Nintendo Is Still Trying To Make The Perfect Controller
Nintendo has created new styles of controller for every one of its consoles, a stark difference from its current competitors who, instead, refine the design of previous generations' controllers. This is because, as famed developer Shigeru Miyamoto told shareholders recently, Nintendo's " objective is to achieve an interface that surpasses the current controller, where what the player does is directly reflected on the screen, and the user can clearly feel the result". This means that we will likely see the Joy-Cons replaced in the future with something new.
In a recent shareholder Q&A, Nintendo representatives were asked about playing games and how the ways interacting with the screen had changed over the past 30 years. Quite a far-reaching question, right? Miyamoto dived into the many innovations Nintendo had developed, and also the philosophy behind its controller designs.
"Nintendo was the first to create the style of playing video games with a plus-shaped directional pad and additional buttons, which has now become the industry standard," Miyamoto said, describing the D-pad. "It was also Nintendo that changed the original plus-shaped directional pad, which operated digitally in eight directions, into the first analog input device that moves freely in all directions for Nintendo 64. This, too, is now common. We are proud to have created a variety of user interfaces that have now become industry standards."
"And, as of now, in terms of accuracy and reliability, I believe this style is the clear winner," Miyamoto continued. "At the same time, I also believe that we should quickly graduate from the current controller, and we are attempting all kinds of things. Our objective is to achieve an interface that surpasses the current controller, where what the player does is directly reflected on the screen, and the user can clearly feel the result. This has not been achieved yet. We have tried all kinds of motion controllers, but none seem to work for all people. As the company that knows the most about controllers, we have been striving to create a controller that can be used with ease, and that will become the standard for the next generation."
Nintendo has always experimented with its controllers, and while the motion controllers of the Wii-mote didn't become the industry standard, we can see the success of the original Wii was in part because the simple, intuitive controllers appealed to a far wider group of gamers than the traditional gamepad.
The Joy-Cons in many ways were a step back to a more traditional style of controller but they also came stuffed with interesting tech, like the HD rumble. While 1-2 Switch didn't have the same success as Wii Sports, it was a great showcase for the power of the Joy-Con. One game in particular stands out to me, the marble game. When you played the minigame you would tip the Joy-Con in your hand like it was a wooden box full of marbles, you could feel each individual marble move around in your hands simply through the rumble. It was an uncanny experience and a testament to the technology.
I'm fascinated to see what Nintendo would like to try next.