Hardware Review: PowerA FUSION Pro Wireless Controller

The Pro Controller has some true competition now, particularly for those who enjoy first and third-person shooters!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/21/2021 23:21 Comment on this     ShareThis

PowerA is known for being prolific with its output of controllers for Nintendo Switch. Countless wired and wireless pads have been produced by the company, the overwhelming majority of which being of high quality and boasting attractive designs. Ultimately, however, the general consensus among most fans is that no one has come quite close to equaling the feel of Nintendo’s own Pro Controller. As it turns out, PowerA has been saving one of its best controllers to wow Nintendo fans with, as the FUSION Pro Wireless Controller is arguably right up there with Nintendo’s own efforts. Although it lacks an NFC reader and HD Rumble, the FUSION makes up for its absence with mappable paddles, a deluxe carrying case, and a slew of customization options that push this controller over the edge.

Let’s run through the basics of the FUSION:

  • Mappable Pro Pack: Four programmable paddles
  • Injected rubber grips: Rubberized handles provide for hours of comfortable gaming
  • Two swappable magnetic faceplates: Choose black or white
  • Immersive action: Responsive motion-controls in wireless mode
  • Swappable ALPS analog thumb sticks: Plus two swappable extra analog sticks featuring convex & concave caps
  • Embedded anti-friction rings: Play with super-smooth stick control on either faceplate
  • Dual Mode: Wired USB and wireless 900mAh rechargeable battery
  • 3.5mm stereo audio jack for your wired headset (wired controller mode only)
  • Detachable 9.8ft braided USB-C cable
  • Premium travel case fits controller, cable, faceplate, and accessories
  • Officially licensed by Nintendo, and includes two-year limited warranty

The first thing that stood out to me when handling the FUSION was its weight. This controller feels very, very good in-hand. The balance is perfect and is quite comfortable to hold onto for multiple hours of gaming. The texture of the injected rubber grips is complimented by the plastic of the faceplates. Just holding the FUSION makes it apparent that this is a luxury controller. It’s not that PowerA’s previous pads were slouches; rather, it’s simply a sign of how high-end the FUSION is that even the feel of it has been precision-manufactured.

The thumb sticks are highly responsive and silky smooth to manipulate. Whatever arrangement the player settles upon, the FUSION controls wonderfully. What’s more, customization is a cinch. Swapping parts in and out requires minimal effort. Even for someone like myself who gets nervous about switching components or cracking open electronic devices, I wasn’t remotely intimidated by FUSION’s customization options. The first thing I did after charging it was swap out the black faceplate for the white one with its red highlights. It was fun having so much control over the look and feel of the FUSION.

The buttons and D-pad are also very impressive on the FUSION. As someone who loves old school platformers like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Donkey Kong Country, it’s very important to me that the D-pad, especially, is responsive and comfortable. The FUSION’s is exceptional, never failing to register my presses, which is sadly all too common with some other third-party D-pads. It’s also solid for fighting games, although won’t be likely to replace a fight stick or controllers with larger D-pads. Where the FUSION really stands out is its paddles.

The Mappable Pro Pack is comprised of four paddles that stick out of the back of the controller. Any button can be assigned to a paddle, which is easy to do thanks to the simple way that the FUSION allows players to create the perfect setup for their own play styles. These paddles are immensely popular in today’s shooting games, which is where I leapt in to give them a shot. With the likes of Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Overwatch on Switch (and that’s a small sampling of shooters that the system offers), these types of paddles make it a breeze to do certain actions simultaneously (like dropping down prone while continuing to aim and shoot), a major boon in competition. For those who have yet to play with paddles it can take some adjustment to become acclimated, but the learning curve is fairly low. For many, the Mappable Pro Pack is going to be a legit game-changer for how they play. The benefits extend beyond shooters, too, allowing for some quality of life tweaking in everything from New Pok√©mon Snap to Luigi’s Mansion 3; it’s all about finding what works for the individual player.

Battery life comes in around 20 hours, which is roughly half of what a Nintendo Pro Controller is capable of. It definitely outstrips many other rechargeable pads on the market, but it would have been nice to see the FUSION get closer to that mark. It’s also worth noting that the FUSION gets close to bringing all of the features of a Pro Controller to the table, but it does lack some notable functionality. With a $99.99 price tag, some might feel miffed to hear this, but there are factors to take into consideration first. Motion controls are present and accurate, but there’s no rumble to speak of. The FUSION supports both wired and wireless play. The additional paddles can be removed for a more traditional setup and the FUSION comes with a splendid travel case to protect all of its included bits and pieces like extra control sticks, faceplate, and more. It ultimately is going to boil down to what the player is hoping to accomplish with the FUSION. Gaining a competitive edge is really what this pad is all about, and it succeeds on that front. The Pro Controller is $30 cheaper at $70, but it likely isn’t going to offer anywhere near the amount of customization that pros and would-be pros will desire.

Is the FUSION a Pro Controller killer? No. Instead, it’s the perfect alternative for fans who want that same level of detail and care Nintendo is known for built into a competition-focused controller. Some features are lacking or truncated, but what is offered in their place will help competitive players jack their game up to the next level. Someone trying to crack into eSports is probably not going to be heartbroken that the FUSION can’t scan in amiibo, but they will be thrilled when they can snap in and out control sticks and assign buttons to its paddles with ease. The FUSION is impressive and should be on any Nintendo fan’s wish list. You can order a FUSION for yourself at this link.

Nintendojo was provided review units of this product for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation.

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