The Gulikit King Kong 3 Max Review

July 03, 2024

A year or two ago Gulikit, a Chinese electronics manufacturer splashed onto the scene with a new kind of joystick replacement for Nintendo’s joy-con controllers that claimed to resolve the stick drift problem. Nintendo famously had to offer free repairs to its customers as the joysticks on its smaller controllers would wear out over time. In public interviews Nintendo said they improved but would never be able to resolve the joy-con stick drift. Gulikit claimed to have solved this problem, and in addition to its joy-con replacement kits released the King Kong 2 controller with the same hall effect joystick technology. I tried the King Kong 2 and had mine fail with a software update. After waiting for reviews and for Gulikit to release a new version of the controller with improved back buttons, I picked up the King Kong 3 Max.

The Good

  • Ergonomics are a bit better than Nintendo’s Pro controller.
  • The joysticks are accurate and smooth. A better experience than Nintendo’s Pro Controller.
  • The gyroscope and responsiveness feel to be on par with the Nintendo Pro Controller.

The Bad

  • The digital button mode for the ZR and ZL buttons is fake, the click will trigger before you click the button based on the position of the hall effect sensor which leads to confusion.
  • The documentation was not entirely clear. It took me a few tries to pair it with my Nintendo Switch.
  • You can only update the bluetooth driver via a Windows PC.
  • The controller software that maps the back button also presents an odd bug. Mapping ZR to a back paddle leads to it remaining “held down” despite releasing that button, unless I also release the A button that I was holding at the same time.

The Game Tests

I tried it with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 3. In both games I had as good if not better control of my characters than with Nintendo’s controller. Gulikit’s maglev vibration mode is an interesting gimmick but I prefer the HD rumble mode. Overall the smoothness of the joysticks outweighs the jankiness of the ZR and ZL buttons, which I have mapped to the back paddles. I easily matched or beat my performance in both Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 3 versus what I can do with the Pro Controller, with a slight preference for the Gulikit based on the joysticks.

The Verdict

If it were not for a few flaws, Gulikit could have had a home run here. I can recommend it with reservations for those that are willing to accept the flaws and want a better joystick experience and increased comfort.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.