Nintendo's new console has a bizarrely named controller -- here's why

Nintendo’s new console isn’t named something ridiculous like “Wii” or — worse — “Wii U.” It’s simply named the “Switch.”

That name comes from the Switch’s gimmick: You can switch from playing it at home to playing it on-the-go by simply removing it from its dock and attaching a pair of controllers.

Nintendo SwitchNintendoLeft: Home version of Switch Right: Portable version of Switch

Nintendo’s applied a similarly smart, logical naming convention across much of the Switch.

There’s the Nintendo Switch Dock, where you dock the Switch when you want to play games at home:

Nintendo SwitchNintendoThat toaster-looking thing, that says ‘Nintendo Switch’ on it is actually the Nintendo Switch Dock. The Switch itself is the tablet that’s inserted into the Dock.

There’s the Nintendo Switch Grip, which is the device that turns the Switch’s unique gamepads into a traditional-ish gamepad:

Nintendo Switch (gamepad)NintendoLeft: The Grip without the gamepads attached Right: The Grip with the gamepads attached

There’s the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, which is a pretty standard gamepad — of note, it doesn’t come with the Switch:

Nintendo Switch Pro ControllerNintendoThe Switch Pro Controller costs $70 and doesn’t come with the console.

And then there’s the main control method. It’s not quite a gamepad; it’s not even a single gamepad, but two.

And they have got a ridiculous name. There’s no way to say that more politely. These are the Nintendo Switch “Joy-Con”:

Which … what?

They come in the neon blue/red colours seen above, as well as in standard grey. Here’s a ridiculously thorough look at the Joy-Con:

They can be used wirelessly, or attached to the Grip, or attached to the Switch itself.

Here’s how that looks:

Nintendo SwitchNintendoThere’s a little button on the back of each Joy-Con for detaching it from various things. They slide on using a rail system.

You can even turn them sideways and flip out the Switch’s kickstand, thus enabling two people to play at once. It turns the Switch into a portable multiplayer game console, which is pretty rad!

Here I am doing exactly that with a colleague from Polygon during Nintendo’s Switch event on January 13:

Nintendo SwitchCorey ProtinWe were playing ‘Snipperclips,’ which was a ton of fun. Don’t sleep on ‘Snipperclips!’

But we’re here to talk about that name. What in the world is a “Joy-Con”? Is that some type of convention for happy people? A joyous convict? Maybe it’s intended to describe a happy scheme?

The answer is staring you in the face. The “word” is actually a portmanteau of two of gaming’s most prominent words:

Indeed, the joystick and the controller. Get it?

Those of you who didn’t grow up with joysticks may be puzzling over the name — as someone who was born in 1984, I can personally assure you that joysticks used to be far more common. The term even became the name of a popular gaming website (“Joystiq“). Joysticks were the control standard in gaming for years, and their influence on modern gamepads is obvious.

Ever wondered where the concept of thumbsticks comes from? It’s from the joystick, albeit shrunken down and duplicated for more complex control input.

Anyway! The next time you’re at a dinner party, searching your bran for enticing cocktail chatter, look no further than the ridiculous and silly story of the “Joy-Con” gamepad. It’s sure to be a more exciting tale than whatever you’re about to say about the weather.

NOW WATCH: We got to try Nintendo’s new Switch console — here’s what it was like

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