Shoryuken review: HORI Pokkén Tournament DX Pro Pad for Nintendo Switch

By on September 22, 2017 at 2:00 pm
hori pokken pad switch official image

Standard equipment for aspiring Ferrum League trainers!

hori pokken pad switch official package art

Finally making the move from the sinking Wii U platform to the Nintendo Switch, Pokkén Tournament DX has arrived at last — featuring the updated arcade roster and balance changes, and new Switch-exclusive features. Now, the Switch has a myriad of potential control schemes — so what’s the best way to play Pokkén on its new home console?

pokken_lucario

In its original arcade setting, Pokkén Tournament is notable for featuring a pad controller actually wired to the arcade unit. HORI brought that arcade-accurate feel to the Wii U version of the game with its own Pokkén-specific pad controller based on the arcade model; in fact, that Wii U controller is currently usable on the Switch’s current firmware. But a new port calls for a controller re-release, so we also are now able to pick up a new version of this controller: the HORI Pokkén Tournament DX Pro Pad, available today. HORI provided us a sample pad to try out on the new Pokkén game, so here are our thoughts.

This new pad has a lot of good things going for it. Like its predecessor, it’s very comfortable to hold and play on, due to its shape and low weight. Its design strays from the original’s –which was modeled after the arcade unit’s style/colors — to match the Switch console aesthetic instead.

It features a very smooth, comfortable cross-shaped directional pad, and four nicely-sized, firm-but-responsive face buttons. The L and R “triggers” are large, shallow-throw buttons on the top of the pad, while the +/- and ZL/ZR buttons are present as tiny buttons in the center.

Interestingly, like its Wii U predecessor, this controller lacks any other function buttons — so no home or capture buttons are present on the pad itself. On the Switch, that means you’ll need to use paired/connected Joy-Cons or another pad to exit the game itself, or take a screenshot. A bit awkward, but not that big of a deal. As its aim is to emulate the arcade controller, the pad also leaves off the analog sticks. It also doesn’t include a rumble feature — which is a bit disappointing, but is no different than the Wii U version. There are no button reassignment or turbo function bells ‘n’ whistles here — just the basics.

The original Wii U version [left], and the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons in their grip (for layout comparison) [right].

The missing sticks or buttons are not relevant to playing Pokkén Tournament itself, and in that area, this pad excels. Arcade-accuracy aside, this pad simply works great with this game. Pokkén’s controls are basic enough to map onto a variety of control methods, and naturally, your own preferences will dictate your tastes — but the pad performs perfectly, and by virtue of its design removes the tactile “noise” of the unused components of a different controller, making it feel like the game is meant to be played on this pad. They just mesh together.

The Pokkén pad has already gotten attention previously for its utility for other fighting games as well — simplicity in design suits the genre. This pad will likely work with other fighters on your Switch, even if it isn’t officially supported. I confirmed that it works just fine with Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers (and is very comfortable to use for USFII, though you’ll need to remap some shoulder buttons), and was recognized by my PC as well. Even outside of Pokkén, this pad has a lot of potential utility.

That brings one of this pad’s best points to bear: it’s pretty dang cheap, at $24.99 USD (based on Amazon‘s price). It offers a lot of value for the cost, just as a basic fighting game pad alone.

pokken pikachu libre happy

There’s a question that some Pokkén fans are itching to ask: if you already have the Wii U version, do you even need this one, since the Wii U version is recognized by the Switch already? That’s a bit muddy: HORI has specified to SRK that this version of the controller is designed and manufactured for the Switch console, and will be supported in the console’s future firmware updates, while there’s no guarantee that the prior Wii U model will remain compatible indefinitely. Based on that, Pokkén fans that enjoy this type of controller may want to consider picking this model up in the future, if not right away.

If you already have Nintendo’s own Switch Pro Controller, a HORIPAD, or a HORI Fighting Commander (which you could use instead, paired with a Brook converter), you might be willing to give this pad a pass — or maybe you want to go Tekken-style and use an arcade stick? But if do you plan to play on a pad, it’s tough to do better. Overall, this is a great pad for a great price, and in my view improves the Pokkén Tournament experience significantly. Give it a try.

Pros:

  • Very comfortable to hold and use.
  • Simple but well-designed d-pad and button layout works to benefit the gameplay experience, helps Pokkén Tournament DX feel more arcade-authentic.
  • Wired connection reduces weight, eliminates battery/connectivity issues.
  • Low price point.

Cons:

  • No analog input option, or rumble feature.
  • Lack of a “home” button requires extra Joy-Con/controller support.

Additional source: Nintendo Everything

Shoryuken.com Editor-in-Chief and performing member of Kita no Taiko. Street Fighterin' since there was only a "II" in the name.