Nintendo remains in total denial about the Switch's severe Joy-Con drift issue that causes the analog sticks to malfunction, maintaining in October that it "isn't a real problem." And yet, class action lawsuits have been filed. And earlier this December, consumer protection organizations in Europe began investigating the case.
Nintendo quietly began offering more troubleshooting for Joy-Con issues earlier this year, and anyone can create a Help Ticket to potentially get them repaired or replaced for free (in theory), but is the hassle really worth it? You can actually do it yourself for chump change.
My Joy-Cons were just fine until I spent more than 70 hours playing Hades, my game of the year. As a result, my left analog would constantly veer up-left, sending Zagreus careening into enemies, lava, or traps. Shelling out $69.99 for new Joy-Cons seemed like the likeliest fix, but on a whim, I purchased a TSV brand kit from Walmart.com sold and shipped by WOWParts. For $11.97, what could go wrong?
For the purposes of this review, I'll focus on the kit that I purchased, but similar kits are easy to find on Amazon, iFixit, and more. Nerd Techy even has a roundup of other options and an overview of the process that's incredibly helpful. For someone like myself with little to no mechanical know-how, this was a challenging but totally doable process. And it actually worked.
What's great about Joy-Con joystick replacement kits
- Fix your Joy-Con drift for a fraction of the price
- The process is fairly straightforward
- If you succeed, your confidence will be boosted tenfold
There's nothing worse than having to spend $70 to fix your $300 video game console, so being able to fix it yourself with a cheap kit and instead spend that money on buying a full-priced game is great. The overall process is simple enough: Use the two screwdrivers to remove all of the black screws keeping the rear panel in place, and then keep removing screws until you have enough room to pry the joystick out.
The most intimidating part is using tweezers (not included) to unlock the Zif cables from the motherboard, which involves flipping a tiny switch first. This is the only step that I needed a visual aid for. Thankfully, iFixit has a great video for just that.
Several days after performing the repairs on my Switch, the Joy-Con is functioning better than ever before. I'm back to playing Hades every moment I can spare.
What's not so great about Joy-Con joystick replacement kits
- They require a decently high skill check to complete — and online instructions
- My kit is missing a pair of tweezers or similar tool and an opening pick
- Thumbstick caps in my kit are extraneous
Mechanical maintenance is hard, requiring a steady hand, attention to detail, and a whole lot of patience. Actually cracking open the Joy-Cons is an intimidating process. Why doesn't this kit come with instructions? And why aren't there any tweezers or a similar tool included to help with the Zif cables?
iFixit is an essential resource here. There are detailed guides with photos and videos for the left and right Joy-Con joystick replacement process (they're more different than you might think), but the above video has details for every part of the process you might need to know.
My kit also came with three pairs of thumbstick caps. For gamers into such an accessory, this might be a perk. I'd rather pay less money to have less waste.
Buy a different kit than the one I used, but definitely replace Joy-Con joysticks yourself instead of replacing them outright.
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