Finally, there’s a fantastic alternative to the controllers bundled in with the NES! If you’re like me and grew up playing video games in the arcades or at home with previous consoles, you’ll be relieved to find out that a full-fledged joystick has finally arrived for the Nintendo. It’s called the NES Advantage and it not only delivers the arcade experience home, but it also includes additional functionality never before seen on a joystick. I’ll fully admit the accessory has some sticker shock to it ($49.95 unless you find it on sale), but I’m here to tell you it’s worth every penny. Here’s why.
The first thing you’ll notice when you pull the NES Advantage out of its box is just how big it is. In fact, the footprint of the entire joystick is nearly as big as the NES itself! It’s also quite heavy, thanks to its metal weighted bottom. This is designed for performance, so if you were to place it on a desk or table it won’t move around like so many other flimsy controllers have done in the past. This thing’s meant to last and it just feels extremely well made.
The next thing I took note of was that unlike nearly every other joystick ever made for prior consoles and computers, the NES Advantage keeps the joystick on the left side of the controller and the buttons on the right. If you look at the Atari 2600 controllers and many Commodore 64 joysticks it’s the complete opposite. I imagine Nintendo chose this layout to match its NES controllers, but also if you think about it, most arcade machines that feature both a stick and buttons have this similar layout so it sort of makes sense. That’s not to say that some people feel that it’s uncomfortable to control the characters with the left hand instead of the right, something I totally understand having played for years the opposite way. However, a few hours with this beauty and it will be come second nature!
The joystick knob itself is high quality and something you’d expect to see at the arcades. The shaft is very durable and accurate and the relatively large action buttons (B & A) are easy to access with the right index and middle fingers. Each press of the button will cause a red light to illuminate, indicating you’ve successfully pressed the button. Above the action buttons are a set of gray turbo buttons. Pressing one in will activate the turbo function for that button, which means you can hold down the action button and the NES will think you’re pressing it over and over again. You can adjust the rate of the turbo with the darker gray rotating knobs above the turbo buttons. This is a lifesaver in games like Commando or Gradius where you can now simply hold down the action button to fire. You’ll even take down enemies faster than ever before in Mega Man – one of the newest games to come out.
Along the right side of the joystick is a slow motion toggle. If you activate this button the stick automatically presses the Start button over and over again. Since many games utilize the Start button to pause the game, this acts as a slow motion mechanism, making some games easier to beat. But, isn’t all of this cheating? Sure, but who doesn’t want a little help every now and again?
At the end of the NES Advantage cord are two separate plugs. This means you can actually hook the stick up to both controller slot one and two. If you’re playing a two-player alternating game like Super Mario Bros., both players will get to take advantage of the new joystick. No need for Mom and Dad to buy 2 sticks – so there’s some built-in savings there. Of course, if your household is hardcore into Nintendo games and you want to play simultaneous games like Rush ‘N Attack, then I guess start saving up that money now – it won’t be cheap!
I went back and tried my NES Advantage with every single game I own and it worked wonderfully in every regard. Each game plays like a new experience and I’m in love with the joystick. While the NES controllers are adequate for many games, they just weren’t very comfortable and after a few hours they’d begin to dig into my palms. This solves that problem and adds a host of extra features not present with the vanilla controllers. If you can afford one, the NES Advantage is a fantastic add-on for your Nintendo and one that comes highly recommended. Don’t take on Ganon or the Mother Brain without it!