The Switch’s Joy-Con controllers are incredible pieces of hardware. Packing a Gyro Sensor, NFC Reader, HD Rumble, IR Camera and a battery into such a tiny device – while keeping portability in mind – couldn’t have been an easy feat. However, some find the Switch’s Joy-Con a little too small and cramped for their liking. While some companies have tried to alleviate the space issue by releasing larger, more ergonomic control grips, it seems no one has thought to release a larger Joy-Con style controller, until now.
Accessory manufacturer Hori is well known for releasing unique and reliable alternatives to Nintendo’s own Switch accessories. Last year it released the D-Pad Joy-Con, a singular left Joy-Con that looked nearly identical to Nintendo’s version but exchanged the directional buttons for a D-Pad, while removing a few key features and weighing in at a much lower price. Now, Hori has come back with a new controller, catering once again to the Switch’s Handheld player market: the Split Pad Pro. A larger, more ergonomic Joy-Con style controller that intends to give you the feeling of playing with a Pro Controller, but in handheld mode.
The biggest appeal of the Split Pad Pro is definitely its size, nearly doubling that of the standard Joy-Con. The controllers have these wing-like grips that give your hands more to grab onto, and the buttons and analogue sticks are also larger and further apart, allowing your thumbs a bit more room to breathe. However, it's size isn't the only thing that makes it different from its competitors.
The Split Pad Pro comes equipped with an additional button on the rear side of each controller that you can assign to function as any of the same buttons that already exist on that side. This can really come in handy in a game like Breath of the Wild or Daemon X Machina, as you can assign the sprint/boost button to the back of the controller to free up your thumb for other actions.
In smaller hands, the rear Assign buttons may be less convenient to use than the standard buttons, but they're positioned so they don't get in the way of your grip. So, if you assign them to a specific button and decide not to use them, you shouldn't have to stress about accidentally tapping them. The controller also includes a turbo function on each side as well, but unless you're playing a shooter it might not be as relevant to your needs.
These controllers do, however, have a few drawbacks, as they lack some of the main features that make Nintendo's Joy-Con so special. To keep the price down, Hori sacrificed HD Rumble, motion control and NFC. The lack of a built-in battery also means these controllers are only useable in Handheld mode with the original model Switch (Sorry Switch Lite owners!) The lack of extra features makes these controllers fairly lightweight, but when attached to the Switch, it actually feels like a match made in heaven. The controllers stay locked tight to the system, the analogue sticks (dare we say) feel better than the official Pro Controllers, and there's even a little stand on the backside of each controller that help keep the system stable when placing it down on a table.
The Split Pad Pro may not be a replacement for the Joy-Con, but we don't think Hori designed it as one, either. Even though it lacks some of the main features you expect from a set of Joy-Con, there is definitely a market for this controller. So if you find yourself with cramped hands after extended play sessions with your Switch – or feel you could use a bit more grip – these may just do the trick.
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