Real Talk By: Zombie Zac
Nintendo’s Joy Cons are a great solution for the modular nature of the Switch, but pick up a PS4 or Xbox One controller and you’ll notice the difference immediately— Bigger buttons, more expressive analog sticks, and a more premium feel overall. Sony and Microsoft have both decided to double down on their previous controller designs while Nintendo seems to change it up every generation, sometimes leading to inferior products. For example, the Wii U Pro Controller gave the tactile feel of a “normal” controller, but it felt cheap and didn’t have a satisfying weight. During the Wii days there was the “Classic” Controller but that too felt cramped and insufficient. Thankfully, Nintendo has provided a “Pro” controller option for the Switch that stands up to the competition and meets the high bar that the system hardware has already set.
I’ll get it out of the way now: The Pro Controller for the Nintendo Switch is my favorite controller out of the three consoles. It feels almost like an Xbox 360 controller, before Microsoft swooped in the shoulder pads for the Xbox One and made them too cramped. But the analog sticks feel better, and the dpad is big and a great mix of clicky and mashy. But the best part about it is the wide design, how effortless the triggers lay beneath your pointer fingers, and how great the face buttons feel when you tap them. In fact, everything has a satisfying give to it, and has a great grip. The analog sticks have a nice type of rubber that looks like it’ll last a long time, whereas the PS4 analog sticks will rip and tear open.
Aesthetically the Pro Controller looks the part too, with a translucent black design that reminds me of the old Gameboy Color, but much more grown up. There’s small details all along the controller that give it personality, and it looks as solid as it feels in your hands. The middle of the controller houses the perfectly unobtrusive home, screenshot, select and start buttons that never get in the way even in heated gameplay sessions of Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8. The PS4’s crammed options button and share button come to mind how tricky they are to hit, and the equally wobbly center button that never seems to be utilized effectively.
The Pro Controller charges via a USB C cord, using the same technology as the system itself. It’s nice because you don’t have to plug the cable in a specific direction, both sides are the same and there’s a satisfying click in. I haven’t had as pleasant of an experience using a cable on either Xbox One or PS4. Microsoft had me buying a play and charge kit for Xbox One, which sucks, and both Xbox One and PS4 use Micro USB cables which don’t like to stay in well. You can enable latency free mode with the Switch when hardwired in so the controller drops it’s wireless tech in favor of tethered input, which is great for purists. On top of that, the Pro Controller has motion controls, HD rumble, a 40+ hour battery life and NFC support for Amiibo. Xbox One controllers came standard needing double A batteries— PS4 controllers don’t last anywhere near 40 hours.
At the end of the day, the Joy Cons are incredible controllers for being able to morph in the ways that they do and still provide excellent control. But, once you pick up a Pro Controller, it’s hard to go back when not on the go with the system. Especially for games that utilize the dpad, or require more nuance to the analog sticks, the Pro Controller really takes it up a notch. For extended gaming sessions it also helps with hand fatigue, something that can happen with the smaller Joy Cons. While it is $69.99 which is more than the other two consoles (unless you count Play and Charge Kit cost for Xbox One), it more than makes up for it in it’s luxurious design and the quality of life upgrade it will bring you for your Switch gaming experience. I also think for the amazing battery life, motion controls, HD rumble and NFC support, and the USB C cable included the extra cost seems justified. If you have a Switch and want to take your gaming to the next level, or are considering one and are a serious gamer, definitely budget in a Pro Controller as you won’t regret it.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller Gets
5 out of 5
+ Design is high quality
+ Buttons feel great
+ Analog Sticks are smooth and responsive
+ Battery Life is insane
+ So comfortable
+ Motion controls + HD Rumble + NFC