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The specter of broken TVs returns to haunt Nintendo Switch Sports

A new generation of gamers must learn to strap it up

Two players battle with foam swords in chambara, in a screenshot from Nintendo Switch Sports Image: Nintendo

Nintendo Switch Sports brings back the motion-controlled, sporty fun of Nintendo’s watershed video game, Wii Sports, for a new generation of gamers. But with the return of in-living-room tennis and bowling comes a curse: the ominous specter of smashed TV screens.

Released in 2006, Wii Sports was famous for its ability to turn the video game-avoidant into hardcore players. Scores of octogenarians got their first taste of a Nintendo game with Wii Sports, using the simple and intuitive Wii Remote to relive the thrill of bowling in a virtual alley. But Wii Sports became infamous for another reason: Players were wildly whipping their Wii Remotes with such force that the controller slipped from their grasp, striking and sometimes cracking LCD panels, and creating unintended and expensive abstract digital art.

Years later, and the Wii had yet to escape this reputation, even despite its dramatic warning screens chiding players to use the remote’s wrist strap. Flying Wii Remotes even became joke fodder for Hollywood, with 2009’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

Just a few days after Nintendo Switch Sports’ release, the threat of busted TVs and monitors has returned. Over the weekend, there were at least two unconfirmed reports of players letting their Joy-Con controllers fly, claiming the lives of a pair of perfectly good screens.

On Reddit, one Nintendo Switch owner named Roman confessed to shattering a TV screen while playing Nintendo Switch Sports’ chambara mode, a swordfighting-meets-American Gladiators jousting sport.

Roman’s first reaction, he said, was to turn off, then turn on, the TV in the hopes that that would fix this very visible wound — but to no avail, of course.

And on Twitch, streamer 63man showed his viewers what a fast-moving Joy-Con can do to a monitor. 63man said he was playing Nintendo Switch Sports “very passionate[ly]” and threw his controller directly at the screen. “Now my monitor is broken,” 63man said in a YouTube upload of the incident. “It was fun though [...] 10/10.”

Many Nintendo fans saw the new wave of screen destruction coming with Nintendo Switch Sports as an inevitability. “And so it begins again,” said Reddit user Mykeprime in response to Roman’s Reddit post about his broken TV. “This is the content I’ve been waiting for,” replied another.

Naturally, Nintendo itself has anticipated the return of the flying video game controller. The company has built warnings into Nintendo Switch Sports that pester players to secure the included wrist strap accessory to their Joy-Cons before they play. But how many Switch owners will either bother to do so or even remember where those accessories are? Mine, never used, still sit in their original plastic bags from the Switch’s launch in 2017.

How many of these incidents, in the year 2022, will be genuine, and how many will be Switch owners looking to go viral or score clout? We must remain skeptical, but vigilant, when it comes to stories of Joy-Cons snuffing out screens. While some may be accurate tales of folly, we should take no irreparably scarred screen at face value.

More importantly, everyone should actually wear their wrist straps when playing Nintendo Switch Sports. Like seatbelts and face masks, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And, by the way, you can always order replacement Joy-Con straps directly from Nintendo, should you have misplaced yours.

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