Do we really need colour-changing controllers in the world? Probably not.
Do we want them? Hell yeah.
The NACON Pro Compact controller for Xbox may not be our go-to gaming pad, especially not for long drawn-out sessions, but it’s not a bad option to have, particularly as it is well suited to those who need a smaller controller in their hands. See, as the ‘Compact’ name suggests, this is a smaller-than-the-norm Xbox controller.
So what of the Pro Compact Colorlight then? Well, that brings a ton of colour (or color, depending on your global location) to the party. And that’s something we can always get on board with.
It’s been a while since we have been hands-on with a full colour changing controller experience, instead having to make do with the likes of the PDP Afterglow Wave for our lighting joys. We’d not necessarily call it as a must-have feature either, usually happy with a standard Xbox controller in hand. But that’s not to say that the NACON Pro Compact Colorlight controller is not of interest.
What we have here in the Colorlight is your everyday NACON Pro Compact controller, without clothes. Fully naked, this transparent, see-through pad puts everything on display, the inner workings front and centre, showcasing rumble motors, circuitry and everything else that makes a controller tick. At least it does until it is switched on, after which it lights up the night sky like nothing else.
You’ll know whether you can get on with the NACON Pro Compact as an everyday driver or not by taking a look at a standard wireless Xbox controller and considering what it would be like if it was some 15% smaller. That’s the Pro Compact in a nutshell, playing up to those who are looking for something just a tad smaller to put in their hands.
Grabbing hold and feeling the well contoured grips should mean you’ll be fine with what is on offer, as pretty much everything you would consider an Xbox button necessity is in place. Thumbsticks feel nice to the touch, slightly concaved as should always be the case. Face buttons seem a tad larger than the norm, unless it’s the diminutive size of the controller which has played with our eyes, whilst D-Pad, bumpers and triggers (nice triggers btw!) are all present.
You’ll also find the quadruple set up of the Xbox Nexus button, the Menu, View and Share buttons all present on the front of the controller too. Yet it’s here where slight issues arise and much like we happened across in our full review of the standard Pro Compact, we’re at a loss to understand the location placements of these. We’ll let NACON off on the lower than normal, centre-situated Nexus button as that is fine, and the Share button sits just below that too, but the Menu and View are far too spaced apart for our liking, much too near to the face buttons and the left thumbstick than we like. It’s obviously something that you eventually get used to, but sticking these closer together would be a preference.
In all, it’s a nifty little controller, complete with 3.5mm audio jack and Dolby Atmos support to mean that it has been one that is absolutely fine for us over short term sessions, yet not capable of continuing our play into the wee hours; that small size eventually getting the better of our needs.
But then we get onto the main event – those colour changing capabilities.
The Colorlight contains six in-built LEDs, positioned nicely through the entirety of the body of the controller, allowing the user to customise some twenty-five different colour options. These LEDs shine bright through the see-through outer casing of the controller, vibing when the time sees fit.
Setting up the controller lights couldn’t be easier either, with a couple of options situated on the back of the controller – a button and a switch. A combination of these will let you set up those lights to your own desire, with them pulsing, sitting solid or cycling individually like a Christmas tree. We’ve been particularly taken by the cycle aspect, especially as this brings together all of the colours as one, looking great at night.
But if you do wish to set this up on more solid colour grounds, there are green, yellow, orange, red, purple, blue and white colourings in-house, straight out of the box. Yet this allows for much more customisation too, all delivered through the free NACON Pro Compact App from the Xbox Store. It is this which ensures you can go deep into pretty much every light, amending it to suit. It’s here where a whole host of further colour hues come to the fore, as you adjust any of the twenty-five colour variations, backlighting intensity and more. The process via the App is really easy too.
That same App can be used to amend the Pro Compact Colorlight some more, running classic and customisable performance response curves for the thumbsticks, trigger settings and button mappings. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen previously from a host of third party manufacturers, but it all works well here and is super easy to understand. Whether you’ll feel the need to implement a FPS or Infiltration setting to your right thumbstick though is another matter. For us, we’re mostly happy with the default button maps.
Now, you may worry about how all these fancy lights and customisation opportunities will affect battery life, but you can put your mind at ease as the NACON Pro Compact Colorlight is a fully wired controller. In fact, the cable that ends with a USB-A for console or PC connectivity is permanently attached here and so worries about power or the like will hardly come into play. Of course, whether you can handle a wired Xbox controller on the daily is a personal preference, but it’s nice that this one is braided AND of a decent length; some three metres in length in fact.
If you’ve found love with smaller controllers previously, and reckon you need some colour changing cheer in your life, then you’ll not go wrong with the NACON Pro Compact Colorlight Controller for Xbox. But those content with standard sized pads should be aware, the diminutive size that this embraces can bring some long term tears.
Huge thanks go out to NACON for providing us with the Pro Compact Colorlight Controller for Xbox for review. Grab one for yourself from NACON direct for €54.90.