Nintendo's Switch Pro controller is refined, but not perfect

It's a solid traditional controller, but there's still more work to do.

Nintendo's Joy-Con controllers for the Switch are wonderfully unique, but they might not be ideal for every situation. That's why the $70 Switch Pro Controller exists — it's meant for gamers who need a more-traditional-feeling gamepad for titles like Ultra Street Fighter 2 and Super Bomberman R. It's not exactly a surprising accessory, as Nintendo had a similar Pro accessories for the Wii and Wii U, but it's still nice to see the company refining its concept of a classic game controller.


The most surprising thing about the Switch Pro Controller? Nintendo adopted a button layout that's similar to Microsoft's Xbox One controller, rather than its own previous entries. There's an analog stick on the top left of the controller, along with a second stick on the lower right. I've always found this to be a more comfortable layout than Sony's Dual Shock layout, which places both analog sticks at the bottom (something Nintendo copied with the Wii Pro controller). The revamped design is also a nice change from the Wii U Pro controller, which placed both analog sticks awkwardly at the top right and left (don't ask why).

Thanks to its curved hand grips, the Switch Pro Controller gave me flashbacks to Nintendo's (excellent) Wavebird for the Gamecube. It feels great in your hands, though I found the directional pad to be a bit stiffer than I'm used to (perhaps because it's not worn down with hours of gaming yet). Pressing the face buttons also felt shallow compared with Xbox One and PlayStation 4's controllers. For $70, I expected a much-more-premium-feeling layout.


It's also worth noting that the Switch's Joy-Con controllers actually feel good when attached to their Grip, which comes with the system. Sure, the buttons are smaller and there's no directional pad, but the Joy-Cons were perfectly fine while playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Simply put, there might be less of a reason for gamers to invest in the Pro controller this time around.

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