• Myriann Switch D-Pad Joy-Con Shell Case Review

    The Nintendo Switch has become home to a staggering number of indie and 2D games, and it becoming the platform of choice for games that may not receive the attention they deserve on other platforms. All this is in spite of the fact that Nintendo neglected to include a traditional D-Pad on the Joy-Cons included in the base package. Nintendo were keen to allow each Joy-Con to function as separate controllers to facilitate 2 player gaming reminiscent of the Famicom in Japan. As a result, the D-Pad was replaced with an additional 4 face buttons and players are forced to fumble with either the analogue stick or using those 4 face buttons when playing 2D games - not ideal. To make things worse, Nintendoís solution of selling an additional Pro Controller with the D-Pad included isnít much help for anybody using their console in portable mode. In step Myriann who have done what Nintendont by offering a D-Pad solution for Joy-Cons. Is it worth dismantling your previous controllers to do this?

    Letís cut to the chase - this is an involved process. You will be required to open and fully tear down your Joy-Con in order to move everything over to the new D-Pad shell. On the plus side, there is no soldering involved so anybody with patience and a steady hand will be able to do this. Anybody interested should watch the numerous Joy-Con teardown videos on YouTube to decide if theyíre up to the challenge. After doing all this, how does the D-Pad feel? The answer is, very good! This is a little surprising given that this is merely a replacement shell and thus still mechanically 4 separate buttons underneath, but the reality is that Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft D-Pads have always functioned in this way. There is a slightly Ďclickí as you press each of the 4 directions and feels different to the Pro Controller because of this, but overall still feels like a decent solution. The D-Pad has enough height to avoid feeling mushy like the PlayStation D-Pads often do, yet still has a low enough profile to not feel uncomfortable like the Xbox or Dreamcast D-Pads. It perhaps wonít satisfy those who lust for the roller-base D-Pads of the Mega Drive and Saturn, but ultimately still feels natural to use when playing Sonic Mania or Shovel Knight.

    So what are the downsides? As mentioned, the installation process is not trivial, even people with experience dismantling controllers or even iPhones should familiarise themselves with the process before making a decision. There no soldering involved so itís perfectly possible for anybody with patience, but the Joy-Cons are one of the most frustrating controllers to take apart. The main reason this review contains no pictures of the inside of the Joy-Cons is because after opening those things once, they are never going to be opened again. On the other hand, the left Joy-Con is the easier of the two to open so those who just want the D-Pad and arenít interested in matching colour Joy-Cons could save themselves more than half of the hassle by leaving the right Joy-Con alone. After finishing replacing the left controller shell, we seriously considered doing this. However, the Super Famicom colour scheme shells pictured (albeit pure white rather than off-white) for both Joy-Cons proved too alluring. The process was absolutely worth that stress, but do be aware that Myriann do allow people to purchase just the left Joy-Con shell by itself for a reduced price. The second drawback to this is the fact that your left Joy-Con loses its face buttons making it less than ideal for multiplayer use. Itís still functional (albeit using the D-Pad directions rather than the individual fire buttons), but people who use their Joy-Cons for multiplayer often should bear this in mind.

    Overall, this is an excellent solution with great build quality and the end result is a very pleasant-feeling D-Pad Joy-Con. All those 2D games on the eShop are given a new lease of life and can finally be played the way theyíre supposed to be. The fact that we have to go to such lengths for basic functionality boggles the mind and hopefully Nintendo will release a Pro Joy-Con at some point. As it stands however, Myriannís replacement D-Pad shells are a far better option than anybody expected and worth serious consideration for any retro gamer.

    If you're still interested in doing this modification despite the difficulty, letís take a brief look at the process. Firstly, make sure you have the correct size Y-shaped screwdriver - many guides on the internet claim that the same screwdriver used to open other Nintendo devices can be used. However, to this reviewerís eyes the screws do seem to be slightly smaller so make sure you pick up a screwdriver intended for the Switch. When removing the rear shell, you are greeted by the battery and itís compartment. Unscrewing this will allow you to access the main board itself, although the modular nature of the Joy-Con means you have to remove separate ribbon cables for the L button, - button and analogue stick. These ribbon cables will be familiar to anybody who has opened an iPhone, and it is notoriously easy to break the connector they are inserted into - take your time. Once this is done, you can remove the mainboard and start replacing the shell. Strangely, the ZL button is attached to the same plastic that houses the battery, and is extremely difficult to remove due to the 2 springs underneath as well as the ribbon cable being glued to the plastic. This reviewer opted not to do this and simply use the existing plastic, but it does mean that the original colour of the Joy-Con will be visible on the narrow strip between the L and ZL buttons. This is not a big deal if you have the grey Joy-Cons, but may be unacceptable if you have coloured Joy-Cons or intend to use a transparent shell where the different colour may be visible. The right Joy-Con is a similar process but actually more difficult due to the need to remove the IR sensor, additional antenna and NFC reader. The ribbon cable for the IR sensor is glued to the front shell requiring peeling to remove. Overall, the process is fiddly and time consuming, but doable by simply following video guides. People can save themselves 60% of the stress by leaving the right Joy-Con alone, however. After doing this, you will have a much improved set of Joy-Cons.