Smash Bros. is out and you really need a controller to play the game the right way. We tested some of the most popular models, and here’s our thoughts!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is getting another new character with the addition of Min Min from Arms. But, before you start thinking about how you’re going to master her unique, two-armed fighting style that focuses on independently controlling each arm with the A and B buttons rather than having a combination of smash and special attacks, you might want to think about the controller you’re using.While you can casually play Super Smash Bros. on just about any controller your Nintendo Switch will support, it takes some serious finesse to play at a high level, especially when you’re using a character with a unique style like Min Min. And, that finesse can be hard to manage when using anything but a quality controller for the game. If you’re trying to master new moves, speed up your combos, or improve comfort through long play sessions, a good Smash Bros. controller can definitely help. We’ve tested a load of controllers and picked out those that are ready for the task.TL;DR These are the BestSuper Smash Bros. Ultimate Controllers:
1. GameCube Controller
A Legend For a Reason
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.Aside from a single Z button on the right shoulder and deep trigger buttons, the GameCube controller has few faults for Super Smash Bros. play. Nintendo even 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 and low latency. So, if you already own GameCube controllers, you just need the adapter.
There are also some third-part options, like 8BitDos quirky little Gbros Adapter (See it on Amazon) which can give your GameCube controller a wireless connection. It requires two AA batteries, but we found it works well enough despite a bit of added latency. If you don’t have an old GameCube controller, you can buy the newly released model which works just like the old one. The Japanese import (See it on Amazon) we tested also works just the same.
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. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Hori Split Pad Pro
Best Handheld Smash Bros Controller:
As convenient as it is that the Nintendo Switch is portable and can have its controllers simply attach to its sides, the Joy-Con aren’t really the best or most comfortable controls for a lot of games, especially for larger hands. So, what if you could replace them? That’s exactly what the Hori Split Pad Pro does. This controller fully replaces your Joy-Con when in handheld mode. They slide right into the same slots your Joy-Con would, but they’re so much bigger.What does that size offer? For one, the Hori Split Pad Pro offer up much bigger thumbsticks, giving your more fine control over your movement and aim in games. They also have a larger D-Pad, making it much easier to use than the diminutive D-Pad on the Joy-Con. The triggers and bumpers also got a handy size increase. These controllers even add assignable rear triggers and a turbo function. Just note that the Split Pad Pro only works while slotted into your Nintendo Switch, as there’s not wireless functionality.
9. 8BitDo Arcade Stick
Best Wireless Fight Stick for Smash Bros. Ultimate
While a lot of us probably would never want to switch away from the classic GameCube controller for any Nintendo game with the word “Smash” in the title, there are a lot of good reasons to consider a quality fight stick to take into battle. The 8BitDo Arcade Stick is a worthy partner on the Nintendo Switch, as you can actually use it with the console wirelessly, letting you sit back and smash in comfort.The controller features a ball-top joystick for true arcade-style and puts the buttons you need for Smash Bros all in an easily mashable arrangement. You may find that these highly responsive buttons actually give you tighter control over your character than the mushier buttons on a GameCube controller once you get used to the different layout. Another perk of this controller is that you’re not limited to using it with your Switch. It will also support your PC, so you can play a lot more fighting games with it than a classic GameCube controller. The lack of analog control from the joystick could present some issues, but you have the option of swapping components out later.
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.
Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark