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Vivid Wireless Controller

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Hardware
Developer: Brook


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Hardware Review - 'Vivid Wireless Controller'

by Cody Medellin on Nov. 11, 2022 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Featuring a ton of useful features, including console wake-up, six-axis gyro sensors, turbo, macros, vibration, and improved aiming efficiency, the Vivid controller also comes in two fun and stylish aesthetic designs.

Buy Vivid Wireless Controller

The general rule of thumb for consoles is that if you're buying a controller, you always go for the first-party ones. They're generally reliable, have all of the standard functions you expect, and feel premium. For the most part, the only reason to go for a third-party controller for a console is because you needed it in a pinch, don't want to spend the money for a first-party controller, and are willing to gamble on getting a good one. There are exceptions, such as the 8bitdo and Hori lines of controllers, which are quite excellent overall. Usually, the joke is that you give a third-party controller to a friend to handicap them in competitive play. Recently, Taiwanese company Brook sent over its teal and white Vivid Wireless Controller for the Nintendo Switch, and the product is mostly surprising.

The first thing you'll notice when you pick up the controller is that it is light. You somewhat expect that from a third-party controller, but at 0.4 pounds, it's roughly 80% of the weight of Nintendo's Pro Controller, which weighs 0.55 pounds. The matte plastic feels nice enough but pales to the rubber handles of the Pro Controller. It's also a smaller controller by comparison. The depth is the same, but the width stops right around the halfway point of the A button. The length stops right before the tips of the handles. If you have big hands, the difference is enough to make it feel a little cramped but not enough to make your hands hurt after extended gameplay sessions.

The analog sticks have concave tops that are about the same depth as what's on an Xbox One controller. The sticks have approximately the same tension as the Pro Controller, so there's little to no need to readjust your muscle movement when using them. Clicking the sticks results in a louder and more hollow sound but not annoyingly so. The button presses are a little louder, while the d-pad feels good due to its concave center. It isn't as distinct as the Pro Controller, since the branches of each direction are a little wider, but you can still tell where you're pressing. There's more travel to the shoulder buttons, and it cuts into the plastic controller housing a bit, but you don't lose button presses because of it.

The triggers will be a point of contention, as they try to have an analog feel instead of a digital click. However, it terminates with some deep resistance compared to what you'd get from a PS4/PS5/Xbox One trigger. It's soft and doesn't result in trigger fatigue if you're playing a shooter, but it may take some getting used to. The Plus and Minus buttons can be considered improvements, as they're bigger on the Vivid and easier to hit. There's a trade-off with the Home and Screenshot buttons, as their new positions will throw off players who are used to their placement on the Pro Controller.

In practice, it all works surprisingly well. In a game like Splatoon 3, the dual stick shooter controls felt natural, and while you have to put some pressure to shoot, it didn't feel like you were fighting the controller. Motion controls also worked well, as motion turning and aiming are accurate without any interruptions. Playing Earthworm Jim 2 on the SNES app, hitting diagonal whips was never an issue, and throwing projectiles in Garou: Mark of the Wolves came off as smoothly on the d-pad as it would from an analog stick. In short, you don't feel shortchanged when playing with this controller.

It is missing a few things that you'd expect from a Pro Controller. It has the most basic version of the rumble, so don't expect the more nuanced HD rumble that admittedly only appears in a handful of titles. It also has no NFC reader, so you can't use it to read Amiibo. These are roughly the same things that other third-party controllers are also missing, but the fact that the Vivid has motion controls places it a step above most of the field.

Like all third-party controllers, this comes with quite a few extras. While it may not have HD Rumble, you can go for three levels of vibration intensity or turn it off completely. Turbo firing is available, and you can change it so that any button can fire off 5, 10, or 15 button presses a second. The controller features two buttons on the back that can be used to record macros that are up to 30 commands in length, and while it takes a bit to learn how to record the macros, they're useful; everything can be recorded, including button presses, trigger pulls and analog stick movements. Shooting fans may like the Shoot feature, which uses those same back buttons and cuts analog stick movement speed in half to get more precise shots. The feature works well enough, especially when sniping, but it might not get much use from those who often use a controller for shooters unless you have twitchy thumbs.

The controller comes with more than just a USB-C cable that gives the battery a 15-hour charge. In addition to a few stickers of their anime mascot, you get a few analog stick caps with paw prints. They fit over the controller sticks, but if you are planning on using them for other controllers, they'll only fit the Joy-Con sticks. The controller also comes with a phone cradle. The phone portion can accommodate an iPhone 11 if you take out the case, but fitting the apparatus on the controller is difficult enough that you feel like you're about to break it. You can make it work if you're willing to put enough force into it, but it's enough of a hassle that you might not bother after a few tries.

The inclusion of the phone cradle reminds you that this is a standard Bluetooth controller, so it can connect to phones and tablets of both the Android and iOS variety as well as PCs, where it can also connect via USB if you don't trust Bluetooth latency. You have to deal with blinking lights that can't be shut off if you decide to use a cable, though. The pairing process differs from the Switch method but works well otherwise. All of the extra functions of the controller are present on the supported platforms, so you aren't missing anything in that regard.

Having said that, the controller does exhibit one quirk when using it on a PC or phone, and it has to do with the face buttons. When connecting the controller to another device, it gets recognized as an Xbox Controller. For games that support it, it means that all of the button prompts show as an Xbox controller. When using the controller, the button presses are right — but also wrong due to the Nintendo layout. For example, when playing Fortnite, jumping on the PC is done with the A button, and hitting the A button here does the same thing. However, the A button on an Xbox controller is at the bottom of the four-button layout, while the A button is on the right side of the four-button layout. The argument can't be made that the game is simply mimicking the Switch, either, since jumping there uses the B button. If you play on different platforms at all times, this switching of button playouts causes some havoc on your muscle memory since you constantly have to rethink where the buttons are and how it'll feel unnatural. The side effect is that if you've always been a Nintendo player who wanted to try out PC gaming, things actually match up nicely. It'll feel awkward, but at least you aren't trying to reinterpret where the A and X buttons are now.

In the end, the Brook Vivid Wireless Controller isn't a bad third-party controller. Time will tell if it succumbs to drift easily, but for those with smaller hands, you're getting a controller that feels relatively close to the Pro Controller in terms of important things like analog stick sensitivity and button responsiveness. The extra functions, like turbo firing and macro recording, are nice, as is the functionality on other platforms. The button execution might throw you off, but its real achievement is the fact that it doesn't feel like you're handicapping anyone who comes over to play if you give them this pad. It's a bit pricier than other controllers you might find on Amazon, but considering the end result, it feels like money well spent.

Score: 7.5/10

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