The Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons are the new controllers for the Switch, the ones which come in the box, come in various colours, and will be the main mode of control throughout the consoles life. You can go ‘pro’ with the Pro controller, but these are the pads that will forever be the ones that are associated with it all. So how much joy comes from the con? A lot from the right, a little to the left.
The Joy-Cons are versatile little controllers which can be used in four ways. You can play with them attached to the Switch console in handheld mode, play with them loose in your hands (maybe lie back on a sofa and let your arms droop, ah), attached to a grip like a ‘normal’ pad, or even turned on their side like a miniature Super Nintendo pad, though with an analogue stick in place of a D-pad.
Each form suits all types of play, from on the move gaming to those who want to play some multiplayer without having to buy more, though big handed players may struggle with the horizontal single Joy-Con set-up. Included straps help bulk them up a bit, but if one thumb can eat a whole set of buttons, you’re going to be in trouble.
The Joy-Cons don’t stop the versatility campaign in how they are held, but also in how they are used. Outside of traditional button controls, the player can enjoy motion control thanks to the inbuilt gyros, HD rumble to really feel those intensive gaming moments, such as the rolling of balls or the impact of a vehicle, an NFC reader on the right to scan amiibos, and also an IR reader also on the right, to detect your mouth for virtual eating mini games. HD rumble feels more like a buzz than a set of ice cubes clanking together, and the IR sensor seems a little extraneous, but its good to be packing as they say.
One issue a number of people seem to be having with the Joy-Cons is with connection issues, especially with the left Joy-Con. There is no joy in a series of disconnections during 1-2-Switch or losing control during an intense battle in Breath of the Wild, but it is a thing that many are experiencing. In my own set-up I haven’t encountered such an issue, but outside of my set-up… I unfortunately have.
From a bedroom to two living room environments I’ve encountered one disconnection during a 1-2-Switch clown off, and lost complete control over my vehicle in Fast RMX, which decided to turn back on itself for some reverse racing fun. These moments are fixed by moving a little closer, but when I wasn’t all that close in the first place, well… it makes me wonder what the Con in Joy-Con actually means.
The Joy-Cons are neat controllers, offering variety in features and form, allowing the console to truly be as pick up and go as one could desire, but the experience isn’t completely joyful thanks to the connection issues. You can send them off so Nintendo can stick a little foam in them, but how many weeks can you go without Zelda for them to do so?
Maybe the NES Classic controller wire length was a hint on how close Nintendo expect you to be to the TV?