Nintendo has been riding high off of the success of the Switch in recent months. While the system isn’t perfect, it certainly proved to be a step in the right direction in most regards. However, the console’s online infrastructure has been largely nonexistent, as Nintendo has said it will roll out in full alongside of a phone app. Well, if Hori’s headset and adapter combo is any indication, online communication is still going to suck on a Nintendo platform.
The above diagram shows off how voice chat will work using the Splatoon headset. It’s worth noting that you can use any headset with this setup. The key piece is the squid-looking dongle in the middle. Not only do you have to plug the wired headset into it, but you also have to plug in the other ends into your Nintendo Switch and your smartphone in order to get both game audio and voice chat in one feed.
Any way you slice it, this sucks. In an ideal situation, you’re playing with a mess of cables sitting on your lap or on your table when you’re playing at home. If you want to play with the console docked and you want the audio mixed together, you’re either relying on the TV speakers for game audio with an earbud in for voice chat, or you’re running an extension cable across your living room to keep all the sound in one feed.
Some of the excuses I’ve seen some put out their in Nintendo’s defense is that offloading the processing to the phone saves horsepower for the games. Why would this need to do that when the PlayStation Vita in 2012 and the original Xbox in 2000 could handle voice chat? In terms of protecting kids from the predators, 97% of small children use smartphones. You don’t need a special app on a phone for parental controls either. Others have said they could use Discord instead. But why should we when other platforms have had the convenience of voice chat baked into the consoles themselves for the past 15 years?
Not all hope is lost just yet. This is a product from Hori, which means there’s still a window for Nintendo to unveil the wireless solution that magically pairs the voice chat audio from the app with the game audio from the Switch. Based on Nintendo’s past history, I wouldn’t hold my breath for that.