The hidden shoulder buttons of the switch are the key to turn it into a fully-fledged console

In today's digital age, it is sometimes as if the hardware has been in the background for the software that drives our devices. Button of the month is a monthly look at what some of those buttons and switches are on old and new devices, and it is aimed to appreciate how we handle our devices on a physical, tactile level.


The Nintendo Switch is an incredible piece of hardware engineering for many reasons: the amount of gaming brawn it packs in such a small package, for example, continues to surprise with portable versions of games that were previously unthinkable.

But the best parts of Nintendo & # 39; s hardware innovation are, at least for me, the removable Joy-Con controllers that add a whole new dimension to what the switch can do. And that is mainly due to the smart, hidden shoulder buttons that Nintendo has integrated into every Joy-Con controller.

I admit, I don't use the "remove Joy-Cons and use them as two separate controllers for ad-hoc gaming everywhere" feature that often. The value of the Switch as a large, portable console is much greater for me in the two years that I own it.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

And the use of a single Joy-Con in itself is rather problematic: the controllers are too small, they do not have enough buttons and the D-Pad / face buttons are difficult to use because they are designed for vertical orientation. It is a dynamic that is embodied by the touch-sensitive click that a Joy-Con makes in comparison with the removal: it is much nicer to reconnect the controller.

And yet I still love the shoulder buttons because of the level of thinking that Nintendo has put into it.

Nintendo can hide them in the rail that connects the Joy-Con to the switch screen, in a masterpiece of efficiency and use of space. And the physical design here is just flawless: the depression around each button places them at the right height, the dented plastic helps you press them, and the rail that connects it to the side of the console places the buttons just high enough to pressing comfortably. Even the clear color tone visually draws the eye to those buttons, matching the color of the Joy-Con.


Nintendo even uses the modular nature of the Switch's rail system to offer removable attachments that make it easier to hold the half-Joy-Con and that shoulder buttons are even larger and easier to press. Moreover, despite their small size, they are still high-quality parts, with a clear click that never doubts whether you pressed them.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

But my love for the shoulder buttons goes beyond their physical design; what they represent. These buttons – hidden from view, unless the Joy-Cons are removed – embody the versatility of the Switch. They are the embodiment of the idea that you can simply disconnect the controllers and play a game anywhere, not just by yourself, but with a friend.

They separate the Switch from a very powerful Game Boy and turn it into a truly portable console. And although I may not use the function often, there is still a lot of Joy-Con game, and every time it is a pleasure: a few rounds of Mario Kart while killing and removing time at an airport Smash Bros. during a particularly long break with a play, or just enough controllers to play Mario Party after work by combining with another friend who owns Switch.

In short, it is the kind of creativity that helps the Switch to stand out in the package. Not bad for a few buttons so small, you could go all the time with the Switch and not even see them.

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