The Nintendo Switch already features two controllers right out of the gate, but the Joy-Cons are less than ideal for anything but handheld play or party games. Those who love couch co-op with friends and family will want to invest in a second full-sized controller to enjoy titles like LoZ: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Luckily, there are several different options to accommodate your needs depending on your budget.
Nintendo’s Pro Controller is available for around $69.99, but that’s a hefty add-on for a console you’ve already paid $300 for. PowerA has created some unique licensed wired controllers that are much cheaper and comparable to the Pro Controller, so let’s dive right in.
The PowerA controller clocks in at a full 1.6 ounces lighter than the official Pro Controller. This is likely attributed to the lack of HD Rumble and gyroscope support.
Light controllers usually feel cheap, but I’m happy to report that the PowerA controller has struck a nice balance between form and function. While the weight difference between the controllers is noticeable when holding them, it’s not a hinderance to gameplay.
HD Rumble and Gyroscope aiming are nice features for games that support them, but they’re not necessary for indie games, platformers, and most other eShop games.
I have a launch Pro Controller, which means it is not the best for playing platformer games since the contacts on each side of the D-Pad are so close that pressing left or right sometimes registers an up or down press. This problem has been resolved in recent controllers like the Splatoon 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 special edition controllers, but if you bought a Pro Controller at launch you’ve probably experienced this problem, too.
I tend to prefer the PowerA controller for playing platformers and other indie games because it does not have these contact issues. The shoulder buttons on the PowerA controller are much more trigger-like too, which could be a boon for people who are used to playing shooter games with an Xbox One or PS4 controller.
Another noticeable difference between the two controllers is the – and + buttons. Those buttons sit flush with the Pro Controller housing, which can make them hard to press if you don’t have a bit of a nail to get in there. The PowerA controller doesn’t have this problem as the buttons are more elevated.
With the Pro Controller, what you see is what you get. You can buy special edition Pro Controllers that feature Splatoon 2 or Xenoblade Chronicles 2 branding, but you won’t be able to change the height of the thumbsticks.
Each PowerA controller comes with a set of standard sticks and two other sets that you can swap out depending on your needs. One set features a convex top, while the other features a concave top for those who prever a little something to grip. The sticks’ height is also adjustable depending on which sticks you’re using.
The shape of these controllers is similar, but the PowerA controller feels more inspired by the Xbox One controller than the Pro Controller. The wings of the PowerA controller have a more rounded shape, but that doesn’t mean the Pro Controller sucks. Both controllers fit in the hand nicely and the shape of the wings is down to pure preference.
At launch, the Pro Controller was only available in black but a special edition Splatoon 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 controller has been produced. These are pretty rare to find as they’re no longer available for sale at GameStop and the controllers that are available on Amazon are priced over $100. Ouch.
PowerA has launched a huge variety of character-based controllers for those who want to represent their favorite Nintendo character. You can choose from Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Bowser and more. Take a look at the image below to see some of the designs.
The Pro Controller has some pretty big advantages over the PowerA controllers, as long as you’re willing to fork over more than twice the price. For one, it’s wireless and charges through USB-C, while the PowerA controller is wired and charges through microUSB. If you use gyro-aiming in online shooters like Splatoon 2, then you’ll want to get a Pro Controller.
However, if you’re okay with not having HD Rumble and gyroscope controls and just need a second controller for your friend, spouse, or kids then the PowerA controllers are definitely the best of the third-party controllers available for the Nintendo Switch. The provided cable is eight feet in length, which should be plenty to reach the couch for a fun game of Overcooked.