Enough was known about what the NX — now known as the Nintendo Switch — would be to let fans and would-be console designers think about where Nintendo would or could take its upcoming console / handheld hybrid. And it’s honestly surprising how close some of the fan mockups got to the real deal: The tablet with the detachable mini controllers on the side were a staple of fan treatments.
But one idea that didn’t appear in Nintendo’s reveal, but feels too good for Nintendo to pass up, is this: custom game controllers.
The example above, from Ryan Salamanda, nailed the conceit in his design from earlier in the summer. In September, submitting the design to IGN, he wrote on Twitter, “I’m confident in the augmented controls one, makes ‘nintendo sense’ to me.”
And that’s just it, it’s so very Nintendo to provide unique controller configurations per game. It’s so Nintendo to have an additional revenue model baked into the hardware design itself. We saw this on the Wii with the various controllers and peripherals, from the Mario Kart wheel (a piece of plastic you shoved a Wiimote into) to the Zapper to third-party options like this Rapala bass fishing attachment.
We’ve seen it on the New Nintendo 3DS, with its replaceable faceplates. We’ve seen hardware less customizable find opportunity through limited edition units — the various Nintendo 64 colors and treatments, for example — or steady iteration — like the myriad permutations of the Game Boy lines and the DS lines.
Despite preceding the Switch reveal by months, Salamanda’s concept is pretty much dead on. The system has a large screen with two detachable controller attachments on the left and right sides. Here’s what it looks like with and without the attachments, and how they slide in and out.
Now imagine getting a bundle, including the game and a controller attachment, not unlike the Circle Pad Pro, which accompanied the release of Monster Hunter 4 on 3DS in 2012. A fishing game comes with a fishing controller. Another rerelease of Resident Evil 4 comes with a controller with a trigger. Yo-Kai Watch comes with the spinning disk accessory, right there. A Pokémon Snap photo controller? The possibilities are endless, limited mostly by players’ appetites for bespoke controller adapters they’re likely to lose.
Now imagine limited releases in, say, classic NES colors, not unlike the NES-themed Game Boy Advanced SP. Or this mockup, shown below:
Or, forget skins, imagine actual Virtual Console-compatible controller attachments.
Might play some Virtual Console... pic.twitter.com/z6tk0RPp1m— Mark Brown (@britishgaming) October 20, 2016
Nintendo has a lot of time before the Switch’s planned March 2017 release date to share more details of his plan and, despite any hint towards this outcome, the case for unique controller adapters is entirely convincing.