May 1st, 2014


Nintendo has patented a new device that appears to be capable of switching controls on the fly. In the picture you see above, the left D-Pad module can be removed and replaced with another control scheme. This concept is an interesting one and not unlike the idea of PhoneBloks, which is a modulated cellphone with removable parts that can be replaced, instead of buying a whole new phone. Nintendo seems to have applied that concept to a controller device that resembles the bottom of the Nintendo 3DS for now.

Here’s the description for the first figure:

An information processing device such as a game machine or a mobile phone is provided with an operation unit with one or more buttons, switches or the like for accepting operation by a user. A game machine, for example, is provided with a cross key, an analog stick, an operational push button or the like, to accept operation concerning a movement or an action of a character in a game, or operation concerning various games such as operation for selecting a menu. Furthermore, a mobile phone is, for example, provided with an operational push button on which a number, a letter or the like is written, and with a directional key or an analog stick for, e.g., four or eight directions, to accept operation concerning speaking, electronic mail transmission/reception or the like.

The patent goes on to illustrate how these interchangeable keys would work, with each module having the same relative size and being able to slip into the hole, like so.


The controller could even be designed in such a way that all the modules are user replaceable to meet a specific configuration. Where this comes in most useful is adding a second analog stick for a game like Monster Hunter, or adding a button configuration akin to fight controllers for fighting games. You can see that demonstration below:


While it’s likely this new patent is related to Nintendo’s mobile devices, it’s not implausible that we could see it implemented on a home console in the future, considering Nintendo has long discussed having a device that is capable of going from a standalone home unit to a portable one.

local_offer    nintend 3ds  Nintendo  nintendo patents  wii u  
  • That…. actually sounds pretty cool 🙂 I hope they show it off at the E3 2014 Digital Event 😀

    • jjbredesen

      It could be the next gen handheld, but i would imagine that they will not discontinue 3DS before anouther 2-4 years, could be a new model, but i don’t think so. If they do add a second circle pad/Dpad model i will buy it.

    • We do not have any new hardware to show at E3, this patent has to do with future Nintendo products.

      Here is a look at a demo version of this new hardware on a Nintendo DS Lite, note how you can change the layout of the Dpad and the experimental circlepad.×150.jpg

      • Brandos12

        ^ are you for real?

        • Casey Brown

          no only has 1 follower. dont believe it.

      • I’m sure you are the real Nintendo… said no one ever.

  • interesting.

  • wii u is awsome

    if you look closely it kinda looks like a vagina

    • linkzero65

      Your comment made my day!

  • Ryudo9

    Funnily enough when Revolution (Wii) revolution control rumors going around before Nintendo revealed the Wiimote some one posted this idea and made a pic.

  • Wooopigsooie

    If only they had that feature for the gamepad so I could switch out the lame triggers for some of those sick XB1 rumble triggers….

    • …. XB1 rumble triggers aren’t even that good… js

      • Wooopigsooie

        Just about anything analogued would be better than what’s on it now.

        • Eh, I don’t complain.

          Analogue triggers are okay for some people, but for people with me having minor joint problems in the hands, the Gamepad’s triggers are much better

    • ScrewAttack

      Don’t really care about rumble triggers, but basic analogues would be nice!

  • Marcos Munguia

    *heavy breathing*

  • Rinslowe

    This kind of thinking is very interesting and will hopefully lead one day to liquid modular electronics. Changing basic shape on the fly without user input.
    This and 3D printing are my favourite topics right now.


  • Shota

    the question is….will they use it? most likely not but we’ll see

  • Cyberus


    Help me out here

  • classicgamer20

    This is actually really cool just think of all the new game mechanics this could be used for. Hmmm I smell a new console in the works.

  • I’ve always been interested in making a modular game controller. Almost chose it as my senior project but doing a custom chassis would have been too complex and expense in that amount of time. So, I totally would like to see something like this on the market, although I’m pretty happy with the GamePad how it is.

  • steveb944

    Maybe this would have helped once I break my Pro controller playing Super Smash Bros.

  • Mayoo

    And to control what? Nintendo, just realease the god damn games and stop fooling around.

    Reggie for president.

    Hail Hydra.

    • Rinslowe

      “Hail Hydra.”
      I just had to upvote that…


      Let’s go find two more!

      • bizzy gie

        They’re refering to Captain America not the technical definition of the word.

        • Jeffery02

          They called themselves HYDRA for that reason

        • Virus6

          Duh? Did you not see either Cap movie? They reference that line SEVERAL times.

        • so was I… that’s a line from the movie

    • Lazara the Last

      Hail Hydra!

      • Mario

        You’re dead.

        • Lazara the Last


          • Mario


          • linkzero65


          • Lazara the Last

            *dies screamingly*

    • Mario


  • Adam Porter

    too complicated and you’d probably need to buy extra pieces separately so it would never be used by devs incase you didn’t have a part.

    • What parts are you talking about?… Don’t tell me you want a “Docking” port for those lonely nights

      • ScrewAttack

        tbf, if all that’s needed is an extra analogue stick or something similar, there’s not much reason those parts can’t be included with the games for a few quid extra.

        I think it’s a wonderful idea. Extra versatility! Future proofing!

        • …. No, I meant as in stuff like a gimick controls, NOT analogue sticks or anything like that…

          • Ish Shiv

            There was a time when the analogue stick was just another Nintendo “Gimmick”.

  • companyoflosers

    wanna mention WHEN this was patented? im willing to bet it was a while ago. a majority of patents filed by companies never get used. they are basically placeholders just in case someone else wants to use their idea so whatever company filed the patent can make some extra money either by selling the patent, or suing for violation. sometimes if something similar becomes a popular concept theyll drag out a patent and make actual use of it, but for the most part, they got hundreds of patents we dont know about that will never see the light of day.

  • Googs

    Seems like it could be really useful for a future handheld, instead of adding on a massive second slide pad, you can simply shuffle the buttons/slide pads around to do what you want.

    • triplegamer3K .

      Who knows what other peripherals could follow.
      Maybe a 2nd slot for games or another sd card.

  • Ducked

    I hope Nintendo never goes mobile

    • daeglyth

      Why? Afraid they might redefine what mobile is by doing something everyone else isn’t?

      • Blaaa

        No i am just scared they will make a zelda game where you have to pay to open each dungeon! ;-;

        • It’s Nintendo so I wouldn’t worry… I’d worry if it was Microsoft or Sony

          • Gam

            I’d panic if it was EA.

    • Alden Youngthunder

      mobile??? don’t you mean micro transaction’s. the 3ds is already mobile enough

    • Jason

      Nintendo’s been mobile since 1980, with the Game & Watch.

    • SolarShane13

      Uh, the GameBoy line, DS line, and 3DS line all say “Hi Ducked, we’re mobile!”

  • Ducked

    Disqus brought back downvoting! Down vote my comment! I wanna make a record!

    • I FUCKING HATE YOU!!! (I’m joking… you know we love you)

    • Blue Hernandez

      No they didn’t! Your arrow just turned red 🙁

      • Ducked

        Crap, to good to be true 🙁

  • daeglyth

    Anyone see my d-pad? LOL. No seriously, this is a really dumb idea and I don’t think it’ll ever be used in an actual product.

  • daeglyth

    If you read the details and look closely, those are not analog sticks. They are character figurines inserted into those slots. Maybe character shaped joysticks?

    • triplegamer3K .

      Already done.people would accuse Nintendo of copying.

  • John Andalora

    I don’t know…
    A little voice inside of me is saying, “This is a bad idea.” But I can barely hear that little voice, because an even louder little voice is screaming, “I WANT ALL OF THAT!”

    • daeglyth

      We’ll give you the newbie setup. It replaces all four spots with a single A button, so that no matter what you do you’ll be fine.

      • John Andalora

        Oh, good.
        As long as I can jump, I’ll be fine.

        • daeglyth

          WARNING: contains small parts not suitable for children.

          • John Andalora

            Aw, nuts!
            Everyone’s always telling me “I’m too young for this” but “I’m too old for that!”

            All I ever hear is
            “No, John, you can’t go out to Las Vegas and gamble your life savings away. You’re too young!”
            “No John, you can’t go into the playplace at McDonalds. You’re too young!”

            I’m tired of being treated like a kid. I wanna be an adult!

    • Mario


  • AlienFanatic

    This is the kind of thing I’d actually love to see someone develop for a mobile device. Right now, our phones have more than enough power to outperform devices like the 3DS and PS Vita. But there isn’t a phone or tablet on Earth that functions like a proper gaming system. Sure you can buy external bluetooth devices, like the Moga, but without a common standard it’s impossible to ensure that every application will support it.

    I’d dearly love to see Nintendo’s next platform become a new form factor for a mobile phone that permits gaming. I’d also like to see Nintendo embrace the Android OS, assuming they have the knowhow to fork it like Amazon did. By using a core that developers are familiar with, but by customizing it and making it their own, Nintendo could mount a pretty credible alternative to Google Play and Amazon, at least as far as gaming is concerned. And implementing some kind of removable, manual control interface would make such a phone very interesting indeed.

    However, knowing Nintendo, they’re probably entirely focused on yet another standalone system. I still wish for the day that Nintendo would get rid of the dual-screen setup (I know some of you like it, but I hate it) and return to making a killer single screen with excellent controls. To this day, I still think the perfect handheld is the Game Boy Advance.

  • Giu Canbera

    Just release a Mobile with Nintendo 3DS buttons man! Its not that hard! And then you can have games into mobile. Imagine playing games like House of the Dead while you wait for your food at the restaurant…

    • daeglyth

      How would you prevent people from running unauthorized software and/or pirating all the games for such a device?

      • Giu Canbera

        Games are all free.. but you have to buy your “Coins” to play. Like an Arcade machine. Serial numbers by buying directly from the companies. You buy like.. 100 coins for 1$ and you can play 100 times your games. (any of them)

        • yuoma

          so YOU’re the one buying all the micro transaction crap. EA loves you.

    • Apple is already preparing the law suit

      • Giu Canbera

        its just an Idea mate! Dont get me wrong! I think it could work out pretty well a device like that! But It would need a partnership for sure… thats the problem haha. I think SEGA would be a better company to join Apple and start this ‘new thing’.

        • That was a joke mate… I’m just joking how anything that even looks like an iPhone, Apple just files a law suit.

    • Donald Estep

      I don’t want a fucking cell phone. Get the hell out of here. Damn phones!

  • Pokemonsilph

    Does anyone else see the pattern here?
    Nintendo released the game boy… Then a version with cool new features (gb color)… Then they released the gb adv. and then another version that was smaller and no one liked it… Do you see it? DS = GB / DSi = GBC / 3DS = GBA /2DS = GBA Micro… Kkqnfckpandlcmznkapc…
    I smell a “third pillar”… xD
    EDIT: and the 3DS XL = GBA SP 😉

  • Zombie_Andrew

    Bad Nintendo, stop trying to lose third party support having to adapt to your crazy control schemes *sprays Iwata with water*, keep the Wii U and DS schemes but just up the power next time. If you must add eye tracking or something, but don’t innovate too much. I DO like the idea of being able to pop in a next gen handheld game and it run at a higher resolution or something (like going from 1080p to 4k) next generation though 😀 Or even just being able to put a 1080p native handheld into a charging dock that connects to your TV and you just pick up a Wii U gamepad and start playing it like a home console. But not something as “out there” as this.

    • DragonSilths

      No matter WHAT Nintendo does 3rd party will never come. They could use alien technology from 1,000 years in the future and 3rd party wont care. Its not even a conspiracy its a fact, 3rd party DONT like Nintendo and don’t want to like them.

      • Zombie_Andrew

        Hmmm let’s see N64 – cartridges with inadequate storage for games. FFVII would have required 20 to 30 N64 cartridges and Resident Evil 2’s video had to be compressed. Gamecube had adequately sized discs, Wii had inadequate specs for the HD era of gaming. Wii U comes close, and yes I think third parties are not treating it at all fairly because the game engines are scalable, but due to poor marketing and advertising on Nintendo’s behalf, and due to idiots who think it’s completely underpowered not buying it, third party companies are again reluctant currently. My thoughts are that I hope by November 2018 when they release their next gen the Wii U with its fantastic first party lineup would have got audience numbers up for third parties to shoehorn their next gen games on the system to repair the damage in order for their 9th gen system to have some success – hopefully it wont be anemic.

        Ideally next gen I’d like a duel screen home/portable console with 2x 16:9 displays. 6-8 core mobile version of the Wii U CPU, a mobile GPGPU based on the Wii U’s capable of full native 1080p Unreal 4 supported GPU. 12GB mobile RAM (whatever RAM is popular with phones in the future, I’m sure it’ll be faster than today’s mobile RAM) 10GB for games 2GB for OS, and a 64GB SD card. Then I’d like a charging doc that has an HDMI out, two USB 3.0 ports and an ethernet port. It would be compatible with Wii U digital downloads, and have Wii and Gamecube added to the Virtual Console. I’d also have the cartridges hold 64GB AND the Wii U gamepad would be compatible to save the expense of producing a new style controller.

        • Rinslowe

          I think you’re selling the system short on the internal SD card capacity lol…
          2018… I’m thinking minimum 120GB.

          Other than that, I’d donate a kidney for that mobile demon…

          • Zombie_Andrew

            I’m hoping that by November 18th 2018 we can get a mobile demon such as this. I mean it’s 2014 and Nvidia already have tablets that run Unreal 4 pretty damn well. I imagine by the time the hardware is finalised in 2016/2017 that something like that is very possible on a handheld Nintendo console, in fact a lot of Sony fanboys will be claiming that their Sony Xperia Z6 will be more powerful :p

            On another note having a 1080p 60fps handheld capable of plugging into a TV and with just using a Wii U gamepad the consumer and Nintendo save money, and third parties will be used to developing on duel screens and wont need to change again and get used to new control schemes 😀

            As far as internal storage I think Nintendo are likely just to give us 8GB SD cards, but I’d hope for more 😛

          • Rinslowe

            I agree.

          • Zombie_Andrew
  • wober2

    yes please!!!!

  • Dark-Link73

    Could this bed part of their rumored “hybrid” console for the next Gen?

  • Gregg

    Awesomesauce. This is their answer to GIVE ME DUAL ANALOG, NO, WE DONT NEED IT! YES WE DO, NO WE DONT!! Give me STAGGERED ANALOG, NO! I LIKE SIDE BY SIDE!! YES NO YES NO. Nintendo is Brilliant, and continues to Innovate.

  • SolarShane13

    Nintendo Fusion inbound!

  • Sdudyoy

    That’s an intriguing design, I doubt this will ever go anywhere.

  • Denison Guizelini

    Microsoft modular patent

  • andy cadle

    Much as this seems a cool idea and whatnot, why don’t Nintendo concentrate on making the most powerful piece of hardware out there instead of God damn gimmicks all the time?
    It’s the systems lack of power that’s stopping the top developers from porting games across and so many people mocking the Wii U (personally I love my Wii U but fear that lack of support for its home consoles could see Nintendo going the same way as SEGA); if they can sort this issue out then they’d have a big shot at being the go-to choice for more gamers, as the one thing Nintendo can constantly get right is consistently amazing franchise games.
    Surely I’m not the only person who thinks that the solution to their problems is as simple as this??

  • paulthevgking

    this connects with the fusion, in which you can change the portable parts to make it into a controller

  • Unicycle

    Isn’t that the RIGHT d-pad module?

  • HydePark1980

    “Stop the gimmicks Nintendo” WTF!!?? No wonder Nintendo doesn’t listen to western gamers, there answer to every goddamn thing is “Do what the competition is doing only more powerful.”

    • Gam

      Actually it’s “We take risks, give no fucks, and see if we steamrolled the competition”

  • Geon

    I kinda thought this would be a really cool thing a while ago, when you start playing with one set of controls you become used to them. So this new interchangeable controller would be great for anyone used to another system.

  • paulthevgking

    project ara

  • NESbit Miyamoto Jr.

    Too bad patents are usually just that: patents and not necessarily an indication of anything forthcoming in the real world. But since we’re on topic, Nintendo could release interchangeable faceplates for their handhelds instead of charging $200+ for the same exact hardware with a design silkscreened on the casing. I totally wouldn’t mind paying for different faceplates – just not $200 for one. (Although it’s possible I might close to half of that on different ones… =vD )

  • Sheldon Williams

    I see the Bad Moon arising. I see parents cursing their lives. I see children crying at all times. I see lost parts all to soon. Don’t leave modules around or they’re bound to swept underground. There’s a bad moon on the rise.

    P.S. I like the idea but I see many headaches for those who are careless with their gear.

    • C4

      Buy new ones? Not different to USB cables or the 3DS Stylus except that not only Nintendo sells them 😉

      • Sheldon Williams

        Hahaha. I’m betting the replacement parts aren’t going to be cheap. Now I could be wrong. But I would say if you lose a part you’ll probably end up shelling out $10 minimum. Which can add up if people are foolish and keep losing things lol.

  • Kobe

    This is needed for the L and R buttons on the 3DS. This could also be good for Smash Bros 3D because it needs nice controls

  • no.

  • DragonSilths

    Old patent from years ago. Move along, nothing special.

  • Ryushi

    @People hoping nintendo doesn’t go mobile
    Two things
    1. I’m more than certain you mean Nintendo selling their content on mobile platforms they don’t own. They’ve been mobile over two decades.
    2. If this just so happens to be Nintendo’s own attempt at a gaming cellphone: great. I don’t think micro transactions are going to be an issue. They would most likely offer bonus content to add to the game though; maybe additional quests or a Hero mode. Not locking up essential parts of the game and cheaply baiting it as a “Buy to get” advertisement.

  • Leo

    That would be the ugliest mobile ever made lol

  • SuperUltramagnus

    hope this is the next handheld device! after the ds/ 2d/3ds serries.

  • Brian Lockett

    Didn’t I see this patent and design years ago?

  • darkcreap

    Ummm, interesting. Nevertheless, we’ll see. Some times companies file patents that they don’t use because they have the idea, but then they realise they don’t want to implement it.

  • W!1

    What if this is an additional Wii U controller option? It’s portable, powerful and flexible. I believe the Wii U controller can still extend beyond its current potential. This controller, that can go anywhere, adapt to anything and screams plenty of great game play options also exist as the first of a great up-gradable tool.

    Imagine taking Zelda anywhere, but this new Zelda, in each player’s Zelda world, has different experiences. Players can meet and match Zelda characters, and worlds, possibly take on different challenges be portable or take your game to a bigger screen. You could apply this to Disney Infinity, Metroid, Zombi U, or even Project Hammer, a new project Hammer if Nintendo knows what I’m talking about.

    If video games lead to immersion and Nintendo is about fun. This controller could be the start of something really good.

  • ufg

    I saw they experimented on this kind of tech for the 3DS originally. It’s likely so that other companies such as Phonebloks don’t try to cash in on that idea.

  • William Cole

    It’s the fusion.

  • Dying_in_this_Crap_World

    Flimsy wimpsy

  • Lee

    are you all saying you would not want Nintendo to release a mobile phone with interchangeable parts and able to play awesome games? Think of how different and innovative a Nintendo mobile phone device could be.

  • devmiles

    nintendo makes good products, that is not really the issue. their issue at the moment is very little own output plus many devs who let go of nintendo. luckily enough nintendo got a release for child of light from ubisoft which is brilliant but furthermore there is not really ultra spectacular things going on. yeah actually in time some good games will come like pier solar and some other games but not really exclusive and something you will need to get a wii-u for. mk8 is coming up and eventually smash bros towards the end of the year.. from nintendo’s side that should be about it, thus again for the 2nd year of the wii-u a terrible output. you can pick up a 2nd hand wii-u for 150 euro’s and the mk8 action with an extra fre game from the small library that they have says it is not going well.

    there is no need for a new system at all.. the 3ds is strong and steady. the wii-u is the problem. they should just do what customers desire as fans because if not the money will end up at sony’s or’s just like that. i still can’t believe the fact that there haven’t been major announcements that will shake and stir us completely like the old days. at least they could have done some HD remakes other than just zelda windwaker (which is great by the way) other companies that made nintendo succesful like capcom and konami are not interested anymore in nintendo while their best games came from the snes era. i’m truely satisfied in nintendo’s image, policy, perhaps arrogance..i don’t know. for sure i enjoy DK tropical freeze and will enjoy MK8.. but yeah.. nothing really shocking.. it’s tame, sort of safe slow paced at nintendo.. not good for the fans

  • gamingpalooza

    this is all we need… thats it… don’t give us some crazy crap nintendo.