The Nintendo Switch has been out for a few years now and many controller options have hit the market. This includes wired and wireless designs by a number of different brands, each with several colours and character-inspired designs. But only two models really stand out from the crowd to serious gamers. The official Switch Pro Controller by Nintendo and the PowerA Wireless Gamecube Controller.
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The Nintendo Gamecube Controller Design
The Wireless PowerA is a very close replica of the original GameCube controller from 200x. The original GameCube controller has a very distinct design which many people find polarising. Whilst most would agree that the Nintendo GameCube controller was a big upgrade from the Nintendo 64’s controller, it tends to split people into two camps. Those who think it is one of the most ergonomic controllers of all time, and people who have never owned a GameCube before.
The biggest difference between the GameCube and other controllers at the time (and into the future) is that the 4 main action buttons A,B,X,Y are not placed in the typical up, down, left, right placements you can see on just about all other controllers. This design meant your thumb’s default resting position is above the A button, which is generally the most used button on the controller and it has a shorter distance to pivot to each of the other buttons around it.
Key differences from the original Nintendo GameCube Controller and the PowerA Wireless GameCube Controller
As the design has been modified for the Nintendo Switch, there are additional buttons and lights that are essential functionality for the Nintendo Switch, this includes the + and – buttons, screenshot button, the controller number lights and the home button. These replace the original solitary start/pause button in the centre of the controller.
The OG design only had the extra purple shoulder button on the right which was the “Z” button, an evolution of the Z trigger button under the Nintendo 64 controller. The additional shoulder button “L” to mirror the “R” button which replaces the original Z button. This is a necessary addition as most modern controllers have dual shoulder buttons, and omitting this would make this controller impossible to use for certain games.
The left and right sticks also function as a button when pressed down.
Other design changes
The PowerA controllers also feature a larger D-pad (the grey directional pad) than the original. This is surely a welcome change for fans of the original, as the original was quite small. The grey ZL and ZR triggers feel a little different to the original controller and are now digital. They are now more “clicky” whilst the old ones were pressure-sensitive analogue buttons, whilst this doesn’t feel as pleasing to press, it makes sense given no games require this on the Switch and these controllers are not backwards compatible with the original GameCube console.
This is not the first time a wireless GameCube controller has hit the market, these are far more widely available than the vintage GameCube WaveBird controllers were. These are also far easier to use on the Nintendo Switch than hooking up these older controllers, which are compatible via a USB GameCube controller adapter.
Both the Pro Controller and PowerA Wireless GameCube controllers can work from a sensible distance from your television. I can’t confirm which goes further, but realistically, if you go too far away from the TV, you won’t be able to see what you’re doing.
The rubbery tips on the two thumbsticks feel slightly different to the ones on the original Gamecube controllers. These make the controller feel a little cheap in comparison, but perhaps this different material will be more durable in the long term, as vintage controllers often show wear and damage to the thumbsticks.
The plastic itself does feel a little lighter than it should be and seems to scratch easier than you’d expect. The A,B,X,Y buttons feel shiny and glossy and feel good to press. They might feel slightly stiffer than the Pro Controller but it’s still good to use.
The Switch Pro controller has more weight to it, despite not having two AA batteries inside it. The thumbsticks have the same kind of rubber on them as the official Joycons, but they are thumb nubs are slightly bigger and the stick itself is much chunkier.
All of the models so far have had a clear black body that you can slightly see-through. The handles are a solid colour and are perfectly angled in an ergonomic way. The ZL and ZR buttons are digital and easier to press rapidly than the PowerA Gamecube controller.
There are a few features available in the official Pro Controller that are not available on the PowerA controller or most other 3rd party controllers. The following features appear in the Pro controller but not the PowerA GameCube wireless.
HD rumble – This is a feature you might miss in some games, especially if rumble gives clues to items or danger nearby in the game. This feature would have been removed to make room for the AA batteries. There is no rumble at all with this controller.
Amiibo NFC reader –
The PowerA controller is readily available in classic GameCube colours Purple and Black. EB Games has an exclusive Silver and Gold version as well.
The Switch Pro controller is consistently available in black, but they periodically release special edition colour variations including Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate and Splatoon 2 (pictured). Be careful of other officially licensed wireless controllers that look similar and have the official logos on the packaging, if they have any mention of PowerA or Hori on them, they are a different controller.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate
If you are a veteran of Super Smash Bros Melee on the Nintendo Gamecube and you have been using the GameCube controllers for years, then the wireless PowerA controller should be a no brainer. If you are concerned about latency, you might opt for the wired model or a vintage controller and adapter.
What makes this controller stand out for this game, in particular, is the accuracy of the controls due to the octagonal casing around the thumbsticks. This allows you to ensure you are hitting the stick to the exact position required for particular combos.
Whilst PowerA also has corded models, the wireless functionality is what you are paying for with this model. All wireless controllers cost an extra $20-$30 AUD than their wired counterparts.
Wired PowerA Controller
PowerA also produces wired models of their controllers with 3-metre detachable cable and a velcro strap for keeping it tidy when not in use. Whilst a 3-metre cable is quite generous and the detachable cable is good for if anyone trips over it, this is typically something parents would buy for children so that you don’t have to worry about them having trouble syncing controllers or worrying about replacing the AA batteries or charging it.