PowerA Fusion for Nintendo Switch Review: The Elite Switch has trade-offs
“PowerA Fusion is a solid third-party option, as long as you’re comfortable trading with key features for customization.”
Key features are missing
Shorter battery life
PowerA Fusion may be just the closest thing we have Xbox Elite Series 2 equivalent to a Nintendo Switch. The third-party controller is full of bells and whistles that make it feel like a future-thinking redesign the best Nintendo Switch drivers.
Given that Nintendo often moves sideways rather than forward with technology, there’s a lot to get excited about here. The PowerA Fusion features mappable rear paddles, interchangeable joysticks, and other customization options that have never been possible with an officially licensed Nintendo controller. Even when it comes to third-party equipment, there are always trade-offs. Some missing basic features increase the level of giving and giving that players need to weigh before making expensive commitments.
The whole package
PowerA Fusion retails for $ 100, making it more expensive than a standard Switch Pro controller. When you look at the whole package, it’s easy to see why. The package doesn’t just have a wireless controller. Comes with a back, four thumb bars, two interchangeable front panels and much more – all in a convenient carrying case.
It’s hard to imagine Nintendo making something similar with a utility …
Given that the official Pro Controller sells for $ 70 without anything, that justifies an extra $ 30. The closest parallel to PowerA Fusion is the $ 180 Xbox Elite Series 2, which is an equally generous package. They are not exact comparisons given that the Elite Series 2 is much more technically advanced, but that is essentially what we have seen with Switch technology.
The controller itself (without the rear wings mounted) is completely comfortable and doesn’t feel very different from a standard Pro controller. Some of its buttons protrude a little more and the handles feel thick to the touch, but it doesn’t have the design of third-party pillows.
Removing and replacing parts is easy, literally. The magnetic faceplates pop out instantly and the thumbs are easy to change. There is even some flexibility in the wing package. Each paddle can be easily replaced, and the package itself can be brought out at any time if it is blocked. Just looking at Fusion from a customization perspective, all of its moving parts are intuitive and easy to handle. It’s hard to imagine Nintendo making something similar with a utility in Switch’s lifetime.
The backboards are the main attraction here. Once the pro package is attached, the controller receives four metal paddles that sit between the handles. The buttons can be easily connected to each paddle with just three quick inputs.
There are some limitations to mapping. Button combinations cannot be assigned to a single paddle. I also hoped to map out the right stick for the cardinal’s direction to control the paddles Tetris 99alignment system but no dice. A more likely use is for players to map the four main face buttons to the back so they never have to remove their thumb from the right stick.
Even at the borders, paddles can be incredibly useful. Although I couldn’t map my targeting in Tetris 99, I could assign my rotary knob to them. It’s a simple change, but it meant I never had to switch between target and rotate, which could have compromised the failure to drop songs in a fast-paced late game. When you test New Pokemon Snap, I mapped each paddle to one of the face buttons, which increased the smoothness of taking photos. I have never lost full control of the camera and I could scan or throw fruit without moving my finger.
I noticed that my hands sometimes felt a little cramped trying to place my fingers around the thick guide. I wouldn’t say it’s uncomfortable with a long shot, but it required a less natural grip. One nice addition is that the paddle pack is completely removable and the opening into which it pops can be closed when it is out. Anyone who feels like it’s blocking it can just remove it.
Even at the borders, paddles can be incredibly useful.
I had a problem with two left paddles that were always mapped to the same button. PowerA says it’s probably due to a faulty model. Since others did not have this problem, it seems that this is the case. However, it serves as a reminder of the risk you pose with third-party gaming technology; it is more difficult to ensure consistency compared to a first-party product from a company like Microsoft. While Nintendo’s own official drivers are notoriously flawed (encouraging Joy-Con drift lawsuits), PowerA isn’t really unreliable in comparison.
Give and take
All of these glossy features may sound too good to be true – and they are to some extent. While Fusion includes all sorts of customizations that Switch players have only dreamed of, some basic elements are also missing.
Here’s to give and take, as players sacrifice some basics for customization potential.
The most egregious problem is that there is no noise in the controller. I don’t mean it lacks Joy-Cons-HD roar; it does not shake at all. Even with all the exciting extras, it might be a contractor for some. It also lacks the amiibo reader function, which is present in a normal Pro controller. That’s a lot less of a problem, given that Amiibo support has always been narrow, but dedicated fans might be a little discouraged by its lack here.
Battery life is also a step down. While the Pro controller can take up to 40 hours, the Fusion moves to about 20.
There, the $ 100 price point becomes more of a discussion. It’s not like PowerA offers all the features of a Pro controller with a lot of advanced features. Here’s to give and take, as players sacrifice some basics for customization potential. Whether it’s worth it ultimately comes to what the player appreciates in the Switch controller. Those who just want something closer to the Xbox controller can stick with the Pro controller.
If the priority is customization, there is no comparison because Nintendo offers nothing but that department. It can also be plugged in, which is a step forward from some of PowerA’s standard AA-powered wireless switchboards.
PowerA Fusion is a robust Nintendo Switch Pro controller option for gamers who want more control. The paddles at the back, interchangeable front panels and detachable joysticks make this feel like a worthwhile investment. If PowerA had Rumble functionality and Amiibo support, it would be an easy upgrade. These shortcomings make the $ 100 price tag feel a little steep for anyone who just wants a better version of the Pro controller instead of the impressive one.
Is there a better option?
The official Nintendo Switch Pro controller is more robust and cheaper, although Fusion is not questioned in its customization.
How long will it take?
The battery lasts up to 20 hours, which is half of what the official Pro driver offers. Compared to other third-party controllers, it feels more robust than us, even with some plastic buttons.
Should you buy it?
Yeah. If you’re specifically looking for a deeper customization for Switch controllers, Fusion is a pretty solid package. Otherwise, hold Pro.