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Friday, August 24, 2018

It Begins: No Pro Controller for Super Mario Party

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Joy-Con only.

I warned about this. It hasn't even been a year since I wrote the article, “Will Developers Maintain Nintendo Switch Pro Controller Support?” The message was clear: The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is my preferred way to play games, and accommodating diverse ways to play (“play the games you love, however you like.” is one line that Nintendo uses to market the Nintendo Switch) is what the Nintendo Switch is all about.

According to the Spain Nintendo site NextN (they seem like a decent set of folks, not that I can read Spanish), Nintendo confirmed to them that Super Mario Party on the Nintendo Switch will only be controllable via the Joy-Con controllers. You can play with the Joy-Con on their side so every Nintendo Switch owner will be able to play with at least them and one other person in local multiplayer, but note the word “only” in that. No Pro Controller.

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is designed to be able to do almost everything a Joy-Con can do. (Infrared camera, no, but since you can play with either Joy-Con (the left Joy-Con lacks an infrared camera), that's not the issue here.) Of course, I'm sure there is a reason somewhere for why it's Joy-Con only, some niche use that ruins the experience for everyone.

Super Mario Party River Survival Mode Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Yeah gesture oars raft
You can do the game's high-five gestures or whatever with a Pro Controller. Sure, it's less intuitive, but that's my choice.
Is the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller banned because it doesn't have a wrist-strap? Is there no personal responsibility?

Of course, Super Mario Party is famous for the optional Toad's Rec Room mode, which features using two local Nintendo Switch consoles. That's a super-niche use case that I would think less than 2% of people buying the game would experience. (Yes, it's a made-up percentage, but it should be close to right.)

I wasn't going to buy Super Mario Party anyway. That's not the point. I'm worried Nintendo is opening and may be encouraging the floodgates of controller incompatibility for future games. Of course, having your game be LESS accessible isn't a wise business decision. It's fun when satisfying my personal preference is actually the right thing to do.

I don't have a Nintendo Switch software development kit, so I don't know what kind of effort goes into making a game Pro Controller-compatible versus just Joy-Con. It might be set up so you have to go out of your way to make the Pro Controller incompatible.

Reminder: The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can handle motion controls with the gyroscope. It works beautifully for games like Splatoon 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (and not Fortnite). Super Mario Party's games may be designed with the form factor of the Joy-Con in mind, but why can't society agree to accept inconvenience and liability as choices, rather than banning subjectively inferior options?

After all, Nintendo used to be the company that made it possible to play Super Smash Bros. Melee with the DK Bongos — and Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat is compatible with the normal GameCube controller. (And I've tried the former's Adventure Mode with those once. ...It didn't work out.) Terrible decision, but it was mine and mine alone.

Ludwig is most afraid of other companies thinking it's okay to not allow the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller if they see Nintendo leading the way, so be sure to let Nintendo know that this isn't an okay thing to do. Then other companies will see the blowback and keep the Pro Controller!

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