Any time we scoff at the idea of motion controls as a system gimmick, Nintendo turns back around and surprises with incredible games that use the feature. The Nintendo Switch already has a packed library of games that bring out the power of motion controls. For some games, motion enhances the experience or makes systems more accurate or interesting. For others, they add an entirely new layer of gameplay or fun. And all of this is possible only because, largely, Nintendo’s Joy-Con motion controls work really, really well.
If you’ve avoided motion controls on the Switch thus far, try diving into one of these incredible games and trying them out. Trust me, you won’t want to go back.
Super Mario Odyssey
You can jump up, Superstar, or you can jump with Cappy using motion controls. I’m not normally a huge fan of motion controls, but Super Mario Odyssey sold me on the idea the minute I realized I had to use them in order to execute all of Cappy’s attacks. And holy moly, they’re fun!
I chalk this up to how accurate the Joy-Cons are in tracking the kind of moves I want to do. Motion controls in Super Mario Odyssey are used to control your Cappy tosses, allowing you to target enemies, toss him in a circle, out in front for a jump, or up or down depending on how you move the Joy-Cons. And with few exceptions, they work! Using the motion controls frees up your hands to use other buttons with ease, allowing you to execute some of the crazy jump moves needed to get those elusive Power Moons. For added fun, hand off a Joy-Con to a younger sibling or child and let them control Cappy with motions while you run as Mario.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
You’ve played Mario Kart before. You’ve probably even watched someone muck around with the old Wii wheel attachment. Why not revisit those glory days in a far more precise manner by picking up a Joy-Con and turning on the motion controls as you race around the track? Yeah, the Joy-Con motion controls on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe aren’t as easy to use as the sticks, but they’re fun anyway. They add another level of mayhem to an already hectic game.
Joy-Con motion controls for Mario Kart 8 can be used in handheld mode or on a single Joy-Con, so you can pass the Joy-Cons around the party and make everyone drive like a maniac. One note: bite the bullet and (carefully) attach the Joy-Con strap before using these. You’ll be using the L and R buttons so much, you don’t want to have to press down on those tiny buttons without the attachment to smooth it out.
1-2-Switch is a collection of 28 minigames intended to be played competitively with friends, and most of them include motion controls in some format. You might be using the Joy-Cons to draw and shoot a gun faster than your opponent, wave a magic wand, or shave your face. It’s fun, for about two hours.
1-2-Switch isn’t a fabulous game, but it is an incredible tech demo and the best way to show off the different capabilities of the Joy-Con out there. If you’re only interested in seeing the motion controls of the Nintendo Switch pushed to their limits (alongside the infrared cameras and HD Rumble), then this is the best way to do it. Just be aware that after a few family get-togethers, you might be returning the game to the store.
Who needs joysticks with arms like these? ARMS is a fighting game featuring opponents fitted with the titular ARMS, long, springy arms that can punch at a distance and execute a number of other abilities. ARMS matches pit players against one another competitively, where they must punch, block, dodge, and use their special abilities to knock the other out. Choose your ARMS carefully!
ARMS can be played entirely with motion controls and literal punching. By tilting them in a particular way, you can guard or grab, too. Bring a friend over with another pair of Joy-Cons, and the two of you can stand on opposite ends of the room and have an actual punching match without ever punching one another. While you might be able to be more precise with a joystick and buttons, motion controls are infinitely more fun.
In an update earlier this year, the gruesome shooter DOOM got a surprise on Nintendo Switch: motion controls. You can enable them in the settings, granting you the power of aiming down your sights by tilting the Joy-Cons (specifically, the right one) for a far more accurate and comfortable aim, especially in portable mode.
Motion controls in DOOM won’t strike everyone’s bloody fancy, but the Nintendo Switch is the only place to experience them. If you’re a DOOM fan, give these a try at least once (and give them a bit of time, as they can take some getting used to).
Like DOOM, Splatoon 2 uses motion controls to help adjust your aim as you shoot. When I first played the original Splatoon on the Wii U, I was adamant about only using the joystick controls to aim. I tried motion controls but felt they were too sensitive and uncomfortable.
I learned later while trying for S-rank, that this was a mistake.
So if you, like me, ignored motion controls on your first round through Splatoon, I highly recommend giving them a shot for Splatoon 2. Though they take some getting used to, motion controls allow for far more precise aiming than you can get with the sticks once you master how they feel. Practice in single player mode, then unleash your mad splatting skills in Turf War. Trust me, you’ll thank me.
What Switch games keep you in motion?
Did I miss your favorite motion-controlled Nintendo Switch game? Let me know in the comments!