Many of us remember opening the Nintendo Entertainment System, loading Super Mario Bros and hearing that iconic theme song for the very first time. Little did we know, this would be the beginning for of an age for gamers.
Fortunately there are many different ways to play these old school school games, some officially sanctioned; and some not, but they still don’t feel the same as they did in the 80’s and 90’s because of one reason: The Controllers. While the majority of vintage games play the exact same way, look the same way and even glitch in the same places, they just do not possess that same kinesthetic feel because you are forced to use modern controllers.
Nintendo has, thus far, done a reasonably good job for the vintage game market with the introduction of the NES Classic and the SNES classic but the limited libraries and other technical issues such as the extremely short controller cords left those systems lacking. The Nintendo Switch Online service shows promise and has so far released, at the time of this writing, 29 games with no end in sight. These games all play just like their originals and utilize the Switch Controllers or the Pro Controller and control very well but again, it just doesn’t feel the same.
As an exclusive to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, although I am not sure why you would purchase these without the service, Nintendo has released the Nintendo Entertainment System Controllers for the Switch. Sold only as a pair, which is perfect for all the multiplayer games being released, are wireless or can be used while attached to the Switch like any other Joy-Con. These controllers can only be used for the older games but there are rumors that Nintendo is going to patch in support for Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
I absolutely love these controllers. They feel the same way, have the same weight and most importantly have the same button mash as the original NES controllers. As mentioned before, they can also be used while docked with the Switch, while making the setup a bit dopey looking, makes playing these games feel almost as good as undocked since you have the use of the old d-pad. The price tag of $59.99 + tax and shipping sounds a bit ridiculous due to its limited game support, it does add an entirely different feel to these games that has been missing since they were first released 30-40 years ago. I highly recommend getting them before it’s too late. (Originally Published January 13th, 2019)
UPDATE (July 15 2020): I am back from the future! Great Scott! Having just recently secured an original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and playing Super Mario Bros. as it was originally intended, I have to come back to right a wrong. Let’s me be clear, I still love the Nintendo Switch version of the NES controllers. What’s not to love? They were designed based off of the original but made wireless. But… There is always a but… the wireless…I think that’s where the problem may be.
Loading up Super Mario Bros. for the first time on an original console in some 30+ years I immediately ran through World 1-1. As soon as I jumped over the first Goomba, muscle memory took over and I was no longer fumbling like I sometimes did with the Nintendo Switch.
The Nintendo Switch NES controllers lack a certain bit of pinpoint accuracy, or for a lack of better terms, there is a stickiness to the newer version. The original controller almost feels that it’s an extension to the brain. Think jump, and Mario jumps. On the Switch version, it’s more… Think jump, press button, and Mario jumps. Yes, the actions are the same on both controllers but the timing is definitely off.