Last year peripheral manufacturer HORI announced it was producing an accessibility controller for Nintendo Switch, the HORI Flex, and back in June we were lucky enough to try out the multifuncional Flex controller and some accessories courtesy of UK distributors Pretorian UK.
Well, the controller is now available to purchase from Inclusive TLC in the US and after various behind-the-scenes discussions, the impressive controller also has a reduced base price in both the UK and US — £149 exc VAT / $265 respectively, plus tax and shipping. Increased availability of units from Hori and discussion with distributors has resulted in a lower base price, which obviously makes the controller more attractive and accessible to players.
Our lovely senior video producer Alex-from-Nintendo-Life-here looked at the controller back in June (as you can see in the video at the top of the page) and was very impressed by the Flex's huge range of modes and adaptability potential.
We were only able to try out a small sample of the compatible accessories (which are available separately from the base controller), but distributor Pretorian UK has posted its own video highlighting the potential of a 'co-pilot' mode and the use of EyeGaze, a specialised camera which tracks where users are looking onscreen and enables them to program and activate button presses — or even continuous button presses — simply by looking at designated areas, all set up via a free app).
These 'co-pilot' controls mirror similar functionality seen with the Xbox Adaptive Controller, although the Flex's ability to mix EyeGaze with other controller functions isn't possible on Microsoft's controller. You can check out the EyeGaze in action with the Flex in Pretorian's video below, where they're demoing the set-up with some little indie game called Minecraft:
The Flex controller is available to order now in the UK and US, with distributors working to service Canada, Europe, and Australia soon. If you're interested, check out the links below for your respective territory.
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I was really excited to try this, but not at that price. It costs more than what I paid for the console.
Just looked more into it. an Optima Joystick is $295! And that's what is compatible with it. So a single joystick and the unit itself will cost you nearly $600. A single Smoothy button is $50.
That means if someone wanted to play some kind of basic setup, they would need to spend upwards of $1000 to be able to have enough buttons and a stick.
This thing is a huge ripoff.
I have a disabled daughter and it warms my heart stuff like this is more mainstream... and affordable, I have had to play more than that for a single "switch/button" before.. unfortunately her disabilities mean this is really for her... maybe one day who knows.. but the fact many families will be able to use this for their little ones is massive, not to mention adults that will be able to explore games too.
Edit - apparently it’s just the unit and none of the bits you need to actually use it! They are super expensive…. So this is gonna help a small minority unfortunately
@BloodNinja - honestly for whats included thats a fantastic price, special stuff like this usually costs a bomb, ive paid more for far simpler Button systems to operate converted toys.
@Stocksy I just read the documentation, and it ONLY comes with the base unit, and no accessories. You have to buy everything else separately. The picture with the joysticks and the colorful buttons is an example picture, and does not come with the unit. If you read the manual you will see the page where it says, "includes" and it only shows the base unit and the manual.
@Stocksy I have to disagree about the price. It's £175+ for the base unit only. Those joysticks in the video thumbnail? £210 each and those big buttons are £30 each too. Hardly affordable
I've got 2 disabled kids and in my experience having the world 'accessible' in the description usually means adding an extra zero or 2 to the cost.
@BloodNinja I'm pretty sure the Microsoft Adaptive controller is around £150 (at least it was last time I looked) and it's the same - have to get all the accessories separately. Prefer the design of the MS one too - it looks a lot more stable than the Hori model and has a couple of oversized buttons as part of the unit.
@dmcc0 Yeah, disappointing, to say the least.
For my purposes, I got a Hori Arcade Stick for $80, then bought this:
For what I needed, this solution was perfect and I LOVE the set up. When I play retro games, my hands cramp on the tiny controllers, so playing with a WASD setup has been great for me!
Great product, glad to hear it's getting more availability. I know in Canada you can get a significant (>70%) portion of devices like this covered by the gov't as well.
@BloodNinja @dmcc0 yeah that’s not cool. Apologies I took at face value what was in the video was what you got.
Yeah DMCC that’s why I was surprise at the low price point anything “special needs” is bonkers price. Just had a extension done and house conversations for a wheelchair and it cost loads more than it should. scandalous really…. I need Nick knowles on it (apologises if not british you won’t get the reference)
I think I have two buttons/switches that would work with it but you’d need the joysticks. Such a shame these things can’t be priced fairly.
@Stocksy No need to apologize, they're the ones that are overpricing the thing!
i wanted to use accessible buttons for teaching — my students are mostly nonhandicapped but i just liked the idea of using big chunky controllers — but yeah the prices on those things is ridiculous!!
@Stocksy What makes it worse in this case is that the controller is pretty basic electronics - just a regular controller with additional switch inputs. I get that it's not a mainstream product so economies of scale don't really apply, but it's still pretty shocking that the base unit cost nearly 3x as much as a set of Joycons.
@BloodNinja Never seen those before. Great idea, even for those that don't need them for accessablity. Does it take a bit of getting used to using the keys instead of a stick?
@dmcc0 I found it depends on which game I'm playing. For example, with Contra (nes) it felt extremely natural, but for Mega Man X (snes) I'm finding it takes some getting used to. I also really like it for F-Zero and shmups. I'm learning that it depends on how quick the game is. Ninja Gaiden II is proving to have a small learning curve. Stuff like that.
@BloodNinja I occasionally use the keys on PC when using a mouse and keyboard but, being a lefty I use mouse with left hand and arrows with the right. I think this setup would take me a while to get used to.
@dmcc0 There’s a company that makes arcade sticks with the WASD for lefties, but I’m blanking on the name of the company. I think it’s MixBox, something like that.
@BloodNinja Cool, I'll check it out. I was going to built my own arcade stick a while back, but never got around to it. Suppose i could always just mod a regular one.
I think it’s awesome that companies like Hori and Microsoft are making these types of controllers. as for the price, it is expensive for the average gamer. but these controllers are not for the average gamer. these are special controllers for the gamer that needs assistance. I’m sure if they were more in demand then pricing would go down. but for now, it’s nice to know that there are controller options for all gamers.
nice to see this made the more ways for disabled gamers to play a game the better and yea price is a little too high to be honest maybe that will get lowered at some point
The audience for this more than likely already have the input devices that are compatible with it. Especially the 3.5mm jack assistive switches that look similar to cv/gate trigger peripherals. Heck, I may even have those lying around, myself. The Optima joystick isn’t required. The Hori unit uses XINPUT. Any directional device should do. They’re not going to make something like this and not expect people to hook up mouth/chin joysticks. Speaking of which, you think six hundred pounds is bad…. try two grand, minimum. Again, it’s expected that the user already has one since they need it to communicate. I don’t know what specific bellows joystick that they’re using on the optima but usually that part alone would be over $100 because it’s built to last forever and suffer a lot of abuse. Imagine the analog joystick from a Joycon being attached to a wheelchair that gets banged around and being used as your only mode of communication: it would last a day at best.
Late to this, but for folks needing 3.5mm switches, check out the Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit. It was created to partner with the Xbox Adaptive Controller, but as folks have noted, it's all just 3.5mm AT stuff, so it's all compatible.
If you're in the UK, Special Effect may be able to provide AT as well. US has AbleGamers, and Canada has The Neil Squire Society.
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