12th Oct2023

‘Crkd Nitro Deck’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

If you’ve played a Nintendo Switch in handheld mode for any length of time you’ll know that after a while it can become uncomfortable – especially for the larger-handed folks out there. You’ll also probably be well aware of the “drifting” issues that the Switch joycons can suffer from. One of the solutions, from both Nintendo, with its Pro controller and from third-party companies, is Hall Effect technology, which uses magnets on the joysticks, preventing any mechanical wear and tear on the sticks – the cause of drifting.

Well the Nitro Deck, from Crkd, aims to solve both issues and does it in a unique way.

Whereas we’ve already had joycons that are essentially for controllers split into two – offering their larger size controls but still attach to like the Switch standard joycons. However the Nitro Deck is similar, only as the name suggests, it’s a deck/dock. A giant controller if you will, that the Switch slots into, making the Switch feel something akin to the bulkier nature of Steam deck and the ROG Ally rather than the more svelte Switch. And I’ll be honest, as a grown-up gamer, with grown-up hands, the Nitro Deck – and in particular its larger footprint – is a godsend!

Design-wise the layout of the Nitro Deck‘s controls is pretty much identical to the original Switch joycons, with a d-pad replacing the buttons on the left-hand side but the placement of the joystick and the d-pad AND the minus button in exactly the same spots as an official joycon. However, on the right-hand side there is an ever-so-slight change, one that seems to have divided opinion online – the joystick itself has been moved a tiny bit down from its position on the official controller and has the home button. It’s not that big of a deal – not as much as some other reviews have made out. I saw one review call the repositioning “almost comically uncomfortable to use” – which I think is total BS.

In terms of the other buttons on the Nitro Deck – for there are more, including extras ones not found on the traditional joycons – the home button (branded with Crkd’s logo) doubles as a connection indicator, lighting up to show that the Switch and the deck are communicating. There’s also the standard should buttons, though the enlarged nature of all four of these is another welcome change – especially the ZL and ZR pads! In addition to all the buttons found on ALL joycons, the Nitro Deck also has four programmable buttons on the back – which I found remarkably useful when you reprogrammed them as the shoulder buttons – holding the Nitro Deck I found my resting hand position allowed me to use my thumbs for the buttons/d-pad/joysticks, my index finger for L and R and then I could use my middle fingers on the new buttons as ZR and ZL, which meant I never had to move the positions of my index fingers – very handy for complicated fighting game moves IMHO.

The rest of the Nitro Deck features a kickstand – one that feels a LOT more sturdy than the one built into the Switch; and an eject button – which pulls back the two clips in the two internal bottom corners of the Nitro Deck that keep the Switch locked into place; and then there are the input and output ports. Out is for power, allowing you to charge your Switch whilst it is docked in the Nitro Deck. Obviously. However, the output port is a little less obvious… It’s for using the Nitro Deck as an overly large WIRED Pro Controller when the Nintendo Switch is in docked mode and connected to your TV. Surely you’d already have a Pro Controller, or one of the many, many, third-party controllers – both wired and wireless – this late into the Switch’s lifespan? There’s no need to use the Nitro Deck as a controller. That’s where I’d call the Nitro Deck is almost comical. Not for the positioning of a joystick!

When it was originally announced I certainly had my doubts about the Nitro Deck but given the issues I’ve had with drift on one of my joycons (and the fact that I’ve found if you DON’T disconnect the joycons completely from the Switch when playing with some third party controllers they “drift” too – the joycon competing with the controller for some weird reason) I was up for trying anything, even what I originally dismissed as just a big piece of gimmicky cheap plastic!

But after buying a purple limited edition Nitro Deck on release day (surprisingly available in stock at Argos) and using it daily since then, I can honestly say I’ll never play my Switch in handheld mode without it. Ever. Using the Nitro Deck has given my Switch, and my Switch gaming, a whole new lease of life.

**** 4/5


Comments are closed.