Gaming on the Nintendo Switch has been a pleasant experience and over the past few months with new releases and DLC. Handheld mode is my preferred way to play with occasional dock use when I have company over, a rare occurrence lately.
A nuance of the Official Nintendo Joy-Cons is that they are on the smaller side. Longer gaming sessions feel uncomfortable, especially on racing titles like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for me. Third party Joy-Cons by NYXI offer a moderately priced alternative that piqued my interest due to its larger form factor. I spent a few weeks playing exclusively with them on my Switch to see if they are worthy a main controller for handheld gaming.
What’s in the box
Neat and simple packaging houses the two Joy-Pads, Joy-Pad grip, USB-C cable and instruction manual. A quick run through the user guide with illustrated directions were easy enough and quite important if you want to know how to customize the NYXI Wireless Joy-pad. My cat seemed pretty interested in this controller so you get to see her posing with it before the user manual suffered an inevitable fate. Cats are not included with the controller!
Controller and Customization
The Joy-Pads are black all over and feature a textured grip on the back of the controller. Both sides have a customizable LED ring around each analog stick, offering 8 colors in addition to lighting modes. RGB is available too if you’re an epic gamer or you have the option to turn lights off entirely. Avid Joy-Con users might miss the smooth plastic casing, NYXI’s Joy-Pads use a different plastic finish. The build feels solid and the controllers are easy to hold in either hand.
There’s an additional mappable button on the underside of the controller, something I had not used before but it works well in certain games. They are not quite paddles as found on certain Xbox and PlayStation controllers but perhaps this could easily be modded on. A simple reset removes mapping if you want to avoid additional inputs during use.
Aside from LED analog stick customization, one can also alter vibration levels. This is done per Joy-Pad and allows a varying rumble intensity between the two if one desired. The M and T buttons on the back allow mappings, turbo and more with button combinations.
It takes a little time to configure each side including mappings, lights, turbo and whatever else you might want but it’s straightforward and this level of customization is welcome without overwhelming the user. My first few hours with the NYXI Joy-Pads skipped customization entirely and I went straight into gameplay.
Gameplay and Comfort
These Joy-Pads have a much bigger footprint and feel more like a traditional controller in my hands. Lightweight and sturdy when connected to my Switch, I played a few hours without fatigue. Playing wirelessly worked perfectly and I noticed no additional input lag.
This controller also supports complete button remapping via system settings. Built-in 6-axis gyro is an essential feature I’m glad to see. The analog sticks and gyro controls were perfectly fine out of the box but if you have any issues be sure to check calibration settings.
I played through a variety of platformers, racing and fighting games. The buttons feel a little more clicky, something I’ve seen on third party controllers in general but they were responsive enough and the triggers worked well too. I blasted a few hours into Metroid Dread and had some multiplayer fun on Mario Kart and Overcooked AYCE. Rumble worked well in all games and I enjoyed using the analog sticks. A positive experience overall that left me impressed without much fatigue.
Loading up Ultra Street Fighter II, it was time to test the D-Pad. I noticed that I had to position my thumb a little differently to be able to accurately input moves. After an adjustment period I was able to pull off my usual moves but for some, the D-Pad might leave some to be desired. It’s playable and a step up from Nintendo’s Joy-Con D-Buttons but doesn’t quite reach the levels of perfection one might be looking for.
A few things about the design of this controller worth noting to some:
Charging is handled via USB-C ports at the bottom of each Joy-Pad meaning that they need to be charged individually if using a cable. I tested charging via Joy-Con charging dock and connected to the switch in docked mode (it fits just fine), both seemed to charge the controllers simultaneously. The analog LEDs light up momentarily when charging. This is reasonable and I always have them connected to my Switch anyway.
Switch Wake Up
Waking up the Switch works when pressing either the screenshot or home button on either controller. This worked when connected directly to the switch via the Joy-Con rails and wirelessly.
Sizing and Travel Cases
The footprint of the switch increases considerably in width when connected to the NYXI Joy-Pads, I imagine this is how I will feel when I get my hands on a steam deck. It feels great but if you have a travel case, this will most likely not fit inside. I remove the Joy-Pads and store them separately when putting my Switch into its travel case.
The base of each controller features a flat base, when connected to the Switch, it won’t be possible to use the kickstand but luckily this design I assume is to let the console have support on the Joy-Pads without the kickstand. Unless you have a Switch OLED, the kickstand is flimsy anyway and standing the console up on the Joy-Pads now and then is fine.
Ring Fit Adventure Compatibility
Compatibility with Ring Fit Adventure is likely not possible. I have a Ring-Con but couldn’t fit the right Joy-Pad for functionality. I certainly wouldn’t want to strap the plus size Joy-Pad to my leg.
There are no infrared sensors on the NYXI Joy-Pads nor Amiibo functionality, I don’t have any Amiibo and very few games use IR functionality.
The NYXI Wireless Joy-pads are a solid choice when it comes to third-party Joy-Con replacements for the Nintendo Switch. I’ve been looking for a full controller experience in handheld mode and the Joy-Pads deliver a great deal of comfort and customizability. Aside from the notes above, this is one of the best Joy-Con alternatives at an affordable price.
NYXI are currently selling the Wireless Joy-pad for $46.99, great value for new and seasoned Nintendo Switch owners.
Buy NYXI Wireless LED Joy-pads from the Official NYXI Store. Use code: bytezombieblog to get 10% OFF.