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Nintendo Patents Button-Customizable Handheld

by Aaron R. Brown - May 7, 2014, 8:24 pm PDT
Total comments: 9 Source: NeoGAF

The buttons, they are a-changin'.

Nintendo has filed a patent for a handheld with switchable buttons.

The patent was filed in October of last year, but was published a mere week ago. The diagrams resemble the lower, touch screen half of a 3DS, or even the Wii U GamePad. Either way, it features four different control sets, all being interchangeable. Examples include switching a D-Pad out for a four-button face, an analog stick for a D-Pad, or whatever else your heart desires.

Having this patent filed lets us peer into another idea being brewed at Nintendo, but certainly does not guarantee anything. Patents are created often for multiple reasons, so it's best keep your hopes in check.



MythtendoMay 07, 2014

Yeah, remember that horse saddle patent Nintendo filed a few years ago?

BlackNMild2k1May 07, 2014

I remember someone floating this idea around a few years ago on GAF, even had images drawn or rendered. Swap the control sets out, turn a right handed controller into a leftie, switch the d-pad with the analog stick, etc etc

I guess they never patented it themselves.

Quote from: Mythtendo

Yeah, remember that horse saddle patent Nintendo filed a few years ago?


Ian SaneMay 08, 2014

During the Cube era there was a third party controller like this.  I think it's a good idea and I wonder why is hasn't caught on.  Though on a handheld there might be the risk of losing pieces while travelling and any pieces you aren't using need to be stored somewhere.  It's a better idea for a console controller than a handheld.

smallsharkbigbiteMay 08, 2014

I guess I'm surprised a left handed controller (or reverse controller) never came out before.  Seems to me that customization at this point doesn't really have much benefit.  The controller has been standard since the dual shock came out (2 analogs, d-pad, 4 face buttons, shoulder buttons).  I can't really think how taking out an analog and putting 4 new face buttons on the front would help anything.

I'm always shocked that button mapping isn't standard in games though.  Many SNES games had configurable controls and then they just vanished. 

C-OlimarMay 08, 2014

I'm surprised nobody knows about this.
Around the time of the 3DS' release, ONM in the UK conducted an interview with Miyamoto. He stated, when talking about the circle pad and D pad, that it was so difficult for Nintendo to decide which should be higher or lower on the unit that they resorted to make removable pieces for each so they could be easily swapped. He said they even considered releasing the unit with this configuration!
This patent seems to cover this idea while also serving as an extension to it. Perhaps it's just a renewal? Or an update to an older one?

AdrockMay 08, 2014

This sounds like a great idea on paper and a terrible idea in practice. People misplace entire games. I very much doubt they can keep track of pieces of a controller. The more things we have to hold on to and be mindful of the worse we'll all be. 3DS is only missing a right circle pad. The Wii U GamePad and Pro Controller aren't missing any inputs except maybe analog triggers. I can see this being useful at times but ultimately unnecessary. The cons far outweigh the pros and the whole thing is overcomplicated.

Pixelated PixiesMay 08, 2014

Uprising patch incoming.

Joking aside, I wonder what impact the inclusion of interchangeable components would have on build quality? Would the overall quality of controls be negatively affected, or would the ability to swap out broken buttons, sticks, triggers etc actually offer an alternative to replacing the whole thing?

I'd be worried about the mechanism for holding the components in place wearing out over time, because I really fidget with things and could see myself sliding things in and out of place idly.

That, and if the system supported StreetPass I'd probably just wear them out at meets going Pokemon -> MonHun -> Mario Kart -> Tetris...

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