The gaming landscape is a diverse one, filled with different art styles, stories and gameplay. No two experiences are quite the same, but many of them have one thing in common: the controller you use to play them. However, even controllers can be incredibly diverse – everyone remembers foisting their bargain basement controllers onto friends and younger siblings, while keeping the best one for themselves. Over the years the quality of those old third-party controllers have increased and increased, resulting in a landscape where first party controllers aren’t always the first choice. After delivering the excellent Nacon Revolution Pro for the PlayStation 4 last year, Nacon are back with a new PlayStation 4 controller for a specific subset of gamers – people with small hands. As the resident wielder of tiny hands here at Rocket Chainsaw I went hands-on with the Nacon Compact Controller and walked away pretty impressed.
The first thing you notice as you look at the Nacon Compact Controller is that, unlike the Revolution, it features symmetrical stick placement. This is great for those who have grown up with PlayStation consoles, keeping in line with the DualShock 4 and making the controller instantly familiar. This should also be handy for people who want to buy this controller for children until they can graduate to the larger DualShock. It features the same boxy-style of the Revolution, which I personally find more comfortable than the DualShock. The matte plastic is soft to the touch and slightly grippy, while also avoiding the smudges that are common with shiny plastics.
The second thing you notice is just how small it really is. Even with my tiny hands, the Compact Controller is almost too small for me. I say almost, because Nacon have done a great job at avoiding making the controller too small. Unlike other small controllers, which cramp buttons and sticks to cut down on volume, Nacon have made sure to keep enough space and room on the controller to avoid that. Buttons are given ample room, avoiding any accidental presses of the wrong one, and they’re reasonably sized as well considering the overall size of the controller.
The size of the buttons on the Compact Controller aren’t their only positive, with some wonderfully tactile motions. The face and shoulder buttons are fantastically clicky, while the analogue sticks and triggers are springy to the touch. The d-pad is chunky and thick, although a little shorter than I would have liked. I feel that a controller’s design is proven by how its buttons feel when in use, and Nacon have done a great job here. The controller itself also feels sturdy, easily continuing without issue after some drops and roughhousing, which makes it perfect for children likely to drop it and players with a penchant for throwing controllers.
While my impressions of the Nacon Compact Controller are generally positive, there are a couple of shortcomings that could make or break the controller for you. For one, the Compact Contoller continues a frustrating trend with third party PlayStation 4 controllers – it’s wired. While the cable on the controller is definitely generous and never felt short or limiting, I just wish it was wireless. Another missing feature is the lightbar on the DualShock 4, which means it won’t be suitable for PlayStation VR in many situations. The last issue is the trackpad, which is easily the worst I have seen in a third-party controller to date. It almost feels like it’s held in place by a single spring in its middle, with an uneven springy-ness depending on where you press. In a controller where every other button feels fantastic, it’s just all the more frustrating.
With some mostly fantastic buttons, a pretty great build quality and a comfortable design the Nacon Compact Controller is the antithesis of the third-party controller of the past. While there are some frustrations, they are relatively minor when compared to the positives. At only $49 at JB Hi-Fi (where it is exclusively sold in physical stores) the Nacon Compact Controller won’t break the bank and is a perfect controller for those with small hands.
- Controller avoids feeling cramped br> - Wonderfully clicky buttons br> - Comfortable chunky design br> - Soft-touch plastic feels great
- Controller is wired br> - Touchpad is woeful