‘Switch 2’ Is Nintendo’s Chance To Adopt The PC Feature It’s Desperate To Take For A Spin

Revolutionizing Game Controllers: The Case for a Scroll Wheel on the Switch 2

Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they’ve been chewing over. Today, Francisco considers a little Joy-Con addition that could help set the upcoming “Switch successor” apart…

Nintendo has a history of groundbreaking hardware innovations when it comes to video game controllers. From the D-pad on the Game & Watch to the motion controls on the Wii, the company has always pushed boundaries. However, there’s one feature that has eluded Nintendo for years.

This powerful tool can transport you across vast distances in an instant or zoom in from a bird’s eye view to microscopic details. It was proposed by Sakurai for the GameCube and a patent was filed by Nintendo in 2015. You might even be using one right now. So, what is this long-overlooked marvel? The computer mouse’s scroll wheel.

With modern games focusing heavily on inventory management and crafting menus, the scroll wheel, first popularized by Microsoft’s IntelliMouse in 1996, could finally make its debut on the ‘Switch 2’.

It’s Time to Spin the Wheel

You can’t fool me, Atlus! As an office worker, I know a spreadsheet when I see one. — Image: Atlus

One of the key arguments for incorporating a scroll wheel is convenience. Many multiplatform games make compromises due to the lack of a scroll wheel, such as using directional or radial options for quick-select menus. However, with the prevalence of crafting menus and extensive inventories in modern games, the need for a scroll wheel has become more apparent.

Games like Persona have managed to mask the tedium of menu navigation, but the reality is that players are spending more time in inventory screens than in the actual game world. The precision and speed control offered by a scroll wheel could significantly improve this experience.

Using an analogue stick or directional buttons for intricate menu navigation can be cumbersome and imprecise. A scroll wheel would provide a more natural and precise way to interact with these menus, greatly enhancing the player experience.

A Designer’s Tool for a Creator’s World

Pikachu Plushes
How different are our control schemes to operating a claw machine? — Image: Elina Volkova / Pexels

When we look at the evolution of 3D gaming, we realize that the true revolution happened on the screens, not on the controllers. Even with analogue sticks, the control inputs for navigating 3D spaces are still fundamentally 2D. The addition of a scroll wheel could introduce a new dimension to the way players interact with objects in the game world.

Graphic and level designers have long understood the potential of a scroll wheel for precise object manipulation. Incorporating this tool into game controllers could open up new possibilities for creative modes and gameplay mechanics.

With the rise of creative sandbox games like Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox, the inclusion of a scroll wheel on the ‘Switch 2’ could attract a new audience of players looking for unique and innovative gaming experiences.

A (Play)date with Destiny

While convenience and design enhancements are compelling reasons for adding a scroll wheel to the Switch 2, the potential applications of this feature go beyond menu navigation. Games like Dave the Diver or Link’s bowstring tension calibration could greatly benefit from the precision offered by a scroll wheel.

Playdate crank
Image: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life

Looking at the success of Panic’s Playdate with its rotating crank, it’s evident that unique hardware features can lead to innovative gameplay experiences. By introducing a scroll wheel on the ‘Switch 2’, Nintendo could solidify its position as a platform for unique gaming experiences.

Developers have already started exploring the possibilities of rotating controls, with games like A Balanced Brew and Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure showcasing the creative potential of such features. The Switch successor could inspire developers to create even more engaging and inventive games that leverage the scroll wheel.

While there are concerns about hardware reliability and ergonomic design, the potential benefits of incorporating a scroll wheel on the Switch 2 outweigh the risks. Nintendo’s track record of innovation and design excellence bodes well for the successful implementation of this feature.