In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, matches are won by milliseconds. A quick grab here, a well-timed jump, a perfect shield these things add up and can massively influence the result of a battle. A good controller isnt going to make you automatically better, but it will definitely give you an advantage.While a majority of people will play Smash with Joy-Cons (or anything within reach), there are a lot of controllers specifically crafted for this game. I’ve set aside a truly unreasonable amount of time for testing a wide range of controllers including everything from the Switch Pro controller to a fight stick made specifically for Smash. After a week of intensive competing, controller swapping, and plenty of Training mode I’ve made this definitive list of the best Super Smash Bros. Ultimate controllers.We’ve also rounded up the best sales from this Black Friday, so here are the best deals from Amazon and Walmart.
TL;DR These are the Best Controllers for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 2019:
1. GameCube Controller
A Legend For a Reason
Familiarity breeds contemptexcept, it seems, for the GameCube controller. The GameCube controller has never been anything but beloved in the Smash community. Theres a slew of reasonsit boasts low latency, a mashable A button, and a flickable C-Stick that helps you pull off moves quickly. But if were being honest, the biggest reason boils down to muscle memory. Many Smash hardcores got deep into Smash playing Melee on GameCube and have sunk countless hours into Nintendos purple finger eater.The GameCube controller only has two downfalls: first, it has just a single bumper buttona Z button that sits in front of the right trigger. Theres nothing on the other side, which can be confusing for anyone switching from a modern controller like the DualShock 4. Second, its triggers are spring-loaded and require a fairly deep press to activate, which means you could, theoretically, get outmaneuvered by someone with faster triggers.
Nintendo makes its own GameCube Controller Adapter that plugs into your Docks USB port and allows you to play with up to four wired GameCube Controllers. Because the connections are completely wired, it offers low latency. Best of all, if you already have the GameCube controllers, youll be only be out $20 for the adapter. I was amazed at how well my friends old GameCube controllers had held up over the years. Except for a highly suspect stickiness on each and every joystick, the controllers were pristinewith no loose joysticks, broken buttons, or torn cords.
Despite its old age, the Nintendos GameCube controller is still the fan favorite and a mainstay at tournaments across the world. Thats due in part to super low latency, an intelligently employed C-Stick, and a design thats as beloved as it is peculiar. Finding an adapter that lets you plug it into your Switch without jeopardizing your latency or wallet? Thats an unfortunately painful experience.
Thankfully, some third-party solutions are stepping onto the scene to fill the void. I tested 8BitDos quirky little Gbros Adapter (See it on Aamzon) (below). Its a bit of a strange contraptiona wireless adapter that you plug your wired controller into. Youll need to feed it two double As and do a bit of pairing magic before you can get started, but once it’s paired, the GBros works like a charm.Unfortunately, the dongle has two faults. First, its wirelesswhich means youll have slightly higher latency than a wired setup. And second, it only works with a single controller. If you want to plug in four separate GameCube controllers, youll need four different GBros Adapters, which will set you back $80.
2. PDP Wired Fight Pad Pro
A Great Budget Option
PDP makes a $25 GameCube-inspired controller that plugs into one of the Nintendo Switchs three USB ports. The cord stretches 10 feet, so youll likely have no problem playing from your couch. The PDPs frame is thicker than any of the other controllers I tested. I didnt love the way it felt; its almost reminiscent of the Xboxs Duke controller.Whereas the GameCube only has one bumper (the Z button, located in front of the right trigger), the Fight Pad Pro has twoand both allow you to perform air dodges and grabs. The triggers are quite lovely, spanning the entire top ridge of the controller and sporting a small groove that your index fingers can rest on. Its smooth texture feels exponentially better in your hands than the Hori (more on that below), and it also sports an additional, taller C-Stick which is easy to attach. I preferred the included thumbstick and found it ever-so-slightly easier to pull off C-Stick attacks with this larger counterpart.
The controllers only major downside is how freakin loud it is. Like, wake up your fiancée in the other room loud. The harder you jam the buttons, the louder it getsand youll notice this especially when youre smashing that A button during the Classic mode credits scene (or at least my fiancée did). Its a bit thick and extremely loud, but PDPs built a capable GameCube-inspired controller that can be plugged directly into your Switch Dockno adapter required. I especially loved its taller, detachable C-Stick for performing smash attacks quickly. At just $25, its also cheap enough to easily recommend.
3. Hori Nintendo Battle Pad
Truly Hori-ble
Hori makes a GameCube inspired controller thatll set you back $25. The first thing youll notice about the Battle Pad is its texture. The handles are covered in a gritty plastic thats supposed to be tactile and comfortable, but it feels like holding sandpaper. The controller is shaped more similarly to the original GameCube controller than the PDP and comes in a variety of cool, translucent designs. Like the PDP, the cord is 10 feet long and plugs directly into the Switch Docks USB ports. Thats about all the good stuff I have to say about this controller.Its triggers are tiny, barely raised buttons. Like the PDP, it sports two bumpers, but the Battle Pads are barely more substantial than the Joy-Cons. Bizarrely, the triggers are switchedthe R button is in the back, and the ZR button is in the front. It’s especially confusing when the game instructs you to hit the ZR button (like when you want to pull up the moves list in Training). Not only will you have no idea which button is which, it also relegates important moves to those horrible little bumpers. Fortunately, these buttons can be remapped.
To make matters worse, one of the Hori controllers I tested (they sent four) had significant dead zones in the directional inputespecially when trying to flick diagonally. Time and time again, my King K. Rool was left to get demolished by some weak little Jigglypuff or whatever because the controller didnt register my input. Another Hori controller I tested was not affected by the issue, but a cursory glance of reviews on Amazon show other people affected by the same problem. Dont buy this controller, is what Im trying to say.
Theres not much to love about the Hori Nintendo Battle Pad. Its pretty much all-around worse than its equally priced PDP counterpart, with an uncomfortable texture, poorly designed bumpers, and misplaced triggers. At least its design looks great. Both the Hori (left) and PDP (right) come in special Super Smash Bros editions.
4. Nintendo Joy-Cons
Surprisingly Decent (in a pinch)
Of course, if you own a Nintendo Switch, youre already the proud owner of a pair of joy-cons. When attached to a joy-con grip, they make for a surprisingly effective controller for all types of gamesSmash included.The tiny controllers tinier buttons dont inspire much confidence, but Im always blown away at just how capable these little guys are. I like the clickiness of the buttons, but the low thumbsticks and small triggers arent going to be anyones preferred option. And if you have extra large hands, youre going to hate it. My tallest friend (64) started swearing the second the Joy-Cons graced his hands.
Things fall apart when youre forced only to use a single joy-con to play. The bumper/triggers are mushy, and the buttons are finger-crampingly close together. But worst of all, a single joy-con has fewer buttons than something like a GameCube controller. Nintendo solves this problem by mapping grab to SL and shield to SR. It works, but youre probably not going to be super competitive with this setup. Of course, if you dont have any alternatives, its still a fun way to get in some casual two-player action.
These Joy-Con controllers wont be anyone’s first choice, but they’re a far cry from the horrible hand-me-downs we used to play on. They work best with the included Joy-Con grip, where they feel more comfortable and are much easier to game on. Playing with a single Joy-Con, however, is not ideal and your play will suffer on the microscopic device.
5. Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
Expensive, But Worth It
If youre not a GameCube diehard, the Switch Pro controller is another excellent option. As far as its design and build quality go, it’s easily the most premium feeling device on the list. Nintendos $70 controller is heavy in the right way and offers rumble too (a feature sorely missing on the PDP and Hori controllers). Its uniform A, B, X, and Y buttons dont incentivize the A button like the GameCube controller, which I also prefer. The thumbsticks snap back quickly and I adore the shallow click of its digital triggersperfect for quick air dashing and rolls. Theres no C-Stick, but the Switch Pros secondary stick is comfortable and tall enough to easily hit from side to sidejust like the PDPs attachable version.However, if youre into tournament play, you already know youd be better off with a wired solution. Any wired controller will have better latency than a wireless controller, and some tests show the Pro controller has worse latency than even Joy-Cons. While Im not competitive enough to notice the difference, at certain levels of play its going to be a deal breaker.
But, for anyone who prefers wirelessand hasnt sunk hundreds of hours into a GameCube controllerthe Switch Pro is probably your best bet. Plus, you can still find it on Amazon. The best Wireless controller I tested, the Switch Pro controller oozes with quality. Its heavy and ergonomic and features HD rumble. At $70, its not cheapbut it is versatile and feature-rich, while still feeling great for Smash. Unfortunately, at high-levels of play, the latency is a dealbreaker.
6. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Controller (Japanese Import)
New Controller, Old Standard
I also tested Nintendos very own Super Smash Bros. controllera $30 GameCube controller sporting the SSB logo. I tested the Japanese Import, which looks and works exactly the same as its stateside counterpart. In other words, the controller isnt region-locked. While it says Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Edition” on the box, the names a bit of a misnomerthis is your standard GameCube controller. It doesnt plug directly into your Switch and you cant even get to the Switchs home screen with the buttons on the controller. Its a bit of bummer Nintendo didnt modernize it for the Switch, but on the plus side, that means they didnt screw anything up.So how does a brand new controller feel in comparison to its 17-year-old counterpart? Honestly, just a little bit better. Each of the buttons boast that new controller clickiness, and even though the old GameCube controller has aged well, the new sticks felt faster and more tactile. You could argue that the new controllers triggers were a little harder to activate without the springs being worn-in, but it was barely noticeable. If you dont have an old GameCube controller lying around, this is a stylish option at a reasonable price. For better or worse, its the exact same GameCube controller you know and loveand that means youll need an adapter if you want to use it.
7. PowerA Wireless Controller
Almost Perfect
PowerAs wireless controller is an undeniably appealing option for nostalgic gamers. The design is closely modeled after the original GameCube controllerwith a few subtle differences. First of all, its wirelesswhich means all of the latency issues mentioned earlier are applicable here, too. (PowerA does make a wired version that plugs into the Switch Dock.) It also boasts a made-for-Switch button interfacewhich means you can navigate to the home screen and take screenshots. That also means it’s got two bumpers, where the original GameCube only has one. Besides that, almost everything about its design is indistinguishable from the OG GameCube controllerdown to its nostalgia-inducing color combos. (I opted for grey and purple.)In place of an internal battery, PowerA opts for two double A batteries in the back which help power its wireless action. That adds to the weight, but I like the size and balance of the controller, and the weight made it feel solid in my hands.
The controller, while almost flawless, does have two noticeable issues. First is the noiseits nearly as loud as the PDP controller above, and the A button may actually make more noise. Second, the triggers feel cheap, with a ton of give before theyre activated. All-in-all, thats not a lot to complain aboutand I noticed that after a few hours, this was the first controller I reached for when loading up Smash. If youre looking for a modernized GameCube controller, this should be your first choice. Its design, shape, and feel all harken back to the OG GameCube controller, but its easier to sync and sports modernized buttons. It’s loud, and the triggers arent great, but at $49.99, this is the best option I tested.
8. 8BitDo Wireless Bluetooth Adapter
A cheap solution, with a pairing problem
If youre most comfortable with a PS4 or Xbox One controller, 8bitDo also has a $20 adapter that lets you Smash with your DualShock or Xbox One S/X Bluetooth Controller. Setups a bit more laborious than with the other options on this list, and switching back and forth between consoles can be a bit of a pain. (Be aware, the original Xbox One controllers are not supportedso youll need an S or X.) Before you even begin the pairing process, youll want to make sure your adapter is updated to the latest firmware, or your’e liable to have a bad time.The 8BitDo dongle plugs directly into the Switch dock. Due to its blocky size, it wont fit in the covered port at the rear of the dock, so it has to occupy one of the side USB ports. Once youve plugged it in, you need to pop into System Settings to turn on Pro Controller Wired Communications. Across two separate consoles and four controllers, Ive had sporadic luck with pairing according to the instructions. (Ive had the best luck plugging the adapter in after selecting the Change Grip/Order.) Next, hold the tiny pairing button on the adapterthen activate the pairing on whichever controller youre using. After that, you may want to adjust the controls in Smash. On the Xbox controller, the A/B buttons are swappedwhich can be a tad confusing. Thenand only thenare you ready to play.
Playing with a DualShock or Xbox One controller is basically black magicit feels totally different than anything else on this list and will doubtless be the preferred solution for many gamers. With a DualShock controller, the symmetrical thumbsticks can take a little getting used to and the D-Pad defaults to taunts. The thumbsticks on both controllers take a little more push than the others as wellwhile youre getting used to them, youll find yourself walking or jogging when you meant to sprint. I especially loved the feel of the DualShocks bumpers, which can be easily jammed for ultra-quick grabs. And on the Xbox One controller, the thumbsticks feel quick, flickable, and consequentialwhile the tricks are easier to activate. The buttons are all clicky and the controllers feel balanced. But if youve read this far, you already knew that.
If youre interested in this solution, its because you already love one of your controllers from another console. For those who have never grown accustomed to the Nintendo Switchs GameCube controller, muscle memory will make these easy to get familiar with. However, the pairing process is pretty convoluted, and doesnt always work on the first try. Still, all that hassle is worth it to play Smash with a DualShock or Xbox Controllerespecially if youve grown accustomed to their designs and intricacies.
9. Hori Nintendo Switch Wireless HoriPad
For Smash Bros. Ultimate Players Who Also Play Other Games
Compared to Hori’s wired controller above, its wireless option doesnt fare much better. While it’s not coated in a tacky grip like the Battle Pad, it doesnt feel much better. While the controller has a pleasing thickness, it suffers from the same hollow feeling and its triggers just feel godawful. Theyre aggressively sloped and made from uncomfortable, sharp plastic. Basically, theyre exactly the kind of triggers youd expect to shatter if you dropped the controller.It’s too bad, because theres still a few things to love about the controller, especially its great Mario- and Zelda-themed designs. The controller boasts an accelerometer and gyroscope for motion controlwhich is great for other games, but wont help you in Smash. The buttons are also wonderfully mashable, and are some of the quietest I’ve played with. The battery is rated at 15 hours of play, and recharging is done by simply plugging it into a a micro usb cable. The triggers alone should be enough to deter you from the Wireless Horipad. Add to that, it feels cheap and, at $49.99, costs the same as higher quality controllers. While the design is solid and the buttons are decent, its not enough to redeem the weird triggers. Youd be better off with something else.
10. Hit Box Smash Box
Best Fight Stick Controller for Smash Bros. Ultimate
Smash Bros. Ultimate might not seem like a game that’s complicated enough to need a fight stick to play, but there are just some players who prefers the form factor and tactile feel of an arcade stick. If you’re in that camp the Hit Box Smash Box might be just what you’ve been looking for.That said, it’s not exactly a traditional arcade stick controller as it doesn’t even have a lever. Instead you get a plethora of buttons23 in total to be exact. So you’re pretty much hitting buttons to do everything from move left to right, jump or hitting C-stick buttons for easy smash attacks (don’t spam that last one). Best of all you can pull off all your moves on Hit Box’s extremely clicky and tactile arcade buttons.
Nic Vargus is a writer and tech enthusiast who thinks SSB 64 is the best in the series. He wept tears of joy when King K. Rool was announced, and you can follow him on Twitter.