Nintendo’s official Pro Controller for Switch is generally a pretty useful accessory, but it has its problems: The D-pad is unreliable, and it really offers no “pro-level” functionality. 8BitDo’s latest controls improve both of these issues while coming in at a lower cost.
8BitDo Pro 2 is an upgraded version of the SN30Pro Plus, already a well-regarded Switch controller. It uses Bluetooth and also works with PCs and mobile devices; there is a physical control to scroll between Switch, X-input, D-input and Mac. You can also use it as a wired controller with a USB-C cable. I tried to use it with my PC, but I feel it makes more sense on the switch due to the Japanese style of button layout with B at the bottom and A at the right. Or maybe I̵
Aesthetically, it looks like a cross between an SNES cushion and a PlayStation controller, with a lozenge-shaped body, two handles and symmetrically aligned analog sticks. The device I have is decorated in a PlayStation-inspired gray colorway, although there is also a completely black alternative and a beige model that evokes the original Game Boy.
It’s not a big controller, but it feels comfortable in my big hands, with easy access to all the buttons and triggers. Equally important to me is the D-pad is good. It feels more or less like an SNES pad, and the location above the left analog stick makes it more suitable for games where there is a primary input option. I would much rather use Pro 2 than Nintendo’s Pro Controller for just about any 2D game on the switch.
The Pro 2’s key function above the predecessor are the customizable rear buttons that you can press with your middle finger. This is a common element of enthusiast-focused controllers today, from Microsoft’s Elite controllers to third-party offerings like the Astro C40 for PS4. Sony also released an attachment that provides similar functionality to the DualShock 4.
These buttons are useful because they allow you to enter commands without taking your thumb off the pins. For example, most first-person shooters assign jumping to a face button, which means it can be difficult to activate while aiming at the same time. With controllers like the Pro 2, you can set a back button to work in the same way as a given face button, and free yourself up to design more flexible control layouts. Pro 2 makes it much easier to manipulate the camera in the middle of one Monster Hunter Rise match, which may be worth the prizes alone.
The back buttons on the Pro 2 are responsive and click, and are activated with a small clamp. You can assign them through 8BitDo’s Ultimate Software app, now available for Pro 2 on iOS and Android as well as PCs. It’s not as simple as some pro controller setup that allows you to map the buttons directly on the controller itself, but it supports multiple profiles and works well enough. In addition to button assignments, the app can also be used to change the controller’s vibration strength and pin sensitivity.
You’ll miss some of the Switch Pro Controller features with 8BitDo Pro 2. While the rumble is solid, it doesn’t feel as accurate as Nintendo’s HD Rumble in supported games. The Pro 2 also lacks an NFC reader, so it does not work with Amiibo characters. And it can not be used to turn on the switch, which is common to most third-party controllers across different platforms.
For $ 49.99, these omissions are understandable. That’s $ 20 less than Nintendo’s equivalent option, let alone the pro controllers you find for Xbox or PlayStation in the $ 180- $ 200 series. And all things considered, I would take 8BitDo Pro 2 over the official Nintendo controller most days of the week.
8BitDo Pro 2 starts delivery on April 12.