Tech Up! Nintendo Switch Pro Controller Review

By Shane Jury 07.03.2017 6

Since the advent of the fifth console generation, Nintendo has opted to use more unorthodox control setups as its primary inputs. For the Wii, it was the Remote and Nunchuk, which lost a few buttons over a traditional twin-stick setup, but gained motion and pointer technology. The Wii U had the GamePad that regained the twin-stick setup but put in a touch screen that bulked up the size of the controller. With the Nintendo Switch, there are the Joy-Con that mimic all the buttons and sticks of the established pad structure, but with the motion functionality of the Wii Remote and all its own bells and whistles. With each of these generations Nintendo has also released a more conventional controller, usually to retain backwards compatibility of sorts, or to simply provide more player options, and the latest launch is no different, bringing gamers the Switch Pro Controller. How does it stack up to the Joy-Con setup, and is the price tag justified?

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Foregoing the asymmetrical stick setup its predecessor (and InterWORKS variable) popularised, the Switch Pro Controller places the right analogue stick below the face buttons, creating a very familiar feel for Xbox fans. Both sets of shoulder buttons are in place, and deliver feedback with satisfying clicks. The outer shoulder triggers are once again digital and not analogue, meaning they don't travel inwards, so a less than ideal setup for potential racing games on the system, but in line with the Joy-Con triggers. The grips of the Switch Pro have a matte cover to them, and the middle of the device has a clear plastic cover showing the outer layer of circuitry within, meaning zero fingerprint smudges that would plague the Wii U Pro pad, and giving a retro look that hearkens back to the translucent consoles of old.

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Even for bigger hands, the Switch Pro Controller effortlessly moulds to the hands, providing easy access to all its inputs. Not heavy, but enough weight to prevent the pad from feeling cheap and fragile. Like the Switch console itself, USB-C is supported here for recharging and initial connection purposes, bringing with it a faster charging speed than what regular USB is capable of. Luckily, a lengthy charging cable is included with the device for that purpose, and can be useful for the console itself when in portable mode.

Many unique aspects of the Joy-Con halves have been brought over to the Switch Pro. HD Rumble has been added to each side of the controller, and works equally as well in supported games. The Near-Field Communication reader that utilises amiibo readings is right in the middle of the controller, and gyroscope functionality is also present. The Share and Home keys have also been brought over, but their placement just underneath the Plus and Minus buttons takes some adapting to as not to hit accidently. The latter buttons are raised higher, so this won't take long, and the easy access to all functionality is ultimately ideal. Sadly, there is no power button, so holding down the Home key will only be able to put the Switch into sleep mode, although this can potentially be solved with an OS update in future.

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One key feature missing from the Joy-Con is also likely the key selling point for many potential purchasers of this controller, and that is the almighty D-pad. This one in particular is satisfyingly clunky, and as if to emphasise the Pro as the best choice for retro-inspired games, the face buttons are also much bigger than on the Joy-Con and equally as gratifying to press.

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The Recommended Retail Price of the Switch Pro Controller is a bit higher than the primary pads of other consoles nowadays, and on the surface it doesn't appear to do much more or less than those, but compared to the DualShock 4 and Xbox One controllers at launch, it is only slightly more expensive and is rechargeable, unlike the Xbox controller that required batteries. The 40-hour battery life may raise a curious eyebrow, and the new functionality (like the NFC reader) under the hood goes a long way to help justify the extra cost, especially when compared to the DualShock 4 that has a low battery life. The included USB-C cable, which for its length is usually quite costly for a good quality one, also adds value. The Switch Pro Controller is by no means absolutely essential as the Joy-Con setup can replicate everything it can do functionally, but it will undoubtedly be useful for retro and indie gaming, in what is one of Nintendo's best controllers yet.

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Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
Familiar on the surface, yet brimming with new tech beneath, the Switch Pro Controller embodies all the new abilities of the Joy-Con and wraps them up in a familiar shell. Cost can be an issue, and the split nature of the Joy-Con negates the immediate need for a second player pad, but for the most conventional way to play Switch games, the Pro is hard to beat.

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Definitely one of Nintendo's best yet. Haven't got too many complaints with it. Very comfortable and a good weight to it. The obvious complaint is lack of analogue triggers, and unless I'm missing something, the pad doesn't seem to turn itself off if left inactive for a number of minutes. Can't see any setting for the controller to go into standby - only the console itself.

Can't say the rumble has impressed me in Zelda. Unless it's better enforced when playing with the JoyCon or other games just use it better, it's been very minor in terms of feedback for me.

Great pad overall, but £60 is a lot of dosh.

I added the bit about the DS4/XB controller pricing since I'd read in a few GAF threads about how it's not actually far off what they cost at launch, and has more features/tech included, plus the cable for what is pretty much £10 more. Controllers in general are too expensive, I'd say.

As for going into standby mode...can't say I'd noticed. I'm sure mine does, but I'd have to specifically check. It's certainly not on now, but maybe the battery's dead Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

The main thing I like about this controller is honestly how well it keeps a charge. It's comfortable and all, but still. I swear, neither of my PS4 controllers can hold a charge to save their life, and this thing's survived in my bag for three days with no issues.

I thought the joycon grip was okay, and actually started to get used to it, but wow, after I got the Pro Controller, going back feels really uncomfortable. I tried playing Zelda in handheld mode and it felt really awkward to move the camera and use the buttons.

I'd say it's worth it for Zelda alone, considering how long the game is. if you really want the best and most comfortable experience.

Not a fan honestly... The JoyCon is by far the best controller ever made in my opinion. Free arm movement and positioning is worth so much for me personally. I love being able to wave around my arms freely while playing games or just stretch my arms.

Not that the pro controller is bad from what I have felt when I tried helding one, but to me the pro's of the JoyCon's free movement simply trumphs traditional controllers.

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

Just unpacked my own Switch and I really agree with the rest of the team: the machine is simply awesome, despite far from perfection.

As for the Pro controller, It's great... but still too small for REALLY large hands such as mine Smilie

( Edited 07.03.2017 16:07 by Ofisil )

Can't a fella drink in peace?

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