One of the only things that lets the Nintendo Switch down is the left Joy-Con and it’s lack of a proper D-Pad. This was an intentional design choice to allow two people to use a Joy-Con each when you are out and about, but let’s be honest, how many people actually do that? If you can safely say you will never do this then it may be time to consider picking up a Joy-Con with a D-Pad. There are two ways to go about doing this: you could purchase a Joy-Con shell and potentially break your controller, or you could pick up one of these Hori D-Pad Joy-Cons.
The Hori D-Pad Controller is, for the most part, the Joy-Con you originally would’ve wanted to come packed with your console. The D-Pad is far superior to the four separate buttons on the original Joy-Con. I’ve been using this Hori Joy-Con for few weeks now, spending the majority of my time playing Puyo Puyo Tetris. We have no doubt that the Hori Joy-Con is superior to the stock one when playing almost any D-Pad-heavy game. For people who play fighting games regularly on the Switch (specifically in handheld mode), you’d be mental not to at least consider buying one of these.
That being said, it’s not the best D-Pad we’ve ever used as it does feel both hard and mushy at the same time. Had Hori taken inspiration from the PlayStation Vita or even the DSi, the clicky style D-Pad would’ve been considerably better than this. The gold standard for me is the Sega Saturn controller which features a large, yet incredibly precise D-Pad. There’s a guy who actually managed to mod the Saturn D-Pad onto a Joy-Con, but let’s be real now, literally no other person is going to do that.
As you can tell from the packaging, there are some downsides to Hori’s Joy-Con that might not seem obvious at a first glance. The biggest omission in this Joy-Con is the lack of any wireless capabilities, meaning you cannot use this Joy-Con without it being connected directly to the Switch. You also lose motion controls, which isn’t a particularly big deal outside of handheld mode and you lose HD Rumble. There is a way to have the nice D-Pad without losing these features, but you’ll have to spend money on a Joy-Con shell and have the skills to swap the innards without breaking anything.
Losing the ability to use this Joy-Con wirelessly isn’t a big deal in the scenario we highlighted earlier (sharing your Joy-Cons while out), but it becomes a problem when wanting to use the Joy-Con grip. For those who don’t want to shell out £55 on a Pro Controller, the grip is one of your only options when it comes to using your Switch comfortably in TV mode. It’s not like you’ve thrown away your old Joy-Con, you can still use it, but it seems like a bit of a waste having this D-Pad Joy-Con without being able to use it wirelessly.
Despite the low price (£20), we wouldn’t recommend buying one of these Hori Joy-Cons unless you only ever use your Switch in handheld mode. The D-Pad on the Hori Joy-Con is great and it will be missed, but we think spending the time to alter the original Joy-Con is the better decision overall. It costs roughly the same amount of money to order one of these D-Pad shells, plus the tools to get the job done. Yes, there are risks involved when performing the shell swap, however, having full functionality of the Joy-Con alongside a good D-Pad outweighs the convenience of the Hori Joy-Con. If you are that interested in having a D-Pad for your Switch that you’ve reached the end of this video/article, you are most likely more than capable of swapping the Joy-Con shells.