Sony PlayStation 4 Mini Wired Gamepad review: Perfect for children

As an adult with small hands whose childhood nemesis was the hulking Duke controller on the original Xbox, I empathize with those who have a hard time using a normal controller. Though I've grown into them over the years and am quite comfortable using a standard DualShock 4 controller now, it's still not the best for everyone, especially children. That's where the Sony PlayStation 4 Mini Wired Gamepad comes in, designed by accessories manufacturer Hori. At a 40% smaller size than your average DualShock 4 controller, it's perfect for children to play the games they love with less frustration.

The Good

  • Cheap
  • Great for children
  • Lightweight
  • Provides nearly the same functionality as the DualShock 4

The Bad

  • Awkward to hold if you're used to a normal DualShock 4 controller
  • Lacks a few advanced DualShock 4 features
  • Not made for adults with larger hands
  • Not available in a wireless model

Sony PS4 Mini Wired Gamepad What I like

I believe that games should be accessible for everyone, and this controller is another step toward that goal. Though it's certainly not built for people with disabilities in mind in the way that the Xbox Adaptive Controller is, the Mini Wired Gamepad still enables a greater amount of players to enjoy their favorite games.

Games should be accessible for everyone, and this controller is another step toward that goal.

While I wish it was wireless instead of wired, the length of the wire tends to make up for that. Measuring at ten feet, you'll be able to sit a good distance away from your console. Barring the cord, the controller itself weighs less than a DualShock 4. Despite this, it doesn't feel flimsy. Whatever plastic it is made out of feels almost identical to that used on a DualShock 4, right down to the texture, making it familiar to anyone who's used the latter.

Children break things. It's just a fact of life. They're not careful with their belongings. I can't exactly speak for the Mini Wired Gamepad's durability without purposefully trying to wreck it, but I did test it out after dropping it on the floor several times and pushing it off of my desk several more. For science. It worked perfectly fine after doing so. Still, I wouldn't throw it around all willy-nilly. It's not a tank by any means.

For being officially licensed by Sony, it comes relatively cheap. You can grab this controller for a mere $30 at retail. Over on Amazon, it has even been discounted to just $23, a fraction of the cost of most other controllers. It may only come in blue, but it's nice to have a bit of color other than plain black.

Sony PS4 Mini Wired Gamepad What I don't like

Seeing as I've played games for over fifteen years predominantly with PlayStation and Xbox controllers, which have larger handle grips, adjusting to the size and shape of the Mini Wired Gamepad took some time. Gripping and using a DualShock 4 controller is muscle memory at this point, and it didn't immediately translate over to a smaller gamepad. On the Mini Wired Gamepad I often found myself accidentally pressing O instead of X because of where my fingers naturally rested. Without the larger handle grip, my whole hand was shifted slightly upwards when I gripped it.

Because this is designed for children, however, they may have an easier time adjusting to its shape. If this is a controller that you're looking to buy, I'd introduce it to your children early on so that they grow accustomed to it right out of the gate.

I tested out the Mini Wired Gamepad in Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Spider-Man, Uncharted 4, and SOMA. It's undoubtedly not designed for competitive play, and this shows when playing a fast-paced action game. That's not to say the controller was useless in these situations—it got the job done—it just felt inadequate. Since it's meant for children, that means it's better suited for family-friendly games that introduce them to more simple gaming mechanics, like side-scrollers.

There are also more advanced features on a DualShock 4 that are absent on the Mini Wired Gamepad. It doesn't sport a light bar, vibration motors, or motion sensors, meaning it loses some much-needed nuance that you'd get otherwise. When you're accustomed to vibration motors on a controller, their absence is immediately noticeable and almost jarring. Another drawback is its lack of a 3.5mm stereo jack for headsets. Most children may not need or use headsets, but it would have been a nice addition for those who do.

Hori mini wired gamepad: For kids, not you

Can the Sony PS4 Mini Wired Gamepad compete on the same level as the DualShock 4? Absolutely not. Is it a decent piece of hardware that serves its intended purpose well? Absolutely.

4 out of 5

It lacks some bells and whistles, but for many children they were likely unnecessary to begin with. Questionable durability aside, this is the perfect "starter" controller for children just getting into gaming.

$23 at Amazon

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.