The SNES controller is, in my humble opinion, the best controller ever created. Never before or since have form and function combined to make a controller that if both as beautiful and functional as the SNES controller. It has served as the “inspiration” for both competitors (PlayStation, Xbox) and future controllers by The Big N itself (Wii’s Classic Controller). And yet, no matter how good the controller is, if I can’t use it with current gaming consoles, its use is limited.
When Nintendo revealed the Virtual Console service, I was ecstatic. All of my favorite games– or at least some of them– would be getting a new breath of life on Wii thanks to the service. Yet something very important was missing. The games were the same as always, but the classic form of input wasn’t there. Oh sure, my Classic Controller looked like my beloved SNES controller, but after holding both of them, there is no comparison: the SNES controller is superior. So, Nintendo: why can’t I just hook up my SNES controller to my Wii the next time I want to play Super Mario World? Why is it that when I want to play Super Smash Bros. I need a Classic Controller or a GameCube controller– neither of which offer the same experience as the original N64 pad? It’s time to augment your Virtual Console with a Virtual Joypad.
What do I mean by this? Well, I’m glad you asked. My vision for this Virtual Joypad is a simple one. Special dongles should be released that, like the Classic Controller, can be connected into a Wii remote. The other end of the dongle would be a simple female plug matching those originally found on the consoles. Imagine being able to plug any Nintendo controller into your Wii remote and playing the games designed to be played with said controller.
Why is this important? Well, I alluded to it earlier, but playing old games with new controllers can completely change how the game feels. For example, playing Super Smash Bros. with the Classic Controller switches what the two main buttons do. Thanks to new-found precision, playing Star Fox 64 with a current controller only serves to frustrate, as the joystick on the N64 pad was much looser. Even NES, SNES and Genesis games can be a pain to play as the digital d-pad is often smaller on newer controllers than the original pad’s was. It sounds like a small thing, but when actually playing, it makes a huge difference.
There is one other option. Fellow writer and Hot Air columnist Aaron Roberts has more than once mentioned Hori’s Digital GameCube pad, which bears a striking resemblance to the SNES pad. Yet, it is import-only and well past its release date since it is in fact a GameCube controller. That’s a shame, as reports from those who have used it claim it to be one of the best retro controllers currently in existence.
I don’t know how difficult it would be to implement a virtual joypad. One company in the past had attempted to do so before cutting back to just NES and SNES pads. But we deserve to be able to play the classics using the controllers that they were made for. Or, of course, Nintendo could actually release the SNES Wii controller to North American Club Nintendo members, but that’s a rant for another time.