PowerA’s $ 99.99 Fusion Pro for Nintendo Switch is for gamers who want a more customizable controller. It’s more like a Microsoft Xbox Elite than a Nintendo Switch Pro game controller with a handful of components that you can physically switch to your liking. For example, if you don’t like the way Fusion Pro analog sticks feel out of the box, you can switch them. The zippered case has two extra sticks that come in. In addition to the two standard bars, there is a much higher concave stick and a long smooth convex stick that feels more like a arcade stick
Customization doesn’t end there. Fusion Pro also supports interchangeable faceplates. The default white plate has a matte finish and feels similar to many other controls, but the black plate has a more sticky texture that blends more seamlessly into the Fusion Pro’s rubber-coated handles. The Fusion Pro is slightly larger than the Nintendo Switch Pro, but it doesn’t stray too far in ergonomics and layout. It connects wirelessly and is as reliable as a Nintendo controller for long battery life PowerA’s smaller enhanced Nano controller which I evaluated last year. PowerA requires up to 20 hours per charge and has no difficulty filling this meter. This driver includes a 9.8-foot USB-A-USB-C cable for charging or playback in wired USB mode (the switch on the back of the Fusion Pro switches between wireless and wired mode).
The real highlight of the Fusion Pro is on its back, where up to four mappable paddles can be mounted on a detachable “Pro Pack” module that snaps into place. You can combine up to four controller functions (excluding analog motion) with the paddles, making the Fusion Pro more customizable and easier to use than other controllers made for the switch. However, the module is optional. If you don’t want it in the driver, it will pop up easily.
The rear paddles of the Fusion Pro were useful in games with complex control systems such as Monster Hunter: Get up. Even in games with simpler plans, it can sometimes be just nice that you don’t have to reach for a button or two, but rely on a paddle. I enjoy driving around corners Mario Kart 8 Deluxe paddle instead of the shoulder button.
Assigning functions to paddles is simple. There is a button on the back of the controller dedicated to programming each paddle, and the process involves holding it for three seconds until the LED on the front of the controller turns on. Then tap the button you want to reassign, and then press the paddle you want to assign it to. In addition to making the guide easier to position, the paddles can be a boon for some in terms of accessibility.
You can get a lot of utility using Fusion Pro, but it’s not particularly cheap. For $ 100 it’s $ 30 more than Nintendo’s own Switch Pro controller. It’s worth buying for people who really want a few extra levels of customization, especially when it’s not a huge price increase compared to the Nintendo Switch Pro controller. But it lacks some important features that some people may not be willing to cut – and those that the Nintendo Pro driver has done.
Fusion Pro lacks vibration and does not have an NFC chip for reading Amiibo cards and numbers in games that support this feature. These omissions are common among third-party drivers, but it would be great to get a driver at this cost. At first, I was excited to find that the Fusion Pro has a 3.5mm audio jack, but it faded when I realized it could only be used when connected to the Switch dock with the included cable. It would also have been nice if the orientation plate could be changed to another, which is something that Microsoft’s Xbox Elite controller allows.
The Fusion Pro isn’t the perfect all-in-one replacement for the Switch Pro, and I wouldn’t recommend that most people buy it if their needs are already met. Even though its flaws, the deep level of customization it offers makes it compelling enough if you want or need custom controls on the switch.
Photographer Cameron Faulkner / The Verge