I’m going to be completely honest and say that I don’t care for the Nintendo Switch controllers aka Joy-Cons. If you happen to play a lot of sidescrollers, the d-pad (if you can even call it one) is quite cumbersome. Also, it’s easy to get hand cramps while playing for extended periods in handheld mode. Perhaps the biggest design flaw, however, is the dreaded analog stick drift. While it’s true that any controller featuring an analog stick is going to experience the issue at some point in its lifespan, many users have experienced it far earlier than expected (myself included). Nintendo also refuses to truly address the issue despite the lawsuits, essentially saying “it’s not a problem”. I’m a perturbed consumer that just recently started experiencing the issue a few weeks ago. I didn’t want to throw the Nintendo any more money if it wasn’t necessary.
I began digging for feasible alternatives. I noticed Mario just doing his own thing in the streets of New Donk City and eventually came across the Hori Split Pad. After surfing through Reddit’s take on the peripheral as well as major publications, I decided to bite the bullet and drop $50 on it. (Hey, it’s still cheaper than a new set of Joy-Cons) Was it one of the better decisions I made right before the end of a miserable year? Let’s find out.
Ergonomically, the thing is wonderful. The best way I can describe it is like having a TV right in the palm of your hands without the weight you’d expect. Ironically, the two controllers (which slide in just like the Joy-Cons) are a little bit bigger. If you’ve sunk enough time into using handheld mode with the joy-cons, the difference truly is night and day.
The analog sticks are comparable to an Xbox One or Playstation 4 controller, but more importantly, there’s a competent D-Pad on the left controller. I’m glad that I no longer have to awkwardly slide my thumb across a gap to reach the cardinal directions. Something I noticed while playing something like Blaster Master Zero 2 or Sonic Mania.
As if that weren’t enough, the Hori Split Pad also features turbo functionality. This was an incredibly wise decision as the Switch is home to a multitude of shm’ups (Shoot’em Ups). Some of them, unfortunately, don’t natively feature any sort of rapid-fire. Doing so making extended play sessions a bit painful. If you have this baby, that’s no problem at all. As much as I love the recently released Tanuki Justice, I don’t think I’ll go back to hammering the fire button thanks to this feature.
That’s not to say the Hori Split Pad is perfect. There are a few drawbacks worth mentioning, and some of them could understandably be dealbreakers if you spend most of your time playing Switch in docked mode. First and foremost, you can only use the controller in handheld mode as there is no wireless connectivity. (This should go without saying, but that also means it’s completely incompatible with the Switch Lite as the joy-cons do not detach) Secondly, rumble and gyro functionality is nixed. Third, it has no battery of its own and relies on your Switch’s battery to function. After trying out several games with the device (including more power-intensive ones such as Super Mario Odyssey). I can’t say that the device affected battery drainage any faster than the joy-cons.
In sum, the Hori Split Pad is an excellent (albeit pricey) solution if you spend a substantial amount of time playing your Switch in handheld mode. This is especially true if you have grown weary of the standard joy cons. It’s incredibly ergonomic, has console-like analog sticks and a solid d-pad alongside turbo fire. If you spend most of your time in docked, however, it’s probably not worth the $49.99 price tag. For those that already have several other controllers compatible with the mode, it won’t matter.
>Great analog sticks and D-Pad
>Has turbo fire options that standard Joy Cons lack
>The $50 price tag is a bit steep (but still cheaper than another set of joy cons at MSRP)
>Can only be used on a standard Switch in handheld mode