Are you sick and tired of the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons with their high price, terrible ergonomics, and stick drifting problems? Don’t worry, there’s a plethora of unofficial third party Joy-Cons off of Lazada and Shopee that’ll get you 2/3rds of the features without the eye-watering price tag. Today, we’re taking a look at the Mobapad M8 – or M6, depending where you got it from. We’re looking at this over other options such as the very popular BINBOK because unlike the competition, it advertises a few features that I thought were interesting, despite missing a few key ones. Is the Mobapad M8 worth it?
I think it’s fair to say that I am kind of a Nintendo Switch nerd. Up until recently, I’ve been playing almost all of my games on the Switch – even for games that I own on the PC. And you know that I’ve felt that the Nintendo Switch, fantastic as it is, needs a little help on the controller front. The Pro Controller’s got a few quirks and I was able to get pretty nice third party options to make up for those quirks. While the Joy-Cons… well, they’re legendary for their terrible analog sticks that drift if you look at them the wrong way.
Sure, while the best option for anyone with a Switch would always be first-party, genuine Joy-Cons, I’m getting sick of them. I have two pairs of Joy-Cons at home and they just randomly start to drift, forcing me to look for my electric contact cleaner, spraying the shit out of the analog sticks, and then there’s also the random disconnects because the lock on these things are broken, and that’s ten minutes of me getting annoyed and fixing things and I’m no longer in the mood to play by then.
So this is why the Mobapad M8 came in handy.
What is the Mobapad M8?
I don’t know anything about Mobapad, except that they make third party controllers. Their controllers look woefully generic, unlike the wonderfully retro-inspired controllers made by 8bitdo. You can probably put the Mobapad M8 next to the Hori Split Pad Pro and if you didn’t take a closer look, you’d probably think these were the same thing!
So. Mobapad M8. It’s essentially a Joy-Con alternative that offers a lot of the features that you want out of the Joy-Cons, except for a couple of big ones. But they make up for it with features that you might not be looking for.
Let’s start with the four features missing from the Mobapad M8. If you’re expecting that IR sensor at the bottom of the right Joy-Con, no luck. I’m sure you’ll be aghast at the loss of that one feature used in, well, 1-2 Switch and Ring Fit Adventure.
Kidding aside, some of the more important features missing from the Mobapad M8 are HD Rumble, an NFC reader, and – here’s the big one – bluetooth. That means you can’t scan your Amiibos with it, and thanks to the exclusion of bluetooth, the Mobapad is a handheld-only affair. And without HD Rumble, you don’t get the sweet, sweet, refined vibrations from the Joy-Cons and Pro Controller. You’re stuck with this unrefined and frankly gross rumble that isn’t even as good as the one on the early Dualshocks.
To make up for the lack of these features though, the Mobapads are huge and, well, chunky. My hands grip them well, and the back’s got a texture that gives me confidence that my Switch isn’t just going to slip out of my hands as I’m playing. It also features swappable faceplates, and you get an extra set with the box. They’re also advertising analog sticks made by Alps – the same potentiometers used on Dualshocks. Alps claims that their stuff is used on 80% of controllers today. If you’re sick and tired of the infamous Joy-Con drift, this might be the thing for you.
The ABXY face buttons are also using mechanical switches, instead of membrane ones. Imagine those switches used on your mouse, and when playing on your switch, you hear that click over and over and over. It might drive some of you insane, some of you might not care, but pressing these mechanical switches actually gives a small satisfying bump. More on this later.
To round this off, the Mobapad has a gyroscope for motion controls, a perfectly serviceable d-pad, back buttons that you can assign to macros, turbo, and buttons that control the strength of the rumble.
Ergonomics & Feel
So for a good number of years, I’ve been rocking Skull & Co’s grips – the original Gripcase served me well, and I upgraded to the NeoGrip last year. Don’t get me wrong – I loved these. I would recommend them to anyone looking for a great grip. But only if they’re satisfied with their Joy-Cons. And there’s the rub, isn’t it?
I mean, compared to the Joy-Cons, these things are massive. It has grips which I find really comfortable. I always thought the NeoGrip was already comfortable, but this is night and day. The Switch now rests comfortably in my hands, and the nice texture on the back of the grip makes me feel confident that I won’t drop it if I one-hand my switch for some reason.
But that’s simply holding the Switch and Mobapad in my hand. Yeah, simply resting is a good experience. Playing on it needs a little adjusting to. See, the Mobapad ended up being too wide for me and it feels weird to play. Maybe it’s because I’ve been using the Switch for years with the stock Joy-Cons with their cute little buttons smushed together, but all of the Mobapad’s face elements feel a little too far apart for me.
Because of the width, the face buttons are too far off to the right and it feels awkward to use. While it may have a nice satisfying click thanks to the mechanical switches, travel distance seems to be a little too shallow and it takes away from the satisfaction of pressing them.
Analog Sticks are… weird
The analog sticks have a weird deadzone that, honestly, isn’t too bad. I survived a few levels of Quake on them. But the deadzone is a little disappointing considering that they’re being advertised as Alps sticks, which are like supposed to be the best of the best!
Speaking of the analog sticks – because of the width of the Mobapad, they’re awkwardly placed. I wouldn’t call them uncomfortable, but they’re a few milimeters away from what I’d consider comfortable. All I’m saying is that the Steam Deck and the Wii U were on to something with their stick placements.
The d-pad is fine. It doesn’t have mechanical switches unlike the face buttons, so it feels a little mushy. Especially when you compare it to the 8bitdos that I use almost daily. But play a few rounds of Dead Cells on it, you won’t notice the mush, and you’d have very little to complain about.
Disappointing Triggers and Shoulder Buttons
As for the shoulder buttons and triggers… dear god they’re horrible. They’re some of the shallowest triggers and shoulder buttons I’ve had the misfortune of using, and that’s even coming from the Joy-Cons. I wasn’t expecting shallow presses with very little resistance, given that the Mobapad is really close to full-size! Even though I get that these are digital triggers, unlike the analog and deep triggers most modern controllers have. Sadly, the Mobapad gives me some of the most unsatisfying shoulder and trigger button experiences I’ve ever had.
Something about the back paddles
I never use marcos and back paddles, so I can’t really attest to how good or bad they were, but if you want to assign single face buttons to the back paddles – well, you can’t. They’re not the same on the 8bitdo Pro 2 or the Microsoft Elite Controller or any other controller with back paddles in existence – they’re marco buttons. Press the cog button, assign a macro (ie A-B-B-X-Y), and press the back buttons once and you’ll go through the pattern. Double press the back paddle, and you’ll trigger the macro, but as a turbo. Blech.
The button with three bullets on the other hand is the Turbo button, and it works like you’d expect. Hold the button and press a face button (ie Turbo+A), and if you hold down the assigned button, it’ll automatically keep on accentuating that one button for your spamming convenience.
Is the Mobapad M8 Worth It?
I’ve used the Mobapad as my only handheld controller since I got it, and I’ve played a variety of games – from retro, to first-person shooters, open world games, to platformers, and it’s… ok. It’s doing a good job of going out of my way, it’s comfortable, the gyro works as expected, and all of my complaints about how awkward it is to hold don’t rear their ugly head in the middle of a game. However, the incredibly shallow face buttons, shoulder paddles, and triggers can lead to an unsatisfying experience, and it can take me out of gameplay sometimes. Nothing egregiously bad, but if that sort of thing matters to you, then it’s something you need to take into consideration.
Also, the fact that it doesn’t have bluetooth is going to be a turn off for people looking to use it as their only controller, but since I have a Pro Controller and several 8bitdos lying around the house, it doesn’t bother me much. The exclusion of NFC might be a big deal for someone who uses Amiibos a lot, but if you have a right Joy-Con handly, then that’s a good way to work around that limitation.
- Good, tactile, mechanical buttons
- Nice, solid, comfortable grip
- Solid Alps analog sticks
- Gyro is great
- Swappable face plates
- Adjustable rumble strength
- Mushy, albeit passable, D-Pad
- Unrefined rumble
- Shallow face buttons, paddles, and triggers
- Weird back paddle behavior
- Slightly uncomfortable button placement
- Analog sticks have a minor deadzone
- No NFC and Bluetooth
Be ready for some minor jank that comes with third-party controllers and the fact that longevity and quality control on these things can be unknown, and you might find yourself enjoying using the Mobapad M8. It’s… okay. It’s a mixed bag, but when it works, it works.
By the way, if you’re looking for a carrying case that works with the Switch with the Mobapad M8 attached, try the tomtoc Carrying Case for the Hori Split Pad Pro. Using it now and I can recommend it heartily!
Watch me play Nintendo Switch games and more live on Twitch! Hang out with me and ask questions about the Mobapad M8 and more peripherals. Give me a follow on https://twitch.tv/AdeMagnaye