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Third-party Joy-Con controllers haven't been frequently made for the Nintendo Switch. There have been plenty of third-party traditional controllers to replace the Pro Controller, but not the Joy-Cons... until now. The newest third-party Joy-Con controller adds a D-pad function but it also removes a bunch of other features.
Game Informer is reporting that Hori has a third-party Joy-Con that adds D-pad functionality to the controller, replacing the segregated four button setup on the left Joy-Con that works both as face buttons when used horizontally but double as a D-pad when either docked to the Nintendo Switch or used in the wireless controller dock.
The Hori Joy-Con features a fully functional D-pad in the traditional cross shape. You can press the buttons and access it just like a standard D-pad just under the left analog and above the screen capture button. The controller costs around $25, which is half the price of the standard Joy-Cons for the Switch.
Most gamers would probably think this is nothing short of a miracle, giving gamers a replacement Joy-Con complete with a fully functionality D-Pad.
As pointed out by Game Informer, however, the Joy-Con does not contain the same level of functionality as Nintendo's original Joy-Con.
For instance, the Hori Joy-Con can only function when it's attached to the Nintendo Switch. It does not have the motion-control functionality like the standard Joy-Con. In fact, you cannot use the Hori Joy-Con in the wireless mode nor can you use it with the wireless controller dock. This is likely a huge blow to the controller's functionality outside of using the Switch in portable mode.
This means that you also can't use it for games like 1-2-Switch, which relies on the HD rumble functionality for some of the party based mini-games. Additionally, this also means that you won't be able to use the Joy-Con for certain games that rely on specific functionality outside of being attached to the Switch tablet. A perfect example of this is Nintendo Labo, which chiefly relies on the motion controls and gyroscopic abilities of the Joy-Cons.
Hori has plans on releasing its new D-pad Joy-Con controller this July in Japan. Given that Hori's other gamepads for the Nintendo Switch were made available for Western audiences, you can likely expect the Hori Joy-Con to launch in the West as well.
The bigger question is if it actually has a place in the marketplace? The current Joy-Con setup is pretty much fine as it is, but not really ergonomically advantageous during portable gameplay. The D-pad is the least of the worries. Adding a D-pad might make some gamers smile, but it comes at the expense of all the other functions present in the Joy-Con, which seems defeat the purpose a bit. Then again, it's only half the price of buying a brand new official Joy-Con, which clocks in at $50. So if price is a factor for you, then maybe the Hori option is better.