Your guide to NES Classic Edition accessories
Granted, Nintendo's new NES Classic Edition may not be a console in the traditional sense.
After all, its games are baked in, and there's no means of expanding its library. But it looks like a console! Albeit a tiny one.
And that means, in many respects, it's being treated like one... which is to say, a whole raft of accessories and peripherals are rushing to market even as you read this. We'll be snagging everything we can get our hands on and putting it all under the microscope to ensure you can enjoy the best possible experience with the 30 classic games on the mini-console. As these items are all third-party devices, they're rolling out at a somewhat uneven pace without a common release date. We'll pick them up and test them out as they arrive and will update this roundup accordingly.
Nyko Extend Link Extension Cable
Nyko, $9.99 | Buy it here
Of all the "why did they do that?" design choices Nintendo made with the NES CE, the decision to build stubby, 30" cords into the official controllers sits right at the top of the list. Short cables may have made sense in a world where this device was intended to be plugged into a tiny CRT television, but it outputs only via HDMI... which means it only works on high-definition televisions... which generally start at 27" and go up to, what is it these days, 80"? You definitely don't want to sit two and a half feet away from an 80" TV unless you really enjoy experiencing classic games as abstract collections of gigantic colored squares. Unless you're playing on a small desktop monitor or intend to string an HDMI cable across the room so your console sits next to you, you need a controller extension cable.
Thankfully, Nyko has stepped up to the plate with its Extend Link Extension Cable. With a MSRP of $9.99, it's not cheap — it's the same price as the standalone version of the official NES CE controller, in fact. A few other manufacturers have their own solutions in the works for slightly less, but either way, you're almost guaranteed to want some sort of extension. And Nyko's does the trick. It adds an extra six feet of cord to your controller, more than tripling its length. It seems durable and well-constructed. It lacks the safety breakaway feature seen in many other lengthy cables like those on the Xbox 360, but it doesn't really need it — the NES CE itself is tiny, lightweight, and solid state, so if you do accidentally pull your mini-console off your entertainment center the worst that's going to happen to it is a cosmetic scratch or ding.
God's in his heaven, the bulky clip's off my cable, all's right with the world.
The one oddity about this extension cable is that you can't plug in two of them to your NES CE directly out of the packaging. The console plug end of the cable sports a transparent clip that juts out from the housing; when you plug it into controller port one, it partially obscures the second controller port. Thankfully, this doesn't have to be permanent: By removing two screws from the plug, you can remove the clip (the cable comes with two slightly shorter replacement screws needed to hold the plug itself together), which allows two of them to be seated side-by-side. My assumption is that Nyko had to treat this as a Wii controller accessory (which it technically is — the extension cable works with Wii remotes and a variety of dongles as well!), and that means Nintendo required them to include a clip for the mandatory controller strap. It's an oddity, but a trivial inconvenience at worst; 30 seconds of work later, you have a much-needed improvement to the NES CE. If you plan to use your baby NES in a family room scenario, you absolutely need to add one of these to your shopping list.
Nyko MiniBoss Wireless Controller
Nyko, $19.99 | Buy it here
Of course, some people just hate wired controllers. And understandably so — they're messy, ugly, and creating a tripping hazard. The NES CE looks to have several wireless control options on the way for the cable-haters, the first of which also comes from Nyko.
Any alternate controller for the NES CE has a tough obstacle to overcome: It has to measure up to the included controller, which is top-of-class. As I said in my NES CE review, I strongly suspect Nintendo (with its packrat tendencies) dug up its original NES controller molds for this product, because the one that ships by default feels perfect. The wired controller also works without a hitch... something I can't really say holds true for Nyko's device.
In terms of construction, Nyko's MiniBoss feels pretty decent. Third-party controllers can feel cheap or flimsy, and that's not the case here. The plastics, especially on the buttons and D-pad, don't feel quite as nice as the materials Nintendo uses, but neither does this feel like some hollow piece of trash. A molded trim lines the edges of the console, making it comfortable to grip, and the buttons seem to have pretty good action.
The MiniBoss consists of a controller and a wireless dongle that plugs into the system — or into a Wii remote, if you want to use it with another Nintendo console. The dongle draws power from the NES CE console, while the controller itself contains a rechargeable battery recharged via USB micro connector — conveniently, the same connector the NES CE itself uses. In theory, the controller should be plug-and-play: Power up the system, then activate the controller, and it automatically pairs with the dongle, ready for use.
I say "in theory" because unfortunately the whole thing fell apart for me at the pairing stage. While my MiniBoss review unit clearly synced with its dongle after being charged up, I couldn't get the thing to work. The controller simply didn't register any inputs, and no amount of fussing with it — power-cycling the console, plugging in other controllers, switching controller ports — would cause it to work correctly. The best I could manage was to hot-swap the dongle while the NES CE was powered on; by removing and then reinserting the dongle, I was able to cause the controller to register a permanent left movement on the D-pad. It wouldn't register any other inputs, so the main menu cursor simply cycled through the game selections until I unplugged the dongle again. While the MiniBoss seems like a decently built controller, I can't possibly endorse a D-pad that fails out of the box and lacks any obvious remedy to its malfunctioning nature.
Please look for additional reviews as accessories become available.
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