If you’re trying to keep up with everyone wrestling with the many nuances to Nintendo’s new Switch console, you’ve likely seen a bit of dust kicked up over one of the more necessary inclusions in the box – the JoyCon Grip. This plastic shell acts as a housing for the two JoyCon controllers, allowing you to use them as a more traditional controller setup without shelling out for a Pro controller. The problem here is that the Grip is exactly what is implied – a plastic grip with no additional functionality beyond that.
At a glance, there’s no issue with that, until you start taking into account just how these controllers function and, more importantly, charge. The JoyCon will charge anytime they’re connected to the main Switch unit, be it in portable or docked modes. The JoyCon Grip, however, features no way to do that. There’s no USB-C port at the top of the shell to let you plug in and charge while you play, which means if your JoyCon happen to go flat during a session your only option is to continue in portable mode. Not convenient.
This problem is alleviated by an accessory Nintendo is now selling, called the JoyCon Charging Grip. Visibly it’s almost the same, with the Charging Grip featuring a translucency akin to the Pro Controller. The real difference is in functionality, in that the Charging Grip does exactly what the name implies – it’s able to charge your JoyCon. The shell features what the included one lacks, with a USB connection at the top allowing you to plug the Grip into power at anytime.
Nintendo are aiming to sell this accessory for a full $29.99, so clearly don’t see the issue in the fact that the only way to charge the JoyCon out of the box is to connect them to the Switch. The proposed battery life of 20 hours makes that an easier sell, along with the idea that you’re probably going to be connecting your JoyCon to your Switch overnight anyway. But that just doesn’t alleviate the inconvenience of having them die mid-session, and realising that you’re now going to have to put your couch and TV session on pause to charge controllers.
It’s a really strange oversight, and just another sticking point to the Switch overall. It’s out on March 3rd.