Shoryuken review: The Switch Wireless HORIPAD is a solid controller that stands out among the crowd

By on January 26, 2019 at 12:00 pm
Wireless Switch Horipad Crop

These striking controllers are great for Super Smash Bros. and platformers, but take some getting used to for traditional fighters.

HORI continues to support the Nintendo Switch with the Switch Wireless HORIPAD, a stylish and lightweight alternative that is extra comfortable while sticking to the essential functions.

HORI logo black 750x400

Design:

HORI has designed two Switch Wireless HORIPADS based on two of Nintendo’s largest franchises, those being Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda. The Mario-styled controller dons a traditional red color scheme with the signature “M” logo in the center, adorned with a surrounding Question Block, Super Mushroom, and Super Star. The red, black, and white all go together very nicely and create a one of a kind Switch controller. The Zelda-themed controller is sleek black with an intricately stylized gold Hylian Crest which creates a truly sophisticated-looking gamepad.

Overall both controllers look very nice and have more going for them than most “Pro” styled Switch controllers from both first and third-parties. The side grips feature a textured, translucent casing which feels quite nice. While I am a sucker for translucent casing, I do find it odd — given the fact that there is nothing to see underneath the controller due to its lack of rumble motors — that it’s translucent at all. For the HORI Nintendo Switch Battle Pad, the translucent casing made sense because you could see the board within the controller. This controller has no surprise underneath, if anything its a reminder of a key feature the controller lacks: it has no rumble. While the two-tone design suits the controllers well, it might have been a better move to go with a solid black for the grips, with the texture found on the Battle Pad that I’ve grown used to holding.

The controller is much larger than most Nintendo Switch controllers available; compared to the Joy-Con Grip it’s gargantuan, and this is definitely a welcome design choice. The button and stick placements are practically perfect. The face buttons fit the natural slope of the controller, making some more exposed than the others, but the travel distance to press is the same regardless. It does take a pretty firm press to activate the A/B/Y/X buttons, but they feel responsive overall.

One small grievance is how easy it is to hit the capture button when quickly flicking to the right on the left stick, but once you do it a couple of times you become more aware of its location. This probably could have been fixed by making the button recessed like the first-party offering, but if anything at least it’s the screenshot button and not the Home or Plus/Minus buttons.

The D-Pad is solid and reacts as it should, and the buttons feel the right amount of clicky without needing to be pressed down too hard for a response. Imagine a combination of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers that weighs next to nothing. It’s actually pretty commendable how light the controller is. While I would have preferred it to be heavier, its certainly valuable for longer play sessions without straining your wrists.

Function:

First and foremost, the HORIPADs are completely wireless, which is a more than welcome feature and a first for any Switch controller offered by HORI. They connect via Bluetooth and have a solid 32-foot range. The controllers are also rechargeable — no need for AA batteries here — with a 15-hour battery life. The controllers also feature a gyroscope and accelerometer for motion controls, making it compatible with a range of titles.

The only real fault that I found with the controller itself is that there is too far of a distance between the analog joystick and the outer wall of the joystick cage. While testing the controllers with BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, I found that while pressing right on the left joystick, due to this distance, my thumb would naturally slope downward, creating a down-right input every time I naturally moved the stick, causing my character to duck instead of move forward. This was definitely a strange occurrence that was consistently replicated and it makes it difficult to recommend using the stick for traditional fighters.

That being said, for someone who typically uses the D-Pad for fighting games like myself, the controller handles very well and it operates as it should. The D-Pad is very well made and works great when used in fighting games and platformers. It is a little on the large side (like everything else about the controller) so it requires a little more finesse to keep inputs quick, but I’d take this over the Joy-Con’s regular directional buttons any day.

It is weird to say that the Wireless HORIPADs feel bare-bones, given the fact that they do indeed have motion controls, but the lack of rumble or the typical Turbo mode found on nearly every HORI product is a little strange. This is entirely speculation, but perhaps Nintendo has a standard for the rumble found in third-party controllers, requiring them to use the Switch-standard HD Rumble, and in order to keep their controllers competitively priced, third parties decide to ax the feature. Taking everything into account, however, these features aren’t exactly necessary for most titles, and explain the lower price point.

Another strange caveat to the controller is that it uses the micro-USB input to charge whenever all of Nintendo’s first-party items utilize the more modern USB-C. It gets even stranger whenever the controller doesn’t include the necessary cable. Luckily micro-USB cables are fairly common but with USB-C dominating most devices nowadays its a bit of a strange decision to ask players to either purchase a new cable to use for the controller specifically or to dig through the junk drawer in hopes of finding one. Still, these cables aren’t very expensive and will be cheaper in the long run (and better for the environment) than any pack of batteries.

While it might sound like there were more than a few negatives, all in all, the Wireless HORIPAD is a fantastic addition to anyone’s Switch controller collection. Especially those in need of a solid standard gamepad with wireless capabilities which is actually quite rare at this price point, its only equal competition being PowerA’s Enhanced Wireless Controller which still requires AAs. Being $20 cheaper than Nintendo’s alternative also makes this offering an economical steal if you can forgive it for lacking rumble, Infrared, and NFC functions. The controllers are also so visually impressive that their designs alone nearly make them a must-have.

As it stands, even with it having fewer features, I still prefer the Switch Wireless HORIPAD over the traditional Joy-Cons by a mile and a half, and I use the HORIPAD for every title it’s compatible with and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. There’s just something about the Switch Pro Controller that doesn’t sit right with me. The overall form factor and buttons don’t feel right, even by Nintendo’s wacky standards. If HORI manufactures a true competitor to the Pro Controller, and it’s just like the HORIPAD with all the Pro’s functions and more traditional triggers with a longer draw distance, I’ll be all over it.

Pros:

  • Extremely comfortable.
  • Rechargeable long-lasting battery.
  • Motion controls allowing for greater compatibility.
  • Great designs are bold and fun.
  • Solid D-Pad and buttons.

Cons:

  • No rumble.
  • A bit too light.
  • Easy to accidentally click the Capture button.
  • Micro-USB connection, not USB-C (which is not included).
  • Analog ticks have too far of a travel distance, making it easy for incorrect inputs.

The Wireless Switch HORIPADs can be purchased on Amazon and through HORI’s official webpage for $49.99:


HORI provided Shoryuken with both Wireless Switch HORIPADs for the purpose of this review.


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Shoryuken.com Associate Editor. Austyn James Roney began his gaming journey with Super Smash Bros. on the N64 but learned the ways of the fighting game genre with Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Loves all fighters, regardless of dimension or playstyle.