The Nintendo Switch Lite's D-Pad Might Be Its Best Part

The Nintendo Switch Lite boasts a couple of interesting features that might sway one to buy the handheld console either as their first Switch or a replacement for the base version. It’s smaller and easily portable by design, costs less, and is easier to keep up with without having to worry about losing and replacing Joy-Cons. Perhaps one of its best features though is a control layout change that’s already caught the attention of Nintendo fans: The addition of a real, honest to goodness d-pad.

Switches at the moment do not have a traditional d-pad. Instead, we have the four directional buttons with nothing between them to create what would normally be an omnidirectional pad. Switch owners have tried to remedy this in more way than one with their own creations before third-party accessory makers started producing their own Joy-Cons that had a typical d-pad.

The lack of a normal d-pad might not be a problem for some, but for those who grew up handling more traditional controllers – including every official Nintendo controller that’s been made – it’s a huge perk when it comes to playing certain games both new and old. Platformers and other 2D games are probably the best examples of where this d-pad’s inclusion will feel the best. Playing platformers without a d-pad has been one of the biggest gripes about the lack of the feature on the Switch with the complaint coming up around the time that any new game of that type releases.

Dead Cells is one game that came to the Switch and is incredibly entertaining and also a decent challenge when it comes to weaving attacks and dodges together, but that process was made more frustrating to some who felt it played better with a d-pad. Hollow Knight is another game which was met with similar comments from the community.

Fighting games as well will benefit from the d-pad being part of the Switch Lite. Games like Dragon Ball FighterZ and more recently Mortal Kombat 11 have made their way to the Switch, and if you’re hoping to utilize the full range of a fighter’s moves that involve quarter-circle movements and other mechanics, not having a d-pad isn’t exactly ideal. Nintendo’s own fighter Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is perhaps an exception to this though where you’re better off with an analog input.

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Will the d-pad alone be a feature that’ll sell the Switch Lite? Almost certainly not by itself, but depending on which games you stick to, it might become one of your favorite features. Many of the older games including in the Nintendo Switch Online library were designed with a d-pad in mind, so if your Switch is your middleman for playing these classic games, you’ll get a lot out of one small input method.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is scheduled to release on September 20th for $199.99.