While the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite’s built-in controllers and screens let you enjoy games all on their own, accessories can make their experiences even better, enhancing and upgrading these all-in-one systems.
Polygon’s Nintendo Switch accessories buying guide explores some of our favorite add-ons for the portable consoles. Below, you’ll find our favorite games that come with their own accessories plus some of the gear we personalize our Switch experiences with.
Games with their own accessories
These Nintendo Switch games come with their own unique accessories for one-of-a-kind gameplay experiences. Their included add-ons are necessary to enjoy these titles, work in tandem with the Switch’s hardware, and get you moving.
Ring Fit Adventure
Ring Fit Adventure is part fitness journey and part role-playing game. To play, you must use a special controller accessory called the Ring-Con as well as a leg strap to squeeze out chest presses, jumping jacks, and other workout activities. Your physical movement determines your progress through the story.
The workouts are legit and are great even for fitness newcomers. Regardless of your athletic prowess, you’ll grow along with the game’s story, which can take months to complete.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit turns your living room into a racecourse by combining different pieces of gear. The kit comes with several cardboard gates that you place around your home to construct a racetrack. Then, by using either the Mario or Luigi toy race cars, the vehicle’s built-in camera “sees” the track. The camera-enabled cars pair with your Switch, which lets you drive from the racer’s perspective as you zip around your home.
The Nintendo Labo kits make ingenious use of cardboard cutouts that transform into new controllers and accessories. Each set comes with a handful of cardboard sheets and a game cart that is equal parts instruction manual and a portal to several playful activities.
As you pop out pieces of cardboard from their sheets, the Labo game cart will instruct you about how to fold and create your cardboard accessories. Within a few minutes, you can turn your Nintendo Switch into a small race car machine, a wearable robot suit, or even a suite of virtual reality experiences.
The kits are harder to come by in 2021, but they are worth the hunt. If you end up finding a kit via an online retailer or through a secondhand seller and want to play the game in English, try to find a copy local to your region or the World Edition.
One of the selling points of the Switch and Switch Lite is that each console comes with its own set of controllers. While these small gamepads are clever and easy to use for most people, there are other controller options that can enhance your experience with the consoles.
The Switch can have its standard Joy-Cons replaced with third-party gamepads, but it can also pair with handheld controllers via Bluetooth. Keep in mind that some Bluetooth controllers from other manufacturers may not be able to wake your Switch from sleep as first-party controllers can. Also, third-party companies may have controllers with rumble, and none seem to compare with the detailed HD rumble that Nintendo’s gamepads deliver.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
If you’re looking to upgrade your controller experience on the Nintendo Switch, you might want to consider the first-party alternative: the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.
This standard-sized controller fits most hands more comfortably than the Switch’s other alternative control scheme: two Joy-Cons in the grip accessory that comes with the console. The Joy-Con grip is a decent alternative if you don’t want to waste money, but keep in mind that you have to remove your Joy-Cons and place them back on the Switch to charge them. If you want to charge your Joy-Cons in a grip, you’ll need to shell out an extra $30.
The Pro Controller, on the other hand, has a size and weight similar to other controllers from its contemporaries. This added bulk makes the controller feel more familiar and comfortable. It has a dedicated D-pad, larger face buttons, more prominent analog sticks, and much easier-to-hit shoulder buttons. Unlike the Joy-Cons in their grip, which is two small controllers trying to act like one large controller, the Pro Controller feels like a complete package. It also has an amiibo reader, HD rumble, and a gyroscope.
If you ever wished there was a way to use your Pro Controller while still playing your Switch in handheld mode, then check out the Fixture S1.
This device is a clip that attaches to your Pro Controller and has a sliding connector for your Switch. Once the body of the console is slotted into the S1’s holder, you can position the angle of the screen for more comfortable viewing. One of our favorite use cases for the S1 is being able to comfortably play our Switch laying flat in bed, with our head propped up on a pillow and the controller on our chest. The accessory also comes with a carrying case that protects itself, your Pro Controller, and the Switch console.
Hori Split Pad Pro
The Hori Split Pad Pro is a pair of attachable controllers that you can use instead of the much smaller standard Joy-Cons. These large gamepads significantly increase the bulk of the Switch, but what you lose in portability, you make up for in comfort.
We praised the Split Pad Pro for most games, and we found it was especially helpful when playing more complicated games like Monster Hunter Rise. The larger controllers make complex actions in first-person shooters and fast-paced games easier to command when in handheld mode. The gamepads even have additional buttons on the back that you can assign to customize your experience.
PowerA Wireless GameCube Style Controller
For Super Smash Bros. players who honed their skills on a GameCube controller, you can rekindle your muscle memory with the PowerA Wireless GameCube Style Controller.
This gamepad feels similar to the classic wired GameCube controller, plus it has all the benefits of the wireless WaveBird controller, without the added bulk.
Since this controller is wireless, that means Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players don’t need to bring multiplayer controller dongles with them like in the old days. PowerA’s recreation of the controller also adds an extra shoulder button on the left side that’s missing from the GameCube original.
8Bitdo Pro 2
The 8BitDo Pro 2 merges some of the best design qualities of classic Nintendo hardware with modern features to create a controller that combines the best of both worlds.
At first glance, the Pro 2 looks like a contemporary take on the Super Nintendo Controller. It has a sleek and flat face with textured grips that feel better than the slicker handles on Nintendo’s Pro Controller. Not only that, but the controller’s handles feature additional triggers on the back that you can use 8Bitdo’s software to assign to different buttons. The software is worth installing because, in our testing, the initial strength of the controller’s standard rumble was a bit much for calmer games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
The analog sticks are aligned on the bottom of the gamepad, just like a PlayStation controller. This layout differs from the Joy-Cons and Nintendo’s Pro Controller (and Xbox controllers), so it may take some getting used to, especially if you play a lot of first-person shooters like Fortnite or Doom Eternal.
8BitDo Arcade Stick
The Nintendo Switch has plenty of classic titles and puzzle games that work with any of the controllers listed above. However, you can give all those games a more retro spin by playing them with 8BitDo’s Arcade Stick.
This classic-style arcade stick plugs directly into your Switch via USB or connects wirelessly with Bluetooth or the included wireless adapter. Either way, the clicky buttons and ball-shaped joystick feel reminiscent of what you’d find in an arcade cabinet. The responsive controls make games like Pac-Man 99, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, and Lumines feel great, especially when you slam the joystick left and right when you need to move around quickly.
The buttons are also laid out ergonomically with a downward slope to better accommodate your thumbs, unlike old-school layouts that placed buttons in a straight row. This makes playing fighting games like Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Dragon Ball FighterZ feel just as fluid as they would if they were played on a modern arcade machine.
The Nintendo Switch consoles have a decent battery life when playing in handheld mode. If you’re away from your dock and need to charge the system, you can simply plug the console into a USB-C port. However, if you’re not near an outlet, you can always use a charging brick to charge the console.
While most charging bricks will do the job, a safe option is the officially licensed Anker PowerCore Nintendo Switch Edition. The device comes in two sizes, 13,400 mAh and 20,100 mAh, which Anker says can add 10 and 15 hours of playtime, respectively.
If you don’t need physical copies of your games, you can always download them from the eShop to a microSD card. The larger capacity on your card, the more games you can store on the system to play at any time.
SanDisk has several officially licensed microSD cards, like this 512GB Animal Crossing-themed card to smaller sizes with everything from a star from the Super Mario Bros. franchise to The Legend of Zelda.