Bottom line: The Hori Split Pad Pro Pikachu is great for those looking for a more comfortable handheld experience. With more button options, bigger grips that feel good in-hand, and a cool design, this controller is worth the extra cash.
Natural fit for less hand strain
Additional back buttons, D-pad, turbo button
It's got Pikachu!
No motion controls, rumble, or amiibo features
Lacks internal batteries
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The Nintendo Switch is an impressive bit of hardware and a huge upgrade from handheld experiences of the past. Nintendo has really cornered the market, and its hybrid console is incredibly innovative. That being said, playing my Switch can be difficult for long stretches. While my hands are pretty small, the controller experience easily causes some cramping even after short sessions. I have limited time to play, to begin with; the last thing I want to do is pause and wriggle my fingers until the feeling comes back. Enter the Hori Split Pad Pro.
This lovely little Pro-like attachment was definitely a blessing, and the fact that it had Pikachu on it sealed the deal. After putting it through the wringer, playing it for long periods, laying flat on my back, and leaning on my elbows, I can say that this controller is a must if you enjoy playing your Switch in handheld mode.
Hori Split Pad Pro Pikachu Edition: Price and availability
For starters, this isn't a hard product to find. Officially licensed by Nintendo, you can find it at regular retailers like Amazon and Walmart, or you can grab it off Hori USA, though be prepared to pay full price if you go with the latter. This controller is sleek black with shiny gold, Pokémon-inspired designs featuring everyone's favorite electric-type from Gen 1.
Since Hori has a few designs available for the Split Pad Pro, you can choose one that suits your preferences, from simple one-color designs to other options like Daemon X Machina, Monster Hunter Rise, or even Pac-Man. However, not all designs are available.
Still, if you are looking for this controller specifically, you can easily grab it, usually on sale for about $10 cheaper than the original price.
Hori Split Pad Pro Pikachu Edition: What you'll like
I'm usually a docked kind of gal when playing my Nintendo Switch, with my control of choice being the Pro Controller. However, if I can't use a TV, or I'm taking my Switch on a road trip, the handheld option is a great alternative — but not if I plan on playing for long. The original design is not the most ergonomic, but the Split Pad Pro fixes that problem.
Right out of the box, you can slip the two controllers easily onto your Switch and instantly tell the difference. These controllers are lightweight, so they won't add too much bulk, and they fit comfortably into your hands, much like an actual controller. Each pad rests in the palm, and your fingers have easy access to joysticks, D-pad, back buttons, and every other part of the controller. You can navigate with ease and without cramping. I went as far as to test this out sitting up, laying on my stomach, and flat on my back; no matter what position, I experienced less hand cramping and almost no numbness. In fact, I only started to feel numb after five or six hours of holding the controller above my face when on my back. That's pretty good!
In addition to the comfort, the Split Pad Pro features additional buttons. If you are into competitive gaming, you can remap your buttons to your preference; the controller features a D-pad, back buttons, and two Turbo buttons. These buttons are easy to reach and are clearly labeled, though it's a little harder to tell where the screenshot and Home buttons are. And if you're worried about losing them, don't! You don't even have to take them off your Switch. You can easily slide the console right into the dock and keep on playing.
Finally, the thing that sealed the deal for me was the design. These aren't little stickers or decals; the black and gold Pickachu design is pretty awesome. I'm less about bright colors, so the black suits my taste just fine, but the flashy addition of the electric-type Pokémon made this a must-buy.
Hori Split Pad Pro Pikachu Edition: What's not good
Okay, even with all the good, there are a few places where this controller misses the mark, though they may seem a little nit-picky. The biggest elephant in the room is the price. The Hori Split Pad Pro can be pretty expensive, sitting at $60 at full price. Still, the Pikachu Edition can be found frequently on sale, though for only about $10 bucks cheaper. If you don't want to shell out that much, you might want to pass — especially if you don't use it in handheld mode that often.
Since the Split Pad Pro doesn't have batteries and has a solid design, it's easy to see why this add-on is a little expensive. You can just as easily stick with the Joy-Cons or pick up a controller for way less. But that would defeat the purpose; this controller is designed for enhancing the handheld experience. It could be worth the cost if you're rarely tethered to the dock and want something more comfortable than the Joy-Cons.
Another point against the Split Pad Pro is that you can't use any extras like amiibo, rumble controls, or motion controls. Also, they don't really work outside of handheld, so you can't use them in docked or tabletop mode. If they did, it would probably be an awkward experience. And though these controllers make gaming easier, travel might be a bit more difficult. They add some bulk to your Switch, so it won't fit into the traditional carrying cases. Plus, without the Joy-Cons, your Switch may be too small. So, if you're traveling, you'll have to take both.
Hori Split Pad Pro Pikachu Edition: Competition
The Hori Split Pad Pro is hardly the only third-party Joy-Con alternative in the game. If you need your amiibo fix, the BestFire Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controller can be a good alternative. It has a D-pad too, but it's around the same price as the Split Pad Pro without the comfort.
On the other hand, you can probably stick with the Joy-Cons. They come with the Switch, don't cost extra, and work pretty well. Unfortunately, you may not be as comfortable playing for long hours. Still, you get to experience every game as Nintendo intended, with motion controls, amiibo compatibility, and rumble options. That is unless you experience Joy-Con drift.
Hori Split Pad Pro Pikachu Edition: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You play the Switch in handheld mode a lot
- The original is too small for your hands
- You are a fan of Pikachu collectibles
- You like using the D-Pad
- You like mapping your buttons
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You need the motion controls, rumble features, or amiibo functionality
- You don't use your Switch in handheld mode that often
- Can't justify the cost
- You don't like Pikachu
Overall, the Split Pad Pro Pikachu Edition is a great option for players who want more comfort from their handheld gaming experience. It's lightweight, feels great in hand, and you can map the controls to your personal preference. However, if you can't justify the cost or need those extras that the Joy-Cons provide, you can probably skip it.
I'm very happy I bought the Split Pad Pro. I like not having to worry about my hands cramping if I have to give up the TV for my toddler or I want to hide in my office from the chaos of my life to play some Pokémon Snap. With smooth grips, accessible buttons, and a lightweight design, this controller is worth the price. Plus, it has Pikachu, though I would have loved to have Charmander. If you prefer handheld, this is definitely a controller set worth picking up.
Bottom line: For players who enjoy taking their Nintendo Switch on the go, the Hori Split Pad Pro Pikachu can help you play more comfortably for longer periods. With a lightweight design that fits perfectly in your palms, if you're willing the pay the price, this is a great buy.
Sara is the Freelance Coordinator, writer, and editor at iMore. When not editing or writing away, she's glued to her Nintendo Switch, Xbox, or PS5, though she's a retro gamer at heart.
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