Back in 2018, Microsoft debuted its Xbox Adaptive Controller for the Xbox One consoles, which allowed elaborate custom controllers to be created to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility. Today Hori, a Japanese company known for its third-party gaming controllers, has released a similar accessibility adapter for the Nintendo Switch.
Unlike Microsoft’s XAC, which features a pair of large touch-sensitive pads that function as oversized analog joysticks (Correction, 4:54 p.m. EST/EDT: The large black pads on the MS XAC function as action buttons, not joysticks), the Hori Flex Controller, which connects to the Switch via a cord only when it’s in dock mode, incorporates a set of four large buttons on the left that serve as a four-way directional pad and a set of six large buttons on the right that serve as alternate action and shoulder buttons.
The Hori Flex’s design promises to be more accessible to gamers who aren’t able to use either the Switch’s Pro Controller or the tiny cramped Joy-Cons, which, quite frankly, no gamer should ever be forced to use. But oversized buttons aren’t the big selling point here. Like Microsoft’s XAC, the Hori Flex features at least 18 3.5-millimeter input jacks (the same size that wired headphones used to connect to) that allow a myriad of custom controller accessories to connect to it, including joysticks, foot pedals, switches, and even larger buttons. The Hori Flex adapter also features a screw-type tripod mount on the back, which allows it to be attached to mobility devices or other places that improve access to gamers who need it.
Using an accompanying app, those custom accessories can be mapped to activate any of the inputs on the standard Switch controllers, and the Hori Flex can store up to six different configurations allowing multiple gamers to share a single adapter. That feature seems especially important, because the Hori Flex is priced at $230 without any of the controller accessories. That’s just $70 shy of the Nintendo Switch console itself.
As we pointed out when the Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller was first released, the Hori Flex Controller will potentially be a useful tool for cheaters, who can gain a competitive advantage during online gameplay through customized control schemes. The $230 price point will serve as a minor discouragement to that, but just to be safe, Hori has issued a strong warning on its website to those even thinking about using this device for nefarious purposes: “Flex Controller is specially developed and sold for those who cannot use a controller with a general shape. As it is related to the continuation of this product, it is strictly prohibited to use it for any purpose other than its intended purpose.”
That warning will undoubtedly keep everyone in line.