There’s really only one good use for a mobile device in portrait mode: playing digital pinball games. Even on a much smaller scale, simulated pinball can be mindless fun, but to maximise the experience you need this Nintendo Switch accessory that adds proper arcade flipper buttons to the portable console.
Japan’s Far East Pinball is a creator of custom pinball and electro-magnetic arcade machines, but their latest creation makes it easier for Switch owners to bring home an authentic-ish pinball experience without having to spend thousands of dollars on a real vintage table.
You just slide your naked Switch (sans Joy-Cons) into the custom controller’s housing, connect it to the console’s USB-C port, and load up your favourite pinball game. Popular titles like Star Wars Pinball, Stern Pinball Arcade, and others are supported, you’ll just need to make sure they have a “tate” (the Japanese word for vertical) mode so the gameplay can be rotated sideways.
The pinball housing includes buttons for flippers, buttons for ball launches, and even buttons for gently nudging the table, although it also includes its own motion sensor for detecting physical table bumps, with three levels of sensitivity if you find you’re triggering it too easily.
It’s priced at a little over $110 after Japanese currency conversion—not cheap, but not outrageously expensive if you’re really into playing pinball on the Switch. The only catch is that these custom controllers aren’t being manufactured en masse in a factory, they’re being 3D printed and assembled and wired by hand, and thanks to the demand they’re currently sold out. You can sign up for a notification when stock is available again, however, because if there’s one skill we’re all learning to master now, it’s waiting.