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Meet the Flip Grip, a handheld accessory for vertical-mode gaming on the Switch. A pair of Joy-con rails on either side of the grip allow you to flip the Switch 90 degrees for vertical handheld action.
The Switch has become an amazing machine for playing classic games on-the-go. Classic titles are being re-released on the Switch at a rapid pace, with new ones coming out each week.
Many Switch re-releases of classic titles, like those from Namco and SNK, include display options to rotate the game’s display 90º for games that appeared in arcade cabinets with vertical-mode screens.
On previous consoles, few people could make use of vertical-mode orientation features — it’s hard to turn a television sideways, after all. A few PSP games supported rotation, but playing an intense arcade shooter while you grip the top and bottom of the PSP was far from a great experience.
The Switch changes everything. Because you can remove the Joy-Cons from the system, we can finally play classics like Punch-Out!!, Galaga, and Strikers 1945-II properly in vertical mode.
However, Nintendo never designed the Switch to be used in portable vertical mode. The system’s Joy-Con rails only allow you to hold the Switch in horizontal mode.
Until now, using the Switch in vertical mode required propping up the console sideways on a stand to use as a tabletop system. That’s better than nothing, but it doesn’t get to the heart of what Switch is all about: portability.
The Flip Grip makes portable vertical-mode gaming possible. Simply slide the Switch into the Flip Grip, then attach Joy-Cons, and voila — a handheld system capable of playing vertical-mode games without wasting a single pixel of real estate.
With publishers like SNK and Capcom releasing new classic titles for the Switch, the number of games available to play in vertical mode will only grow. And not just classic games — modern releases like Ikaruga include vertical-mode support, too.
And the Flip Grip is the key to being able to enjoy these releases on-the-go.
The Flip Grip consists of a single piece of durable injection-molded plastic designed to hold the Switch rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise. Slide the Switch in until it clicks into place, then slide the Joy-Cons into the rails on either side just like you would on the console.
The rails on the Flip Grip are designed to emulate the same rails you find on the Switch itself, so installation and removal of Joy-Cons is easy and familiar.
The Flip Grip has been designed to accept the Switch in only one direction (90 degrees counterclockwise). This orientation exposes the game card and SD card slots, as well as the headphone jack.
You don’t need to worry about inserting the console the wrong way — the inner edge of the Flip Grip is specially molded to the shape of the Switch, and won’t allow you to slide it in all the way in the wrong direction.
The Flip Grip also has a rubber bump on the inside that holds your Switch securely in place to prevent the console from falling out during active play sessions.
To release the Flip Grip, press the release buttons on each Joy-Con and slide them up to remove them.
Pull gently on the small release tab on the back side of the Flip Grip to unlock the Switch from the grip.
The Flip Grip isn’t just for handheld gaming! You can also use it as a stand, too. One of the slots on the back of the Flip Grip allows you to use any credit card to prop up the Switch for social play… or just give your tired arms a break.
The Flip Grip is brought to you courtesy of a game nerd power trio:
Jeremy Parish/Retronauts: This project got its start when Retronauts podcast co-host and former 1UP/IGN/USgamer editor Jeremy Parish realized Namco Museum on Switch supported vertical play, but that Switch itself didn’t. After it became clear that no one intended to bridge that gap, he began exploring the possibility of making it happen himself.
Mike Choi: As a hardware engineer, inventor, and avid video game player, Mike Choi took the Flip Grip concept from Jeremy’s napkin sketch into a real-deal accessory. Through months of prototyping and iterating, Mike has arrived at an elegant, durable, and inexpensive design for the Flip Grip, as well as the Flip Grip’s charming mascot, Flippy.
Fangamer: The glue that holds this project together, Fangamer’s years of experience managing ventures like this has made Flip Grip possible. They connected Jeremy and Mike, consistently rolled 20s for sanity checks, and have midwifed this campaign into existence.
The hard work of designing and prototyping is complete, but manufacturing Flip Grip requires a commitment of thousands of dollars up-front, and it’s important for us to be sure that an audience exists for such a niche product before sinking that much money into this beautiful dream of ours.
As such, this will be a very straightforward Kickstarter campaign. Want a Flip Grip? That’s what the campaign is here for!
This isn’t about some impossible, pie-in-the-sky dream: Flip Grip is fully designed and ready to manufacture. We’ve got our vendors in place and they’re ready to go. We just need to raise the funds to cut the tools that will be used to mass produce Flip Grip.
Fangamer has its own warehouse and distribution system, so the logistics of Flip Grip shipping are all in-hand. We’ve set a target date of November for shipping Flip Grip.
While Flip Grip production is locked in, there are still a few caveats we need to mention.
Vertical UI (or lack thereof)
First, Nintendo didn’t design Switch for use in vertical mode. That means Flip Grip is awesome for actually playing games that offer a screen rotation feature, but everything outside those games is going to appear and operate sideways — you know, systems menus and eShop and the like. You’ll probably only want to make use of Flip Grip during gameplay.
That said, many developers do incorporate a rotated system interface inside games that support vertical mode. It’s case-by-case, but some games will offer a better experience than others.
Functionality with Flip Grip
The other concern is, well, Nintendo really didn’t design Switch for use in vertical mode. A few critical features run along Switch’s upper and lower edges, and the Flip Grip unavoidably obstructs some of them.
Flip Grip provides access to the headphone jack, SD Card slot, and Game Card slot. You can’t access the physical power or volume buttons with the Flip Grip in place, but you can access volume, brightness and sleep options by long pressing the home button on the right Joy Con.
This is an inconvenience, no question about it — you need to slip the Switch out of the Flip Grip in order to power it off completely, or recharge its battery. Otherwise, you can still access most functionality by long pressing the home button and navigating the system menus, even when the Flip Grip is attached.
Venting and Thermal Concerns
One of the biggest questions we’ve seen about early teases of Flip Grip is around heat and venting issues. “Won’t the Flip Grip cause the Switch to overheat by covering the vents?”
Upon first glance, it may look like the Flip Grip covers some of the vents on the Switch. Although these vents are not visible when the Flip Grip is installed, air is still flowing through them. The Flip Grip doesn’t come anywhere close to creating an airtight seal around your console; there are slits and clearances that allow air to enter in and out of the necessary vents.
To prove this in practice, we’ve run extensive tests that show that there are no appreciable differences in temperature when the Flip Grip is installed, even when running intensive games like Breath of the Wild.
To put you even more at ease, the simple reality is that Nintendo designed Switch to use less power while in handheld mode… and less power usage means lower temperatures. Even high-impact games like Breath of the Wild don’t generate enough heat during play to bring the system’s internal temperature anywhere near its limits. The Switch only operates at full power when docked, and it’s physically impossible to dock your system while using Flip Grip.
We’ve also shared the Flip Grip with quite a few developers and publishers, and none of them have expressed concern about this feature.
Maintaining airflow through the vents is something we’ve been very mindful of from our first prototype, and we feel obligated to tell you exactly what we’ve learned and let you draw your own conclusions. Although our extensive testing has made us confident the Flip Grip is completely safe to use, we take no responsibility in the unlikely event that your Switch is damaged or malfunctions while you’re using the Flip Grip.
Oh, and one other small concern: While Flip Grip works perfectly now with dozens of games, there are one or two titles that only support 90-degree rotation in the opposite direction of Flip Grip’s orientation. D’oh! Hopefully Flip Grip will turn out to be such a huge success that those developers will patch in a reverse orientation option…
The Flip Grip project is a work of genuine passion from people who love classic games, who love handheld games, and who love the Switch. We’re also excited to see how the Flip Grip enables developers to release new vertical-mode experiences for the Switch.
We’re not out to make a huge profit from this campaign — we simply want to make Flip Grip a reality and get it into as many people’s hands as possible. There’s never been a console better suited to putting perfect arcade recreations in your hands, and we want to play a part in bringing those experiences to you.
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