As with previous Nintendo consoles, third parties make the machine. The My Arcade wireless controller makes the NES classic fun to play.
This past holiday season, Nintendo tugged on the heart strings of the baby boomers and Generation X and Y. I can remember many nights in front of the NES playing all sorts of classic games. I, like many others, felt my stomach leap when Nintendo announced the NES classic. I was both excited and disappointed in the selected 30 games, the lack of upgradability and the focus on the original controller. The most frustrating part of the NES classic has been the limited release of the device. I was lucky enough to attempt to preorder an NES Classic through GameStop. I was even more lucky to be able to arrive at store opening to obtain one of the eight systems that arrived that day. The spoils went to my mother, for her birthday present. She did not want to wait and we brought it home to play. Who knew that my seven and five year old boys would love this system. They were really sad when my mother returned to North Carolina and they had no NES Classic to play.
I do not find myself to be that lucky, but this season proved rather fortuitous. I got up at 5:00 am on Sunday, December 4th and waited outside of our local Toys R US in the already long Hatchimal/NES Classic line. The entire week prior, the internet was abuzz with news of the hot toy release at Toys R US. Even though the store opened at 9 am, I was still at least fiftieth in line. Alas, the manager divided the groups into NES or Hatchimal lines and I was lucky number 27/34. My boys received their Christmas gift and we have enjoyed the NES classic ever since. I would encourage you to read my full review of the NES classic device on MacSources.
I was not a fan of the extremely short cables on the classic controller, nor the fact that I still have not seen an extra classic controller, in person, to this day. The NES classic release was another example of a classic NES fumble. Without access to a second controller, you could use a Wii classic controller or Wii classic controller pro, or the wired fight pad. These did not provide the nostalgia of the original NES controller, but worked okay. I had turned to Amazon and noticed a company My Arcade, who sold extension cables and wireless controllers. The devices were slated for a later ship date and I mentally filed them to review later. While at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada, I was able to talk to the team from My Arcade in North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. This rekindled the memory and I again reviewed the Amazon pages.
I have received the Gamepad combo kit for review. The kit arrived in a rather large 12 1/2″ by 9 3/4″ by 2 1/8″ box with a large picture of the wireless controller and charger cable with a very bright red background. I really liked this packaging, but it felt somewhat wasteful. Opening up the packaging, there is another much smaller box nestled inside. The smaller packaging measures 8 1/2″ tall by 5″ wide by 1 1/4″ thick. The cover of the small package details the wireless controller use with the NES classic, Wii and Wii U. As an added bonus, they include a bonus 10′ extension cable. This allows you and a friend to sit further from the TV to play the NES classic.
The packaging promises many amazing features. You can comfortably play any of the 30 NES classic games from a distance up to 30 feet away from the NES. Using two AAA batteries, you can expect up to 75 hours of play. The ergonomic design allows for comfortable grip and if you press the select/start button simultaneously, you can return to the game select mode. This prevents the need to get up to press the reset button on the console. I know it sounds incredibly lazy, but this is actually the most exciting feature of the controller.
The controller has a classic nostalgic feel but is shaped and colored differently. The gray coloration is mildly lighter, there is a larger black background, and the bottom of the controller is shaped like an upside down U. The biggest difference is found on the back of the controller with a 2-inch x 1-inch cutout. This works amazingly well to rest your middle fingers during play. The distal phalanx (tip of the finger beyond the last joint) rests perfectly well in this little crevice and improves the grip of the controller. The D-pad is essentially the same size and located in a comfortable location. I like the square shape of the buttons, but I do not know if I like them more than the round beveled shape of the original.
I am not a fan of the location of the A/B buttons. The buttons seem to be located too high and too far towards the edge of the controller. My personal opinion is, the buttons need to be shifted down and to the left. My thumb naturally wants to rest between the A and B button, essentially below and between the current layout. The spacing between A and B is perfect and would feel better about 1/2 inch lower and 1/2 inch towards the left. I do not mind the placement of the start/select, but moving them so high up on the controller seems to confuse the muscle memory. I found myself trying to pause the game by mashing on the flat plastic of the controller. After a few uses, this was no longer an issue. My children did not care about this, it seemed to bother me more as I was used to the classic controller.
The My Arcade controller weighs 3.1 ounces compared to the 2.3 ounce NES classic controller. The weight is hardly noticeable. Not having a cord is an incredibly liberating feeling. My family and I have put in at least 10 hours of play, over the past 1.5 weeks, and the controller is holding strong. I am really thankful that they included the 10-foot extension with this kit as it allows both players to enjoy the extra distance from the machine. Connecting the controller is incredibly simple. Simply plug the adapter into the NES Classic and you will see the LED flash repeatedly. Press the start button for 3 seconds and the controller will pair with the dongle. When syncing is complete the LED will illuminate solidly. If you wish to use the extension, you may want to remove the small piece of clear plastic at the port. This works well for the Wii/Wii U but prevents you from using 2 extensions, as it blocks the controller port on the machine.
I had no major issues with this controller and it is a wonderful additional controller, possibly one of the better I have tried. It is not an exact replica of the classic, building on some aspects and needing some tweaking in others. I love the back of the controller and the range extension that the wireless My Arcade controller provides. The ergonomic aspect really does decrease fatigue. As stated above the A/B buttons feel misplaced to me. I would absolutely give this controller 5/5 stars if they were moved slightly inferior and slightly to the left ~1/2 inch or so. The inclusion of the 10-foot cable is a bonus, which allows the entire console to be enhanced. My statements above are not meant to be overall negative, rather I feel that the changes could enhance the My Arcade wireless controller version 2.0 to be even better than the first. Overall I would rate this device at 4/5 stars. It is definitely a comfortable controller that will work well with the NES classic, the Wii and the Wii U.
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