I love handheld gaming, and I love the Nintendo Switch. Surprisingly, my preferred method of gameplay with the Switch is in docked mode. As novel as the idea of a hybrid home/portable console is, I avoid playing my Switch in handheld mode if I can because of a few design flaws.
First, the Nintendo Switch JoyCon do not have grips and are quite thin, so it’s quite uncomfortable for me. Right now, I’m using a silicon JoyCon case with built-in grips which kind of works, but they’re a little loose and slip off easily during intense gaming. I’ve considered full body cases with grips (e.g. the famous Skull & Co. grip case) but I play in docked mode a lot too, so it’s an issue for me to keep removing/replacing the casing.
The second issue with the design of the Nintendo Switch is how the analog sticks and face buttons are aligned vertically. I play a lot of games that make heavy use of the right analog stick, such as Doom and Paladins, and the right analog stick simply isn’t at a spot that my right thumb can easily access. It is doable but not very comfortable, and I am definitely less accurate while aiming using the right analog stick when in handheld mode as compared to when I’m using the more ergonomic Pro Controller.
There’s also the issue of the face buttons on the left JoyCon which serve as an alternative to Nintendo’s signature D-Pad. Aside from not being an actual D-Pad, the buttons are located at around the same spot as the right analog stick – not very accessible to my left thumb.
Finally, and this is the most annoying/frustrating physical design flaw of the Nintendo Switch, the JoyCon analog sticks suffer from drifting issues. Some say it’s due to dust accumulating beneath the soft rubber cover of the analog sticks, while others say it’s because of low quality components that quickly wear out after some time.
When I started seeing video game websites and even some Youtubers talk about Hori’s latest product, the Split Pad Pro, I immediately wanted a pair of my own because it looks like it will address all of my complaints about using the Nintendo Switch as a handheld gaming device. Both the left and right pad have built-in grips, so I don’t have to worry about slippage during gameplay or about docking issues.
The buttons and the sticks of the Split Pad Pro are arranged similarly to how it is on Nintendo’s Pro Controller, so I know that they will be more comfortable for me. The left controller also has what looks like a proper D-Pad, but we really won’t know if it functions as well as Nintendo’s D-Pads until the product gets released to the market, but at least it looks like a proper D-Pad.
And most importantly, based on Hori’s various controllers, I think I can safely hope that the analog sticks of the Split Pad Pro won’t be prone to the drifting issue that plagues Nintendo’s official JoyCon.
Unfortunately, Hori’s Split Pad Pro isn’t a perfect replacement for Nintendo’s JoyCon as it is missing a lot of the original’s features – the Split Pad Pro does not have any rumble (not even standard rumble), doesn’t have an IR camera, doesn’t have any gyro controls, and does not have an NFC reader. The pair of controllers won’t even function when not connected to the Switch.
But I am primarily thinking of using the Split Pad Pro for handheld gaming, so I don’t really care for any of these features. When in handheld mode, the Nintendo Switch uses the gyroscope inside the tablet and not the JoyCon anyway. And I already have Nintendo’s Pro Controller, so I could care less if the Split Pad Pro only works in handheld mode.
As icing on the cake, Hori’s Split Pad Pro has a special feature that I once considered getting PowerA’s Enhanced Wireless controller for, even if the latter didn’t have built-in batteries – there are two programmable buttons underneath each of the two controllers! I’m actually worried about getting used to having these two buttons, which won’t be available while I’m playing in docked mode. Each pad also has its own turbo button, which I personally don’t care for all that much but are nice to haves regardless
Hori’s Split Pad Pro is scheduled for release this September 2019 and to be completely honest, I am looking forward to these special controllers the most. I may need to see a few reviews to make sure that these new accessories won’t have any major hardware issues, but I’m almost certain to get a pair as soon as I can. And I think anyone who plays their Nintendo Switch in handheld mode should consider getting a pair of their own, too.
Have you heard about Hori’s Split Pad Pro for the Nintendo Switch? What did you think about their latest accessory? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment or two below!