Pokken’s Funky Fighting Controller Finds New Purpose on the Switch

By Mike Fahey on at

Since the Nintendo Switch launched earlier this year, mine has rarely seen the inside of the TV dock. Now that Pokken Tournament DX is here, that’s changed. I need that USB port for Hori’s Pokken Tournament Pro Pad DX—and not just for Pokémon battles.

Released in white for the Wii U version and now in black for the Switch, the Pokken Tournament Pro Pad is a controller designed to emulate the unique controls found on Pokken Tournament arcade cabinets. Rather than going with a traditional joystick and buttons, the arcade game sports a pair of wide, skinny game pads.

The arcade pads feature everything a player could want to play Pokken Tournament—a directional pad, four face buttons and a pair of shoulder buttons for blocking, calling in assists or activating flashy synergy moves.

The home version of the controller isn’t quite as long, but the design is nearly identical. Hori added four buttons to the bottom center of the pad’s face, handling start (-), select (+), ZL and ZR functions.

It’s a controller built mainly for one thing, and it does that one thing very well. The directional pad is large and responsive. The face buttons are larger than normal and deliver a great tactile response. And the shoulder buttons? They are the absolute best, especially for those with larger fingers. There’s no mixing them up with ZL and RL, because those buttons aren’t there to get in the way.

It’s a big improvement over the Wii U’s standard controls. It’s an even bigger improvement over the Switch. As much as I love playing games on Nintendo’s handheld/tv hybrid, the JoyCon shoulder buttons are too close for my fat fingers’ comfort, and the response isn’t meaty enough.

I prefer using a directional pad over an analog stick for movement in the game. The Switch’s d-pad is four buttons—not a d-pad at all, really. It works well enough, but there’s no beating a nice big black plus sign.

The Pokken Tournament Pro Pad is also better on the Switch than Wii U in one very important area. While it could only be used for one game on the Wii U, a Switch firmware update in June made it so the Pokken pad can be used with any game, as long as it doesn’t require an analog stick. Games like Puyo Puyo Tetris and Street Fighter play great, and once the Switch gets virtual console games, it’s going to be amazing for those.

As for the keeping my Switch docked situation, I’m just a USB C to A adapter away from taking care of that.

The Hori Pokken Tournament Pro Pad DX is now available at retail for £16, which is a steal considering its expanding capability. It’s worth noting the Wii U version is the exact same controller—just the colour is different—so you might be able to pick up one of those used on the cheap. Amazon’s even got the special Pikachu edition available, albeit with a slight price hike.

Who knew an odd, single-use controller for a dying console would wind up coming in so handy?