PDP Pikmin Clover Patch REALMz Wireless Controller
Image: Jim Norman / Nintendo Life

For third-party Switch pads, it can be difficult to stack up against Nintendo's official offering. The problem is that the Pro Controller packs in so many features that it feels like something's missing as soon as we play without them.

Motion controls, HD rumble, built-in NFC amiibo reader, a 40-hour battery life. It's a pretty enviable list, no? One thing that the Pro Controller does not offer, however, is a novelty figurine in the handle. This is the category where PDP's REALMz Wireless Controller triumphs. It just so happens that it is the only category where this third-party option takes the win.

PDP's 'Pikmin Clover Patch' variant of the REALMz range is undoubtedly a pretty picture, one that we can see taking pride of place in any Pikmin collection, but in practice, it leaves a lot to be desired. Those after something cute to go on the shelf and/or to hand to a younger sibling when playing co-op will find a lot to like here. Those after a good, feature-rich controller for continued play, however, would be better off leaving this shoot buried in the ground.

Starting with the obvious: the Pikmin REALMz controller is nice on the eyes. Adorned with Pikmin paraphernalia on three different levels, the design has some real depth and makes use of its translucent casing to really bring the inhabitants of PNF-404 to life. Of course, the Red Pikmin "collectible figurine" in the left handle is the star of the show (even if it does give off all the vibes of the amber-trapped mosquito from Jurassic Park), turning what could otherwise have been a sweet yet bland clover patch aesthetic into something genuinely exciting to look at.

While we have only had our hands on the Pikmin model, the REALMz line also offers designs featuring Sonic the Hedgehog and Transformers. Both of these alternatives also provide a wired option, though the Pikmin version is exclusively wireless — a welcome decision if you ask us.

Flipping the pad over, the transparent casing showcases the controller's inner workings. It's true, this design may not be to everyone's tastes but it still elicited 'Oohs' and 'Aahs' from those of us who enjoy looking through the 'Atomic Purple' plastic of a GBC in an attempt to understand its technical secrets.

Staying on the back, the controller also houses two built-in LED lights. This isn't quite the neon light show of Power A's Lumectra controller (these two only glow a warm white), but they can be programmed to four different settings to remain on, off, or react to your button presses in various ways. It's not something that we particularly noticed while playing — we know the face buttons well enough by now, removing the need to look down at the controller all that often — but it's a nice touch for those who want to add an extra bit of pizazz or level-up their collection display, we suppose.

PDP Pikmin Clover Patch REALMz Wireless Controller
Image: Jim Norman / Nintendo Life

Unfortunately, all of these pretty petals can't hide the weak roots underneath. Compared to most other third-party offerings, REALMz's list of features is lacking. Compared to Nintendo's Pro Controller, it's practically barren. In typical PDP fashion, the controller offers no motion controls, no HD rumble, and no NFC support. To its credit, the battery life lasts for 40 hours on a full charge, but with so many missing features, the play experience will be a vastly different one using this pad.

And it's not as if the controller comes with a sizeable discount to accommodate its reduced features. With an RRP of £44.99 / $59.99, this comes in at just £15 / $10 cheaper than Nintendo's official offering. It is a cheaper alternative, but the difference feels like a small price to pay when we consider just how much is missing.

Even in the hand, the REALMz Wireless Controller has its pitfalls. The face buttons feel clicky, the analogue sticks have no grip (a pain in particularly palm-sweaty moments) and the super lightweight build makes the whole thing feel fragile in a way that just didn't sit right with us — it's around 87g lighter than the Pro Controller, according to our standard kitchen scales.

All of these are a matter of personal preference, of course. One thing that is not is how the + / - and Home / Screenshot button positioning has been swapped. We took the controller for a spin in a recent playthrough of Hollow Knight (a game that requires regular presses of the '-' button to access Hallownest's winding map) and our gallery was quickly flooded with rows of unintentional screenshots. Changing button placements is something that we gamers are used to — tell us you've never done something similar when moving from Switch to PlayStation/Xbox — but when every other controller on the system opts for one layout, it's a real pain to unlearn the muscle memory.

PDP Pikmin Clover Patch REALMz Wireless Controller - The Verdict

Those after a neat addition to their Pikmin collection need look no further than PDP's REALMz Wireless Controller. The multi-layered design is kind on the eye and the LED lights are a fun addition for anyone after a little something extra. In almost every other respect, however, this is a disappointment. The lack of features for the price is REALMz's biggest letdown, but the controller's lightweight design and clicky buttons do nothing to help things along. It's a pretty bud, but this sprout is only worth plucking if you're absolutely sure you want what's on the other end.

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