The directional pad (shortened d-pad, officially +Control Pad) refers to the grey, cross-shaped group of buttons on the left side of the GameCube and Nintendo 64 controllers, the cross-shaped group of buttons located on the Wii Remote, Classic Controller, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U GamePad, and Wii U Pro Controller, and cross-shaped group of buttons on the left side of the Nintendo Switch Lite (white) and Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (dark gray). The left Joy-Con has a group of four buttons in a diamond shape in the same place called the directional buttons, with the same purpose. The color of the d-pad on the Nintendo 3DS varies, but it matches the color of the Wii Remote, Classic Controller, Wii U GamePad and Wii U Pro Controller.
While the directional pad has appeared in some form across every console the Smash series has been playable on, its functionality has varied over the years. In Super Smash Bros., it serves no purpose other than menu navigation. When played on the Wii using a GameCube controller or Classic Controller, the d-pad is analogous to the N64 controller's L button, used for the character's taunt.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, it continues to function as menu navigation, but also has a number of other uses. Pressing up during a fight will make the player's character taunt. The d-pad is also used for activating Fox and Falco's secret taunts and Samus's Extended Grapple. In Camera Mode and the Trophy Gallery, the d-pad can be used to move the camera. In Melee, the directional pad also has uses not intended in regular gameplay: through the debug mode, it can be used to toggle the game mode, control Master Hand (also possible with the Name Entry glitch) and/or Crazy Hand, and spawn items in-game, among other things.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, it takes the role of the control stick when played on a Wii Remote, and reprises its role of taunts for the Classic and GameCube controllers. When using the Wii Remote with the Nunchuk, pressing up will make the character jump, while pressing sideways will make the character grab in specified direction, and pressing down will let the character shield. The controls menu option introduced in this game allows non-default actions to be mapped to the d-pad.
In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, it once again takes the role of being used for the character's taunt, whereas in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, any controller reprises its role for taunts. Different actions can once again be mapped to the d-pad.
In Brawl, Smash 4, and Ultimate, all directions on the d-pad can be remapped to perform other functions. Nintendo Switch hardware version 10.0.0 introduced the ability to map the functionality of any button to any other button from the console options menu, further diversifying how the d-Pad can be used in Ultimate.
In Ultimate, the Joy-Cons do not have a d-pad built in. When using both Joy-Cons at once, the four buttons on the left that mirror the A, B, X, and Y buttons on the right substitute for a d-pad. When using a single Joy-Con held horizontally, what would be d-pad buttons are instead set to different actions, as the right button acts like an A button and is used for performing standard attacks, while the bottom button acts like a B button and is used for performing special attacks, and the top and left buttons act like X and Y buttons and are used for jumping. All other compatible controllers have a traditional d-pad and it functions like in previous games with the ability to be mapped to different actions.
- Masahiro Sakurai admitted in a YouTube video that he prefers using the directional pad for menu navigation over the Control stick, as he finds repeatedly tilting the stick tedious.
- Sakurai admitted in another YouTube video that he has received requests to allow the directional pad to be mapped to movement, but has been reluctant due to his belief that the lack of analog motion and granular values on a d-pad makes it impossible to match the subtle precision of a Control stick. He even admits that the Wii Remote controller configuration was not ideal for this same reason.
|Controllers and buttons
|Nintendo 64 controller
|Wii Remote (and Nunchuk)
|Wii U GamePad / Pro Controller
|Switch Pro Controller
|Hori Mini Pad · Arcade controller · Keyboard