by Michael Crider on
For millennia, the preferred place to park your posterior has been a chair. But this is The Future, people! We don’t have flying cars, but we can do better than a rusty faux leather swivel chair.
I still can’t get over how much I like my Nintendo Switch. It’s so good, my partner and I both got one (but naturally always got them mixed up). My solution to that problem? A sweet makeover with this ice blue and transparent case mod.
The Basstop case mod is a plastic shell you can buy for either the Switch console itself ($19), a pair of Joy-Con controllers ($23), or both ($37). They also come in a variety of translucent colors including Atomic Purple, Fire Orange, Jungle Green, Watermelon Red, plus a few matte colors, including a pink, green, and blue set that looks suspiciously like the Splattoon 2 pink and green controllers.
The case mod kits don’t come with anything except some very colorful plastic bits. You’ll need to dismantle your Joy-Cons and remove the back from your Switch and reassemble them with the Basstop replacement parts. To take your Switch apart, you’ll also need a screwdriver kit with tri-wing bits. Fortunately, I had the iFixit Pro Tech tool kit laying around, but if you don’t have the right tools you can get a kit with the right screwdrivers for fairly cheap. Taking apart the console itself is pretty simple, but the Joy-Cons can be a bit more difficult, even for people who are used to taking their gadgets apart.
Taking apart your Switch isn’t for everyone. Obviously, it will void your warranty and if you’re not careful, you could end up breaking your equipment. However, if you have the skills to take apart electronics or if you’re up to the task of learning, then you can get a unique Switch that will make all the people at your rooftop party jealous.
I’m pretty comfortable with electronics. I build my own PCs, I’ve built 3D-printed Arduino-powered props, and I’ve done some light soldering. So, even though I love my Switch and don’t want to ruin it, I was okay with trying to mod it. I say this because if you don’t have experience modifying electronics, you might not want to try this project, or get someone else to do it for you.
That being said, if you decide to go for it, it’s a satisfying experience. The console itself (the part with the screen) is easy mode. I followed this video guide from IGN (also embedded above) and, as you can see in the first couple minutes of that video, it’s very simple. Ten screws hold the back plastic panel to the console, and once you have that off, four tiny screws hold the cartridge cover and kickstand, which you’ll transfer over to the new case back. This process is simple enough that almost anyone could do it. The biggest risks are stripping screws and maybe damaging the kickstand or cartridge cover. But the internal electronics of your console are largely isolated from the parts you’ll be messing with here.
Where things get difficult (and fun, if you like mod projects) is the Joy-Cons. Each controller is slightly different, so you need to follow the instructions for both the left and right Joy-Con individually. You’re also not just dealing with an outer shell. The Basstop kit comes with a top and bottom layer, as well as a third plastic middle piece that all of the electronics are mounted to.
You won’t just encounter tri-wing screws here, either. You’ll find several ribbon cables (which you’ll need to disconnect with tweezers), small wires, not to mention a bunch of tiny plastic bits that have to be aligned very carefully in order for the Joy-Con to work properly. This is very detailed work and even if you plug things in correctly, over-tightening some screws or aligning cables improperly can result in a bad fit.
As an example of this last problem, when I finished assembling my right Joy-Con, I noticed that the plus button was too stiff. I couldn’t push it at all. I had to unscrew the tri-wing screws on the back to take a look at what could be misaligned, but I discovered that simply unscrewing the screws very slightly made it possible to push the button. The components were squeezed just a bit too much to allow the flexibility necessary for pushing a button. It’s this kind of nuance you need to be aware of while modding your case.
If you were around for the N64 days, then Basstop’s selection of transparent color cases should feel familiar. The bright colors are already eye-catching on their own, but those visible cases instantly evoke nostalgic memories of the 90s when everything from Apple computers to house phones had their parts on display for all to see.
The buttons on the Joy-Con are also colored differently. Every Basstop Joy-Con mod comes with red, yellow, green, and blue instead of the normal gray buttons. Which means even if you get the pink and green case that looks exactly like Nintendo’s official Joy-Cons, you’re still going to end up with a unique look.
The plastic is also a little glossier than some of the transparent gadgets you had in the 90s. This gives my Switch a nice shine to it when it catches the light just right. The only downside is that it makes the console and the controllers feel a little more slick, but it hasn’t had a negative impact on my experience overall. It feels a little different, sure, but after a little while I don’t even notice anymore.
I have noticed that my console has just the slightest bit of resistance when I slide it into my dock, or when removing the left Joy-Con. This is likely due to a couple screws being improperly tightened, but it hasn’t impaired my ability to dock the console, the controller, or get in the way of general use. In a way, this is reassuring. Even though I didn’t get everything absolutely perfect, my Switch is still usable. And I can always go back to tweak the mod for a better fit.
I can’t get over how much better my Switch looks now. You could easily pay twice as much money on new Joy-Con controllers in a different color, but not only does this case mod offer unique colors, it’s much cheaper. If you’re down to void your warranty just a bit, you get a Switch that stands out from the crowd.
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