After attending a hands-on event in London late last week, I can safely say that the revealed price for extra Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons is totally worth it. There has been a considerable amount of negativity surrounding what seemed to be a rather lofty $79.99, and I shared in that viewpoint until just recently. Full-sized Xbox One or PS4 controllers are still retailing at around $50 new, and can most definitely be bought cheaper than that, so it’s understandable that many would deride Nintendo for charging so much for something so small. What needs to be understood is that there is a serious amount of tech crammed into that small space, and it all makes the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons an absolute joy (ha) to play games with.
Rumble in the Bundle
If I was asked to pick out the most impressive feature of the Joy-Cons, it would be the HD rumble feature. I wasn’t expecting much when I approached the series of stands showcasing a range of mini-games included in 1-2 Switch, especially when presented with a game that had you guessing the number of balls in a virtual box. With a single Joy-Con in hand, you’re tasked with tilting this virtual box in an attempt to feel, using the HD rumble, each virtual ball colliding with the others and the edges of the box. It was a surreal experience. The HD rumble managed to accurately simulate the feeling of multiple, distinct spherical objects rolling internally along it’s length. With virtual reality becoming more prominent, it doesn’t take an imaginative person to think about how else this feature could be utilized.
I’ve never gotten on with motion controls. Waving a Wiimote about and getting woolly responses unrepresentative of what motion I actually carried out has always put me off of Nintendo products. Using the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons completely reversed my opinions. While playing Arms, a competitive boxing game, the motion controls allowed me to defeat my opponent with true finesse. You curve your punches in reality with a left hook, and the character on screen copies you exactly, the extendable fists bending deftly around the opponent’s defenses. There’s no delay when a quick dodge is needed. You tilt both Joy-Cons and press the dodge button, and immediately the character dodges. The level of responsiveness and accuracy are joyfully surprising. Another mini-game for 1-2 Switch has you facing off against an opponent in a wild-west style shootout. The Joy-Cons can determine who raised their controller up and fired with a trigger button first, down to a millisecond. Such accuracy of measurement gives me hope for the future of motion controls.
I think a concern on a lot of people’s minds was that the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons looked laughably small, and only children would be able to play with them held horizontally like a traditional controller. This was a concern I shared. I had the opportunity to play with a single Joy-Con in this configuration with both Super Bomberman and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The first thing I noticed was that the Joy-Cons aren’t actually as small as you imagine them. They fit nicely between two hands when playing, allowing easy reach of each button. Even vertically, the level of comfort offered by the ergonomic design was quite surprising. Each of the buttons has been crafted in such as way that they feel distinct from one another, meaning in the heat of gaming, your fingers save your brain the trouble of determining which button is which. My companion for the day, who basically has snow-shovels instead of hands, had no complaints.
By this point I still may not have convinced you that $79.99 is a reasonable price for two Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons. I would have agreed before having actually used them. Understand that I am in no way a fan of Nintendo. For the past two generations of gaming, the Wii and Wii U have existed at the periphery of my interest, but after playing Nintendo games with the Joy-Con controllers, I can foresee that interest growing with incredible speed. Nintendo will be shifting millions of these consoles in the coming months, so find a friend who has one, and see for yourself. I promise that you will be convinced, just as I have.