It's difficult to keep anything a secret these days. Dedicated eagle-eyed observers will pick up on anything, not matter how slight, that pops up on the internet. This includes new controllers for a popular console, as is the case with some freshly discovered documents filed by Nintendo with the Federal Communications Commission.
According to the filing, the longtime console manufacturer is currently working on a new controller for the Nintendo Switch.
Is the unannounced Nintendo controller for the rumored Nintendo 64 app?
VGC's report claims that Nintendo filed a new product with the FCC and requested confidentiality.
Nintendo explains in a separate request letter that the "application contains technical information, which we deem to be trade secrets and proprietary." Nintendo also added in the same letter that "the information might be used to the disadvantage of the applicant in the marketplace," if it is made public.
Even if the application doesn't specifically single out that it is for the Nintendo Switch, the radio test report all but confirms that this is the case.
The aforementioned report lists the new product as a "Game Controller" with a model number HAC-043. The naming scheme is similar to other products related to the Nintendo Switch. For example, the Nintendo Switch itself has a model number of HAC-001. Meanwhile, the Switch Pro Controller and the Ring-Con are known alternatively as HAC-013 and HAC-022, respectively.
Speaking of confidentiality, the request asks the FCC to not share any details about the product to the public for up to six months. This suggests that Nintendo is planning for an announcement before March 2022, which would line up with the usual February schedule of the Nintendo Direct showcase.
I can confirm that this controller isn't a new Switch Pro/Joycon controller or the Amiiboard given the absence of NFC support
— Samus Hunter | Nintendo Leak inside (@SamusHunter2) September 19, 2021
@SamusHunter2 also shared an interesting bit of information about the unannounced Nintendo Switch controller.
According to the prominent leaker, HAC-043 will not feature NFC support. This means that it won't work with the amiibo. Therefore, the upcoming controller is not a new Switch Pro Controller or Joy-Con, which features NFC compatibility. But, if that's the case, then what exactly is the new Nintendo Switch controller? At this point, all we can do is speculate and hope for the official word coming straight from Nintendo.
If the recent rumors are to go by, the hidden Nintendo Switch controller is for Nintendo 64 games on Nintendo Switch Online. Both the NES and SNES apps received wireless controllers at launch. It would make sense for Nintendo to release a dedicated controller for the Nintendo 64 app. If we assume that this is true, the controller won't require NFC compatibility as well.
All things considered, we'd be surprised if this is indeed the case. Nintendo has had a lot of wins throughout the decades; the Nintendo 64 controller wasn't one of them. The controller was a nightmare to use. Fans eventually got the hang of it, however, there is a reason why Nintendo and other console manufacturers completely abandoned similar controller designs.
Then again, who are we to say that it won't sell well? Even if the design is clunky, purists and older gamers might buy a modern Nintendo 64 controller if only for nostalgia's sake.