Nintendo has cute classic NES controllers for your Switch, but there's a catch

Joy-Con who?

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister

This isn't just any ol' NES replica controller -- it's an official Nintendo Entertainment System wireless gamepad designed to snap onto a Nintendo Switch in place of the existing Joy-Con pads, then pop off when you want to game with a friend. Because you want to play these just-announced classic NES games the way they were meant to be played, right?

Unfortunately, it sounds like that's the only thing you'll be able to use them for, according to the fine print at Nintendo's UK and AU websites:

Please note: Nintendo Entertainment System Controllers can only be used while detached from the Nintendo Switch system, and only to play NES – Nintendo Switch Online games.

When we reached out to Nintendo USA, we got a statement that suggests they might work with other games, but don't count on it. "The NES controller is designed for use with NES – Nintendo Switch Online games. Compatibility with other games is not guaranteed," the company told CNET by email.


It'll come in a set of two for $60, Nintendo announced during its Nintendo Direct broadcast -- but only for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, which makes a certain degree of sense considering that the online service is the way to access NES games on Switch

They charge when docked to the Switch, too -- no USB cables necessary. Preorders began Sept. 18, the day Nintendo's new online service went live.


Originally published Sept. 13.

Update, Sept. 20: Added that these may only work with NES games bundled with Nintendo's Switch Online service.