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Nintendo Switch's Joy-Con wrist straps have an annoying issue, but you can fix it

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Take your time with it

Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Nintendo

With the Nintendo Switch just days away, we thought it might be good to release this public service announcement about the way its Joy-Con controllers and wrist straps work.

Seriously, don’t do what we did.

To use wrist straps with the Joy-Cons, you have to slide the plastic edge of each strap into the top of each controller. The connectors for the wrist straps can be seen in the photo below. You’ll see a corresponding plus or minus sign on the strap and the Joy-Con unit itself. It’s not difficult: The strap with a minus symbol on it attaches to the controller with the same symbol.

The problem, as we realized recently, is that if you’re not paying attention, you can very easily attach the wrist strap to a Joy-Con in the wrong alignment. While that may not seem like a big deal, it’s infuriating just how difficult it is to remove said piece if it accidentally locks. You can see it in the video below.

Nintendo Switch + Zelda Q&A

Nintendo Switch Q&A! Let us know if you have any questions about the console or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and we'll do our darndest to answer them.

Posted by Polygon on Friday, February 24, 2017

We stumbled upon this while playing around with the Switch and testing out how the Joy-Con controllers feel, both with and without the straps attached. We attached the wrist straps without a second thought, and were soon disheartened to discover we couldn’t pull the wrist strap off. Not only that, but the strap had overshot where it was supposed to land and was hanging off the end of the Joy-Con slightly. It took 15 minutes of puzzling over the problem until we were finally able to pry off the wrist strap.

Nintendo Switch - red right Joy-Con
The right Joy-Con controller without a wrist strap attached. Notice the plus button at the top.
Samit Sarkar/Polygon
Nintendo Switch - red right Joy-Con with wrist strap
The right Joy-Con controller with a wrist strap attached. (Note the matching plus signs.)
Samit Sarkar/Polygon

The plus and minus symbols are subtle enough to not be overly distracting, but large enough that you can easily see them upon a quick glance. But when you’re trying to quickly attach the wrist strap to the Joy-Con, it’s embarrassingly easy to do it backward. When fiddling around with the locking mechanism, it slides in and out of place without much pressure. As a result, it’s also rather easy to continuously unlock and lock the wrist strap while toying around with it.

In addition, the Joy-Con doesn’t reject the wrist strap if you slide it in upside down. In fact, it slides on with almost the same ease as in the proper alignment. It’s not until afterward that you’re in the uncomfortable position of realizing you’re too late to do anything but attack the controller with your hands to remove the offending article.

The main issue is that in order to remove said plastic you essentially have to rip it off of the Joy-Con. Ripping anything off of a controller or console is never a good idea. When the strap is attached upside down, there’s a gray locking switch that makes it impossible to remove the plastic strip without ripping. That’s good for strap security, but it can leave you frustrated if you’re trying to dislodge an improperly aligned strap.

Nintendo Switch - blue left Joy-Con, wrist strap unlocked
The left Joy-Con’s wrist strap is unlocked in this photo — note that the gray switch is disengaged.
Samit Sarkar/Polygon
Nintendo Switch - blue left Joy-Con, wrist strap locked
The left Joy-Con controller’s strap is locked here — the gray switch is pushed in.
Samit Sarkar/Polygon

This happened to multiple people at Polygon in our New York office, and the issue stems from the lack of pushback players get from the Joy-Con when trying to attach a wrist strap upside down. We also noticed that the wrist straps can shoot too far in one direction and have to be pulled backward before locking into place.

Another issue we noticed with the wrist strap is the lack of safety surrounding its removal. When trying to remove the strap, the pressure you need to exert to ensure it slides off can actually result in a cut. At least one other outlet noted that it encountered similar issues — both in terms of upside-down straps and suffering tiny cuts when removing a strap. With games like 1-2-Switch, which requires the wrist strap to be attached and removed multiple times for various minigames, the potential hazard that comes from not being able to smoothly remove the tool is worrisome.

Take it from us: If you’re picking up a Switch this week, be sure to take a second to make sure you’re putting on the wrist straps the right way. The Switch will be available to purchase on March 3. If you’re looking to get one at launch, we’ve put together a guide of where you can expect to find one.

And please, do look out for the little symbols on both the wrist straps and the Joy-Cons.