Nintendo sort of made a big deal about their HD Rumble feature during the Nintendo switch reveal presentation in January. What they referenced was a minigame in 1-2 Switch. That minigame tasks players with determining how many balls are inside the Joy-Con controller they’re holding by turning it, twisting it and tilting it.
The HD Rumble is supposedly so precise that you can feel the balls rolling around inside the controller well enough to accurately count them. Think about that for a second, and compare it to what we have today with rumble. Sure, controllers today have a different rumble intensity, so the rumble can be light or it can be really strong. But that’s not HD, that’s, I suppose, standard-definition rumbling. It’s imprecise, and it’s nonspecific.
Now, consider a franchise like Eternal Darkness. This is one that Nintendo has routinely renewed the trademarks for, so clearly they’re interested in keeping it around for some reason. The original Eternal Darkness launched on the GameCube. That game featured some really crazy stuff, and I use the word crazy because it had a strange sanity meter that actually worked with its gameplay.
As players lost their sanity, crazy things would happen to the game. The screen would go black. The volume would lower and an on-screen indicator would make it seem like it was the player’s TV turning down. It would break the fourth wall and mess with the player in unique ways.
Okay, imagine a game like Eternal Darkness, or any horror game that really messes with your sanity at all, and give developers access to something like the HD Rumble in the Joy-Con on the Nintendo Switch. Pretend you’re losing your sanity in this game, and you feel fingers tickle your hands as you’re holding the controllers.
I’m sick to my stomach just thinking about it. Granted, I can’t take scary video games very well.
With the Nintendo Switch, it’s obvious that everyone’s talking about its biggest feature: that is, the ability to switch it between television play and portable play on the fly. That should be the banner feature, make no mistake. However, it sounds like the Joy-Con features some cool tech with this HD Rumble system. I won’t pretend it’s as exciting as the main crux of the Nintendo Switch, because it’s not.
With that said, I’m really interested to see how HD Rumble could actually push the ways we interact with video games over the next few years. Will we see Sony or Microsoft adopt a really precise rumbling mechanic in their next platform or as they roll out new iterations of the DualShock or Xbox One controller? I sure hope so.
We’ll see exactly how cool HD Rumble is when the Nintendo Switch launches on March 3, 2017. That’s a little over two weeks from today. Stay tuned.