Can You Use Switch Lite as a Controller?


There are few joys in life that strike the same feeling as a gaming party with a group of friends. Whether you’re playing Mario Kart with relatives during the holidays, getting a serious LAN party going, or anything in between, there’s something special about sitting around on the same couch and playing together.

So, when you’re trying to set up a gaming party and realize that you’re short a controller, it can be immensely frustrating.

For Switch owners, there might be a simple solution. Can you just use a Switch Lite as an extra controller? The answer is a little more complicated than you might have guessed, so let’s take a deep look and see what does and doesn’t work.

Can the Switch Lite Work as a Controller for the Switch?

Those distinctions come into play in an attempt to answer the original question. Can the Lite serve as a controller for the Switch? 

Sort of.

You cannot sync a Switch Lite to a standard Switch (or OLED) and use the Lite as an extra controller. Nor can you use it as a controller for PC games since the Switch Lite is a fully-fledged gaming console in its own right.

There is, however, a workaround that is worth considering. Since the Switch and the Lite can play the same games, and they both support online and LAN multiplayer options, you can simply play the same game on both devices.

As an example, you might want to play Mario Kart on your Switch. You don’t have enough controllers to go around, but there’s a Switch Lite available. One player can load Mario Kart on the Lite, and the Switch and the Lite can connect to play multiplayer together. You can either connect on a local network, or you can both play online and connect via Nintendo codes.

There are a couple of things to understand about this method. First, the Lite and the Switch will need independent copies of the game for this to work. You can’t buy one copy of Mario Kart for two devices. It won’t work that way.

Second, the displays on the Lite and the TV connected to the Switch won’t match. The games will sync, but the display will orient to the players on each individual device. Say you have three total people racing in our example. Two of the players will see a split screen on the TV. The Lite player will have their own display on the Lite device. It’s worth noting.

Third, if you’re going to connect via internet play (as opposed to setting up a LAN game), then both devices have to have a Nintendo online account. You can circumvent this by setting up a LAN game, but if you wanted to fill out the game with online players, then it’s important to have a pass for each device.

Don’t Forget the Controllers

There’s still more to think about. Remember all of that talk about controllers? Well, it can be an issue when you try to use multiplayer connectivity to link up your Lite and Switch. 

Here’s the deal. If the game supports handheld mode, then just play multiplayer. Everything is fine.

If a game requires motion controls or disconnected controls, then you can’t just link up the Lite. Its built-in controller won’t work. In that case, the Lite would need its own compatible controller (like a Joy-Con). You could just sync that extra controller to the Switch instead of the Lite. It’s an easy solution.

But, if the extra screen on the Lite is appealing, then you can connect the controller to the Lite and sync things up, as discussed above.

What Are the Main Differences Between the Switch and the Lite?

As the name implies, the Lite is a lighter version of the Switch. Specifically, the Lite only supports handheld mode. It does not support the tabletop mode or connection to a larger screen (like a TV) — features that made the Switch so popular.

As a result of these differences, the Switch Lite costs less money than the original Switch. The Lite is designed to be more portable, and the battery lasts longer for the Lite. All of this aims toward optimizing the handheld experience.

As for games, things are a little complicated. Technically, you can get any Switch game on the Lite, but there’s a catch. As the Lite only supports handheld mode, it cannot play games that require disconnected controllers or motion controllers.

That is, unless you sync an appropriate controller for those games. So, the Lite can play the whole library, but you might have to purchase an extra controller (like a Joy-Con) in order to actually play some of those games (this will come up again in a moment).

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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