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Gaming

Nintendo's Joy-Con controllers are insane

The Switch will be controlled by two Joy-Con controllers, which pack serious tech into a small space.

Nintendo constantly tries to shake up the way we play games, and the new controllers you'll use on the Switch look like they'll make a good run at it.

The Nintendo Switch will launch March 3, and you'll get two Joy-Con controllers with it. Each has four buttons and a joystick, which acts as a separate button. To play the Switch in TV mode, you attach the two Joy-Cons to the Joy-Con Grip, which forms a more traditional controller. But each Joy-Con can be used as a separate controller for multiplayer fun, and can also attach to the Switch's screen to turn the console into a handheld.

Each Switch console will come with left and right Joy-Cons, two straps and one Joy-Con Grip controller. If you lose one Joy-Con, it'll cost $50 (converts to AU$65, £40) to replace. A pack of two will run for $80 (roughly AU$100, £65). A separate Charging Grip pad, which looks mostly identical to the pack-in Grip but also charges the two Joy-Cons, will retail for $30, £28 or AU$40.

Nintendo will also offer a more traditional gamepad, the Switch Pro Controller, for $70 (converts to AU$95, £60).

The Joy-Con controllers are small, but pack some serious tech.

Specs

  • NFC sensors that read and write amiibo data
  • Accelerometer and gyrosensors for motion control in each Joy-Con
  • Screen capture button for social-media sharing, video capture coming soon
  • Different color variations, including neon blue and neon red
  • Haptic feedback
  • Motion IR camera in the right Joy-Con, which senses the shape, motion and distance of objects in front of it

Those last two features look particularly impressive. The haptic feedback, branded as HD Rumble, is precise enough for you to feel the difference between one, two and three ice cubes rattling in a glass. Whether this or the motion IR camera become widely integrated into games is another question.

The Joy-Con also have straps which wrap around your wrist, like the Wii Remote of yesteryear. These straps are for more than safety though, as they also have large L and R buttons for easier single-controller play.

Update, January 17: Updated to reflect that the bundled Grip controller does not charge the controllers, only the optional Charging Grip.