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Playing Switch shooters on the go? You may need this grip

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The Satisfye Pro Gaming Grip opens up the potential of my Switch

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Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

As much as I love the potential for the Nintendo Switch to transform from a handheld into a console, 95 percent of the time I’m using it as a handheld. On trains, on the couch watching Netflix, at the airport — it’s a handheld. And for most of the games I gravitate toward (platformers, strategy games, adventure games), the handheld controls are perfectly serviceable.

But one genre remains a major pain in portable mode: the shooter. I’ve written about this problem before. The controller layout of the Switch in portable mode makes any game with extensive right analog-use a major pain, at least for people with a certain hand size. Hell, even Breath of the Wild, with its reliance on right analog camera manipulation and aiming, gives me cramps after a while.

Developers seem to acknowledge this. Skryim, Doom, and Warframe include motion aiming to smooth out the rougher edges of accurate right analog manipulation. But motion aiming comes with its own baggage. What if you want to just play a shooter as you would with a full controller? After doing some research, I came across the Satisfye Pro Gaming Grip.

Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

Suffice it to say, there are a metric ton of gaming grips for the Switch. They’re such an in-demand peripheral that even Best Buy’s in-house brand, Insignia, makes one. The Nintendo Switch subreddit has frequent discussions about which is the king of these grips, but the general consensus seems to be that the Satisfye grip is the leader of the pack.

Let me start by saying this thing is hideous. The giant bundle of plastic makes a poor first impression out of the box. Just holding it in my hands it feels comically wide, like I’m stretching out an invisible scroll. It’s not uncomfortable so much as it makes me feel a little silly.

But judging the grip without actually putting it to its intended use is unfair.

Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

It takes little effort to snap a Switch onto the hardware. I’m astounded by how smooth the installation process is, how neatly the grip hugs the edges of my Switch without feeling like it’s damaging the Joy-Cons. It’s a simple matter of sliding the Switch into the grip’s frame, almost like it’s a game cartridge. Two small bumpers on the inside of the grip place light pressure to hold the Joy-Cons in place, so I can even turn it upside down without fearing that my Switch will tumble to the floor.

The grip itself is actually asymmetrical. The left side of the grip feels about how you would expect a standard controller would feel, whereas the right side rests slightly lower. The idea is for your thumb to naturally sit on the right analog stick, rather than having to stretch further down than is natural.

On most normal controllers, the right analog stick is set further towards the center of the controller, to the southwest of the face buttons. On the Joy-Cons, the analog and face buttons are right on top of each other, which doesn’t really jibe with the human hand. The Satisfye’s right grip attempts to rectify this by shifting my hand down and out, creating a more natural gap for my thumb to reach the analog stick.

Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

And it works quite well! I instantly felt the improvement when booting up Doom, to the point where I actually turned off motion aiming since I was having a much better experience without it. Skyrim and Warframe also feel easier to manage.

There are two minor downsides to this repositioning, though. The first is that the grips themselves do feel large. Larger than, say, the grips on a Switch Pro Controller. I’m able to manage, but I can imagine someone with smaller hands having some trouble. Second, the downward shift of the hands means that reaching up to hit the triggers on the right Joy-Con is a bit of a stretch. Not unsurmountable, but again, folks with smaller hands may have a hard time.

Something else to keep in mind: The Satisfye grip must be removed before the Switch can be docked. I had originally considered this to be a dealbreaker, but in my research, it seems to be a requirement that all of these grips either must be removed before docking or are such a tight fit that you risk damaging your Switch, should you try to dock the console with it on.

Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

Thankfully, the removal process is a breeze — as easy as installation. Simply sliding the Switch up and out takes seconds, and is far less obnoxious than attaching and removing Joy-Cons to the official Nintendo grip that come with the console.

One last thing: if you’re concerned about bulk, and you’re planning on playing games that don’t really require constant attention on the right analog stick, leave this grip at home. While it’s great for shooters and other camera-heavy 3D games, it ends up feeling bulky and unnecessary for everything else. It actually makes games that rely on the face buttons a bit more annoying to play.

The Satisfye Gaming Grip is a pretty narrow, specific tool that won’t be ideal to most Switch owners. But for those who gravitate towards shooters, it’s a welcome solution to a Joy-Con design limitation. It makes the Switch far more ergonomic and friendly to the human hand, especially if that human hand is intending to fire some rounds down range.