Classic Controller Adapters

Classic Controller USB Adaptors

I’m very strongly affected by nostalgia. I find it hard to throw away things from my past, no matter how insignificant – as long as there’s a memory attached, it’s hard to part with. Of course, I’m not quite a crazy hoarder who’s attached to my pizza boxes and has a freezer of dead cats. But still, I do find that nostalgia has a powerful effect on me.

I grew up playing video games mostly in the 16 bit era. Though I’m old enough to have lived through the 8-bit era as well, I was busier with Legos and building toys during those days. Every now and then I get a craving for some classic gaming, so I bust out the emulators. Of course, playing with a keyboard isn’t right, and most PC controllers feel like crap, so I got my hands on some adapters to convert my original controller hardware to USB.

Classic Controller Adapters

Instead of reviewing them separately, I will review my SNES, Genesis, and N64/PSX/PS2 USB adapters all in this article.

SNES-to-USB

For starters, the SNES-to-USB adapter. I think I got it from amazon, but I may have got it from deal extreme. (Those aren’t affiliate links, btw :) ) I believe the branding on this one is by May Flash. So far it’s worked perfectly. Electronically it does what it says – converts my SNES controller to USB. However, it didn’t work with all my aftermarket controllers. That’s not surprising – this probably takes shortcuts and doesn’t provide the same power as the original console. However, it works flawlessly for stock SNES controllers.

The build quality is also excellent. It’s very sturdy / firm, and not cheap plastic. Further, it also has a nice thick USB cable.

My only complaint is that the second controller port on it is very stiff. Pushing a controller in there takes considerable force, though not to the point you’d think you’re breaking it. Still, it does put up a lot of resistance. Strangely, the first player port goes in smoothly. I’m not sure if this is just mine, or all of them are like this. You might think it’s just because the first player port gets more use, but it’s been like that since I got it new from the factory.

I would recommend this adaptor.

Genesis/MegaDrive-to-USB

This was the most recent adapter I got. I picked it up on ebay as an impulse purchase. These used to be $10 on amazon but I never got around to picking one up. I recently discovered they were now selling for over a hundred. Since I figured they must be out of production, I snatched one up on ebay before they’re all gone. Only $30 – but still 3 times the price.

Like the SNES adapter, this one does as it says and works flawlessly. I like the fact that the inputs are each on separate leads, it’s less awkward than having the controllers come out at 180 degrees apart like the SNES adapter. There’s not much else to say about this one, other than to grab it in a hurry! Hopefully they’ll do another production run of them, I’d get another for $10 if they were available. Though, I suppose it’s rare that anyone wants to play four-player Genesis these days.

n64 & PSX/PS3-to-USB

This is a weird one – two rival consoles in one! I guess it makes sense, why not knock out every console of a generation in one adapter? Anyway, this adapter is officially called the “Boom” adapter, after it’s manufacturer.

I love this adapter. In fact, I’m nostalgic for the adapter itself! I got this one many years ago as a Christmas present. My parent’s let me pick out some junk from the venerable lik-sang (R.I.P.) and it came in the mail. This was a big deal – my parent’s were absolutely paranoid about buying things online, and I had been begging for the n64-to-USB adapter. After a marathon of waiting for a package from Hong Kong, it finally came; and of course worked flawlessly.

That said, there’s a lot to say about this N64-to-USB adapter.

First, this adapter is getting hard to come by. Up until a year or so ago, it was still easy to find online. As of this writing, it’s still possible – but you have to dig a little deeper.

I own two of these adapters, and both work fine for me. I recommended it to a friend who’s had nothing but trouble with this. Reviews online are mixed, but I suppose I got lucky? I got my second one from a buddy years later, so they definitely weren’t the same batch. My friend claims his doesn’t work for N64 unless a PS2 controller is plugged in. Weird.

The adapter has a switch on it’s side, to switch from PSX/PS2 mode to N64 mode. It’s a weird design choice that they didn’t just make it appear as two separate gaming devices, but oh well.

A few years later I picked up a May Flash n64 adapter, seen here:

May Flash N64

It looked like a nice one – two n64 ports and all. But unfortunately I was strongly let down by this one. When you plug it into USB it identifies as two separate game controllers. So far so good. But what’s weird, is that the second controller maps it’s buttons differently than the first. So if you’ve saved a controller profile for the first player position, it won’t work with the player 2 position. This makes it super cumbersome to set up multiplayer. It’s like the two ports are each using a different firmware from a different manufacturer. I have no idea why they decided to make P2 map completely differently than p1, but since it does I look at this as simply a one-port adapter. In that case, the aforementioned boom adapter is a better deal – one N64, one PSx/PS2. Instead of  one N64, one goofy N64.

It’s worth it to mention that on the BOOM N64/PSX/2 adapter, the DDR dance mats don’t seem to work correctly.

Finally, there’s one last adapter which I don’t own, but it’s worth a mention:

May Flash N64 PSX Sega Saturn

 

This is a PS2 / N64 / Sega Saturn USB adapter. Interesting! It’s also from May Flash, but unlike the last adapter it only has one N64 port, which is actually fine. I don’t own this device, but I plan on getting one. I never owned a working Sega Saturn, but I have the parts of a dead one somewhere. I guess I can make use of those controllers if I get this! Considering this has one of each important player: N64 – Ps2 (assuming it works with PS1) and Sega Saturn, this would be a superior replacement for the BOOM adapters that are getting hard to find.

For now, I still recommend the Boom, but have to mention that some people have had problems with them. I guess I was lucky.

 

January 4, 2015 at 11:01 am | Technology Reviews

 

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