It's here: A Switch grip accessory for all your vertical gaming needs
It may not have Virtual Console, but we're helping to make Switch into one heck of a virtual arcade.
It's been more than a year since I posted a plaintive cry for someone, anyone to create an accessory to allow portable gaming enthusiasts to play Switch games that support vertical screen orientation in a proper vertical mode. Switch is, after all, the first system to offer fundamental support for vertical screen rotation since WonderSwan, and between retro compilations like Namco Museum and Hamster's weekly Arcade Archives titles, the volume of relevant games has just been piling up. Last week, Nintendo and Hamster published the original Donkey Kong. Today it was Gunbird 2. And they just keep coming.
Well, it turns out the "someone, anyone" was me. No accessory makers have stepped up to take advantage of the brilliant accessory idea I offered up for free, no strings attached. So I reached out to Fangamer to see if they knew anyone capable of designing something along those lines. The idea was to put together a small crowdfunding campaign to get enough cash to have something like that produced in a small run... but Fangamer ended up being so intrigued they took the idea under their collective wing and want to go big with it. They reached out to A Guy They Know, an industrial designer by the name of Mike Choi. Mike was completely on board and immediately began churning through designs and 3D prints, and over the past half-year or so, he's continued to refine his prototypes to absolute perfection.
A 3D render of the final Flip Grip design.
A (slightly outdated) Flip Grip prototype in action. Look at all of those Ikaruga pixels!
It's going to be a simple, one-piece accessory made of ABS plastic, designed to hold the Switch screen securely, yet sideways. The Joy Cons slide into rails along the side. So you can play a vertical game like, say, Ikaruga or Donkey Kong on the go while taking advantage of their intended screen format. No wasted pixels, that's the goal.
The Flip Grip will cost $12 and will ship in... oh, you know, why don't you just check out the Kickstarter page for details? It lays out all the specifics. That includes a breakdown of the nearly two dozen games that already support the vertical mode Flip Grip is designed to take advantage of, as well the upcoming games we know about.
In case you're curious, we're using Kickstarter simply to balance out the logistics of producing and distributing a physical product like this through a small company like Fangamer. They understandably don't want to sink tens of thousands of dollars into producing an accessory with no guarantee anyone will buy it. But there's no risk here — the Flip Grip is prototyped, tested, and has been approved by manufacturers. We just need to round up the money to have them strike the molds and start injecting plastics. As soon as the campaign closes (assuming it's successful), these go into production.
It's been a long and exciting road for me to watch as my idle musings have blossomed into an actual product being produced and managed by an entire team of talented people. But really, the important thing is, now I can play a bunch of classic arcade games the way they were meant to be played, which was the real point of this. I've been tooling around with the Flip Grip's various prototypes since the end of last year, and each version has improved on the last. Our goal has been to deliver a valuable enhancement for Switch fans at a reasonable price, so I really hope the Kickstarter campaign succeeds. If not, well, at least I'll always have my prototypes. But I have a feeling there are enough people out there in the world who are into this idea that we'll hit the funding goal. Here's hoping!