Recommended Controllers

Finding the right controller to play a game these days can be really tough, so this page is all about finding the perfect controller for Shovel Knight and some general discussion of controllers overall.

Finding the right controller to play a game these days can be really tough, so this page is all about finding the perfect controller for Shovel Knight and some general discussion of controllers overall.  We’ll be updating this post as we get more information and experience with controllers, so keep coming back and feel free to give us your opinions. Before we begin, just a few notes about Shovel Knight’s controller setup.

Button Mapping

No matter what platform you play Shovel Knight on, you will be able to customize the controllers to whatever works for you.  You can set multiple buttons to the same action and change any action to be on any button you’d like:

Relic Button Mapping

When you use a subweapon (also known as a relic) in Shovel Knight, you have to hold ‘up’ and then press ‘attack’ to trigger the action.  This action may be complicated for some people or might be too easy or difficult to trigger on a specific controller, so we have one more helpful hint regarding that!  In the menu, you can switch the subweapon use a separate button.

Finally, if you’re playing on Windows and you find your controller isn’t supported, check out the following page:

Now onto the good stuff.  Let’s talk about controllers!


PC / Steam

The PC controller market is vast and full of terrible controllers – so hopefully we can lead you in the right direction! Many of our favorites are controllers from 1st parties like Sony and Microsoft, which also work with PC. So don’t be confused about that.

PS4 Controller (Dual Shock 4):This is one of the best controllers out there. The Control Pad is excellent (quick and responsive), the buttons are well placed, and a delightful textured grip covers the back of the pad for maximum hold. The analog sticks also work quite well with Shovel Knight, and their concave design is a huge step up from the Dual Shock 3.  One flaw: the placement of the center buttons ( mapped to START and SELECT ) are awkwardly placed and a bit tough to reach. But overall… this is a great controller!

PS3 Controller (Dual Shock 3): The Dual Shock 3 is tried and true, much like the Xbox 360 controller. It has a serviceable Control Pad that’s only slightly mushy, and the analog sticks can work well for movement too. The buttons feel great and are all well-placed. We prefer the PS4 controller overall, but this is a great choice.

Xbox One Controller: We don’t have much experience with this controller, but the few seconds we’ve held it, it seems promising. The Control Pad seems to be a huge improvement.  PC drivers were recently released for this controller, so we’ll update once we’ve given it a thorough test drive.

Xbox 360 Controller: The 360 controller is a really standard design, and works great for almost all PC games.  The main fault of the 360 controller is the Control Pad leaves a lot to be desired. It’s built from one bulky piece of plastic that makes precise control very difficult.  We’ve gotten a lot of reports of people having the relics trigger accidentally when using this controller for Shovel Knight, so if you have any issues and this controller is your only option, make sure you switch the Relic button option mentioned above.  Some people actually found playing with the analog stick was more reliable.

USB NES Controllers: BEWARE! Shovel Knight only requires a small number of buttons to play and it seems like a mock NES throwback controller would be a perfect fit at first!  But watch out — there is more to a controller than just looks! The quality and feel of the buttons and Control Pads on these really vary from manufacturer to manufacturer; some are squishy and awful and you don’t want that. Don’t just order blindly off of a web site – try one of these out for yourself first!

Buffalo Famicom USB Gamepad: For those that want to go more Famicom than NES, this is a snappy little controller! Opinions vary on this one, but if a small rectangular controller is what you’re looking for then this one can really do the trick! All the face buttons on this controller are easy to hit without needing to move your thumb much and they provide a good feel when pressing them down (sort of like a snap — but not quite!). The Control Pad is a little quieter, with less of a click. This is a small controller, however, so it might not be a good go to if you have large hands!

Wii U

We’ve done our best to support all of Nintendo’s available controllers for the Wii U so you can use whatever works for you.  You really can’t go wrong with a Nintendo controller, they are usually very solidly built.  But here are our thoughts:

Wii U Gamepad:  A well built controller, as is true of all Nintendo’s controllers.  The benefits compared to the other controllers is you can do all your Miiverse drawings/writings here and quickly select your Relics on the touch screen.  One note is the controller is better suited for larger hands.  The Control Pad feels great but is larger than your typical controller so it might be tiring for smaller hands to press for long periods of time. It also isn’t the most optimal controller in terms of ergonomics.  Keep in mind, you can use this controller as your screen or as a secondary controller.  You aren’t forced into using a single controller at any time!

Wii U Pro Controller: A great option if you want something lighter, wireless, with a long battery life. The buttons and Control Pad are perfectly placed, and it’s easy to be precise and snappy. A great controller.

Wii Remote: If you’re trying to get your experience to be as close to the NES as possible, the sideways Wii Remote is probably the way to go.  The Control Pad might be a little smaller, and the back of the controller can feel a little weird at first when holding it sideways, but Shovel Knight really plays well with this option.  Note that this might not be the best option if you like switching your relic to be on a 3rd button.

Wii Remote with Nunchuk: This is supported, but compared to the sideways Wii Remote, it feels inferior in our opinion.  But we love this option for other games that require more buttons. It’s nice to be able to move your hands around freely!

Wii Classic Controller: Another great option.  If you fit more in line with the SNES controller’s ergonomics, this controller might be for you.  Being attached to the Wii Remote can be a bit annoying, but it’s not too big of a deal. Note that with larger hands, your thumbs can sometimes bump up against one another.

Wii Classic Controller Pro: It’s very similar to the Wii U Pro Controller, but like the Wii Classic Controller, being attached to the Wii Remote can be a bummer! Other than that, this is an excellent controller, just like the Wii U Pro Controller.


Well, there isn’t much to think about here.  The 3DS provides solid controls for Shovel Knight, and there isn’t really anything to worry about.  We recommend using the Control Pad over the Circle Pad, but the Circle Pad can work well too if you’re having trouble finding comfort with the Control Pad.  The only other thing to note is the Circle Pad Pro is not supported, but we think people can manage without it.


That’s all we’ve got in terms of controllers.  Let us know what you think on this topic as everyone has equally valid opinions on what works for them.  It’d be great to highlight some more rare controllers that people don’t know about. If you think you have a better controller, then send it to us and prove us wrong!