The Nintendo Switch is an incredibly versatile console, with many different controller options to suit your mood. When playing in handheld mode, nothing beats the convenience of the Joy-Con, of course, but when docked or in Tabletop mode there are a plethora of controller choices on the market these days for your consideration.
Let's take a look at some of Nintendo Life's favourite options in our handy guide featuring the best Switch controllers...
Please note that some external links on this page are affiliate links, which means if you click them and make a purchase we may receive a small percentage of the sale. Please read our FTC Disclosure for more information.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Con
Joy-Con are the default controller option for the Nintendo Switch, for good reason. These jack-of-all-trades devices can serve a variety of different controller types, from a traditional pad to two Wiimote-style motion controllers, and even two separate controllers for multiplayer sessions.
Hori D-Pad Joy-Con
If you love playing retro games on your Switch, then it's definitely worth picking up an officially licensed Hori left hand Joy-Con which sports a rather lovely D-pad instead of the regular face buttons found on a normal Joy-Con. Bear in mind, though, that you can only use these when docked on the Switch, as they are not wireless. Also, they lack the HD rumble feature found on regular Joy-Con, but if you want the accuracy of a D-pad for playing games such as Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection then these are made for you.
In the West, you can get these in Mario, Zelda and Pikachu themes. The Japanese option which you can get from Play-Asia is a rather fetching dark blue colour. Lovely!
Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers
Do you plan on playing your Switch in front of the TV for the most part? You'll want to grab a Pro Controller, then. This beast is extremely comfortable and has much larger buttons that you'll struggle to live without once you give it a try. It has all of the functionality of the Joy-Con – bar the ability to turn itself into two separate controllers; motion controls, HD rumble, and amiibo support are all present and correct here.
Hori Split Pad Pro
If you prefer the full-size controller experience in handheld mode, the Hori Split Pad Pro might be the answer. It features full-size analog sticks, a precision d-pad, and large shoulder buttons designed for comfort and accuracy, even during marathon gaming sessions.
Go Retro With 8BitDo
We're big fans of 8BitDo's SN30 Pro; it's perfect for playing retro games as it's wireless and has a rechargeable battery. While it doesn't support NFC, it does offer motion controls and a standard, non-HD rumble feature. 8BitDo has a large range of controllers, and it's worth noting that some of its older pads – like the SNES30 – also work on Switch. Alternatively, 8BitDo also sells a USB adapter which allows you to use other controllers with your Switch – such as PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Wiimote, Wii U Pro controller and other compatible Bluetooth devices.
Nintendo Switch Online - Wireless Nintendo Entertainment System And Super Nintendo Controllers
These official NES controllers and the Super Nintendo equivalents can be bought directly from Nintendo and are great for using to play the NES and Super NES games bundled with Nintendo Switch Online. As you'll see in our video above, they can even be used for other Switch games too... within reason!
HORI To The Rescue
If you're looking to save a bit of money, then you could do far worse than the Hori wired controller. It won't work with Switch Lite, and while it lacks motion controls, rumble and the ability to scan amiibo, it's still worth a look for the budget-conscious. This wired controller has a detachable directional pad, too, so it's great for retro games. Did we mention that it's cheap? Check out our full review here.
Power Up With PowerA
PowerA's offering comes in various themes and closely resembles Nintendo's own Pro Controller – except that it is wired, meaning it can only be used while your Switch is docked (and obviously isn't compatible with Switch Lite). The included cable is 10 feet long, so you won't have to sit too close to your Switch to enjoy it. As with the Hori pad, it lacks the rumble, motion-control and NFC which you can find on the Pro Controller. Otherwise, it's certainly worth a look, especially at this price.
PowerA also do wireless controllers too in a range of lovely themes, which are also worth a look.
Give It Some Stick!
Now if you are really serious about your retro and fighting games, then you'll want to pick up an arcade stick. Perfect for all the Neo Geo brawlers, Street Fighter, and even shmups such as Ikaruga. Get one of these bad boys and be the envy of all your friends! Just don't expect it to be particularly portable. Ahem.
Get Ready To Smash!
True Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fans would only consider playing the game with a GameCube controller of course!
TATE Mode, Engage!
Almost since day one, Switch developers have embraced the fact that the console can, with the correct stand, be oriented in 'portrait' mode for certain games. The guys behind the Flip Grip have gone one better by giving you a means of playing in 'TATE' mode even when you're using the Switch as a handheld. It's an utterly essential piece of kit if you love your vertically-scrolling shooters, and works brilliantly with Downwell, too. Just don't try wedging your Switch Lite in there.
The Nintendo Switch plays host to some other quirky controllers too, including a drum which can be used with Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun!, and who could forget the Mew-filled Pokéball Plus controller which launched alongside Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!?
These are the Nintendo Switch controllers which we consider to be the most essential. Let us know which ones you already have or intend to pick up soon. Also, be sure to leave a comment if there is a Switch controller which we have missed that you absolutely adore.