When you’re playing Zelda with your new Nintendo Switch on your luxuriously large TV, does Link tend to run off cliffs like a damn lemming because your left controller suddenly stopped working?
It’s colloquially known as the “left Joy-Con desync issue.” It’s been one of the biggest issues plaguing some early Switch reviewers and consumers. But it looks like Nintendo has discovered how to fix it.
First, the bad news: It’s a hardware issue, so there’s no point waiting around for a software update, or following Nintendo’s suggestions to maybe never use your Switch near aquariums or microwaves or any wireless device ever made.
But here’s the good news: Nintendo fixed my faulty Joy-Con in under a week. And the process was just about the best electronics customer service I’ve ever experienced.
The most interesting part: The fix involves a tiny new piece of “hardware,” which I can prove with before-and-after pictures of my repaired Joy-Con.
There’s also a possibility that Nintendo has already fixed the hardware at the source, based on a new standalone Joy-Con I purchased from Amazon. But the company isn’t confirming anything.
Here’s everything we know so far.
The fully repaired Joy-Con: Before and after
The Joy-Con desync issue occurs when you’re using it wirelessly. It doesn’t affect gameplay when the controllers are docked in the sides of the Switch in handheld mode.
But since I prefer to play Zelda on my big-screen TV, it was happening all the time — and driving me nuts. I finally cracked and called Nintendo on a Saturday evening, fully expecting an answering machine to tell me to call back Monday between 10 and 4.
So imagine my surprise when — again, at 6:00 p.m. PT on a Saturday — a customer support rep immediately picked up the phone! She spent only a few minutes verifying that yes, I did indeed have wireless issues (and not merely some gunk caught in the gap around the analog stick) and verifying my serial numbers before agreeing to repair my controller for free.
And when I balked at her quote of a two-week turnaround time (that’s a long time without Zelda!), she immediately offered to check with a supervisor, who OK’d overnight shipping for my Joy-Con repair. Nintendo even sent me a free shipping label.
Last Wednesday, I shipped my Joy-Con to Nintendo. On Friday morning, I got an email confirming they’d received the shipment, and another on Friday afternoon to let me know the Joy-Con was on its way. This Monday, my original Joy-Con was back (same serial number, same internals) and working perfectly.
What I can’t tell you: why this issue is occurring in the first place. One YouTuber suspected Nintendo failed to add a dedicated Bluetooth antenna to the left Joy-Con, and had some success adding his own — but when I cracked open my own working and faulty controllers, there was no additional antenna to be found.
But because I photographed the inside of my faulty Joy-Con before I sent it in for repair, we can see the obvious change Nintendo made. They actually added one tiny little thing to my Joy-Con while repairing it.
Do you see it, in the image below? Hint: It’s not a new board, a new chip or a new wire.