The Switch (and Pro Controllers) have Terrible D-Pads


#1

So, from the very first time I played Blaster Master on Switch I knew something was wrong. The D-Pad was all kinds of terrible. It’s really keeping me from buying ACA and Retro Games or Retro Styled games in general. When I got Puyo Puyo Tetris it confirmed my suspicions that the Pro Controller D-Pad sucks.

The Joy Cons have face buttons not a D-Pad so that isn’t going to be a good option. The Analog sticks work but I just don’t like using them over a D-Pad. I want to try the D Pad Mod you can do for the left joycon. I really can’t imagine why anyone would use the mini controllers so much they would give up a dpad for the 2 player-rarely-going-to-happen-use-case.

Hearing that the Xenoblade 2 Pro Controller had a better D-Pad I bought one. Hoping this would resolve my issues. I also bought an 8bitdo SFC Pro as well because I wanted to compare. I use the 8bitdo controllers most of the time when I play the SNES on my HDTV and I use the wired controller when on my CRT.

I used 2 games to test my findings. Blaster Master Zero & Puyo Puyo Tetris. I used my launch day pro, the new xenoblade chronicles 2 pro & the 8bitdo Super Famicom Pro controller.

Blaster Master

The D Pad on my day 1 unit isn’t as bad as some would think but I can definitely feel that its off. Often my character will change direction I think I am not pressing. It doesn’t happen often but i feel i am having to baby sit it a lot more. I noticed, I naturally gravitated back to the analog stick.

Xenoblade 2 Pro feels night and day here. I am going to the correct angles when I press diagonal. When I compare the two I have to say I prefer the D Pad on the XBC2 controller.

8bitdo controller was great. Feels like a snes pad in the hand. Not as comfortable as the Switch Pro but for the use case I have in mind I don’t see any reason not to own one outside of the $50 buy in can be steep just to play retro & retro style games on the switch.

Puyo Puyo Tetris

I am going to say a mistake is accidentally pressing up to force the tetromino to drop instantly.

Day 1 Switch Pro Controller. I was averaging 5-6 mistakes in vs mode per game. So in a 20 minute sessions I think I was close to doing the wrong action because of the controller about 1-2 times per minute.

Xenoblade Pro controller. I was averaging about 1-3 mistakes in vs mode per game. 20 minute session was 1 mistake every 1-2 minutes. Still making mistakes based on the dpad should never happen.

8bitdo Pro. I can’t say I ever pressed up by mistake in my 20-30 minute session with the controller. It felt night and day better than the other two. Buy this for retro games if you have the funds.

The pro controllers are still really good for everything else. I don’t recommend buying a Xenoblade 2 Pro controller if you want a better D-Pad. Buy the 8bitdo one. The 8bitdo has some issues that you should be aware of. The vibration is insane. Way too strong and sometimes will get stuck on vibrate. I assume this is due to the way they are forcing it to pair with the switch. It will also disconnect randomly and 8bitdo said they fixed it with the new firmware update that I didn’t try yet. The 8bitdo controller doesn’t pair to the retro receivers. I tried a few times and I couldn’t get it to work on my snes or nes. All in all i would say this is a great 2nd controller if you already have a pro.

Whats Next?

I am going to sell or return my Xenoblade 2 controller and I am going to pick up a wired hori pad to see how it goes. They are $20 on Amazon so I think it’s worth a shot.

I am trying to find a spare left joycon to do the d-pad mod on it. Buying a new left joycon costs $50 and the new housing costs another $25-30 so it’s fairly expensive to buy just to try.

I might buy the 8bitdo Arcade stick but I am kind of allergic to junk sticks and I get the feeling it might be. The Hori RAP is really expensive for the switch and I would much rather buy a new stick for xbox or ps4 where I might actually use it for for more than a crappy version of Street Fighter 2.


#2

The Pro Controller has a terrible d-pad, yes. It’s become my default PC controller because of it’s insane battery life and native direct-input (and thus, works perfectly as a 360 pad via steam) - but if it had a better d-pad, it would simply be the GOAT in my opinion.

I do have to say though, I love the “d-pad” on the Switch joycon itself. It’s not a d-pad, no - but it’s damn accurate due to that. Playing Picross on my switch and then moving back to Picross on the 3DS made me realise that. I get a lot of accidental inputs on the 3DS dpad. But maybe it’s because that’s shit too.


#3

I have a first run Pro controller for Switch and while I have had some d-pad issues, I still think it’s pretty awesome. I intend to get another newer one at some point and save the current one as a Player Two device when required. I do wish Nintendo would fix/replace those first run ones.


#4

I got mine launch day along with the switch…are the newer ones really better?


#5

The D Pad post is improved but supposedly that its not the post that is causing the issue but the contact.

According to a redditor this fixes the issue.


#6

Pokken controller can be acquired for very cheap and has a fairly good d-pad, although I haven’t put it through it’s paces.

Last I checked it’s compatible with all d-pad controlled games.

Personally, however, I have never had a misdirected input on my launch pro controller. As I understand it, it has a a flawed design but may not affect everyone depending on how you are accustomed to rolling your thumb when using a d-pad.


#7

Play tetris with quick drop on. Youll feel the pain I gauren damn tee it!


#8

I do


#9

I posted this in the discord a while back but I found the Xenoblade 2 controller dpad to be identical to the one in the Wii U Pro Controller, which has a very good d-pad.

However I’ve always found the modern Nintendo big d-pads in Classic Controller, Classic Controller Pro, Wii U Gamepad, and Wii U Pro Controller to be a bit looser than the classic pads found in NES, SNES, N64 controllers. Honestly I prefer it for most games since it’s easier and more comfortable to do diagonals with the newer pads.

I can see why Tetris w/ quick drop might be annoying with this kind of d-pad since slipping to a diagonal is easier than classic Nintendo d-pads but depending on the game it’s a very welcome change.


#10

From what I read, not all the Xeno 2 controllers have the fixed D-pad.

My original Pro’s left stick started failing or at least not holding a steady signal when pressing directions in the top half – the input/calibration test showing the cursor drifting and jumping back to center. It had a terrible d-pad that registed wrong inputs on BOTW quick menu, made 2D games a chore, and was basically impossible to play well on Puyo Tetris. I sent it in to Nintendo.

The replacement they sent is the regular black Pro controller, but the D-pad is actually the new fixed one. Everything I tried played flawlessly. So it’s not just the Xeno controllers that are being fixed. Nintendo seems aware of the problem and may be rolling out the fix across the entire Pro line.


#11

I called Nintendo, they wanted to charge me $30 plus shipping to fix my controller. I could just sell my pro controller and keep the Xenoblade one for that.


#12

Actually, I didn’t mention this before but I did open up my pro controller two days ago and applied some kapton tape to the inner half of each of the dpad contacts. I then tested it the best way I could think of, which was a speedrun through Donkey Kong Country 2 via my 8bitdo receiver on my SFC (usually just over an hour for me to finish the game).

It was fine. Definitely better than before, and I had no issues.


#13

Try it with Puyo Tetris if you have it. There’s no better game as a test because the erroneous inputs cause immediate and obvious puzzle piece shifts and then there’s the quick drop to mess you up further. From my experience it’s practically unplayable with the original Pro D-Pad.


#14

I bought puyo puyo Tetris immediately at launch…it’s the main reason I hacked my 3DS!

Theres a significant difference between how it was before and after I applied the tape. But even so…I still prefer the joycon. Because it’s a 100% left,right,up,down. There’s no room for error.


#15

Wii U Pro Controller, which has a very good d-pad.

I love the Wii U Pro controller I’ve used it for most of my PC emulation for a while now and the dpad is relatively pretty good but sometimes in those really tough platformers my clammy thumb would slide around on the dpad too much and I’d find myself getting uncomfortable. Recently I purchased a Dualshock to USB adapter and I love how much bigger and more segmented and ‘rubbery’ (idk the texture grips your thumb well) the Sony dpads are. Wii U Pro controller is still a great choice probably my favorite wireless pad at this point thanks to the insane battery life. I just wish modern support for dinput controllers wasn’t so spotty


#16

Yep, I find it actually superior for some things.

It’s no good for rolling motions in fighting games, but in that case the joycon sticks are actually great, they’re small and have little travel, so feel like Neo Geo Pocket sticks without the click.

I sold my ‘pro’ controller, after the freedom of separate hands (especially for gyro aim) set in, single piece controllers feel like an ancient paradigm from times past.


#17

Great thread. The feedback about the SFC30 Pro is nice to hear and has probably pushed to get one.


#18

Yeah it is good to hear. I was avoiding them because I had previously read that there was something off with the dpad of 8Bitdo’s controllers, but if that isn’t the case then Imma get one.


#19

WTH? Seriously, $80 dollars and it’s drifting in one year. My launch PS4 controller works like a champ. I use it sometimes when I forget to charge my newer ones.


#20

The dpad is a lottery. Some are fine, some are terrible. Some are in between. Even with the XB2 controller.

My launch Pro was terrible and would often read left or right when tapping straight up.

The Scotch tape mod fixed mine 100%.

FWIW the Wii U Pro is great for Famicom and SFC with 8bitdo receivers which can be bought bare on eBay for like $15 shipped.

I don’t fuck with 8bitdo controllers.