|1. A simple toggle makes an Xbox Series controller work on a Nintendo Switch.
|2. Extra programmable triggers are nice, but awkwardly placed.
|3. If nothing else, it's a sold rechargeable battery with some nifty features.
I have a frankly absurd number of Switch-compatible controllers available to me, but when RetroFlag offered to let me try out an adapter that would make an Xbox Series controller work on the Switch I couldn’t resist!
RetroFlag’s newest doohickey is a rechargeable battery pack and battery cover that snaps onto the back of any Xbox Series controller. Though they are functionally similar, a slightly different design means this will not work with an Xbox One controller. To easily check compatibility, this adapter is for controllers with a dedicated share button.
The battery pack and cover snap on like they were made for the controller because, well, they were. For basic functionality, that’s all the setup necessary. With the battery pack in you can turn your controller back on as you normally would, and it should work with your Xbox as normal.
To open up the more interesting features of this device, there is a slider on the back with three settings. The default option in the middle just uses the battery pack. The other options are “X” and “S”, which let the device connect to an Xbox or Switch.
Once you’ve slid that toggle over, you have to hit a connect button on the device to pair it with your console of choice. At this point, turning the controller on with the Xbox button will still use whatever pairing was set up before you snapped this thing on. The new connect button is the power button to use for new connections.
I expected pairing to have complications, but it was shockingly simple. I opened up the controller pairing screen on the Switch, flicked the slider over, hit pair… and it just worked. With no extra effort at all, I was playing Tears of the Kingdom with an Xbox controller. It is kind of absurd how straightforward this connection is.
Playing on Switch
Actually using the controller to play Switch games is seamless as well. Everything is mapped one-to-one to the Xbox controller, down to the capture and Xbox buttons work for screenshots and the home menu on the Switch. Everything just works.
The only thing I struggle with when using this controller is the one detail where there is no perfect solution. The face buttons are flipped. On a Switch, the “A” button is located on the right side. On the Xbox, it’s on the bottom. That means to register an “A” on the Switch, you are actually pressing the “B” button on the Xbox.
And I hate it.
Obviously, this is better than if they swapped everything around because then the muscle memory you’ve built up for Switch games would be all wrong. But still, when my brain knows I need to hit “A” and I’m holding an Xbox controller, it tells my thumb to hit the “A” button on the Xbox controller, which then hits “B” on the Switch.
This is probably something that won't bother 90% of players, but my head struggles with it every time.
Outside of the ability to use an Xbox controller on the Switch, the other selling point of this device from Retroflag is the two extra buttons it gives you. These paddles stick off each side of the top center of your Xbox controller so that you can just reach them with the same fingertips that would hit the shoulder and trigger buttons.
Despite my affinity for weird controllers, I am not a huge fan of extra, programmable buttons. I like the idea of the rear buttons on the 8bitDo Pro or the Hori Split Pad Pro, but in practice, I rarely remember to use them after programming them.
The extra buttons here are even less practical than those since they aren't positioned for an “unused” finger to reach them. On the plus side, rather than just programming them to replicate a single button, they can be set to input a sequence.
I played around with using these extra buttons to trigger a three-attack combo in Tears of the Kingdom. It worked fine, but I don't see it becoming a part of my regular play style.
This is a really nifty device, but I think its appeal is pretty narrow. If you’ve got a Switch and an Xbox but don’t have four controllers for your Switch already, then this is worth getting as a backup for Switch multiplayer. You get the added benefit of a rechargeable battery for your Xbox controller and some programmable paddles that might be more useful for you than they were for me.
As a final thought, there is a tiny application for this device for Xbox owners who don’t even have a switch. Because the “X” connection on this device is a totally separate connection from the controller itself, you could leave your controller paired to the Xbox and use the “X” connection to pair with your computer or a tablet to make swapping between devices easier.