The release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is just around the corner. With it, the perennial revival of the greatest controller of all time is upon us. As usual, Nintendo has brought back the GameCube controller to please the most hardcore of Smash fans, and alongside it, multiple third-party manufacturers are offering up their own versions. Today, we're taking a look at HORI's take on the classic controller: the Switch Battle Pad GameCube Style Controller. Let's just call it the Battle Pad for short.
As its name implies, the Battle Pad takes most of its design cues from Nintendo's original, but calling it a copy would do a disservice to the work HORI has put into creating something unique. Some design changes are apparent, like the addition of the home and screenshot buttons on the new controller, the translucent shell, or the changes made to the shoulder buttons, removing the GameCube controller's Z button and replacing it instead with similarly shaped ZL and ZR buttons, with a more traditional L and R button configuration behind them.
Other changes will become apparent once you have the controller in your hands. It's a bit wider than the original, almost imperceptibly so, but once you're holding it in your hands the distance between your right thumb and the buttons feels greater than before, which is good news for those with larger hands. The controller's handles are also textured, meaning they're less likely to slip during longer play sessions. We're fans of the change, but purists may be turned off. Everything else about the Battle Pad is a bit larger, too: the D-pad is absolutely massive, the analogue sticks are both a bit larger, too and the handles are slightly elongated.
The D-pad is, to put it bluntly, terrible. That isn't a big problem for Smash fans, as the D-pad is at best an afterthought in Sakurai's opus, but if you're trying to use the Battle Pad in other games, it could pose a major problem. The Switch 'sees' the controller as a Pro Controller, meaning you can use it any game that supports it. Unlike the stock Pro Controller, the Battle Pad doesn't sport motion controls, NFC or rumble, which is a recurring theme with budget-friendly pads. The rest of the controller is pretty great. The analogue sticks feel quite a bit looser than the GameCube original, and while we prefer the feel of the original in this regard, the difference is only truly noticeable when you have the real deal to compare against.
One design choice we did take exception with, however, is the placement of the shoulder buttons. As we mentioned before, the ZL and ZR buttons are on the top of the controller, with the L and R buttons being placed behind them. On official Switch controllers, the ZL and ZR buttons are situated behind the L and R buttons, and Smash Ultimate assumes this is the default configuration, which means you'll grab when you mean to block and block when you mean to grab without a little bit of retraining. For its part, HORI did include the ability to change the functions of these buttons by holding the L and R buttons as the controller is plugged into the Switch dock's USB port, but the decision to have the buttons reversed by default is strange as it feels unnatural in just about every game we tested. That said, once you've changed the shoulder button mapping it'll persist, even when you turn the Switch off, so it's only a minor headache.
As with Nintendo's own offering, the Battle Pad is wired meaning that it's not easily usable in tabletop mode. The USB cable is a decent length and unlike Nintendo's own offering you won't need an adapter to use it. Personally, we'd prefer a wireless version of the GameCube controller but that doesn't look likely at the present moment in time. Thankfully, HORI rival 8BitDo does offer a solution of sorts, but it relies on an external device so the pad isn't totally wireless.
HORI's Battle Pad is an excellent version of an already excellent controller, but it's unlikely to change the minds of the most diehard Smash fans. For the rest of us, this controller offers some interesting tweaks that will certainly win some over. The slightly increased size, inclusion of the home and capture buttons, much lower cost when accounting for the required GameCube adapter and ability to use HORI's controller with nearly any Switch game are all major pluses. If you're looking for a GameCube controller that can do more than just Smash, the Battle Pad may be the right choice for you.
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Looking for more controller options that harken back to Nintendo's lovable purple lunchbox? Check out this excellent rundown of the rest of the available options by our resident Lovely Person, Alex Olney, and be sure to comment with your favourite Smash Controller below.
Please, do not!
@setezerocinco Don't What?
The best thing is the Pokemon style pad on which you cannot play Pokemon cause you can play with one joycon/pokeball only
I’ve already got 4 GC controllers and an official adapter. Thanks, but no thanks!
@EpicGamenator do not throw anymore accessories for me to buy! My wallet is already screaming!!!!
I thought you could use the original GC controller with the adapter for every game as well. Isn't that the case?
When will the review for Smash arrive?
Still waiting for the Smash review
@Yasaal @Sinton There's a review embargo on it.
If metacritic is correct, the reviews will start popping on December 6 at 5am US Pacific time
@neufel Oh sweet! I'll probably be asleep by then but will try not to miss it
I enjoyed the Wii/Wii U version from 3 or 4 years ago.
@infernogott You can, but you will miss the screen capture and home button.
Also, there's only 3 shoulder buttons, not 4 like on switch.
And who could forget the minus button, as there's no select on the gamecube.
And finally, the clickable joysticks.
Basis why it won't be bought.
1. the Battle Pad doesn't sport motion controls, NFC or rumble, which is a recurring theme with budget-friendly pads.
2. Add NO wireless
I like to have some distance and room to play in a physical space.
I picked up a Pika pad during Black Friday for just under $20 USD at target. I have tried it a couple of times with Fortnite so far. I find the texture to be slightly off putting but when I’m playing it’s tolerable. I didn’t have any issues with the D pad. The reversal of the Z and L/R buttons is my biggest irritation and I’m not sure if it’s going to be something I can work around. I’ll give it a shot with Smash Bros but it may be going back which is unfortunate because it looks so darn good.
“Personally, we'd prefer a wireless version of the GameCube controller but that doesn't look likely at the present moment in time.“
Have you not seen the advertisements on your own website, or been to local gaming stores/chains? Wireless Nintendo branded GameCube controllers are already out and selling at GameStop, Best Buy and other places (NA atleast) for 49.99USD
Had my Hori controller since Black Friday. It's my main controller for Switch now. At this point, I'll only use something else if I'm playing a game that requires motion or rumble. Can't wait for my PDP pads to come in so that I can do a comparison.
"Personally, we'd prefer a wireless version of the GameCube controller but that doesn't look likely at the present moment in time."
PowerA will be sad to hear you say this considering their wireless gamecube option for the switch is awesome.
@Mamabear hold down the bumpers while plugging in the controller. Once you do that, you will have a solid red light in the middle of the controller indicating that ZL, L, ZR and R are now functioning in the Switch standard.
@LightyKD Thanks! I’ll give that a shot!
I'm beginning to wonder where I've put my Gamecube controller adapter.
Are all the images you are using 3D renders on the controller? Why no actual photos?
I'm definitely going to have to go with the Power A GameCube style Pro Controller that has a better D-Pad, non-reversed shoulder buttons, and includes motion controls, and it's wireless, to boot. This one sounds embarassing by comparison.
Thanks for covering the feel and shape of the controller. I wish more reviews actually did that. I ordered the PDP one expecting it to be exactly like a GameCube controller and it's was fairly different. The feel is was just weird it made my hands sit lower on the grips and the triggers we're weird. Also I'd get random stick drift but it was rare. which is obviously not good. I'm curious about the power a wireless one now.
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