Nintendo has created some truly amazing controllers over the past three decades, from the ergonomic SNES pad with its industry-defining four-button cluster and shoulder buttons to the groundbreaking Wii remote. It might sounds a little like hyperbole to suggest that the new Switch Pro Controller tops all of these in terms of being a pleasure to cradle in your hands (oo-er), but that's certainly the case from our perspective.
An evolution of the excellent Wii U Pro Controller, the Switch variant retains the basic shape and input layout, save for the fact that the face buttons and right-hand analogue stick have swapped positions. This makes the pad feel more akin to the Xbox 360 / Xbox One controller, which is no bad thing in our book.
The face buttons are noticeably larger than those on the Wii U Pro Controller, making them easier to hit, while the shoulder buttons have been redesigned, with ZL and ZR now featuring a "lip" which makes them easier to rest your index fingers on. The Pro Controller is the only first-party Switch input device to feature a traditional eight-way D-Pad, which should make it popular when Ultra Street Fighter II hits the market. We got to play a bit of Capcom's fighter at a recent press day in London and it's certainly works best with this controller. The D-Pad is precise and comfortable to use, and its textured surfaces means that sweaty thumbs are less likely to slip off – a common issue we found with the more shiny Wii U Pro Controller. [Update: Also of note is that the controller has motion control support (like the Joy-Con controllers), HD Rumble and even the ability to scan amiibo. It's the full package.]
The front of the pad features the "plus" and "minus" buttons, as well as "Home" and "Capture". On the top is the USB Type-C charging port, which can also be used to instantly pair the pad with your Switch console. Next to this is the sync button for when you want to pair the controller with another Switch system. Battery life is absolutely stunning; we've been using the controller since the Switch arrived in the office and have only had to charge it once. To cap it all off, the smoky-black transparent casing looks gorgeous, while the slightly textured prongs give more purchase than the glossy ones on the Wii U edition.
The lack of analogue shoulder triggers is a shame, as is the price of the controller itself. Despite these issues, this may well end up being an essential purchase for any self-respecting Switch owner. It's certainly a step up from the Joy-Con + Grip combination; while that's still a great way to play, it's not as comfortable as the Pro Controller and lacks that all-important D-Pad. If you're planning on using your TV as your main Switch gameplay option, then this is a must-have – even more so if you're looking forward to the likes of Street Fighter II.