Some Nintendo Switch games allow players to hold the device vertically, a mode that opens up a number of possibilities for vertically oriented titles to come to the platform in the future.
Reddit user HandsomeCostanza noticed this feature yesterday with the golf video game Neo Turf Masters, which is one of a handful of Neo Geo ports available on the Switch eShop. Other users in that thread are reporting that all of the Switch’s Neo Geo titles offer this option, along with the ability to stretch the image to fill the screen vertically. (Not that anyone would ever want to do that.)
This would be a rather uncomfortable way to play Switch games for a number of reasons. We tried holding the unit this way, leaving the “bottom” Joy-Con controller attached so we had an input method and a place to grasp the Switch. But it was difficult to balance the device; we kept having to adjust the positioning. In addition, only the Joy-Con’s analog stick and face buttons are accessible in that layout, and we kept accidentally pressing the shoulder buttons just by trying to maintain our grip.
So yes, a vertical Switch configuration would only make sense if the unit were placed in some sort of stand, with the player using both Joy-Cons by themselves or in a Grip controller. (Note that the Switch’s kickstand is positioned to hold up the device horizontally, not vertically.)
With all those caveats out of the way, though, the vertical mode could be a boon for some people. Many arcade shoot-’em-ups — think of “bullet hell” games like Ikaruga — are designed for vertical screens. If a developer designed one to be played that way on the Switch, it could work well. Portrait mode is common for mobile games, too, so this format could facilitate Switch ports of titles like Downwell, Ridiculous Fishing and, say, Super Mario Run.
As people in the aforementioned Reddit thread note, the vertical configuration could also support the dual-screen layout of Nintendo’s two most recent handhelds, the DS and 3DS. Imagine that company introduced a proper Switch Virtual Console, and formatted DS and 3DS titles for the system. There would certainly be issues to work out, like the fact that DS/3DS games were designed for a stylus to be used on a resistive touchscreen, whereas the Switch has a capacitive touchscreen. But at the very least, it’s food for thought.