Like many people, I picked up Skyward Sword HD to relive one of my favourite Zelda games (that’s right; it’s great). While some critics maligned the motion controls of the original, I never had a problem with them. I had a blast aiming the bow and arrow in real space, and physically changing my sword swings to match an enemy’s defences. But with Skyward Sword HD, I felt like one of the OG complainers; the gyro-based motion controls were painful to use.
The problem got so bad that the game became almost unplayable. Every time (and I mean every time) I went to use something like the slingshot, the reticule could be anywhere on-screen. Link would be doing circles in-game, and I would be doing circles at home as I descended further into madness.
I liken it to Joy-Con drift, but for motion controls; Joy-Con drift causes your control stick inputs to go haywire, and gyro drift does the same for your physical movements.
Resetting the gyro was a temporary (but futile) solution
The only solution the game itself brings is resetting the gyro by pointing your controller at the TV and pressing Y. Whenever you press Y, the game sets your current Joy-Con position as centered. You can change this at any time, just in case the gyro falls out of sync. Just in case.
Anyway, that works! At first. But after waving the Joy-Cons around a few times, I’d find that my “centered” position was anything but. So, I’d point my Joy-Con at the TV, press Y, make a few more moves, fall out of sync, and enjoy that mindnumbing cycle until I simply couldn’t take it anymore.
So, how do you stop the gyro from falling out of sync?
Dear Reader, I found a solution. You see, the Switch’s gyro uses the sensor found on the right Joy-Con to function. When playing, it’s very easy to block that sensor with your hand, causing the gyro to lose track of where your controller is in relation to the Switch. It’s really doing its best with the limited and interrupted information coming from your covered Joy-Con, but that’s not enough to keep your 1:1 motion controls accurate and consistent.
The fix was right there in front of me; I needed to use the Joy-Con wrist strap. No, not the actual strap. I’m talking about the entire plastic accessory that connects to the Joy-Con rail. Nintendo just calls the whole thing the “wrist strap,” as if it doesn’t also have buttons attached.
But I digress. The wrist straps? I never use those things! For one, I’m not about to hurl my Joy-Cons into my TV like it’s Christmas 2006, and, for another, they’re a bit bulky. I prefer the feel of playing with detached Joy-Cons on their own, without the added width the wrist straps add.
To maintain a consistent gyro, however, I need to accept the wrist straps. These accessories might not seem important, but they actually keep you from blocking the gyro sensor. My experience was night and day; wrist straps go on, my gyro stayed where it should. It continues to boggle my mind that such a simple add-on is the solution to my gyro-woes.
Other troubleshooting tips for out-of-sync motion controls
Now, it’s possible that this isn’t the solution to your problem. Perhaps you tried adding the wrist straps to your Joy-Cons, and you still experience gyro drift. Maybe you already use wrist straps, so I’ve just wasted your time with my lengthy tale of trials and tribulations. Lucky for you, there are other troubleshooting tips you can take to fix your gyro issues.
To start, you might need to recalibrate your Joy-Cons motion controls. To do so, head to Settings > Controllers and Sensors > Calibrate Motion Controls > Calibrate Controllers. Now, hold down either the left Joy-Con’s (–) or the right Joy-Con’s (+) to calibrate that controller. Place the controller, without the wrist strap, on a flat surface, and wait for the Switch to calibrate it. Choose “OK” to continue, and repeat for the other Joy-Con.
If you notice the Joy-Cons still acting up after calibrating the motion controls, it’s time to troubleshoot your environment. Make sure your Switch is docked in an area close by, with a clear line of sight to your Joy-Cons. You’ll also want to make sure that it is at least three or four feet away from any other wireless devices, such as wireless speakers, printers, and phones, or other devices like laptops, tablets, or even the microwave (“don’t game by the microwave” is probably a good general tip, anyway).
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