Thursday’s Nintendo Switch presentation revealed just how high-tech the new Joy-Con controllers really are, with features that surpass even those of virtual reality wands. Essentially, the Joy-Con includes enough buttons (and an individual joystick) to support traditional gaming, but also has Wii-esque tricks for movement and more.
The most intriguing surprise in the Joy-Con controller is an infrared camera with motion depth, which Nintendo’s designers say can distinguish between different hand shapes. To illustrate this, Nintendo representatives showed the controller that recognizes hand shapes for rock, paper and scissors. The tracker can also detect exactly how far an object is from the controller. Nintendo says these will be able to record full video “in the future”.
The Joy-Con’s “HD rumble” feature is advertised as more pronounced rumbles at certain points in the controller. To demonstrate this, Nintendo showed someone holding a Joy-Con and pretending to shake a glass with an ice cube in it – explaining that players would feel both the harder rumbling feel of a cube and the subtler swishing sensation of water around it. .
The Joy-Con will also include accelerometers, which can track movement in games such as weapons, Nintendo’s new virtual boxing game. Rather than relying on the Switch console itself to read the NFC data in a Nintendo amiibo toy, the Joy-Con can read that NFC data separately. And in the expected Nintendo fashion, Joy-Cons will ship in different colors. Nintendo demonstrated a pair of Joy-Cons attached to a single Switch console with different colors on each (red and blue).
However, Nintendo is making sure that Joy-Con motion controls aren’t retrofitted into every franchise, as evidenced by the reveal of Splatoon 2, is coming to Switch “this summer”. That game apparently supports traditional controls, along with system-tilting gyro options, just like on the Wii U, so players don’t have to pull out the Joy-Cons and fake it like a gunslinger or something.
Most of the Joy-Con’s most interesting features weren’t even mentioned when the Switch was unveiled in October. Now it seems that those detachable controllers seem a lot more unique than they seemed at first glance.
List image by Nintendo