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Joy-Con aren’t perfect, but they’re great for sick day gaming

Joycon mess
Image: Nintendo Life

Soapbox features allow our individual writers and contributors to share their thoughts on hot topics and random things they’ve been thinking about. Today Kate talks about rediscovering the joy of Joy-Con after a recent mishap and her dreams of Joy-Con 2.0 …


I’m about to turn 30, so of course she’s Naturally what to do is learn to roller skate. It totally makes sense. As a kid I never had ice skates, and now that my joints are starting to creak like the Grim Reaper sticking his head in the door, what better activity than tempting fate with wheels on your shoes?

Anyway, you won’t be surprised to know that I fell and hurt myself. Twice. The first time I wore the ice skates (there are quads to hold it in place) in my kitchen with no knee pads, I suffered from my hubris by injuring my knee. Next time was outside, fully padded, but I fell backward (I was told this is not ideal, but it’s hard to stop falling once you’ve started) and injured my elbow so I couldn’t bend my arm for the next week. And I love to bend my arm! It’s one of my favorite activities!

But let me tell you, if you’ve messed up your stupid, aging body, there’s nothing like lying on the sofa feeling sorry for yourself but still being able to play video games – and there’s nothing better than that for that Joy-Kon.

I don't have these lovely Animal Crossing: New Horizons Joy-Con, and my life won't be complete until I do
I don’t have these lovely Animal Crossing: New Horizons Joy-Con, and my life won’t be complete until I do (Image: Nintendo Life)

I’ve always enjoyed the chaos of Joy-Con. I’m no longer limited to a single controller – I can stretch out on the sofa in any direction with my arms slanted, and for as long as I am vague pointing at the screen, everything is fine. And there’s nothing better for injuries: if I have to have my arm in a certain direction, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to come up with a strangely uncomfortable position in which I can hold the controller with both hands, because the Joy-Con is used me, not the other way around.

It’s hard to mention Joy-Con in the same breath without the word “drift” though, and I’m currently on my third pair without counting the Pro Controller I bought to play games without worrying To have to make my sticks do it, betray me.

All of our Joy-Con photos are from boy's hands.  Imagine that, but with longer nails and MUCH more jewelry, and that's basically me
All of our Joy-Con photos are from boy’s hands. Imagine that, but with longer nails and MUCH more jewelry, and that’s basically me (Image: Nintendo Life)

My oldest pair of Joy-Cons were drifting sideways and I tried to clean the thing up with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab without taking them apart, but all that did was change the drift direction to “Up”. My second oldest couple who want to join are doing exactly the same. My new couple is okay at the moment and I’m taking EXTRA EXTRA Take good care of her so this lasts for as long as possible, but I have to be honest: I’m a dusty girl and it’s only a matter of time before my dust gets in there and messes everything up.

Not me want being forced to return to the all-in-one controller’s tight hand-held prison; I just want the Joy-Con to get better.

The thing is, once you’ve turned into the joy of spreading Joy-Con, it’s hard to come back. I like feeling like a hedonistic Roman, lounging on a couch and lazily pressing buttons. I like knowing that I can play games even when my arm is in a sling. And because I have recurring tendinitis, I also like to have my hands and wrists in a relatively ergonomic position. Not me want being forced to return to the all-in-one controller’s tight hand-held prison; I just want the Joy-Con to get better.

However, since the Switch OLED model didn’t update Joy-Con, I wonder how long will I have to wait for it to happen.

The white Joy-Con would look really good with black nail polish, wouldn't it?  Somebody gave me a Switch OLED, quick
The white Joy-Con would look really good with black nail polish, wouldn’t it? Somebody gave me a Switch OLED, quick (Image: Nintendo Life)

Other game makers have made great strides in accessibility, such as Xbox’s Adaptive Controller and the customizable Elite Controller, and Sony’s new PS5 controller offers haptic and audio feedback for people with visual or hearing impairments.

On the other hand, Nintendo had lagged behind the times in the past when it came to accessibility features (like the AbleGamers accessibility check on the Switch details), and the Joy-Con were likely in some ways inadvertently helpful, z apart in each old one Configuration. You’re also pretty rude with those TEENY TINY buttons and the need for fine motor skills to even disconnect them from the Switch.

I know I haven’t delved too deeply into the total lack of accessibility options on the Nintendo Switch and in games in general – adjustable text size is a particular bogeyman of mine – but fear not, I’ll keep beating the accessibility drum so much I can, and this soapbox will certainly not be my last word on the matter.

For now, I’ll leave it at that: I’d love to see more controllers to share your hands with, like Joy-Con does. Most accessibility controllers are huge blocks with large buttons, like the Hori Flex, although some come with buttons that you can place anywhere (as our own Alex demonstrates with his lovely feet). After all, disabilities are as diverse as the characters in Smash Bros, and not everyone is served by the same accessibility services.

However, as we age, we are all much more likely to need these accessibility services – and if I keep roller skating, I will likely have a lot more injury-related sick days too.

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