My family adores the Nintendo Switch. So much so, in fact, that I just picked up another console for the holidays. From cooperative gaming (Minecraft, Overcooked! 2) to friendly competition (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate) to solo adventuring (I’m presently knee-deep in Salt and Sanctuary, while my girlfriend dives back into Skyrim), the Switch meets all our gaming needs. Still, I’m spending more and more time revisiting 8-bit classics via the increasingly eclectic offerings available from the Nintendo Switch Online service, and the newly released Nintendo Entertainment System Controllers only make this experience better.
Kicking It Old School
I’ve already espoused the gospel of Nintendo Switch Online—with its included online play, aforementioned NES library, and perfectly affordable price—but just this month, Nintendo at last released its first hype-worthy entry into the service’s “Special Offers.” Retailing for $59.99, these Nintendo Entertainment System Controllers are only available directly from Nintendo to Switch Online subscribers, and they are the ideal way to play your favorite NES throwbacks.
These wireless controllers boast the same connecting side rails as your standard Joy-Cons, and they can be easily synced and charged by simply attaching them to your Switch console. The concave A and B buttons, rubberized Start and Select, and four-way D-pad are the very picture of precision, and longtime fans will note how amazingly authentic these controllers feel in-hand.
More or Less
Aside from the obvious wireless functionality and quick connectivity, the Nintendo Entertainment System Controllers boasts another, subtler addition. Located within the charging rail you’ll find tiny Left and Right shoulder buttons. Independently, they function as Screenshot (Left) and Home (Right) buttons, and used together they let you access the savestate menu.
In precision punishers like Ninja Gaiden—which, unsurprisingly, arrived on the service at the same time as these shiny new controllers—you’ll surely appreciate both this core and expanded functionality. The D-pad and control buttons are responsive and lag-free, and the savestate features help take some of the sting out of your inevitable demise.
My only real complaint is that more titles outside the NES classics don’t support them. Okay, perhaps I should say fully support them. Stardew Valley, for example, recognized and responded to my movement, but the glaring lack of X and Y buttons proved problematic for proper gameplay.
Going forward, will retro-style modern games offer control options for the Switch’s Nintendo Entertainment System Controllers? That’s anyone’s guess, but with regular monthly additions to the Nintendo Switch Online NES library, it’s not like you’ll be at a loss for things to play regardless.
While those more interested in Fortnite than Super Mario Bros. 3 might scoff at the expense and while they do look a little odd when attached to the Switch, Nintendo Entertainment System Controllers are quite the boon for us old-timers looking to recapture our 8-bit youth. Moreover, they’re an ideal way to share those experiences with our younger friends and family with just the right amount of old-school appeal and added modern convenience.
Review materials provided by Nintendo of America. Finger cramps and four-letter words provided by Ryu Hayabusa and Ninja Gaiden’s outlandish difficulty.