The Switch’s printer partnership with Instax is silly – but in that most wonderful Nintendo way

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Eat your heart out, Game Boy Printer.


The natural association for a photography-focused game like New Pokemon Snap is a device that lets you bring your in-game photos to the real world – so I wasn’t hugely surprised when Nintendo announced that it would partner with Fujifilm to allow images taken on the Switch to be printed through their Instax Mini printers.

In fact, seeing exactly what Nintendo had done, I was relieved. Nintendo is the king of the unique accessory – a brilliant add-on that’s used for a handful of games but is worth next to nothing. This was the case with the Game Boy Printer, which paired nicely with this device’s camera and a handful of other games, but was otherwise a dust collector. By partnering with Instax, the company has smartly linked itself to an existing multi-utility device.

If you’re not familiar, the Instax Mini Link is essentially a small photo printer that syncs with your smartphone. It can split a decent quality photo into a Polaroid-style “instant develop” format in seconds. The photos are small at 2.4 inches by 1.8 inches, but there is something new in these instant prints that has made these devices a force in the market.

Rather than ink, these photos also develop the same as those old instant photos – meaning you just pop in small, sealed packages that let you print ten images, then eject and replace them. once those ten are exhausted. The main downside is that it can get expensive, and also that the color definition of the printed photo isn’t always fantastic – but it’s a neat little device nonetheless.

I’ve had experience with the Instax brand before – my partner has an Instax Mini camera – the same tech, but all in one, no phone required. Point and shoot. The Mini Link takes a slightly different approach, with editing tools built into the accompanying phone app so you can edit and format photos, add text or other extras, and then print them out.

Basically you can Instagram-up your photos, but then print them out in a nice retro format, resulting in physical photos that you can pin or slip into albums – even if people still have photo albums. It seems like the perfect sort of thing for a teenager who wants to decorate their bedroom with pictures of good times with their friends … if that’s even one thing teens do.

Either way, the printer is pretty straightforward. It has a button to turn it on and off, and a few superfluous motion control functions – so you can tilt, shake and flip it to control various functions without picking up your phone. However, none of these things are actually factored into the Switch implementation.

For Switch, Nintendo and Fujifilm released a separate app, “Instax Mini Link for Switch,” which is now available on iOS and Android. This has the same functionality as the existing Instax Mini app, so you won’t miss out on any features, but it offers the ability to transfer photos from your Switch as well as Nintendo themed photo frames and the like featuring Mario, Pokemon. , and Animal Crossing.

The process of transferring a photo from Switch to the printer is a bit cumbersome, but it’s understandable given the nature of the printer. It’s not limited to Pokemon Snap either – any Switch screenshot can be imported for printing.

Basically, it’s a multi-step process. First, the printer must be turned on and synced with your phone. Sync it once and it will automatically reconnect via bluetooth every time the printer is turned on. Then launch the Instax app. Meanwhile, on your Switch, open the Screenshots app and view the sharing options. Here there is an option for “Send to smart device”, which is what you use on your screenshots of choice.

You can send one or more images to your phone this way at a time. Hitting it brings up two QR codes; one to let your device temporarily connect to your Switch for the transfer, and one to confirm the transfer. In the Instax app, you scan these QR codes… and a few moments later, you’ll have your screenshots on your phone.

From there, you can use the same cropping and editing tools as with regular photos and then send them to the Instax Mini Link for printing. The app remembers past photos even after uploading new ones, so you can easily reprint your favorites multiple times – although the movie is expensive, so maybe not too many times!

The whole process is tedious the first time around, but a breeze afterwards – and it’s fun to see your in-game photos come out into the real world, like all those years ago with pixelated snapshots. and augmented Game Boy Camera.

The whole thing is a bit of a gimmick, of course. But it’s also fun, and the fact that it’s a fully-fledged, working little instant photo printer makes it superior to Nintendo’s Game Boy attempt. It was a pure gadget – which was good, because at the time it was impressive. But photo printing is easy now – and no one would pay a lot of money for a photo printer that only worked with the Switch.

This is, however, an interesting little partnership with a device that has been proven to be useful – and it works very well. If you already own one of these printers, you should check out the Switch integration – and if the concept of this type of mobile photo printing intrigues you, you can consider the Switch integration as a handy bonus.

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