Nintendo’s first major video game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System, once dominated the world of gaming.
The console’s ubiquitous rectangular controller is iconic, and it still occupies a nostalgic place in the hearts of many. In 2018, the NES gamepad is coming back – and this time, it’s wireless. There’s good reason for that, as it’s a controller designed for use with Nintendo’s Switch!
Here’s everything we know about Nintendo’s modern update to a classic gamepad:
The only way to buy the NES wireless gamepad is by signing up for Nintendo’s new, paid online service: Nintendo Switch Online.
What a twist!
It might sound crazy, but the only way to buy Nintendo’s re-released NES gamepads is to first sign up for the new $US20/year Nintendo Switch Online service.
There’s a good reason for that: The only way to access NES classics on the Nintendo Switch is by signing up for Nintendo Switch Online. And what are you using the NES gamepad for on the Switch? For playing NES games, of course!
There are 20 games available thus far, and Nintendo’s adding three additional games to a growing library each month. For now, it’s just NES games – no Super Nintendo or Nintendo 64 or Game Boy, unfortunately.
You won’t be able to play most Switch games with the NES gamepad — it simply doesn’t have enough buttons.
Including the D-pad, Start, Select, A, B, and the ability to press A and B at the same time, there are only so many buttons on the NES gamepad. And for many Switch games, using the NES gamepad simply wouldn’t translate – it doesn’t have enough buttons!
And that’s before we start talking about the fact that there are no analogue thumbsticks.
There are two new buttons: L and R.
Since the NES gamepad for Switch charges by attaching to the Switch console itself, like the Joy-Con gamepads that come with the Switch, it uses the same connection rail as the normal Switch gamepads.
You can see it above – it’s the black strip of plastic along the top of the gamepad, taking the place of the usual connection cable.
That rail comes with two new buttons: L and R. They’re tiny, and wrapping your fingers around the hard angles of the NES gamepad to tap them isn’t really workable while playing games. But the good news is that they exist solely as a means of accessing a Switch menu; you tap them both at the same time to access the menu while playing NES classics through Nintendo Switch Online.
The NES gamepad charges by connecting to the Switch console, and it looks adorable.
For some people, it might be worth owning the NES gamepads for Switch solely so they can outfit their home console with this amazing throwback look. Personally, I can’t imagine doing that (ahem).
Regardless, the way you charge the NES gamepads on Switch – as previously mentioned – is by sliding them onto the sides of the Switch tablet. They don’t appear to have USB connections or any other way to charge via wire.
More clearly: The NES gamepads can only be charged on the Switch, just like the Joy-Con gamepads.
As of now, there is no way to buy just one NES gamepad for Switch — they come as a pair, and cost $US60.
Sorry, solo Switch owners: These gamepads only come as a pair.
Technically speaking, they’re $US30 apiece – but since you can only buy them as a pair, the real cost is $US60. And that’s on top of the $US20/year fee for Nintendo Switch Online.
But also being able to use wireless NES gamepads on the Switch, playing NES games from 30-plus years ago, is super rad.
The controllers are scheduled to start shipping in mid-December, and are only available for paid Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. Check out the controllers in their debut video right here:
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