Review: Minibird Wireless Controller for Nintendo Switch

Minibird recently released four new controllers for the Nintendo Switch. The Pop Top wireless controllers are almost identical to the Pro Controller, for a few bucks less.

Anyone in the market for a colorful controller for his or her Nintendo Switch may be charmed by the new Minibird Pop Top controllers. These wireless controllers are available in four variants. Each variant has its own unique design, of which we have tested the Batman version ! Besides the Batman version you also have:

  • Fortnite with a picture of the Loot Llama
  • Super Mario, blue with red and the iconic question mark of the question mark block
  • A yellow version that looks a bit like Pikachu

No doubt these wireless controllers are aimed at a slightly younger audience. They are all very ornate and bear characteristics of some very well-known game figures. The controllers are also a bit smaller than the usual Pro Controller, which may make it a little better in the hand for younger players. But even if you're just as grown-up (physically) and childish (mentally) as with us, this wireless controller plays just fine.

The lay-out

As you can see in the image above, the controller is almost identical to the Switch Pro Controller when it comes to button layout. You will find almost all buttons in the same place, with one exception. The Home button, with which you go back to the main menu of the Switch, or wake the Switch from sleep mode (also works on the Minibird). This is located on the Minibird controller between the D-pad and the right thumbstick. On the Switch Pro controller (and the Joy-Cons with or without grip holder) it is located to the right of the screenshot button. The Minibird controller has a 'Turbo button' here. This is one of the 3 extra buttons on this controller.

The Turbo button is meant to pair with another button on your controller. This allows you to speed up the frequency of that button with one push. This means you can, for example, by linking the Turbo button with 'A', have the button register 3x per second with one press on A. This can be useful in certain games, such as picking up tubers you've stored somewhere on your island in Animal Crossing from a long way.

The two other extra buttons are on the back and are similar to the back buttons on the Xbox Elite Controller and the Back Button attachment for the Playstation 4 controller. You can configure these two buttons as another button on the controller. The skill here lies mainly in staying mobile in titles where this may be necessary. For example, you can configure a button on the back as A, B, X or Y. This way you can press this button without taking your thumb off the thumbstick or having your hand in a strange claw position.

Personally, I find these buttons especially useful in shooters where certain actions are tied to the so-called Face Buttons (A, B, X, Y on the Nintendo Switch). This way I remain mobile and I always have certain actions ready via my middle fingers on the back of the controller.

The play test

To finally test how the controller plays in the heat of battle, we tested it with a number of titles. The first was Monster Hunter: Rise, to test if these controllers allowed me to keep the same combo and DPS momentum as with the standard pro controller. It took some getting used to, but after a few minutes I didn't really notice that I was holding another controller. It played fine, although I found out while playing that the Face Buttons are very close to each other.

The daily round around the island in Animal Crossing also went without any problems with this controller. I see the Turbo button, as mentioned before, come in handy in this game for 'A' intensive jobs.

Since playing Shooters is always the test for me whether a controller is comfortable for me, I started Apex Legends for a round on the Nintendo Switch. Now Apex Legends is far from optimal on the Nintendo Switch , it was the only shooter I had access to so quickly. It played fine here too, so far Apex can play fine on the Switch. In games like this I see the most uses for the configuration of the buttons on the back.

Verdict

The Minibird wireless controller for the Nintendo Switch is cheaper and slightly smaller than the standard Pro controller. The controller is also slightly cheaper. It saves about 20 to 30 euros, depending on where you buy them. You definitely feel those few tens of difference.

Although the controller plays fine, it feels a lot less premium than the standard Pro controller. The triggers in particular are on the rough side and have a less neatly finished edge, which makes it feel rather sharp in some places. Personally, I find that the Face Buttons are a little too close together, so I sometimes have to look at my controller to see what I'm doing. The battery life of this controller is also significantly lower. Although 12 to 16 hours is sufficient for a number of game sessions for most players, the Switch Pro controller lasts 2 to 4 times longer. Especially if you are far away from the console, this can be an important factor in deciding your purchase.

Finally, a short, but not unimportant summary:

  • Rumble support in different levels, no HD Rumble (which Nintendo doesn't do anything with anymore by the way)
  • Turbo button
  • Two programmable buttons on the back
  • Also works on PC
  • Motion Controls Supported

The Minibird compared to all modern console controllers

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