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Can you play Super Mario Maker 2 docked?

The Nintendo Switch’s touchscreen is great, but what happens when you play Super Mario Maker 2 docked?

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Super Mario Maker 2 docked

The Nintendo Switch’s touchscreen is great, but what happens when you play Super Mario Maker 2 docked?

Most of us tend to agree that handheld is the only way to fly when it comes to the Nintendo Switch. It’s a revelation in portability on a beautiful little screen that allows playing not just on the move, but also, on the sofa (to avoid monopolising the big TV) that generally outweighs the benefits of playing docked (potentially higher resolution on a bigger screen).

There are, to date, very few games that simply don’t work in one mode or another. There are a few games that only work in portrait orientation, known as Tate Mode. Given the relative unavailability of portrait orientation televisions (because that would just be weird) this means you end up with big borders either side of the vertical playspace. The delicious Downwell is one example, but here’s a handy list of all the games that support Tate Mode.

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They can still be played when docked, though. (It just looks a bit clumsy.)

Super Mario Maker 2, then, might be the first game in the Nintendo Switch’s history that doesn’t really work when your console is docked.

Can you play Super Mario Maker 2 docked?

Well, yes, you can technically play it. (In much the same way you can play Tate Mode games on the big screen.) The point is, playing Super Mario Maker 2 docked really doesn’t work properly. It’s half an experience. Hamstrung. Wings clipped.

Why?

Because to get the best out of Super Mario Maker 2, you need to use the touch screen. Preferably with a stylus. But if your Nintendo Switch is docked next to your telly, you can’t use touch screen. At all. Not even a little bit. The most useful apparatus for playing Super Mario Maker 2 is stuck behind a slab of black plastic, and you’re left controlling it with thumbsticks and buttons. It’s a bit rubbish in comparison.

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You might think about MacGyvering together a second screen config with a third party dock or an extra long USB-C or HDMI cable. But as far as we know, the second the Nintendo Switch outputs to a second display, the handheld screen goes blank.

That’s not to say that you can’t play through Mario Maker 2’s new story mode, your own custom levels, or the creations of others when you’re playing Super Mario Maker 2 docked. It’s a perfectly acceptable way to play levels. It’s just a really rubbish way to create them.

It’s very rare that we find ourselves saying this, but this might be one of the only ways that the Nintendo Switch is inferior to the Wii U.

We hate to ask, but...

Thumbsticks has a couple of goals. We want to write interesting articles and cover games that most outlets won't, and we want to give opportunities to new writers and new voices. And right now, with the current state of online publishing? It's tough to meet those goals! We hate to ask, but if you want us to continue writing what others won't, or to keep covering weird indie games, or to be able to give opportunities to new writers – and only if you can afford it – then please consider supporting us on Patreon.

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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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