Blast to the Past:
A Return of the Gamecube Controller

Jun 30, 2014
gamecube controller black

A few weeks ago, Nintendo announced that Gamecube controllers could be used to play Smash Bros for Wii U. This was a bit of a surprise, since Nintendo dropped support for the little purple lunchbox when the Wii U launched The USB add on alone would be nice, but that Nintendo is also re-releasing the GameCube controller to assist players... an extra bonus! But, why should they bother?

Let's take a trip all the way back to December of 2001. The GameCube had just launched in both the US and Japan, and as of 12/3/01, Super Smash Bros Melee was officially on sale here in the USA. Despite the series not yet being the hardware selling phenomenon it is today, this was clearly a game many gamers were eagerly awaiting. Melee is looked at as the defining game in the series after all, and with good reason. This was the title that elevated the series from Nintendo's low budget curiosity to the lofty status it now enjoys, both as a bonafide system seller and tournament staple. In direct relation to this, credit must be given where credit is due, and for some people, the Gamecube Controller is one of the finest creations to come out of Nintendo HQ, if not the “best controller ever’.

If you’ve never held one, I can see why you might have reservations. Sure, the massive 'A' button might seem odd, and the asymmetrical number of shoulder buttons (3? Really?) might throw you off. And, well... to be honest, the right analog stick and d-pad are sub-par. So what makes this such a great controller? For starters, the comfort. This guy is thirteen years old and it’s still the only controller I know of with concave shoulder buttons that allow your fingers to naturally fit. The width, weight and overall solid plastic feel were, for me, spot on The rumble was present without being weighty or excessive. Better yet, these things last; I’ve got a Wavebird (th first party wireless controller, it supported ranges up to 90 feet) from 2003 that’s still going strong. It’s been my only Gamecube controller for at least the last eight years, and the only thing that’s changed since then are the batteries.


All 4 controllers of the 6th generation of home consoles. Clockwise from top left: Sega Dreamcast, Microsoft Xbox, Sony Playstation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube.

Of course, controllers have evolved significantly since 2001: Take a look at just the Xbox line of controllers for obvious proof of that. The playstation controllers And to many, the Gamecube Controller was a modified Playstation controller, something that got a much needed facelift for the PS4. So, why all the love for this guy? Well for starters many players, myself included, feel that anything other than a “traditional” controller for a fast paced precision game like Smash is unacceptable. I’ve played a handful of times with just a Wii Remote, with and without the nunchuck, and I’ve never been nearly as comfortable with it. The speed, the accuracy and the feeling of control are all gone. Granted, I have way more experience with the Gamecube controller, but this hasn’t changed despite years of playing other games using just the Wii Remote/Nunchuck combo. If there was a reason that I wish Nintendo had stuck to regular controllers, it would be so they could keep this guy alive, or improve it somehow. Then again, the Gamecube controller had been sold out on Nintendo’s website as recently as early 2012, so “keeping it alive” seems to be something they haven’t had trouble doing.


Hello beautiful! Wish I didn't need the adapter, but I'll live.

So, what does the general public think of the controller’s return after this (brief) hiatus? Well, based on the Twitter reaction to the announcement, Nintendo seems to be keenly aware of this controller’s popularity. They’ve also announced that they are launching a bundle for Smash Bros on Wii U that includes the game, adapter and one controller, and of course it isn’t hard to imagine a bundle that includes the system along with those also being released around the same time. Do I think they could improve the controller? Maybe a few tweaks here and there, but all in all, I wouldn’t change a thing... Especially since they added that sweet Smash Bros logo for the re-release!

Its a great thing when companies listen to their fans, isn't it?

Ben Mayer