Nintendo’s upcoming video game console, the Switch, is versatile. It’s a home console; it’s a portable console; it can act as a portable display for you and a friend to play multiplayer games.
It slices! It dices!
OK, it doesn’t do those last two things. But it does do the other stuff. And doing all that stuff means having a lot of ways to control games.
In the image above, we see a pretty standard setup: a wireless gamepad, which looks relatively traditional, controlling a console connected to a television. If the gamepad looks a little “off,” that’s because it is. It’s basically a square with grips.
Here’s a comparison between Nintendo’s Switch gamepad and those of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4:
The difference is pretty stark, despite their similar button/thumbstick layouts. And that’s due to the modular nature of Nintendo’s Switch console — the grey areas with buttons on the left and right sides of the Switch gamepad are known as “Joy-Con, “and they’re removable.
You can use one of each as a pair of motion controllers, or you can hold one in each hand and use it as a sort of two-piece gamepad.
Or, alternatively, you can turn one sideways and use it as a sort of miniature gamepad. Like this:
But let’s be clear: none of these setups are ideal.
Even when the two Joy-Con are saddled into the Grip, thus forming the traditional-ish gamepad setup, it’s not a great gamepad. It feels like a massive square with grips attached, because it is. Nintendo has a far better solution in its $70 “Pro” controller.
This should look much more familiar to anyone who has played a game console in the last decade:
Indeed, the Pro Controller is — in my personal experience — the best way to play games on the Switch. It’s not a perfect gamepad, but it’s far more comfortable and usable than any other controller setup on the console. It costs a whopping $70 (a $10 jump over how much Microsoft and Sony controllers cost), but it’s a worthy investment if you plan on playing a lot of Switch games at home.
When the Switch launches on March 3, so does the Pro Controller. And, as of this week, the Pro Controller is finally up for pre-order.
And you’re going to want that Pro Controller. When the console launches in March, the biggest game is a no-brainer for the Pro Controller: “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”
Better yet, there’s a combo pack that comes with the new “Zelda” game and a Pro Controller. It’s almost like Nintendo realises that the best way to play the new “Zelda” is with its Pro Controller! Notably, it looks like GameStop is the only retailer offering pre-orders of the gamepad.
Thinking you can hold off on buying one until the console launches in March? Think again: Nintendo has a long history of hardware shortages, especially when it comes to peripherals. Even the massively popular NES Classic Edition console was in short supply, and that’s just a little plastic box that plays games from 30 years ago.
Here’s hoping we’re wrong about that, and there are plenty of Pro Controllers available for the March 3 launch.