Thank You: Joy-Con
Disclaimer: This blog is in no way an attempt to minimize the conditions of people who have legitimate, life-altering physical limitations, or make comparisons between those and my temporary/minor injury. Also, this is not to boost Nintendo’s perceptions in accommodating these sort of limitations, as Microsoft has truly been the forefront of handicapped-accessible controller options. With that said, this is just one writer's experience through a tough (yet temporary) time…
You’ve been known to do some weird stuff with your controllers. Things started normal, but a few generations later you added a third handle before humans grew a third hand. You went back to a traditional controller scheme for the GameCube but then you gave us a remote control and a joystick… that you had to wiggle. From there you went to a touch screen tablet with buttons (I didn’t know what you were thinking, but I bought it anyway).
But, now we’ve reached this generation. The Nintendo Switch: A dock-able tablet with two halves of a controller that go on either side. These two halves can go into a molded piece of plastic and give us back a traditional controller scheme. These two halves can be tossed aside if we were in a position to purchase the Pro Controller, an extremely safe-bet with a familiar feel.
Or we can wield these two halves of a controller independently of one another, taking us back to that remote and joystick feel you introduced to us with the Wii. It feels a little weird, and it’s definitely not traditional. Sure, you encouraged us to play this way with Mario Odyssey, but since then this has just seemed like a way to offer us another (silly) way to play. Why would I want to play this way, Nintendo? You got so close to traditional, just to stray away like Icarus heading for the Sun.
Then, I fell (again) while riding my bike (again) and broke my arm (again).
On top of everything else that living a one-armed lifestyle had in store for me, I knew (much like last time this happened) that my time spent gaming was going to suffer. At that point in my life I was primarily playing XBox 360 and assorted PC MMOs. The only problem was that I couldn’t rotate my arm/wrist enough to hold a controller or type on a keyboard. I went 6+ weeks without experiencing any gaming.
This year’s accident happened just 5 days before Nintendo’s E3 Direct. With all the excitement around gaming and the looming launch of Fortnite for Switch, you could imagine my distress knowing I was out of action...
...Until the fateful night following Nintendo’s E3. I had Fortnite installed (like 2 million others) and I just wanted to try and see if this was something I could physically do. I twisted and contorted my body to try and comfortably hold the controller to no avail. I was but a shell of a gamer.
That is, until I had an idea. Nintendo, you gave us this silly way to play with a split controller in each hand. Why didn’t I think of this before? I slid the left Joy-Con into my left hand (as the arm was supported by 4 pillows, surrounded by ice packs), grabbed the right Joy-Con with my right hand, and launched into Fortnite.
And there I was.
The battle bus picked me up and I was riding across the map, and then I jumped. I fell through the air (like a bird with one wing #symbolism), landed hot, grabbed myself a weapon, and then died instantly. It was Fortnite, after all.
But that’s not the point!
Round after round, match after match, I was able to participate in the hype of E3’s “surprise” Fortnite launch with a broken freakin’ arm. I was able to game. This was all because of Nintendo’s silly control option, that I thought I’d never use unless a game forced it upon me. Five days after I broke my arm I was back into gaming deeper than I was 6 weeks after I had broken it years ago. It was awesome.
Thank you, Nintendo. Thank you, Joy-Con. Thank you for always thinking outside the box, even with ideas that seem stupid or silly at first.