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Plenty of third-party companies provide flashy new accessories for popular consoles, and CRKD has thrown its hat in the ring with the Nitro Deck, a new grip case for the Nintendo Switch. Providing customizable back buttons, replaceable thumbstick caps, and Hall Effect sensors to combat stick drift the Nitro Deck is a decent alternative to the standard Joy-Con controllers. However, there are some issues with the design itself that hold it back from being a must-have Switch accessory.



Unlike many Joy-Con replacements that slide into the side of the Switch, the Nitro Deck is an all-in-one handheld case that the screen itself is put in. The Switch connects through the USB-C connection, which is said to create a faster response time, but this was not at all noticeable during the review. After a bit of setup in the options menu prior to installation, the Nitro Deck was ready for testing.

Related: Best Nintendo Switch Games To Play When You Get Joy-Con Drift

The Pros of CRKD’s Nitro Deck

CRKD Nitro Deck Options-1

Setting up and installing the Nitro Deck was a breeze. There is a small option that needs changing in the systems menu to make the whole thing connect, but it’s easily explained in the initial instructions. Once the Switch is nestled into it, the whole system feels very secure, and even with vigorous upside-down shaking there is no movement to the screen. When finished, a simple slide button on the back of the system unlocks the screen for easy removal.

Once the Switch is connected, the contour of the design and textured grips of the Nitro Deck feel comfortable to hold, especially for those with larger hands. There is a decent weight to it and the inclusion of customizable back buttons is useful for some commonly-used button macros. The Hall Effect sensors used for the thumb sticks are said to completely eliminate stick drift, which is something that has plagued many Switch owners. During the review, everything felt responsive and there were no button-lag or drifting issues during multiple Dead Cell runs.

There are some decent bells and whistles in the Nitro Deck as well. The kickstand is much better than the standard Switch one, and interchangeable thumbstick toppers were a nice touch. The Nitro Deck also comes in a cool collection of colors, including some special transparent ones in a collaboration with Limited Run Games which, as of publishing this review, are sadly sold out.

The Cons of CRKD’s Nitro Deck

CRKD Nitro Deck Buttons and Back

There is nothing inherently wrong with the CRKD Nitro Deck; it works as intended and feels like it will last for multiple years. The issues lie within its overall design, with the main one being that there is no way to actually charge your Switch while playing – or while not using it, for that matter. This forces the player to remove the screen every time its charge is low and slide it back into its standard dock for charging. Instead of an all-in-one case, or even a case that is skinny enough to slide into the standard dock like Skull & Co’s NeoGrip, players are forced to have a large chunk of empty plastic sitting next to their console as it charges.

Related: 10 Features We Desperately Need For Nintendo Switch 2

There is a USB-C output on the back of the system, which allows the Nitro Deck to act as a wired controller when the Nintendo is in Docked mode. This is hard to classify as a ‘Pro’ since the Nitro Deck itself feels so light and flimsy without the screen installed. The overall plastic design feels like a child’s toy – lightweight, bendable, and chunky. The option is nice, but it’s hard to imagine how much use that will actually receive.

Another noticeable issue is with the right analog stick, which feels a little misplaced on the Nitro Deck and forces the player to unnaturally bend their thumb when using it or change their entire grip on the machine. This is fine when playing something that doesn’t require a lot of right-stick attention, but it’s easy to see thumb-fatigue setting in if the stick is used often. People with larger hands may also have issues getting used to the back buttons, as there didn’t seem to be a way to completely shut them off. They are defaulted to the trigger buttons and oftentimes were accidentally pressed when playing a more action-oriented game. This went away after an hour or so of play, so it’s an adjustment that can be made in a relatively short period of time, but it is worth noting prior to purchase.

Through the marketing, it’s hard not to notice that CRKD wants the Nitro Deck to be a cool collectible for Switch fans. There is even an app that catalogs your ranking based on the batch number and how many of that particular color was produced. You can record your reaction to that ranking through the app and upload it to social media. It’s hard to understand who needs this, or what this is even for. It feels like an arbitrary way to convince players to buy multiple Decks in hopes of getting a better ranking, but it means nothing in the end.

Overall, with its chunky design and unnecessary add-ons, it’s hard to recommend the CRKD Nitro Deck, especially at its current price point of $59.99 for the base model, and $89.99 for the Nostalgia models. Despite the attempts to be trendy, it feels a lot like something that an adult would use to allow young kids to play on their Switch. There are a lot of bells and whistles that just aren’t actually useful to most Switch players. Without a way to easily charge your system or even Amiibo support, the Nitro Deck just doesn’t feel like something that would be useful in the long run.

Interested in a CRKD Nitro Deck? Purchase one here!

The CRKD Nitro Deck is available now. A Nitro Deck Limited Edition in Retro Purple was provided to Screen Rant for the purpose of this review.

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