Besides being the most family-friendly console, there’s just something special about the Nintendo Switch’s quirky approach to gaming that puts inventive gameplay ideas over high visual fidelity more common with Sony and Microsoft. That’s reflected the most through its Joy-Con controllers. These feature everything from HD rumble and motion control to usage as two separate controllers. Alongside the Joy-Cons included with the Switch, there are other controller methods available for Switch Lite, Switch and Switch OLED owners as well.
To help you find the right one for you, we’ve created a list of some of the best Switch controllers out.
A large majority of first-party-developed games on the Nintendo Switch usually keep utilization of the Joy-Con controller in mind. For multiplayer games — like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Arms, Mario Party and 1-2-Switch — having extra Joy-Cons in hand can make all the difference when gaming beside friends. Like the ones that come packed with the Switch, the Joy-Cons can be used as two separate controllers with the added wrist strap attachment.
Nintendo’s first-party Switch Pro Controller definitely caters more toward traditionalist gamers and those who play more multi-platform releases from third-party developers. Alongside motion controls, the controller supports HD rumble and built-in Amiibo functionality. Charging through USB-C, the Switch Pro has an average battery life of around 40 hours.
The original Nintendo Entertainment System revitalized the gaming industry when released in the mid-’80s. Over 30 years later, Nintendo still finds ways to capitalize on nostalgia. Alongside the NES Classic, the house that Mario built released a limited-edition classic control set for Nintendo Switch Online users.
Considering finding one online is difficult and extremely expensive due to scalpers, there are some third-party accessory options. That includes the $14 Delta Essentials Wired Controller Gamepad. Though not a complete replica of the OG NES gamepad due to an extra set of buttons, it’s very affordable.
Nintendo Switch Online subscribers have the ability to play both original Nintendo and Super Nintendo games on the console. Those who want a bit more nostalgia can get 8BitDo’s SN30 Pro. Outside of the look and feel of a Super Nintendo gamepad, the wireless controller also features vibration, motion controls and rechargeable battery (via USB-C). For an added bonus, the controller is compatible with PC, OSX, Android and Linux.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players will normally tell you two things about the series. One, Super Smash Bros. Melee is the best entry in the series. Two, that game was made even greater due to the GameCube controller. There are ways to use an original GameCube controller with Ultimate through an adapter.
However, those who want the old-school feel with new-school functionality should look into the PowerA Wireless GameCube-Style Controller. Besides mimicking the feel of the GameCube controller without cords, there’s an extra shoulder button for use in more modern Switch games.
A no-frills Switch controller with quality, the Horipad is an officially licensed wired controller for those who may simply need an extra gamepad that’s inexpensive. There are two things that buyers may appreciate. The first feature is that the D-pad is swappable with either a cross or button cross that’s housed on the controller’s backside. Second, the controller does have a turbo function for gamers who desire it. Not bad for something just short of $20.
Budget-minded Switch owners who want a wireless Pro-style controller should give the $29.99 Funlab Switch Controller a try. Maintaining the ergonomic feel of Nintendo’s gamer-centric gamepad, this controller features motion controls, dual motors for vibration and adjustable Turbo function. Using a 600mAH lithium battery, the wireless controller should provide eight to 10 hours of playtime.
Big-handed Switch owners who prefer the more portable handheld style of play usually understand how difficult gaming sessions are after a few hours. This controller from NexiGo helps alleviate potential cramping with a wider controller that provides better grip. By plugging the Switch directly into the controller, users with bigger hands can get a more comfortable playing experience. There are some other great features as well, including the ability to change the analog stick nubs, utilize the gyroscope, use twin motor vibration and program four extra buttons on the back.
The PowerA Spectra Enhanced Wired Controller is one of the cheapest gamepads available with the official Nintendo quality seal. Coming at a budget price of under $30 doesn’t mean it lacks any features. Besides having LED lighting in eight vibrant colors, there are two mappable buttons on the control’s back and a 3.5mm stereo audio jack. For those worried about accidentally pulling their wired controller out of the console, the PowerA Spectra features a detachable 10-foot cable with snap-lock and in-line releases.
For under $50, the PDP Gaming Faceoff Deluxe Wireless Switch Pro Controller provides some cool customization options through a changeable faceplate. It’s not all looks, though. The wireless controller works up to 40 feet away and features a rechargeable battery. Meanwhile, it’s one of a handful of third-party Switch controllers that’s headset-ready with a 3.5mm jack for those who enjoy communicating in games that don’t require Nintendo’s Switch Online app, including Fortnite, DC Universe Online, Smite and Paladins.
Switch owners who are looking for a more affordable take on the Switch Pro controller should give the NexiGo Elite Switch Pro a shot. Featuring many of the attributes of the more expensive first-party sibling, the controller also features adjustable vibration frequency. Its 6D dual vibration supports five different levels, which is good if players want to switch from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Battery life is around eight to 10 hours, with charging taking between two and three hours.
With the rise of third-party Nintendo Switch controllers come several that also work with other platforms. 8BitDo’s Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller is also compatible with PC, Mac, Steam, Raspberry Pi, Android and iOS. Available in three colorways, this is pretty great for gamers who travel and play on various portable platforms. When using the controller outside of the Switch, 8BitDo has its Ultimate Software mobile app, which allows users to customize controller settings as they want. Utilizing USB-C for charging, the Pro 2 has a promised battery life of around 20 hours.
When it comes to racing games, the current undisputed favorite of Switch owners is most definitely Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. There are plenty of wheel attachments one can use with Joy-Con controllers available. However, those who want more of a console-ready steering wheel solution can look toward Hori’s Nintendo Switch Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Mini. Besides having a giant item button at the center of the wheel, brake/accelerator pedals and traditional console controls, there are paddle controls as well. This makes the wheel great for also playing other popular racing games like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered and Gear.Club to Cruis’n Blast.
One surprise hit during the 2020 lockdown was a free release created by Nintendo software developers in their spare time. The end result was Jump Rope Challenge. This game is a simple exercise of jump rope, where players attempt to do at least 100 a day with a simple monitoring system for keeping up with progress. For those who want more of an immersive experience past making the motions on the Joy-Cons, users can purchase a jump rope compatible with the controllers. This particular one from Echzove is designed to be adjustable for both children and adults.