to the console.

This game is a rhythm-based game and has a pretty unique mechanic that forces players and enemies to only be able to move on the beat. This means that every move that the player makes needs to be super precise. Playing with the Switch Lite’s D-pad makes this easier than ever.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is a practically perfect portable console

Tom’s Guide Verdict

The 199 Switch Lite is an excellent dedicated handheld with a fantastic game library, though it may be a bit too small for bigger hands.

Pros

  • Gorgeous, comfortable design
  • portable than standard Switch
  • Good battery life
  • Stellar game library

Cons

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It may offer less, but in some ways the Nintendo Switch Lite makes a better console than the original Nintendo Switch. It concentrates on the portability that users loved about the first version, but makes it even easier to take on the road.

The reduced size makes it perfect for traveling with, and the battery life is long enough to occupy you for even long trips. Plus it has access to what’s already one of the best game libraries of all time, complete with essentials like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as well as tons of third-party ports, indie games and retro titles.

If you want access to the best Nintendo Switch games and don’t mind being limited to handheld mode, the Switch Lite is a no-brainer. But some of the magic of the standard 299 Switch gets sacrificed in favor of the Lite’s smaller size, and a few physical drawbacks mean that folks with bigger hands should try before they buy.

Nintendo Switch Lite price and availability

For 199 in the U.S. and £199 in the U.K. the Nintendo Switch Lite is the cheapest Switch console you can get right now, albeit one that doesn’t really switch.

You also get a selection of colors to chose from: yellow is rather striking, coral is pleasant, grey is standard, and turquoise is probably the best option.

The Swath Lite is available to by today and should now be relatively easy to find in stock.

Nintendo Switch Lite design

I fell in love with the Switch Lite the moment I picked it up — it’s just that adorable. Nintendo’s miniature Switch is one of the most comfortable and attractive handheld consoles I’ve ever touched, with a compact 8.2 x 3.6-inch design that feels more travel-friendly than the standard 9.4 x 4-inch Switch.

The Lite’s white buttons pop nicely in contrast to the system’s gorgeous color options — I’m especially fond of our turquoise model, but the system also looks great in yellow, gray and coral. The console’s matte finish adds some nice extra grip, and seems to be far less prone to fingerprints than the glossy, smudge-prone tablet on the standard model.

Despite being the smaller, cheaper Switch, the Switch Lite feels more well made than its bigger brother. The OG Switch has a lot of moving parts with its detachable Joy-Cons and large tablet display, and you can feel everything wiggle a bit when you’re holding the system in handheld mode. But the Switch Lite is a single, sturdy chunk of plastic, making it feel like a true handheld rather than a display with two controllers strapped to the sides of it.

The benefits of the Switch Lite’s smaller design really became apparent when I started using it on my daily commute. I felt far less conspicuous than usual when I whipped out the smaller Switch to play some SNES games on the subway, and found myself continuing to play it as I stood on the platform in between train transfers. That’s something I’d never do on my old Switch, which already feels massive after a few days with the Lite. The Switch Lite even fits into most of my shorts s, though I probably wouldn’t throw it in there without a protective case.

While the Switch Lite is explicitly designed to be a dedicated handheld, it’s hard not to miss the ability to, well, Switch. You won’t be connecting this system to a TV, and while you can technically connect wireless controllers to the Switch Lite for some tabletop multiplayer action, the system’s lack of a kickstand means you’ll have to buy a dedicated stand to make that feasible (take a look at our best Nintendo Switch Lite accessories list to find one). Still, I find the Lite to be a nearly perfect personal device in terms of size and comfort, whether I’m cozying up on the couch with it while watching TV or taking it out on my way to the bar.

Nintendo Switch Lite controls

The Switch Lite’s buttons feel a bit different than those of its bigger brother, and mostly in a good way. The A, B, X and Y face buttons are less snappy but offer a softer, satisfyingly longer travel, while the ZL and ZR triggers feel like they have just a bit more give to them. The Lite has the same gyroscope as its bigger brother, which allowed me to move the system around to steer in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and aim in Splatoon 2 with precision.

Of course, the biggest change to the Switch Lite’s inputs is the Control Pad directional pad, which trades in the separate directional buttons on the left Joy-Con for the kind of proper d-pad you’d expect on a portable console. It’s both one of my favorite things about the Switch Lite, and one of the things I find most frustrating.

The Lite’s d-pad was a worthy companion for navigating basic platformers such as Super Mario World and Mega Man 11, and held up well as I frantically dropped blocks in Tetris 99. But I found it way too small for more intense titles that demand pinpoint precision, as I learned the hard way while struggling to do even the most basic special moves in the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection.

Whether I was slicing up demons in the purple-hued underworlds of Bayonetta 2 or exploring the sunny Great Plateau in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, everything on the Switch Lite’s display looked comparably bright and vibrant to the standard Switch. In fact, I find that games look a bit more immersive on the Switch Lite, due to the thinner bezels and uniform chassis that doesn’t distract from what’s on screen. And touch controls work just as well as they do on the original model, as I discovered while doodling some level ideas with my finger in Super Mario Maker 2.

Nintendo Switch Lite battery life

The Switch Lite is rated for 3 to 7 hours of battery life — a little better than the OG Switch, but not quite as good as the up to 9 hours that the 2019 Nintendo Switch refresh promises.

One of the best things about the Nintendo Switch Lite is that it plays nearly all of the best Nintendo Switch games. That means you’ll have access to hot first-party games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Pokemon Sword and Shield, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, as well as smaller titles like Cuphead, Stardew Valley and Celeste. The Switch has one of the best game libraries of any modern console, and almost all of its titles play great on the Lite.

There is one caveat, however: the Switch Lite is only designed to play Switch games that support handheld mode. So if you want to play titles such as 1-2 Switch, Super Mario Party and Ring Fit Adventure on your Switch Lite, you’ll need to pair a few Joy-Con controllers (sold separately) and find a way to prop your Switch Lite up. Fortunately, pairing Joy-Cons to Nintendo Switch Lite is pretty easy.

Nintendo Switch Lite verdict

As a Switch owner, I have no need for Nintendo’s 199, handheld-only version of its wildly popular console. But the system’s compact, adorable design is nearly impossible to resist. It’s the perfect companion for subway trips, plane rides and just hanging on the couch, and if you’re looking for the cheapest entry point into the Switch’s great game library, the Lite is the one to get.

Still, there is a certain magic to docking a regular Switch and instantly resuming your handheld game session on a TV, or to sliding off your Switch’s Joy-Cons and passing one to a friend for instant tabletop Smash sessions. If that part of the Switch experience is important to you, you’re better off with the standard 299 Nintendo Switch. It’s also worth keeping in mind that rumors are heating up around a Nintendo Switch 2, which could bring even more powerful performance to Nintendo’s hybrid console in the near future. And in our Nintendo Switch OLED hands-on we chew over the changes made to upgrade the original Switch to a slightly more premium mode.

Overall, if all you’re looking for is a dedicated handheld that plays great games on the go, the Switch Lite is one of the best handheld gaming consoles out there.

Author

Goltilar

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