Ever since it first came out and was discovered, the Nintendo Switch has been home to a lot of different ways to play and that goes especially apparent when it comes to controls. You can play with the Joy Cons attached to the system, disconnected on a grip, one in each hand, and even co op with only a single Joy Con controller.
However, ever since the Joy Cons came out with arrow buttons instead of a proper D-Pad, fans have wanted a proper controller to play in Console/TV Mode. Not long after, they got a pricey option in the form of the Pro Controller. It was an Xbox-like controller with full sized buttons, a long battery life, and a nice big $70 price tag.
I will admit that the price tag is the reason it has taken me so long to actually go out and buy one, but I have one. Here is my Hardware Review of the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller!
By design, the Pro Controller is like a heavier Xbox One controller. He shape and the feel while it is in your hands really feels like you are about to play on your Xbox One because the shape is remarkably similar. But less about that, and let us talk about the design itself.
Outside of the outer shape, you have all of your standard placements on the front of the controller. The left side has the Left Analog and the D-Pad, and the right hand side has the face buttons ABXY and the Right Analog Stick. The main difference is the middle.
The middle has 4 buttons in total. Between the Left Stick and the face buttons are the Screenshot Button and Home Button. Above them and slightly out more are the – and + buttons, or as other gamers would say, the Select and Start buttons.
Outside of that, you have your 4 triggers on the top, which are very thick and wide to give you lots of space for your fingers to find a space. There is also a USB-C port on the top for charging, Then the bottom only really has a charge light so you know when you need to charge,
It is not an overly complex design and it matches Xbox Gamers’ preferences pretty well, though the Pro Controller is a bit heavier than an Xbox One Controller.
As far as performance goes, there are ups and downs. Well, many ups and one awkward down, really. The feel of the controller really feels like a console controller should. As I said above, it is a bit heavier than a PS4 or XB1 controller, but it fits in your hands well and feels really comfy.
The buttons, themselves, are a big different from other controllers but also similar. The Analog Sticks feels very much like other console analogs, from the movement to the clicking. The buttons feel a little different, though. On the Xbox controller, the face buttons are rounded and even the edge the finger touches is rounded and curved. The Pro Controller’s face buttons are flat on top, providing a larger, smoother surface for the fingers to rest on and grip as you hit various buttons. It feels a little different, but works well.
One of the biggest interface appeals of the Pro Controller is the fact that it doesn’t have those arrow buttons, but a proper D-Pad. The buttons on the D-Pad feel pretty much, but there is a fatal flaw here that a lot of people who play side-scrolling games will have a major problem with. Many of the Pro Controller’s out on the market today have glitching with the D-Pad and my Pro Controller has the same issue. Many times when selecting one input on the D-Pad, the game will activate it and another. For example, I could hit the Right Button on the Home Screen and instead of just going to the right, it will go to the right and up at the same time and I will have to fight with the controller to get it to do what I want.
This is a major problem when playing side-scrolling games because up and right do two different things. The same goes for fighting games where right moves to the right and Up makes you jump. It is an issue I hope they patch out at some point, but is still very much a large problem. I had to use my Joy Cons to play Sonic Mania on my Switch in Docked Mode because of that.
Granted, this may not be a problem forever. Nintendo does have an option in Settings to be able to update the software in the controllers, so they may fix this down the road. For the moment, however, it is still an issue.
My other issue is the placement of the middle buttons. Because there is a very small amount of space between the – and Screenshot buttons (and + and Home buttons), taking screenshots can become a hassle without adjustments. Almost every time I take screenshots with the Pro Controller, I accidentally hit the – button by mistake, so instead of getting a great shot, I open up a menu. This is a minor problem for me, but still an annoyance as I take a lot of screenshots for reviews.
The final thing I will talk about is the Battery Life. The new generation controllers are heavily criticized because the battery life is so meager compared to last gen. My PS4 controller barely lasts a single day while my PS3 controllers last several. The Pro Controller helps alleviate those concerns. Once fully charged, I only have to plug it in once or twice a week with playing my Switch every day. The battery life is nothing less than stellar and is one of the biggest reasons many people use to justify their purchase.
In conclusion, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller has everything a controller needs, but is not without its own problems. While the battery life is stellar and the design will appeal well for Xbox gamers, the D-Pad glitching and the screenshot button placement can cause some major issues as you play through your games.