At the end of June of this year, the left Joy-Con on my one-year-old Nintendo Switch began to act funny.
At first, it was a minor erratic move here and there, during every other nightly Enter The Gungeon run. Whenever I moved the analog stick in one direction, my Gungeoneer would suddenly stand still or run somewhere else; that kind of thing.
Finding out a beloved piece of technology is faulty for the first time is not unlike an early breakup. The five stages of grief kick you in the teeth just as fiercely.
Hoping the issue was just a fluke, my initial instinct was to update and recalibrate the controller via my console’s settings. This didn’t solve anything, so I began to worry and immediately after get informed thanks to this nifty Nintendo Life article.
My stage of denial manifested itself in the form of me visiting the closest computer repair shop and buying a €10 can of compressed air to blow whatever particles of dust were lodged in and around the Joy-Con’s stick.
I felt pretty clever when the makeshift solution did the trick, but the grin on my face only lasted two days. By the end of the week, the controller was making me fall into pits and lose lives again.
This was around the time the dreaded Joy-Con drift issue became a major story in every video game outlet I frequented. For a week in July, it seemed all everyone could talk about was how Joy-Con drift occurred, how to fix it and what to do now you too have it. There’s even an ongoing class-action lawsuit against Nintendo because of it.
Joy-Con drift was reported on like console herpes for Switch owners. Sorry for the mental picture.
So now that I know other people are also experiencing this disease and I’m not the only one suffering for it, I’m cruising past anger and going straight into bargaining and depression.
From July until the end of September, I limited myself to puzzlers like Levels+ and the Nintendo Online games (I beat Super Metroid in 2 days, 97%!), playing exclusively with the arrow buttons. At this point, I am convinced that the Switch should have come with a standard D-Pad. What’s up with that, Nintendo?
I was genuinely sad I couldn’t properly enjoy recent games I’d downloaded, which required the analog stick, like Firewatch and that sweet 10-hour plus Dragon Quest XI demo.
My inaction to get the console repaired was caused by a number of factors. First, I was waiting to see if Nintendo would make an official announcement about repairing the unit. Around the time the issue blew up in the web, Nintendo Latin America, also known as Latam, announced the warranty for consoles had been extended in the region for an additional two years.
One of my brothers in Panama was also (and, at the time of this publication, still is) dealing with Joy-Con drift, so I was happy for him, but what about the rest of us in Europe? Even when I lived in Latin America, it always seemed Europe got the shaft when it came to gaming news.
Japan and America usually came first and seemed to enjoy better deals with game box art, translations, offers and even the times big event streams happened. If you’ve stayed awake till midnight on a Thursday to watch a Nintendo Direct, you know what I’m talking about.
The second big reason I didn’t act quickly—and this may sound dumb—is because I was waiting on Nintendo to announce their supposedly bigger, faster, stronger Nintendo Switch. You know the one: with the newer graphics processor and better resolution. That still hasn’t happened.
The final reason was basically the most simple one: I’ve never actually had a Nintendo product sent for repair.
I’ve owned every major Nintendo console since the NES except for the Wii, and have never experienced difficulties. I wouldn’t even know what to do if my Switch had broken down in Panama, but I’m aware that there are authorized repair centers in the country, especially given that it is where Nintendo Latam’s headquarters are stationed.
I was afraid I would get charged for trying to repair my controller, but after talking about the issue with a Spanish friend from work, I learned that in the European Union every electronic product has a default warranty of 2 years. Apparently, it’s common knowledge to all EU residents, but a total novelty to a guy like me, who comes from a country where retailers never give you back your money for a defective product. Sure, they might give you in-store credit, but you will not get your money back.
So, two weeks ago, my Switch was sent in the mail to Nintendo Ibérica, Nintendo’s official repair service in Spain. Well, I didn’t send it in the mail as much as cradle it in a box filled with bubble wrap for someone to come pick it up.
The process was surprisingly easy. I went into Nintendo’s Spanish website and was referred to the repair center, which doesn’t look half as pretty, but is functional. Once there, I filled out the form they provided with my console’s details and I printed the documents they asked me to include in the box with the console.
I made the service request on Sunday, October 20th and that same evening received an automated message saying my console would be picked up from my address on October 23rd. Sure enough, at noon, someone came and took my baby away.
Life got busy over the next week, with a yearly medical check-up, work and revamping my blog. On October 29th, I received a new email saying my console had been diagnosed, but they didn’t provide any specifics, so I got on their chat service and was told the console would be returned to me on November 4th and I would not be charged for the repairs.
Today, my flatmate received my baby back inside a lovely gray Nintendo box. I’ve never received a package from Nintendo or anyone Nintendo-adjacent before on the mail. Hell, mail doesn’t even work like this back in Panama. I was excited!
After ripping the safety strip on the box, I opened it, and found a paper slip showing how to take care of the console and an invoice saying both Joy-Cons were found faulty. Beneath the papers lay my console and controllers neatly pocketed inside soft white sheaths.
Upon closer inspection, the analog sticks on both Joy-Cons appear to have been replaced and their casings look brand-new as well. The invoice mentions the repairs have a six month warranty, which is nice.
I immediately slide my micro-SD card back in (they ask that you remove it along with any game cards before sending the console) and began a new run in Enter The Gungeon, making it as far as the secret lair of the Resourceful Rat without a hitch.
All-in-all, it took roughly two weeks to have my console repaired and the process was fairly painless. I’m happy to have my baby back, but frankly I’d be happier knowing that a year from now the issue won’t rear its ugly-ass head again and, most importantly, that I won’t be billed to have it fixed.