An Unnecessary, In-Depth Look at the New Super Smash Bros. Ultimate GameCube Controller

An Unnecessary, In-Depth Look at the New Super Smash Bros. Ultimate GameCube Controller

Take a look at solid, sound, accurate, unbiased science as we put the newest GameCube controller to the test.

As the Super Smash Bros. community gears up for the latest entry, Nintendo has graciously given consumers the rare opportunity to buy a brand new, 18-year-old controller for a whopping $30. The GameCube controller is the gift that keeps on giving…the same gift. As Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s release draws near, the controller gods smiled upon the Smash community and allowed us to buy brand spanking new GameCube controllers, instead of marked-up, used ones with Cheeto dust and dead skin caked on.

GC controller comparison

Who will stand tall at the end of this review?

But has Nintendo tweaked the formula on mankind’s pinnacle of invention? I decided to take a deep dive look and review the new GameCube controller. For science and for Smash.

After ripping apart the surprisingly difficult box, you will be met by an angel’s chorus and the new controller. It dons the iconic Smash Bros. logo in the center above the start button. The controller also features a matte finish, as opposed to the original’s glossier finish. The 9’ cable is tightly wrapped and screams “now you can hunch over me at a comfortable distance from the TV!”

The matte finish is a nice feel in my sweaty palms during an all-out brawl in Melee. It leads to a grippier feel, which is a nice touch for true Smashers. Speaking of Smashing, the controller clearly knows it’s audience—a bunch of Smash bros stuck in 2001—thanks to the silver Smash logo hogging up space where the simply stunning “Nintendo GameCube” text and logo used to appear. They couldn’t even add flames like the white Smash for Wii U controller in Japan.

New GameCube controller close up

When physically compared to an original GameCube Controller and an official WaveBird controller, the new Smash controller has its pro and cons. The 9’ cable trumps the original’s 6’5’’, but not even that snuffs out the WaveBird’s official rating for 20’ of range. There may be a frame delay built into Smash Ultimate, so a wired or wireless connection should not matter unless you are a true smasher. 

The new controller is also lighter than the other two. It weighs 192g, while the original weighs 200g and the WaveBird (with batteries installed) weighs 244g. The weight difference is noticeable between the two corded controllers, although it shouldn’t impact casual Smashers. Personally, I prefer the weight the WaveBird and batteries offer: It makes for a more dramatic effect when I throw the controller in a heated rage.

When it comes to the price of the GameCube controller, it sits somewhere in the middle of previous official options. Based on my research (i.e. rapid fire Google searching) the original controllers launched for either $20 or $35. WaveBirds were sold for $35. I’d lean on the side of the OG releasing at $20, but only 2001 Max would know for sure. The new controller costs $30, which is fair considering that $20 from November 2001 has the buying power of $28.51 as of October 2018 according to this fancy online calculator.

The biggest difference between all three controllers is system compatibility at launch. Both the original and WaveBird were only compatible with the GameCube at launch. The new Smash controller boasts an incredible four system compatibility on the back of the box, including the darling GameCube, the infamous Wii, the near perfect Wii U, and the apple of my eye, the Nintendo Switch. 

Back of GC box

When it comes to actually playing the games, the new controller functions exactly like a pro-fresh-ional like myself would expect. I tested it by playing multiple rounds of Melee and a couple of cups in Mario Kart Double Dash. The control stick has a snappier response that hasn’t been worn down by years of professional play. I did lose the cup I played in Double Dash when using the new controller, which I entirely blame on the controller.

In the end, I bought two of these “new” GameCube controllers. One for play and one as an emergency back-up when a controller finally dies on me. It has been nearly two decades since Nintendo gifted mankind with the perfect controller (sorry Xbots). This new incarnation is great for someone stuck in the past crippled by nostalgia like me. It also is incredible to see how one game has kept this controller in circulation for over 15 years. It’s nice to see one (presumably) final official release before we have to go back to paying high prices on eBay for a serviceable replacement after you smash the controller in the ground. The GameCube controller has an incredible legacy that just will not go away.

I give it an 18/10.