Editors Note: Hori has announced a problem with the D-Pad controller. If it is connected to hibernate switch, Joy-Con can drain the replacement battery quickly.
Released July 26th in Japan Hori's new D-Pad Controller (L) for Nintendo Switch corresponds to the prayers of many Nintendo fans, offering a traditional plus-padded left-hand cushion. We have tested the D-Pad Controller extensively with multiple games and can recommend it – with a few important warnings.
Hori's controller is designed for use in lieu of left Joy-Jon in handheld mode. It has a D-pillow instead of the official lefthand Joy-Cons arrow keys, along with an analog stick, the Minus button, the capture button and the L and ZL buttons, just like the regular controller.
On the downside, to make the controller affordable (about $ 24 in Japan), Hori has omitted several important features that limit the ways you can use it. No Bluetooth, gyro sensor or SL / SR buttons means that it can only be used in handheld mode and not in TV or board mode. There is also no room function, which is not a critical issue, but not ideal.
The result is a controller designed for a very special job: It is meant to make certain types of games more comfortable to play – 2D fighting games, scrolling shooters, 2D platform games and so on.
And simply said, the D-pad is amazing. Instead of the small, unlinked, clickable arrow keys on the official controller, you have a fluid-plus button that snaps into place, making it easier to hit diagonals or to change direction fast and give long-time sessions a lot more comfortable .
The Switch Pro Controller, of course, includes a D-pad, but it's not really suitable for games on the go, so Hori's pad fills it nicely.
Make no mistake: The players who would like to appreciate this controller are retro players. Traditional side-scrolling or platform games like Sonic Mania Plus, Metal Slug 3, Flashback and Donkey Kong get more precise motion that feels much more natural and undoubtedly enhances player performance.
The players who would like to appreciate this controller are retro players.
Fighting games like Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle also control much better, with special moves easier to pull off. In particular, BlazBlue has a training mode that visually displays your control inputs, and you can quickly see that the Q-circle-type inputs are enhanced by the D-pad compared to the official Joy-Cons arrow keys. Of course, the Joy-Con analog rods work as a good option for these types of features.) Dash-type commands work much better and it monitors both standing and crooked positions.
It also works well for traditional shooting. A D-pad is much more reliable than an analog stick or arrow keys for the exact up, down, left and right patterns required for a game like Ikaruga. With an analog stick, when you do the subtle left-to-right movements required to escape bullets, the stick sometimes moves slightly up or down, and you slide of course; Since accurate motion is important for cool-hell games, Hori's D-Pad Controller offers a great advantage for this type of game.
And even a puzzle like Puyo Puyo Tetris works better so you get more fluid to achieve hard drops, spin and even basic horizontal motion. Super Bomberman R also has great advantage of more accurate motion. Runbow games are easier to win. In every 2D-based game we tried, the Hori D-Pad Controller is an improvement on the official lefthand Joy-Con.
That is until you remove it. We've always loved how Switch's left and right controls can be used as miniature pads in their own right, which means you always have two controls and can spontaneously play with a friend wherever you are. Since the Hori controller does not work when it's detached from the main unit (and actually since D-pad means it has no face buttons), it can not be used in this way, and then I found myself wearing an extra controls around my switch bag – not a terrible burden, but not ideal for a handheld console.
At the very least, it would be nice to attach it to a grip and play in TV mode, but this is also impossible: The D-Pad Controller does not work with a standard Joy-Con Grip or Charging Handle. Yes, Pro Controller lets us already play on a TV with a D-pad, but that means an additional cost.
Also, while the controller is ideal for shooters as mentioned above, since it can not be used while detached from the switch, it does not work with shooters using the console display in a vertical configuration. A Bluetooth connection would be better for shooters.
Finally, this is a very small thing to praise, but the catch button is raised slightly higher than the official controller, making it easier to press without looking down on the controller – a welcome adjustment.
At the end of the day, Hori's D-Pad Controller is designed to do a single job, and it makes that job very good. It also comes with a budget price that makes it easy to buy to justify – about $ 24 compared to the list price of $ 79.99 on a pair of official Joy-Cons.
But if it also included all the features of a regular Joy-Con, and can be used on TV and table layout, I would (Daniel) personally be happy to pay more for that flexibility – not rent because I, after having used Hori's D-pad for a few weeks, the arrow keys on the regular controller feel so uncomfortable to me as they did when I first tried a Switch.
As it is the comfort and precision of Hori's D road, far outweighs its shortcomings. I will never go back, and that confirms Hori's new controls as an important accessory to Switch.
For more Switch accessories, check out our choices for the best Nintendo Switch carry cases, as well as some of the finest Switch things you can get right now.
Daniel Robson is chief editor of IGN Japan; He could live quite happily without the third dimension. Shmup and matchmember Shin Imai is IGN Japan's deputy head.