[Impressions] RetroUSB NES-to-Wii Controller Adapter

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

For those people that are absolutely convinced that The Legend of Zelda just isn't right unless it's being played with an original NES pad comes a veritable godsend from RetroUSB: an adapter that allows you to use your classic NES pads on the Wii Virtual Console (by virtue of the GameCube ports).

This little dandy works pretty much like you'd expect: plug an NES controller into the adapter, pop it into ye olde GameCube port, and fire up your Virtual Console game of choice. The system recognizes it as a Cube controller, and off you go.

In our little tests we found the responsiveness to be perfect and spot-on in Zelda and even Bomberman for the TG-16. All signs point to it working on Genesis games too. Because of the obvious button shortcomings, though, the controller won't always have the wherewithal to allow you to operate all your titles (though, for kicks, we even fired up Mario 64 and watched our helpless plumber kick and jump in place, forever).

Though there wasn't one around to test, the folks at RetroUSB say that the NES Advantage stick is also compatible, and with the full range of turbo and slow features, something that would prove invaluable if arm-killer Track and Field II ever sees the VC light of day.

The build quality, even on this pre-production unit, was impressive. The company name is actually molded into the connector housing and the unit feels sturdy and not like your run-of-the-mill homebrew hackjob. Kudos to them on making a professional-feeling and looking product here.

Of course, there are obvious necessity questions: does this adapter really offer anything new in the realm of functionality? Admittedly, no. The Classic Controller for the Wii or even a standard GameCube controller will allow you to play the full offering of VC titles without lugging around an extra NES pad. But for pure nostalgia value (and the fact that an SNES adapter is on the way), I have to give this little guy the thumbs up to anyone looking to relive their NES childhood on a blocky square of a controller in beautiful Wii high-definition.

The RetroUSB NES adapter runs $19 and begins shipping in January 2007.