Being able to undock your Nintendo Switch and take Mario games with you wherever you go is absolutely brilliant. But if you’ve ever played the Switch in handheld mode you’ll know that things can get a little cramped. Those tiny buttons on the Joycons and the lack of a grip on the back are hardly ideal. A grip is a decent solution, but what if you want something more substantial? Well, that’s where this review of the Fixture S1 and its official case come in. This handy device lets you use a Pro Controller with your Switch in handheld mode.
Your Pro Controller gets shoved into the bottom of the Fixture where it’s held securely in place. There’s a gap at the back so that you can still charge the controller without having to pop it back out, which is good news because one of the few issues I actually have with the Fixture is how the controller is held. Don’t get me wrong; the Fixture grips the Pro Controller perfectly once it is in place, but the actual act of pushing the controller into the holder requires a bit of force. Quite honestly, I was paranoid that every time I did it the Pro Controllers plastic shell could crack or the Fixture would snap. However, I haven’t noticed any signs of wear and tear so far.
Getting the controller back out is equally rough. I haven’t managed to find any specific trick. So far, it just seems like you have to lever the controller free. It’s not a huge issue, but it’s also not as smooth and easy as you’d probably like it to be. I’m not sure how else the system could be done, though. Perhaps some sort of clip? The other option would be to buy an extra Pro Controller that you could leave permanently inside the Fixture. Not exactly a cheap solution, but a good one if you can afford it.
Anyway, once the controller is situated the Fixture doesn’t really get in the way, at least in my experience. If you have huge hands and like to splay your fingers across the back of the controller then you’ll certainly have a problem due to the bars running down across the rear, but otherwise, I doubt anybody will have an issue.
I can’t comment on support for third-party controllers, though. Fixture themselves don’t mention any other controllers specifically and I don’t have any on hand to try it out. If you want to use the Fixture with anything other than an official Nintendo Pro Controller, you do so at your own risk.
As for the Switch itself you simply need to pop the Joycon’s off and then slide the Switch onto the railings on the top piece of the Fixture. There’s a bit of resistance so it needs a little force, but there’s no fear of it accidentally sliding out or anything like that.
With the Pro Controller and Switch installed the entire unit weighs a decently hefty 697g. That might not sound like much but when you’re holding it in your hands for an extended period fatigue does become an issue. However, this can be somewhat mitigated via the three points of adjustment. The first is the large arm that resides at the top of where the controller sits. This lets you move the Switch from lying flat atop the controller in a near 180-degree arc.
The second point of adjustment is a hinge just below the switch that let’s you tilt the screen back and forth. There’s another 180-degrees of movement to play around with.
Between these two points I found you can balance out the weight distribution to massively cut down on potential fatigue. When sitting down, for example, I found the best position was to set the Switch so that it was hovering almost flat above the controller. This keeps the weight centralized in one place, whereas having the screen positioned away from the controller can lead to the whole unit pulling on your thumbs. That position is better for circumstances where you have something to rest your arms on around chest height.
The third and final way to adjust the Fixture is via the rails. You can slide the Switch up and down. I didn’t find this very useful and typically kept the Switch at the very bottom of the rails, but it’s still nice to have a little extra movement.
Between these three points of adjustment I’m confident almost everybody should be able to find a configuration that suits them and where they’re playing.
The last thing to mention about the Fixture is that on the bottom there’s a flat area with a grippy coating and this is so you can use the whole thing as a stand for the Switch. Pop out the controller, stick the stand on a table or something and voila, you can kick back a little. I appreciate this feature because it means you can get a friend involved for some local multiplayer action or maybe just chill out in the garden if you have a little table to stick the Fixture on. The balance isn’t great – it’ll topple over fairly easily – but it’s good enough.
Now, what about storing the whole thing? Well, when Fixture offered the S1 for review they also included their new case which is designed to store the S1 when your controller and Switch are both installed in it.
As you can probably see from the pictures the case is a bulky beast that could probably serve as a reasonable projectile in case of random attacks from Ninjas and the like. It measures roughly 25.4 x 15.24 x 10.16 cm, and weighs 240g, so once you stick everything inside the total weight comes in around the 940g mark. Naturally, this means the case isn’t quite as travel friendly as a standard Switch case. It’s a little shorter, it’s a bit chunkier. It looks like it’s maybe scoffed a few too many packets of cookies.
With that size, though, you do get a nice chunk of extra space to store some goodies in. There’s a pocket located in the top segment that features a zip, and there is enough room to store a couple of Joycons, a pair of folding headphones and a charger. To my dismay, though, there is not enough room for an emergency can of Coca-cola nor the entirety of the seven Harry Potter books. Ah well. It should still be enough for your average human being, I reckon.
The bottom segment is where the actual S1 is stored. There’s a cut-out in the nylon fabric for your Pro Controller to chill out in which hugs it nicely, and then you simply fold the screen down so that it’s sitting directly above the controller. Easy. And due to the design, there’s no way for the Pro Controller to get its buttons accidentally nudged and waste precious charge.
There’s a flap that folds down over the screen to protect it, and which also provides space for storing up to 8 games/micro-SD cards. When you go to zip the whole case up it does feel a tad tight, but that does also lend to a feeling of security.
Speaking of which, while the case isn’t made of a solid material it’s still pretty damn durable and feels like it could survive some pretty big drops or being used to fend aforementioned Ninja’s. The outside gets a little too easily marked for my taste, sure, but it seems more than capable of absorbing impacts. I dropped it with my Switch inside a couple of times and was more than happy to discover it was still in one piece. I can’t comment on exactly how much punishment the S1 carry case can absorb, but I think it should be plenty for most people unless they happen to own a belligerent bull or something.
The standard two zips and a rubber handle round out the case. Currently, you can only get it in this grey/black colour with green highlights, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see other variants appearing since everyone likes to pick out something that suits them.
Overall, then, I’m left feeling impressed with the S1 and what it provides. If you find yourself getting painful cramps when playing the Switch in handheld more or even if you just prefer a meatier gaming experience on the go then the S1 is an excellent choice. Playing something like Smash Bros, Mario Odyssey or even Breath of the Wild is definitely more enjoyable when you can use a Pro Controller as well.
Honestly, I’m not sure how much more the S1 could be improved. I’d like to see a sleeker method of getting the controller in and out. And I suppose you could make the unit out of carbon fibre or something to reduce the weight even further, but that’s about it.
I’m a tad more ambivalent about the case, but that isn’t a negative point. It does exactly what you would expect of a case. It’s durable, provides some extra room in case you want to load up on accessories and holds the Switch, controller and S1 snugly. It sacrifices portability, obviously, which is why I typically found myself using the S1 around the house and garden more. When I’m out and about I don’t usually have spare time for a long session of gaming, so I still prefer to chuck my Switch and Joycons into a regular case that will fit neatly into a bag.
Still, if you travel a lot and spend time on planes and trains or having to wait around then taking the S1 and case is going to be worth the extra room it takes up. Hell, when you think about it, the loss of portability isn’t the most valid criticism anyway – of course, something that lets you use a Pro Controller with your Switch is going to be bulkier. There’s really not a way to make the whole package smaller unless Fixture sliced off the top pocket segment of the case.
To wrap up, then, the Fixture S1 and carry case is a fantastic product for anyone that wants the comfort and control that a Nintendo Pro Controller can provide while keeping the portability of the Switch. It’s the best way to play when you’re away.