Accessories manufacturer Hori will release a Nintendo Switch headset alongside Splatoon 2 this summer, one of the first of its kind for the console. But illustrated instructions for how the headset will connect to the Switch don’t give owners a ton of confidence about the future of voice chat.
First, the pro: The headset looks like it came straight out of Splatoon, with some pop art detailing on each ear. That’s the point, according to Hori’s Twitter, which includes an image of an Inkling Boy wearing the headset as proof.
And now, for the cons. A diagram included in Hori’s tweet about the headset shows how it will work with the Switch’s as-yet-unseen voice chat capabilities. It’s ... a mess, if we’re being generous.
The headset plugs into an almost squid-shaped splitter, which routes cables in two directions: one into the Switch’s headphone jack, the other into a cell phone. Nintendo’s proposed voice chat system for the Switch is all localized on an app, not on the console itself. In other words: For Splatoon 2 trash talking, you’ll have to have your cell phone handy.
Hori’s attempt to make this situation work is respectable. It’s also proof of how backwards Nintendo’s method for voice chat on the Switch seems to be. The app, which is also meant to give players access to other basic social features, like online lobbies, has no release date, nor has Nintendo discussed it since before the console’s launch. This headset is our first sign in a long while of what could be many painful years of fighting with dongles and short cables to make voice chat work on the system.
This solution is less bizarre than the Wii’s, at least; that console similarly lacked native voice chat functionality, instead requiring players to purchase a separate microphone accessory, Wii Speak. The Wii U also lacked universal voice chat support; only wired headsets worked with the system, and only when plugged into the Wii U GamePad.
All of this is really only a problem if you want to have game audio and voice chat sound in your ears at the same time. For those who don’t, the option to just plug earphones into a cell phone to access the online app is still there, no dual-cabled headset needed. But if you’d like to hear that bumping Splatoon 2 soundtrack while chatting up your teammates, headsets like Hori’s seem to be the way to go, for better or worse. Much worse.
If you don’t mind dealing with this headset’s quirks, it’s on sale in Japan on July 21.