HORI Split Pad Pro & Compact review

by on July 5, 2023

I find it quite tricky to play Switch games for long periods using the standard Joy-Cons, as aesthetically pleasing as they are to me. I don’t get on with the small thumbsticks, and unless I am laying down or have some way of supporting my elbows, it can be a tough time playing in long sessions. I have a Pro controller which is obviously a nice bit of kit, and a couple of lovely 8bitdo pads for playing fighters and retro stuff, but by far the best way of playing on my Switch to date has been with the excellent HORI Split Pad Pro.

Not only does the HORI Split Pad Pro connect to your Switch like standard Joy-Cons, but it also has an attachment peripheral which you can connect both controllers to and play as an ergonomically sound wired controller. This bumps up the price from the standard unit available but if you are looking to buy this thing, for the sake of about £20, it is absolutely worth it, and still considerably cheaper than buying a couple of Joy-Cons.

HORI Split Pad Pro & Compact review

The larger size of the HORI Split Pad Pro makes playing nearly every genre of game a more palatable experience. As much as I adore it, I won’t lie in saying I had been finding Metroid Prime a real chore in handheld mode. No more! The triggers and bumpers are far more comfortable and satisfying to use. There is more room to manoeuvre around the triggers and shoulder buttons which makes playing FPS titles so much better. The sticks feel more like what you would expect from a Pro controller or even a PS5/Xbox Series device.

The face buttons are smooth and rounded meaning you don’t have to endure the somewhat sharp edges you are used to. There are three levels of turbo options, and some assignable pads on the rear of the controller, with their own assign button that you have to hold down to map. You can do this for nearly every button on the Split Pad Pro, with the obvious exceptions like turbo and the Home button.

Turbo is something of an anomaly these days, unlike my burgeoning formative gaming years where owning a SNES pad with a turbo function gave playground bragging rights. It is questionable how often it is needed with a lot of modern titles, however I did find that it was quite handy playing some old school shooters and run and gun titles from the Nintendo Switch Online service.

HORI Split Pad Pro & Compact review

There is no getting around the fact that this is a controller designed for solo use. You cannot use the two side attachments unless they are slotted onto your Switch. There is no wireless option here in that respect, but that’s where the Split Pad Compact comes in. Offering a smaller form factor, there’s an argument to be made this is even the best option of the two. Sitting more flush to the Switch due to the size difference, the HORI Split Pad Compact looks more like an official product in many ways, and loses very little in the way of functionality due to the size decrease.

For example, you’re still getting a better pair of analogue sticks and a nice, full D-Pad that will make fighters easier to play, but you’re still getting a larger amount of real estate and fuller, chunkier buttons to press on the right side of the Split Pad Compact. The turbo functionality remains, too, so of the two options, it’s really more about how you play that should help you decide which is better for you.

HORI Split Pad Pro & Compact review

There is no rumble or NFC on either model, but that’s a Nintendo-thing, not a HORI thing.. Obviously (and for the same reason) you won’t be able to use either for games requiring motion controls, either. Portability may be an issue for some with the HORI Split Pad Pro – you cannot fit this into a standard carry case – so carrying it around with you along with the attachment unit and wire is a cumbersome thought, so again, maybe the Compact might be the better pick for you, if you do a lot of travelling.

Either way, both accessories look great, and enhance just about every non-motion-related title you can think of. As soon as I felt the pleasing click as the two sides of this slotted onto my Switch, I knew it was gonna be hard to return to the dinky Joy Cons for some time. It brings portable Switch gaming controls in line with what you would expect from a premium controller, and as such is highly recommended.


Great ergonomics and feel
Looks lush
Improves many games


Still quite pricey
Lack of rumble or motion capabilities

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

The HORI Split Pad Pro and Compact both look great, and enhance just about every non-motion-related title you can think of.