In the month since Christmas, Nintendo’s rare and beautiful NES Classic Edition has made a few more appearances at select retailers. While it’s still doubtful there are enough in the wild to meet the demands of multiple generations of rabid Nintendo enthusiasts, if you wanted one, I hope you got one, and if you got one, I hope you’re enjoying it.
The kids and I are still booting up our 8-bit time machine every weekend, and, while the emulation is, indeed, top-notch, my initial complaint still stands; while the first-party controller itself works like a dream, the connector cable is far too short. Various third-party peripheral manufacturers were all too happy to step in and fill this void with alternate controller solutions—with Nyko being one of the earliest out of the gate with the Miniboss—but, recently, I’ve found a new favorite for all my throwback gaming needs.
My Arcade’s GamePad Classic walks an interesting line between the old school aesthetic of the original NES controller and a more modern, ergonomic look. Rather than just ape the squat, rectangular design, it adds a slight arch to the top, a central cutout at the bottom, and a pair of recessed finger grips (cleverly built into the two AAA battery chambers) underneath. It also eschews the traditional circular A and B button shape in favor of squares, and it moves the Start and Select buttons up towards the top of the controller.
While all these cosmetic changes help the GamePad Classic stand out from the competition, some affect overall playability better than others. The new button shape and location works well despite their minor tweaks, but the ergonomic grip still doesn’t seem to feel as good in-hand as Nintendo’s old, straightforward design.
It turns out, though, that My Arcade more than makes up for this with sheer functionality. With a 30-foot range, the GamePad Classic offers double that of Nyko’s solution (with its 15-foot range), and it shows. If your normal playing position is five to 15 feet from your television, you’ll instantly notice the GamePad Classic’s connective stability as well as a glorious lack of lag. Setup, too, is a breeze, with My Arcade’s tiny wireless dongle instantly recognizing and responding to your controller after nothing more than a single long press of the Start button needed to pair the device.
My favorite feature, however, is its quick navigation functionality. Simply press Start and Select together to return to the NES Classic’s Home screen. From there you can create or load a savestate, adjust the display mode, or choose a new game without ever needing to get up off your sofa. It’s a little thing, but it’s also one that other manufacturers (even Nintendo) fail to address.
So how much will this little lovely set you back? A mere $15. That’s $5 less than the Miniboss’s MSRP. However, if you really want to get the most bang for your buck, I recommend the $25 My Arcade GamePad Combo Kit. In addition to the GamePad Classic wireless controller, this also comes with a 10-foot Extender Cable. You can use this extender to give your stock NES Classic controller some much-needed breathing room—making it perfect for your player 2, while you get your game on wirelessly.
While it’s not perfect, the My Arcade GamePad Classic is the best option currently on the market for wireless play on the NES Classic. Their 10-foot Extender Cable doesn’t exactly blow away the competition, but it works easily as well as similar products I’ve tried–and the convenience of getting both in one package makes all the difference.
If you haven’t checked out these controller solutions from My Arcade, either because you’re unfamiliar with the brand or simply haven’t had the motivation to separate the wheat from the chaff when you search “nes classic controller” on Amazon, definitely give them a try. I went from a skeptic to a fan after a single night of play, and I think you will too.
Review materials provided by: My Arcade