The Nintendo Switch is one of the most versatile game consoles ever created, and a large part of that comes down to the system’s many available control schemes. Whether you want to use a single Joy-Con controller turned sideways, two Joy-Con controllers in a Grip, or something completely different, Nintendo and its third-party partners have you covered.
Which controllers should you choose when purchasing your system? We’ve compiled a list of some of the best Nintendo Switch controllers, including specialty options for the most dedicated players, as well as cheaper controllers for people gaming on a budget. Regardless of your style, we have a Nintendo Switch controller here to fit your needs.
Yes, these are the basic controllers that come with the Nintendo Switch but having a few spares is handy especially with the number of local co-op games available on the Switch.
The versatility of the Joy-Cons is incredibly useful, both with the system in its handheld configuration and docked in an entertainment center. Each comes equipped with face buttons, two bumpers, and triggers, directional buttons, as well as additional bumper buttons located on the side from when you’re only using one of them at a time.
When attached to the Switch, they’re nearly perfect, offering much better control over your game than you’d get with an older Nintendo system or even the PlayStation Vita, and you can hand one to another player to play some Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the go.
The Joy-Con controllers can also be attached to the Joy-Con grip to turn them into a sort of standard gamepad, albeit a small one. If you don’t opt for another controller, it does the job admirably, and we were able to make it through dozens of hours of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild without using anything else.
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If you spend the majority of your time with the Nintendo Switch in its dock, the small Joy-Con grip might feel too small. In that event, you’ll want to invest in the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.
It’s expensive, usually retailing for around $60, but the Pro Controller comes with large face buttons, bumpers, triggers, and analog sticks. It also has a more traditional directional pad that feels similar to those available on the Wii U’s controllers. Its shape is similar to the Xbox One’s controller, and its internal battery lasts far longer than the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4.
The Pro Controller isn’t just for playing the Switch at home, either. Some larger carrying cases for the Switch, such as the Game Traveler Deluxe, include a compartment that can either hold a Joy-Con grip or a Pro Controller. With the system’s kickstand or a separate stand, you can be playing your favorite games on the go using the same controller you use at home.
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When using the Nintendo Switch in its handheld configuration, it can feel slightly odd due to the lack of a traditional directional pad on the left Joy-Con, which instead uses split buttons. To rectify this, Hori has created its own left Joy-Con controller, complete with a directional pad and available in a variety of different styles.
For those playing 2D platformers on the go, it will make controlling your character feel more natural, though you’ll sacrifice rumble in the process.
The Hori controller isn’t meant to completely replace your regular left Joy-Con, as it’s only compatible with the system in handheld mode. It also reportedly drains the Switch’s battery more quickly than other controllers, but its $25 price means you can only use it occasionally and still feel like you got your money’s worth.
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Going on a road trip and want to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze with your friends? 8Bitdo’s Zero 2 controller is a tiny alternative to the Joy-Con controllers that contains all the buttons you need for split-screen multiplayer games.
In addition to a traditional direction pad, face buttons, and shoulder buttons, it also includes motion control support, and it comes in a variety of colors meant to emulate the Game Boy Pocket.
As an added bonus, the 8Bitdo Zero 2 controllers also support the PC, Mac, and Android devices through Bluetooth, and their firmware can be updated wirelessly. They release during the holiday season this year for $20 each.
While some people prefer to take their Switch systems with them wherever they go, others rarely take them out of the dock. If you fall into the latter category and often play with friends, PowerA’s Wired Controller Plus can serve as a good second gamepad for your guest.
It comes with a 10-foot cable, so you can use it from a couch without any issue, and it features a button layout nearly identical to the Pro Controller. It also comes in two Nintendo-themed designs that include Mario and Zelda.
For those of you who aren’t enthused about wired controllers, there’s also an enhanced version of PowerA’s Controller that uses Bluetooth so you don’t have to stay tethered to your console.
The Wired Controller Plus won’t necessarily replace the Pro Controller as it lacks motion functionality and HD Rumble, but for the $25 price, it’s hard to pass it up, and you can purchase one or two extra to accommodate larger gatherings.
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No, this isn’t a new lookalike GameCube controller meant to emulate the real thing the Nintendo Switch actually supports the classic GameCube controller with the use of a special adapter.
Both will be available with the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Switch, giving veteran players the classic control scheme they know and love. The adapter is identical to the one used for the Wii U, so you can plug that into your Switch if you still have it, and this gives you enough ports for everyone in the match to use a GameCube controller.
The GameCube controller is a unique beast, and perhaps that’s why it’s better to simply support it on future systems rather than attempt to copy it. Its C-stick, asymmetrical button layout, and ergonomic shape make it a must-have for any Smash Bros. fan, and it’s even being reproduced specifically for fighting fans who don’t want to use one of the Switch’s newer controllers.
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If you want to play your Switch using GameCube controllers while you’re traveling, the only way to do so out of the box is by bringing your dock with you. However, 8BitDo released the GBros. wireless adapter to coincide with the launch of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The adapter connects to the GameCube controller like the Wii’s Classic Controller did, effectively turning it into a wireless controller with up to 30 hours in battery life. It even has “share” and “home” buttons so you aren’t missing out on any features, and its color scheme matches the original GameCube’s purple design. If you want to use it with the NES Classic, SNES Classic, or Wii Classic controllers, you can do that, too.
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Want to play with a GameCube-style controller but don’t want to spend money on Nintendo’s USB adapter or a third-party adapter? The PDP Wired Fight Pad Pro Controller mimics the look of a classic GameCube controller. With the standard left analog stick and a smaller C-stick on the right, the face buttons feel nearly identical to Nintendo’s own controller.
It also includes shoulder buttons and triggers on both sides, so you can use it for Switch games that a standard GameCube controller wouldn’t be able to handle.
The Wired Fight Pad Pro Controller doesn’t include motion sensors like the Joy-Con or Pro Controllers do, as it was primarily designed as an alternative accessory for playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. You can remove the C-Stick on the right side and replace it with a second analog stick, and this comes included with every controller.
They are available in Mario, Zelda, and Pikachu variants, so you can let your friends know who you’re going to take into the next match. You can purchase the Wired Fight Pad Pro controller for just $25 a pop.
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