Nintendo Switch Games That Don’t Support Handheld Mode

The Nintendo Switch Lite only supports handheld mode, and we've put together a list of games Switch Let can't play — at least, can't play easily.

The Nintendo Switch Lite only supports handheld mode, and we've put together a list of games Switch Let can't play — at least, can't play easily.

The Nintendo Switch Lite announcement dropped yesterday and confirmed long-rumored changes to the hybrid console, including its lack of detachable Joy-Con controllers.

Fusing the controllers with the system like the Switch Lite does means system owners can only play games in handheld mode since it’d be impossible to engage in docked or tabletop mode otherwise. Unfortunately, it means there are some games and features Switch Lite can’t play natively, and we’ve put together a list of those for your convenience.

Note that the system itself can still run these games. It would just require an extra pair of Joy-Cons connected via wireless to the system for full functionality (and, by extension, a charging dock for the Joy-Con to keep them going).

Switch Games that Don’t Support Handheld Mode

  • 1-2 Switch: The game requires detached Joy-Con, HD Rumble, and the Gyroscope for many of its mini-games.
  • Just Dance: All the available games in Ubisoft’s dancing franchise only support TV and tabletop modes. As mentioned, you can still play Just Dance on the Switch Lite, if you synch an additional pair of Joy-Con.
  • Nintendo Labo + Labo VR: The Labo spinoffs require detached Joy-Con for play, so in a slightly baffling move, the product aimed at younger gamers won’t work very easily on the system aimed at younger consumers.
  • Super Mario Party: Many of the latest Mario Party entry’s mini-games require all the features the Switch Lite won’t have, like HD Rumble and detached Joy-Con.
  • Fitness Boxing: Unlike Arms, this boxing game makes you play with detached Joy-Con and, thus, would require an extra pair of controllers should you wish to play it on your Switch Lite.

Switch Games with Alterations in Handheld Mode

There are a few other games that can still be played in handheld mode but might not be quite as convenient.

  • Super Mario Odyssey: Mario’s 3D, globe-trotting adventure makes use of HD Rumble at times to clue players in to a Power Moon’s location. Granted, there’s usually some kind of sparkle effect that lets you know something good is hidden nearby, but Switch Lite players will need to be more observant to find them.
  • The World Ends With You: Final Remix: In handheld mode, Square Enix’s cult classic only lets you use touch screen controls and won’t recognize Joy-Con inputs. It’s a different setup from the DS original, which  lets players use both button inputs and touch screen controls.
  • Pokemon: Let’s GO Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee!: The Switch reimaginings of the original Pokemon adventures lose some functionality in handheld mode and will lose even more with the Switch Lite. Since the Switch Lite won’t have gyro sensors, it means aiming and throwing a PokeBall are limited to the left control stick.

The eShop lists mode support for some upcoming games, like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition, as “TBD.” It’s highly unlikely these major releases won’t support handheld mode. However, it’s a good reminder to get in the habit of checking eShop listings for those considering a Switch Lite purchase.

About the author

Josh Broadwell

Josh Broadwell started gaming in the early '90s. But it wasn't until 2017 he started writing about them, after finishing two history degrees and deciding a career in academia just wasn't the best way forward. You'll usually find him playing RPGs, strategy games, or platformers, but he's up for almost anything that seems interesting.