Review: Trident Pro-S2 Controller (Hardware)
Game Devil have a relatively short history with the Nintendo Switch. Met with mixed reviews for their first iteration of the Trident Pro S, many were disappointed with its lacklustre feature set in particular, as well as other minor details. If you're interested in the original controller, you can find Tom's review here. What I'm interested in is whether Game Devil have learned from their previous mistakes.
Old to New—S to S2
On the surface level, not a whole lot has changed. It sports a very similar look and feel, with minor changes to the aesthetic. One thing I immediately noticed however was the lack of stylised face buttons, and this is something I really do appreciate. While I understand the old designs were used for the majority of their products, I couldn't help but think they took away from what is otherwise a relatively premium feel, making it look tacky and cheap. With standard printed ABXY buttons, I can look at this controller and not be repulsed by its association to the bargain bin controllers of an era since-passed.
Feature-wise, the biggest addition comes in the form of motion controls. Having thoroughly tested it, they feel similarly sensitive to the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro; perhaps more so than the Joy Cons but not to any kind of extreme. Where it excels beyond the SN30 Pro is in its large grips, allowing you a better base to hold the controls steady and make small adjustments where needed. From what I could tell, the motion controls were the only change actually advertised by Game Devil, but a few other things were tweaked as well. The behaviour of the Turbo button has been altered to make it an on/off toggle, in oppose to having to hold both it and the button desired. As well as this, it now works with every button on the system, in oppose to just the four face buttons. This is a fantastic change; the biggest application coming to mind being Splatoon 2 and its Ink Brush. Whether it would be ethical or not to use a turbo button in a competitive online environment is a different story, but saving the wrist strain from mashing a single button is something I welcome.
You'll have to forgive my lack of Splatonical prowess, it's been a while.
The last major change I noticed was its connectivity to the Switch; it's simple and easy, contrasting horror stories I had heard about the Trident Pro-S. Even after turning the Switch off, it connected instantly and simply. While less of a pro and more something we should be expecting in any controller, it's great to see it's now up to standard, fixing one of the largest issues of the previous iteration.
As a Whole
Looking at the controller as a whole, it puts forward a professional and high quality aesthetic. The changes to the face buttons go a long way in helping this, demonstrating a fairly standard layout and look. One of the smaller things I came to appreciate was the red and blue plastic used for the analogue sticks. They don't do much to stand out, but it's a pleasant deviation from an otherwise conventional look, without the garishness the Trident Pro-S previously suffered with its face buttons. The Pro-S2 feels great to hold, the reasonably-sized grips providing a comfortable base for longer sessions. Complementing this is the design of the ZL and ZR buttons. At first, the design seemed odd, suggesting analogue triggers in oppose to the standard shoulder buttons used by the Switch. The curved nature of the shoulder buttons allowed for my fingers to sit more comfortably and revert to them as a resting location with no strain or additional effort.
One of main selling points for this controller comes from its interchangeable D-Pads. Sporting three unique designs (the controller coming with two of each), you are free to use whatever feels most comfortable; whether it be a standard cross, something closer to the D-Pad of an Xbox controller, or even the satellite dish design seen on the Xbox One Elite controller. While many would much rather stick to a traditional D-Pad, I found myself enjoying the satellite design and haven't really deviated from it since getting the Pro-S2. The D-Pad isn't without fault however. I found myself often catching more than one input and while it wasn't too much of an issue for me, some may not like the overall soft feel of it. The feedback from pressing a direction doesn't carry the same responsiveness or satisfaction you might get from other D-Pads, this also being an issue with the face buttons. Their softness almost seems intentional as if to make you want to use the turbo functionality more where you would otherwise be mashing a button. The buttons never felt soft enough as to be irritating or put me off using the controller, but I can understand how this may be different for others. If you're after reasonable feedback from your button presses, you may be left underwhelmed.
Too Strong, Too Furious
My largest concern with the controller comes from its rumble functionality. When I first used it, it came across as a little aggressive in comparison to the others I have; largely similar to the SN30 Pro when at launch. I didn't think much of it and started to get used to it—this until I played a motion-reliant game. As I went to Gal*Gun 2 to put the controller through its paces, something felt off. After a few moments, I figured out the cause. When using the vacuum, the entire screen was shaking. To put into perspective just how bad this was, I've put together a short demonstration below.
Quite interestingly here, Gal*Gun 2 allows you to disable rumble features, letting me show the difference quite clearly. I'd like to be able to say you could simply disable rumble if you find it inconveniencing, but put simply, it's not always an option. Despite the system settings themselves having an option to disable it, this won't apply for every game. Of the ones I tried, Vroom in the Night Sky kept its rumble despite the feature being disabled in system settings. With the same being true with the SN30 Pro, but not with the Joy Cons, I can only assume it's a compatibility issue many third party controllers suffer from. Were the rumble not so violent, this wouldn't be an issue, but when it can actively get in the way of gameplay, my opinions change somewhat.
It should also be noted the rumble feature was constantly enabled for Infinite Golf. From booting the game, the controller was vibrating at its fullest capacity. This isn't an issue I've seen in any other game, and I can't seem to replicate it with either Joy Cons nor the SN30 Pro, so I really can't guess the cause. What makes this a little more unfortunate is that disabling rumble via system settings doesn't stop this. While Infinite Golf may be the only game I've found with this issue, keep in mind more may be affected.
Game Devil's Trident Pro-S2 is a controller I quite honestly love, which only serves to disappoint me further when I see it held back by something as trivial as rumble functionality. I could see myself looking more favourably on it if it were missing this feature altogether. If you can get past this however, you have a well priced and incredibly comfortable controller sporting a rare feature in the form of a turbo button. The interchangeable D-Pads offer a pleasant degree of customisation without being overwhelming nor unnecessarily complex, and allows you to find the right layout for you. For games that aren't broken by its over-active rumble, it is my go-to controller, I just wish it could be more.
+ Feels sturdy and high quality
+ Looks like a professional product
+ Almost complete feature set for a Switch controller
+ Interchangeable D-Pads
+ Turbo button
- The rumble functionality in general
- Motion controls more sensitive than the Joy Cons
- Buttons a little soft
out of 10
The Trident Pro-S2 is a great controller sporting a fantastic range of features. Paired with the professional look and feel, turbo button, and interchangeable D-Pad, it truly saddens me to see it held back by something so trivial as its rumble functionality. If you feel you can work through this, or are fine with using another controller where this is an issue, it is a great and reasonably priced investment.