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- The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is the best way to play most Switch games.
- With bigger buttons and a more comfortable grip, the Pro Controller is a clear upgrade over the Joy-Cons.
- The Pro Controller’s biggest drawback is its $70 price, which is more than most Switch controllers.
The Nintendo Switch’s included Joy-Con controllers are wonderfully unique, but their tiny size can make them awkward to play with. As a solution, Nintendo sells the Switch Pro Controller, which gives players all the same buttons in a more traditional package.
With its more comfortable design, better D-pad, and bigger joysticks, the Pro Controller easily bests the Joy-Cons. And though it’s more expensive than a lot of other Switch controllers, it includes features that many third-party gamepads lack, like HD rumble and motion control. It’s absolutely the best way to play nearly every Switch game.
The Pro Controller is comfortable, precise, and long-lasting
I’m a bigger fan of the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers than most, but even I have to admit that they’re not great for longer play sessions. They’ve got small buttons, the thin corners dig into your palms, and there’s no real D-pad. Even with the Joy-Con grip attached, they’re not ideal.
If you’re playing the Switch mostly in TV mode (or even tabletop mode), then you should invest in a better wireless gamepad. That’s where the Pro Controller shines.
The Pro Controller is a dream to play with. It’s got textured handles that fit easily into your palms, and a button layout that won’t cramp your hands. The Pro Controller feels so natural to use that you’ll forget it’s there, which is the mark of a great gamepad.
The face buttons (A, B, X, Y) are about twice the size of the Joy-Con buttons, making misinputs far less common. They also depress farther and make satisfying clacking noises, which adds up to a better tactile experience. It’s also got a proper D-pad, with a connected crosspad instead of separated buttons.
The bigger and grippier joysticks make it easy to perform precise movements or camera adjustments. They’re also built with a different internal design than the Joy-Cons, meaning they’re far less prone to “Joy-Con drift.”
While the Pro Controller works well with pretty much any game, it’s best for titles that require quick and precise inputs. That’s why it’s become one of the most popular controllers for high-level Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players. I’ve also really enjoyed using it in shooters like Splatoon, and button-mashers like NEO: The World Ends With You.
And although the Pro Controller isn’t as simple to charge as the Joy-Cons — you’ll need to use a separate USB-C cable, rather than just attaching it to the Switch — it’s got great battery life. Thanks to its huge internal battery, every full charge should get you around 40 hours of playtime, which is about double the playtime you’d get with the Joy-Cons.
Unlike many third-party gamepads, the Pro Controller includes motion controls, HD Rumble, and more
There are dozens of alternative Switch controllers on the market. But most of them — even some of the expensive ones — leave out three important features: Motion controls, HD Rumble support, and Amiibo scanning.
The Pro Controller doesn’t skimp on any of these features. It’s got an internal gyroscope for precise motion controls, and uses the same HD Rumble motors as the Joy-Cons. And although the Amiibo sensor is in a different spot — at the top of the controller instead of the side — it works just as well.
On top of all that, the Pro Controller also offers an extra feature that some third-party gamepads lack: You can use it to play games on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android.
Once you press the tiny Pair button on the top of the Pro Controller, you can connect it to any of the listed devices via Bluetooth. PCs and Macs support a wired USB-C connection too. And once connected, it should work with any game that has controller support. This is especially true if you’re playing games through Steam.
If you’re using a PC or Mac, some games even support the Pro Controller’s gyroscope. Just imagine my shock when I opened up Left 4 Dead 2 and found myself aiming my gun entirely with motion controls.
Not all Switch games support the Pro Controller
With all this said, there are a few Switch games that don’t let you use a Pro Controller. Most of these are games that rely on the Joy-Cons’ specific design for core mechanics, like 1-2-Switch, Just Dance, and Ring Fit Adventure. Others, like Clubhouse Games, only have specific sections of the game locked off.
Nintendo doesn’t keep an official list of games that lack Pro Controller support, but these are the titles we’ve found that have compatibility issues:
- Astral Chain (multiplayer mode)
- Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics (motion-based games like bowling)
- Fitness Boxing series
- Jump Rope Challenge
- Just Dance series
- Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!
- Resident Evil: Revelations series (motion aiming)
- Ring Fit Adventure
- SEGA AGES Virtua Racing (multiplayer mode)
- Super Mario Party
- The Stretchers
- The World Ends With You: Final Remix
You also can’t use a Pro Controller with any Nintendo Labo toys.
Should you buy the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller?
With a more comfortable grip, better buttons, and no missing features, the Pro Controller is the premier way to play Switch games. Little else compares, especially if you spend most of your playtime connected to a TV. If you can afford it, the Pro Controller is one of the best Switch accessories you can buy.
But there’s the kicker: The Pro Controller retails at $70, almost a quarter of the price of an entire Switch console. That’s a steep price, even for a gamepad as good as this one. If you’re tight on money and aren’t having any issues with the regular Joy-Cons, you might want to stick with what you’ve got. At the very least, consider holding off until the Pro Controller goes on sale. It’s common to see it drop to $60 during deal events.
If the Pro Controller is too pricey but you still need a change, look into a third-party Switch controller. Trusted brands like PowerA and Hori sell great full-sized Switch controllers for less money. And although they don’t always include motion controls or rumble support, they’re still comfortable and capable gamepads.