The Joy-Cons are an innovative piece of tech, but they’re not great for long handheld gaming sessions. The HORI Split Pad Pro solves that issue if you’re okay with a few compromises.
Look & Feel
The Split Pad Pro looks like HORI chopped a Pro Controller in half and fitted it with Joy-Con rails. They’re much larger than the Joy-cons, and the ergonomic design makes them more comfortable to hold. They don’t feel exactly like the Pro Controller, feeling more like an Xbox 360 controller. The more traditional controller design does a lot to relieve hand cramping in handheld mode.
The Split Pad Pro comes in a tu-tone red and blade design that features a tie-in with Daemon X Machina. The branding is a not-so-subtle rebranding of the X button. The analog sticks are painted a nice red to match, otherwise the controller is completely black.
Aside from the more traditional controller shape, the HORI Split Pad Pro includes a few extras. It has a turbo function that can be mapped to most buttons on the controller. Turbo can be set to repeat the assigned button without additional input.
That’s useful in Animal Crossing for bulk crafting and redeeming Nook Miles Tickets.
Turbo can also be set to only turbo the assigned button when it is pressed. That function is more useful for action games like Bayonetta. Learning how to set the two functions can be a little confusing. Here’s what I learned in using the controller.
Aside from the two turbo modes, the controller also features two programmable buttons – one on each side of the split Pad Pro.
Each button can be reprogrammed to be any other button on the same controller. It’s useful to map L3 and R3 analog functions to those buttons. They’re tucked nicely into the back design of the controller so you don’t accidentally press them.
The -/+ buttons, screenshot, and home buttons are all accounted for as well. The downside of these buttons is that they are made of a relatively mushy material. You really have to press these buttons in to get them to register.
The Split Pad Pro does have some compromises compared to other third-party Switch controllers. For one thing, it features no battery, so it can only be used in handheld mode. Most controllers in this price point feature some wireless functionality.
The Split Pad Pro also drops rumble support, motion controls, and NFC to keep costs down. While the loss of motion controls is negligible for some games, the absence of rumble really hurts appeal. So many games require rumble for the full experience that you feel like you’re missing out when you don’t have it.
One other thing to note about the Split Pad Pro is how wide it makes the Switch. It definitely cuts down on the switch portability factor compared to Joy-Cons. The extra size really isn’t a bother if you only plan on using them while playing games at home.
HORI Split Pad Pro Gallery
- Feels better in the hand than Joy-Cons
- Turbo with customizable function
- Two programmable rear buttons
- D-Pad works beautifully
- Switch still fits in the dock
- Only works in handheld mode
- No motion controls
- Lacks rumble support
- No NFC (no amiibo support)
- -/+ buttons are mushy
The Split Pad Pro is one of the best controller upgrades over the Joy-Cons. If you want a more controller-like experience while playing handheld, this should be the go-to controller. It really helps relieve hand cramps while playing in handheld mode.
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