Accessory: HORI D-Pad Joy-Con Controller
Company: HORI
Type: Controller
Price: $24.99 USD

The Joy-Cons are neat little controllers, but they’ve also been the target for a lot of criticism against older controls in terms of their buttons. Some say that the L and R triggers are too thin and tiny, while others think they aren’t really fit for good and comfortable single Joy-Con play.

Without a doubt, though, the biggest complaint about the Joy-Cons is the fact that the Left has separated face button-style buttons for its directional input instead of a proper D-Pad. While I, personally, have never had immense difficulty with using the Arrow buttons for platforming or fighting games, many others have.

Hori tried to fix this with their own Joy-Con that came with a fully-functional D-Pad instead of arrow buttons. So, let’s dive into this controller and see just how good, or flawed, it is. Here is my review of the Hori D-Pad Joy-Con!

Design

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The HORI Joy-Con is mostly designed like the original Joy-Cons. It is a little bit thicker in the back, but overall has the same shape. The material does have a bit of a “different” feel to it. It may be due to the weight, as the Hori is a little bit lighter when you hold it by itself.

It comes with all the different pieces and areas as an original Left Joy-Con, aside from the fact that there’s now a D-Pad instead of arrow buttons and the button to detach is also a bit different as it is bigger and sticks out a bit more.

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There’s also the fact that the inside SL and SR buttons are there but cannot be pressed in to be used as buttons. And that’s because this controller is made exclusively for handheld mode, which I’ll get into a bit later.

The buttons, themselves, also feel a little different. They Analog Stick and triggers don’t feel different, but the minus and screenshot buttons have a bit of a “Mushy/Rubbery” feeling to them. They don’t have that solid, thick “click” when you press them in, but rather a mushy feeling as they go in and do their thing.

The D-Pad feels very good, though. It’s not super-hard like the arrow buttons were, but it is solid and feels just like a normal D-Pad should.

Performance

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Syncing the controller up to the Switch is mostly a good time. Almost every time I use it, I slide it onto the Switch and can use it within seconds. Though it is worth noting that in the past week and a half I’ve had it there have been a few times where it didn’t register and I needed to put the Right Joy-Con on the system for it to recognize it.

The buttons are very responsive, especially when it comes to the D-Pad that’s built into it. It works amazingly well, both with platforming and with fighting games. There was a surprisingly-large difference in my comfort with Dragon Ball FighterZ between the Left Joy-Con and the Hori D-Pad Joy-Con.

Another big plus about this controller is the stability of the rail lock. My original Joy-Cons are superbly-easy to slide off of the Switch without press the lock-release button on the back. Just a tiny bit of pressure from resting the bottom on your hand and it is sliding off. This controller is extremely stable and has a very secure connection. Once it’s on, it doesn’t budge unless that lock release is pushed.

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But there is one major thing that affects performance, and it’s how the controller is designed. There isn’t any wireless technology or vibration technology built into this controller, hence why it’s lighter than a standard Joy-Con. Because of this, it can only be used in handheld mode. This is made for handheld-heavy players only, as the controller disconnects the moment it starts to slide off of the rail.

I will give them credit as this is half the price of a normal joy-con, but depending on whether or not you use docked mode a lot (I use all modes a lot), this could be a pretty big hinderance as this cannot replace your pre-existing Left Joy-Con outside of handheld mode. If you want FighterZ or Mario docked, you’re gonna have to go back to either the Pro Controller or that Arrow Button-focused Left Joy-Con.

In conclusion, the HORI D-Pad Joy-Con is a great controller for handheld players that want to be more competitive in fighting games. The D-Pad is strong, stable, and performs very well. On the downside, it can -only- be used in handheld mode and the rubbery feeling of some of the other buttons makes input recognition from the user a bit weird to try to adjust to.

Final Score: 8/10