Similar to the success of the original NES, third party companies couldn’t wait to jump on to the hype train Nintendo built with their little beauty. Controller, after controller, after controller have swarmed the market for the love letter to many gamer’s childhood, and a lot of them are just... Terrible. They just flat out suck. With this week’s review, I’ll go into depth with a few controllers I’ve been so “lucky” to try.

Nyko’s MiniBoss

Everyone loves wireless​, right? The “Space Age” technology that has been implemented since the Atari 2600, these controllers have become as synonymous with gaming as Mario, extra lives, and warp zones. If Nyko made a controller for the NES Classic, it couldn’t be bad, right?

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Wrong.

While it may share the same rectangular body as the original NES controller, somehow they did it so poorly. First thing is first, the buttons. As you can tell, the A and B buttons are at a cockeyed angle.

Surprisingly, I did not mind it. It felt natural after playing PS4, SNES, and the Switch over the last few months. Sure it wasn’t authentic in any shape or form, but sometimes change is a good thing. Some have complained about it online, but it wasn’t the biggest complaint I had.

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This was.

See this protruding edges? Yeah, fuck those.

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After an extended session of Ninja Gaiden, Super C, or even Dr. Mario, those jagged corners will dig into your palms like a piece of sheet metal before you can punch in the Konami code. It was disappointing for me, because I never thought Nyko made something that was... horrible. While the design choice was incredibly poor, the controller also suffered from slight latency issues. Trying to make a quick change in direction in Gradius? Better hold that arrow down a second before you need to, because you’re about to get shot. This part wasn’t too surprising, after being spoiled by Bluetooth controller’s over the last few years.

  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Available: GameStop, Amazon.

Sadly,this drove me to exchange it for another option.

YoK’s NES Classic Controller

After taking my Nyko controller back to GameStop, I decided to try out their second option; a controller by some brand I’ve never heard of. While it received some decent scores online, I figured it would be as close to the original as possible.

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I was wrong.

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The A and B buttons worked flawlessly, and didn’t have any latency or stickiness to them. A very good sign after expecting the worse. While everything seemed in check, it just wasn’t meant to be. The D-pad is absolutely atrocious. I have a tendency to roll my thumb at a slight slope, very similar to the buttons on the Nyko MiniBoss, but the D-pad is so sensitive on this controller that I found myself pushing up or down when I wanted to go left or right. While Super C and Gradius benefit from this, Kid Icarus and StarTropics are almost impossible to play. I’ve been trying to get better on my accuracy, but it is just too obnoxious to work around.

  • MSRP: $14.99
  • Available: GameStop.

I apparently wasn’t done with wireless controllers, though.

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MyArcade’s GamePad Classic

Look at this damn thing! Where do I begin with this design? The Start/Select buttons are at the top of the controller now (which completely throws me off still). The A and B buttons are no longer concave, circular buttons, but instead these awkward squared nipples that look absolutely obscene. Lastly, the controller itself:

It’s almost like MyArcade thought the NES needed something more “futuristic” and “edgy” compared to the tried and true rectangle. It honestly reminds me of something you would find at a grocery store for about $5. I decided to give it a shot (for science!) and give it a proper review. After all, looks can be deceiving.

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The controller is wireless, but not rechargeable. It uses two AAA batteries, which you place into the grips of the controller. Oh, I didn’t mention it had grips?

Yeah, we’ve got grips. Grips for some intense gaming​! Grips for when your palms get sweaty!! Grips for... Well, batteries.

The grips add some extra girth to the controller, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It feels a bit comfortable after giving it a few minutes of gameplay. The D-pad is probably the most accurate I have felt yet, making it easier to play Kid Icarus and not randomly crouch instead of going left. The awkward nipple buttons are spot on, and don’t require you to kill them to get a response.

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Wait... Is this controller actually good?

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Yeah, it really is surprisingly good. Better than Nyko, which is something I never expected.

  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Available: Target, Amazon.

This leads me to my last option.

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Emio’s The Edge Gamepad

This was the first controller I purchased, and honestly the last one I thought I would enjoy. Of course it comes with a longer cord (12ft to be exact), and a turbo button, plus it isn’t nearly as cheap as YoK’s. Everything on it just feels... Right.

The heft is almost spot on, and the plastic doesn’t feel cheap in your hands, which is a huge plus. It does suffer from some sensitivity issues in the D-pad, which is mostly noticeable on Kid Icarus, but nowhere near as apparent as the YoK controller. Aside from the aesthetics and feel, it comes with another bit of nostalgia.

This code book is probably the second largest nod to the era in which the system heralds from. It dedicates a page to each title, with either codes or tips, and includes the amazing cover you can admire above.

  • MSRP: $14.99
  • Available: Fry’s, Amazon.

Bonus!

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Emio’s The Edge Joystick

Trying to simulate the feel of the arcade, the original Advantage Joystick was brought out for the original console. While incredibly clunky, it worked well with titles like: Contra, Pac-Man, Smash TV, and Master Blaster. Even though arcades aren’t as big of a thing anymore, Emio decided to keep with the times and release their own version.

This thing is massive, as you can tell. It completely towers over the console! The packaging alone is about twice the size of the NES box, which is absurd. The Joystick is in an 8-way track, giving the sweet clicking sound as you roll back and forth from each direction. If you are not a fan of the ball style joystick, it also comes with a replaceable “bat” style head.

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It works incredibly well, and doesn’t suffer from any of the stickiness or directional issues like some other controllers. The handling is as crisp as a brand new arcade cabinet, and the clicking is almost addictive during gameplay. It accompanies some games better than others; Super C, Ninja Gaiden, and Pac-Man come to mind. When trying to use it on Metroid or StarTropics, it doesn’t perform as well as a D-pad in my book. It is still a fun addition to have to my collection, and lean towards using it for quicker sessions of Gradius or Galaga.

  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Available: Fry’s, Amazon.

Final Opinions

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This review went on longer than I originally anticipated, and makes this part even more difficult. Obviously my first choice would be to go with an official Nintendo controller, but the non existent supply and horrendously overpriced third party sellers make it a hard pill to swallow. If it was too much to read, here is a quick run down:

  • Best Overall - Emio’s The Edge GamePad
  • Best Wireless - MyArcade’s GamePad Classic
  • Best Design - Emio’s The Edge Joystick

Check in next Wednesday while I go into a full review on a title I completely past up until now: StarTropics.