The Nintendo Switch has the most unusual boast of any console: the Joy-Con controller is so sensitive it can make you believe tiny, invisible ball bearings are rolling around in the palm of your hand. The wonder of Switch’s HD vibration feature is difficult to express in a video, even more so in words, but after going hands on with Nintendo’s new machine I believe it could be the thing that sets it apart from its competitors. But there’s one, sadly-familiar problem: it’s pointless without great games.
At the moment, the only title that demonstrates the versatility of the controller is 1-2-Switch, a collection of zany minigames that each use the Joy-Con in different ways. One moment you’re clapping your hands to catch a swinging samurai blade; the next you’re gnashing your jaws at the camera to eat imaginary food. It’s bright, distracting fun, but it’s the canape, not the main course. Lifelong Ninty fans demand something more nourishing. And while I’m not suggesting every classic Nintendo series should have motion control features crowbarred in - Nintendo has already promised they won’t do that - if anyone can make truly groundbreaking titles using the versatile new tech, it’s Nintendo. Here are six titles Switch could reinvent.
1. Professor Layton
The Professor himself has hung up his top hat (or not, since he wears it constantly for traumatic reasons we won’t go into here), leaving his daughter Katrielle on pointy-solvey duties in the forthcoming Lady Layton: The Millionaire Ariadone's Conspiracy. But Nintendo could easily have something else in store. Level-5’s Akihiro Hino expressed an interest in developing a Layton game for Wii U way back in 2011, but it’s been quiet since then. Now would be the perfect time for a home console Layton game.
Switch’s Joy-Con controllers would be ideal for solving tactile, 3D puzzles, which would feel like a natural extension of what we’ve seen before on handheld. Better still, you could use the motion control to investigate Layton’s world in first person, for that immersive, digging-around-in-a-stranger’s-sofa-for-hint-coins experience. You could even point along with the Prof when you get a puzzle right. If that’s not a noble use of cutting edge technology, I don’t know what is.
2. Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing is a game built on thoughtful touches. If you hold a dandelion in your hand in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, for example, the fluff will drift away when you blow on the mic. It’s a game that delights in discovered secrets. The Joy-Con controllers, with their nuanced rumble and versatile layout, would be the ideal medium for bringing all those moments to life.
Fishing is the obvious choice - rumble to tell you when you’ve hooked something, the analogue stick to reel it in - but there are options everywhere. Shaking trees, eating fruit, digging holes; they could all be given a Joy-Con makeover. I’m not saying it should be a pure motion control game, but burying these secrets like pitfall seeds would be the most Animal Crossing thing ever.
We’re getting something reminiscent of Punch-Out!! in Arms, Nintendo’s lithe, motion-controlled fighter, but I’d argue the sharp, responsive brawling of this venerable boxing sim is a better fit. The Wii version did a decent enough job with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk - you could even go one further and use the balance board, if that’s how you choose to live your life - but the variety of buttons on the Joy-Con controller means a Switch version would be even better.
The concept barely needs explaining, but I’m doing it anyway because thinking about it makes me happy. You jab, hook and weave with the motion controls, then use buttons for the more reactive stuff like ducking and blocking. Throw in a cast of cartoonish, deliciously punchable characters, and this could be an easy way of demonstrating just how energetic the Joy-Con controllers can be.
There’s an argument that 1-2-Switch should have been/secretly is a WarioWare game. It’s certainly strange enough. But perhaps it’s better to let people ease into the concept of Switch before Nintendo unleashes the full, moustache shaving, uncle hooking, nostril plucking absurdity of WarioWare.
The tech is perfect for it. There are so many different bits on the Joy-Con controller that it could act like a tumbling tutorial for everything the machine can do. But the main thing for me is the method of delivery. We don’t know how 1-2-Switch works in terms of how you select games, but WarioWare’s randomised collection of distractions is the best fit for such a versatile console. More than that, 1-2-Switch is designed for people to look at each other, not at the screen, meaning there’s still room for a compilation of oddball minigames that utilises the bizarre, vibrant WarioWare world.
5. Rhythm Heaven
Wait! Come back! I know that everyone skips past rhythm action games in list features, but this one honestly has potential. And monkeys. A cartload of monkeys. The DS/3DS games are fantastic, packed with variety and invention despite only using a stylus, and Rhythm Heaven Fever on the Wii lets you play golf with a baboon. Golf. With a baboon. Just imagine what two accurate, responsive motion controllers could add to that experience.
A Switch version of Rhythm Heaven could have you throwing rockstar shapes with a controller in each hand, bashing out thunderous beats in the style of Taiko Drum Master, or high-fiving chimps trapped in a giant clock. Yes, the last one is an actual Rhythm Heaven game. I wasn’t lying about the monkeys. It’s precisely the sort of wildly inventive game that Switch was created to enrich.
6. Luigi’s Mansion
This one has to be more than ‘the infrared camera would be great as Luigi’s torch’, but seriously: that thing would be great as a torch. Luigi’s Mansion is a wonderful series that’s in danger of stagnating or being forgotten, and the Switch could offer a new perspective. The ability to use two controllers separately means that you could keep traditional controls for all the jumpy, reactive stuff, leaving your other hand free to explore a gloriously creepy HD mansion.
Best of all, the rumble feature could elegantly represent Luigi’s trembling lack of courage. Throw in a few other tactile tricks - perhaps reaching over your shoulder to grab your Poltergust? - and this could be the thing to elevate Luigi’s Mansion to the top tier of Ninty franchises.