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By its concept, the Nintendo Switch could not work with a conventional gamepad. And although the Joy-Cons were the perfect match, thanks to their undeniable portability and versatility, they do not offer good ergonomics, accuracy, or performance. And this is where the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (Check on Amazon.com) comes into play, with a design that is very similar to the recent Microsoft Controller and able to make us play for hours without complaining about the size of the buttons.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller – Design
In terms of comfort, it is a home run. Compared to the Wii and Wii U gamepads, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller has softer curves, thicker handles, and improved grip. The key layout is also completely revised and very convincing: playing for longer times is definitely more enjoyable. Only the really young, with smaller hands, will prefer to use the Joy-Con, since the Pro’s format is not really suitable for them.
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is both classic and complete. We find two analog sticks, a D-pad, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, and two triggers. It also comes with 4 function buttons (+, -, Home and Screenshot) and an additional button on the back for Bluetooth 3.0 pairing.
Hide inside it also sports a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a dual-zone vibration motor and an NFC sensor for connecting your Amiibos. It doesn’t have a headphone jack, which we really miss when playing on the big screen since the port is on the console. As for the USB-C port, located between the shoulder buttons, it can charge the controller in about 6 hours, for a huge autonomy of more than 30 hours, but offers no wired play as is the case with Sony’s and Microsoft’s gamepads.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller – Performance
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller has very big face buttons but the feeling of using them is not very pleasant; they are mushy and the spring isn’t responsive enough to compensate for their unusual height. The D-pad has the same height but this time around this is excellent, as we have come to expect from Nintendo’s directional pads. The 8 directions are rather marked and “clicky”, and are ideally tuned for fighting games full of quarter turns, but on the other hand somewhat rigid for platforming. In any case, with its asymmetrical positioning of the thumbsticks, it seems clear that Nintendo puts its D-pad in second place in terms of handling.
The thumbsticks do not have much to envy to those of an Xbox One Controller (Check on Amazon.com), both in terms of sensations and grip, with a slightly lighter texture but a softer material, and a large dome, concave in the middle, in order to accommodate the thumbs as securely as possible. We also appreciate their speed and accuracy, as well as the click that can be easily activated regardless of their angle.
We would like to sing the praises of the triggers as well, but alas this is where Nintendo decided to make some hard choices…
The triggers, in fact, are not analog and have no appreciable travel, they are simply two more shoulder buttons. Did you dream of a race simulation on the Switch? Well forget it, it would not be viable with such a controller. However, for all other types of games, this particular drawback is not really a problem. It can even become an advantage in shooters as these are hair triggers that actuate instantly and return to position much faster than any analog trigger. A difficult choice from Nintendo but one that has its meaning and may pay dividends further along the way.
This is a first for Nintendo, but similar to Sony’s DualShock 4 (Check on Amazon.com), the Switch Pro Controller is now usable also on PC via the official support of Steam. The connection is straightforward since it is sufficient to pair the controller with Windows or Mac Os. However, unlike an Xbox controller, it will be necessary to reverse the X-Y and A-B keys when button prompts appear in-game, which may cause some frustration.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller – Verdict
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (Check on Amazon.com) is superbly made, way more comfortable than its predecessors and with an autonomy that should become the new standard. Its design similar to that of Microsoft’s gamepads, including the asymmetrical analog sticks, is a resounding success and something we appreciate both on Switch and PC. The D-pad is excellent as always, simply the best directional pad out there. Pity for the face buttons, too big and too mushy for our taste. Similarly, the lack of analog triggers will disappoint some, even if Nintendo’s choice is justified in most games. Finally, we would have liked to see a headphone port, ever-present among the competition. Considering its price it leaves something to be desired.