HD Rumble and IR camera highlight advanced Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers

HD Rumble and IR camera highlight advanced Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers

Nintendo’s ambitious Switch console is receiving equally ambitious controllers. The Joy-Cons (joystick controllers) include an extensive amount of technology.

Here are the highlights.

Nintendo has a lot of plans for its upcoming Switch device, with the major aspect being the ability to “switch” between console and portable modes whenever desired. Essentially, you can take a consistent gaming experience wherever you want, whether it’s at home or on the road, single or multiplayer. Though the tablet-like core console is the brains of the concept, the new controllers are its differentiator.

The Joy-Cons are designed to mash together “every Nintendo controller” ever. Whether it’s the OG Nintendo Entertainment System, the successful Wii, or the tech-packed Wii U, the Joy-Cons incorporate aspects of all. They slide into the sides of the console, into a separate shell for single player use when the console is docked, or used individually by separate players. At 102mm long x 35.9mm wide x 28.4mm thick, the Joy-Cons are tiny compared to most other gaming input devices.

Each Joy-Con (there will be left-hand and right-hand variations) has four face buttons, two trigger buttons (Z1 & Z2), two shoulder buttons (S1 & S2), a controller Sync button, release button (to remove from the console) and an analog stick. Granted, the location of the analog stick is closer to the center of the right-hand Jo-Con so that may lead to a less comfortable grip. There is also a +/- button on each one, depending on if Left or Right side, that will mostly function the same in multiplayer mode (though different in single-player). This allows for consistent play across multiple players, irregardless of which controller they grab.

The left Joy-Con also includes a SHARE button, which will capture photos and video (video coming later in the year) to be shared across social media. The right Joy-Con includes a HOME button, for jumping out of games and back to the system’s home screen.

Beyond that basic set-up, the controllers each have an accelerometer and a gyroscope, equal to what the Wii’s Remote incorporated. It’s unknown if these are equal to the original WiiMote or the upgraded Motion Plus model, but initial previews of the console seem to lean towards the later (better) tech. This continues the ability for casual games to be played on the device, which made the Wii so popular. The launch titles 1,2 Switch and Just Dance 2017, as well as the upcoming ARMS, all incorporate motion control.

Rumble, a mainstay of modern gaming, makes a return to the controllers as well. This time Nintendo is calling it “HD Rumble,” with the idea that the enhanced functionality will allow for more minute differences in rumble. In examples the company listed, water can be “felt” pouring into the controller in a game, as can individual ice cubes as they are dropped. Shaking the controller back and forth will allow users to feel the individual cubes rattle, or the water splashing around.

The right Joy-Con includes an IR camera at the bottom, allowing for 3D space “scanning” to take place. This can determine what fingers are being held up when playing Rock-Paper-Scissors, or how fast someone is eating food in 1,2 Switch, or even being able to scan in individual figures into Skylanders Imaginators instead of using the game’s Portal device. Instead of using a video camera, the IR device allows for depth as well as the potential ability to point to the TV screen for selections, though this hasn’t been confirmed as of yet.

Last but not least, the right Joy-Con also includes an NFC reader built into the face, with will let users scan in amiibo, amiibo cards and NFC cards for their games. Amiibo is still an important part of Nintendo’s business plan, so the company hopes to continue incorporating them into their software.

The right Joy-Con certainly seems to be carrying the brunt of the technology for the console’s controllers, but both Joy-Cons will retail for $49.99 separately, or $79.99 as a bundle.

The Nintendo Switch launches March 3 with a suggested retail price of $299.99.